EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE CBD COP 12 BUSINESS AND BIODIVERSITY FORUM REPORT
On 12-14 October 2014 the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with the generous support of the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Germany, hosted a three day business and biodiversity forum in parallel with COP 12 where the themes of mainstreaming, capacity building and reporting were selected to reflect the parts of the COP 12 business draft decision which were under negotiation at that time.
On day one, parallel events were organised to discuss BioTrade, sustainable tourism, biodiversity indicators for commodity production, and the Global Partnership. On days two and three, discussion groups focused on the issues and concerns surrounding the implementation of the aforementioned key themes. All of the sessions focused on presentations and interactive discussions which led to expressions of interest for concrete actions by Parties to create enabling environments so that businesses can integrate values of biodiversity into their operations and strategies.
The first day began with an opening plenary panel featuring welcoming remarks by the Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the CBD, Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, and by the Director General of the Korean Secretariat of the CBD, Mr. Kim Sanghoon. These remarks were followed by a panel discussion introducing the Business Forum and the four parallel events of the day. The first parallel event was the 3rd BioTrade Congress organised by UNCTAD on Promoting Sustainable Use through Business Engagement. It provided a platform to share experiences and explore avenues on how to foster business engagement in BioTrade activities. The second parallel event consisted of a workshop on Sustainable Tourism and discussed green tourism development, financing protected areas, and supporting indigenous and local communities. The third parallel event introduced the Initiative for Biodiverstiy Impact Indicators for Commodity Production and discussed how major impacts of commodity production on biodiversity can be identified and addressed. The fourth and final parallel event consisted of the 4th Meeting of the Global Partnership. During this event, speakers presented their National and Regional Initiatives on Business and Biodiversity, and discussed future opportunities for the Global Partnership.
The second day saw the opening of the main Business Forum on Mainstreaming and Implementation during which four consecutive discussion sessions took place. The first session, on CBD Issues and Enabling Conditions, saw parallel discussions on access and benefit sharing (ABS), and resource mobilization. During the ABS discussions, the panellists noted that secrecy and competition surrounding research and development represent obstacles to benefit-sharing, and that the Nagoya Protocol should serve as a tool to promote research and development. In the discussion on resource mobilization, panellists examined economic issues, particularly with regard to the private sector, that would help to leverage the resources necessary to conserve biodiversity. The second session, on Mainstreaming and Assessment, examined sustainable consumption and production, standards and certifications schemes, sustainability action plans, and biodiversity valuation. The discussions highlighted corporate efforts to remove palm oil from supply chains and reviewed challenges associated with convincing consumers and corporations to produce and consume sustainably. The panellists further reflected on the need to simplify and harmonise standards where possible and practical. The third session, on Capacity Building and Cooperation, discussed training, partnerships, sustainable procurement, and supply chain management. The panellists found that capacity building requires the creation of a culture of biodiversity awareness within companies and the provision of real opportunities for engagement for employees at all levels of the corporation. The discussions further suggested that small communities should avoid over-reliance on a single industry or company for economic subsistence, and explored the concept of co-responsibility between large companies and their suppliers.
The third day began with the High-Level Business Panel on Business Contributions to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The High-Level Business Panel began with welcoming remarks from Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat for the CBD, and followed with a discussion featuring senior governmental officials and business leaders on corporate social responsibility, information sharing and cross-sectorial collaboration. The High-Level Business Panel was followed by the fourth and final session of the forum, on Reporting and Communication. This session discussed corporate reporting, communication, and sustainability reports. The panellists noted a lack of common understanding of the word ‘biodiversity’ and a need for better communication strategies. The discussions further highlighted that corporate reports should be shorter and focussed on topics relevant to companies and their stakeholders. The panellists also suggested developing a guide for public policy makers on engaging the business sector in the development of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
Approximately 250 people participated in the various elements of the forum over the course of the three days. This included official representatives of Parties, businesses, associations, NGOs, academia and other stakeholder groups, representing well over 30 countries. The mix of panel presentations and smaller discussion groups, that each focussed on cross-cutting, business-related topics, allowed for interactive and constructive discussions. Following the conclusion of the Business Forum, a summary statement was prepared for the High Level Segment of the COP and was read out by Mr. Reg Melanson, Executive Director, Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council and Chair of the Executive Committee and the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity.
Preliminary Outcomes from the Discussions
The discussions during this three day event had several common elements that went across the various topics and themes. These included:
- Enhancing communication between the various stakeholders to create a common “business case” and a basis of understanding and trust;
- Creating practical ways that will help businesses contribute to the achievements of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including recognition of expertise and excellence;
- Creating momentum to achieve scale and results from the various business initiatives towards the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals and related process;
- Helping both the public and private sectors to operate within planetary boundaries; and
- Creating a level playing field by ensuring the implementation of consistent legislation, regulation and economic incentives.
There were also some common challenges that were identified during the Forum. These included:
- The difficulty of going beyond the frontrunner companies, to reach out to the mainstream, including SMEs;
- Lack of financial and human resources for many business and biodiversity programmes and initiatives, including for the members of the Global Partnership;
- Translating the concepts of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into business language and operational management decisions;
- Encouraging all stakeholders (including a wider range of CBD Parties) to find the balance between natural, social and financial capital; and
- Involving those stakeholders that may not be aware of the roles of biodiversity and related services on their agenda.
FULL AGENDA AND SPEAKERS LIST AVAILABLE HERE
FULL PROGRAMME AND SPEAKER LIST
The COP12 business engagement decision can be found here: (http://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/cop/cop-12/insession/cop-12-L-25-en.pdf).