The following guidance reflects some of the issues and questions that have arisen with regards to the National and Regional Initiatives as well as the overall Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity. Additional details can be found in the document entitled Governance Structure for the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity
. The role of the Initiatives and the Global Partnership continues to evolve based on new COP decisions and the particular circumstances of the various members.
What is the Mandate of the National/Regional Initiatives:
The National Business and Biodiversity Initiatives are ideally open, inclusive bodies that are designed to help raise awareness of biodiversity and sustainability issues amongst the business community and to encourage dialogue amongst stakeholders in this area. They also assist in helping companies in understanding and mainstreaming the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, its associated Protocols, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the associated Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as other relevant Conventions and international agreements as well as national and regional issues.
The membership of the initiatives is meant to be as inclusive as possible so as to share ideas and best practices widely. In countries that have several different programmes, each programme can run its own activities independent of the others. However, all these programmes should ideally share the results of meetings and workshops with the other programmes. Engagement with the Government is very important, as the Initiatives are mandated to facilitate dialogue between business and other stakeholders. This dialogue function is therefore a key aim of the initiatives.
What are the Roles of the Initiatives:
In line with the COP business engagement decisions reference, and based upon practices by some existing initiatives, the National and Regional Initiatives can be involved in the following activities:
- Helping to bring national stakeholders in business and biodiversity together to share ideas and engage in dialogue;
- Assisting in the development and dissemination of tools, resources, benchmarks/pilot-studies, and advice to businesses looking to mainstream biodiversity issues. This may be done in consultation with other ongoing projects and programmes where possible;
- Sharing ideas and best practices with other National and Regional Initiatives in the Global Partnership, adapting them to particular domestic circumstances as required;
- Encouraging and enabling companies to understand and mainstream the objectives of the Convention and the Aichi Targets. To this end, the initiatives would encourage their member companies to commit to certain measurable actions that will allow them to improve their level of sustainability and reduce their footprint on biodiversity;
- Helping to raise the level of compliance of companies with respect to biodiversity and environmental legislation and provide technical assistance where feasible and appropriate;
- Assisting in the dissemination of biodiversity issues, and advice on how businesses and related stakeholders can help to deal with these issues, as widely as possible.
How are the Initiatives Structured and Operated:
The National and Regional initiatives are mainly business focused and, ideally, managed by the business community. There is no fixed design for these initiatives and countries can set them up as best suits their domestic situation. Some of the forms that are currently being used include:
- an inclusive business platform that also works to organize a broader stakeholder dialogue;
- a mixed platform led and managed primarily by business, with opportunity for meaningful involvement by a range of non-business interests;
- an umbrella organization where business federations, individual companies and other stakeholders join forces to promote this issue
The Initiative are generally managed by a steering committee or board of directors (i.e. selected companies, government representatives, business association members, NGOs, etc) with a secretariat handling day-to-day administrative tasks.
Funding is a crucial issue that also needs to be investigated by new Initiatives. Some of the solutions currently in operation include:
- Membership fees (possibly scaled depending on the size of the company);
- Government funding;
- Support from associations/large companies;
- Project based funding.
Membership and Focus:
The Initiatives would be open to all business sectors and ideally information will be focused upon common issues concerning biodiversity. While each business sector is different in its needs and approaches, the multi-sector approach allows common elements of concern to be raised and best practices, with respect to biodiversity mainstreaming in general, across the various sectors to be shared. It also allows cross-cutting issues to be explored amongst businesses in different sectors but with similar geographic and/or ecosystem dependencies. Several initiatives have also embarked on sector-specific training, to address particular needs of companies in different areas. There may also be some efforts made to address larger sustainability issues and determine how biodiversity fits in with climate change, water and land management, pollution, etc. The activities of the initiative would therefore allow companies to understand biodiversity in context, and make their efforts at protecting biodiversity and being sustainable as easy and comprehensive as possible.
The Global Partnership itself is only open to National and Regional Initiatives, although global NGOs involved in this area do act as observers. Individual businesses, associations or other interested stakeholders should seek membership through their respective National or Regional Initiative.