Concluding Remarks from Costa Rican Minister of Environment and Energy

H. E. Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica

Delivered at the opening plenary of COP-14, 17/11/2018

The participants of the Global Business and Biodiversity Forum “Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet”, held on 14-15 November 2018, back-to-back to the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt:

  • recognized that the ongoing loss of ecosystems and biodiversity undermines the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and puts human well-being at risk. There is an urgent need for more collective ambition to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, based on effective partnerships;
  • were cognizant that business operations generate significant impact on biodiversity and ecosystems services. Businesses therefore have important contributions to make in achieving the Strategic Plan and the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • noted with appreciation the increasing number of businesses that are committed to deliver such contributions, as reflected in the global Business and Biodiversity Pledge opened for signature at Global Business and Biodiversity Forum in Cancun, Mexico, in 2016, as well as the pledges at national level, including through national business and biodiversity partnerships and the recent act4nature pledge.

Business operations depend, in various ways, on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and biodiversity loss is therefore likely to have a significant negative impact on business operations. Conversely, moving towards sustainable consumption and production patterns can generate significant benefits to businesses. There are also significant opportunities for developing innovative financial tools to fund such a transition. Integrating biodiversity objectives into national economic development plans can generate significant opportunities for developing new business models in key economic sectors, which can attract the interest of investors and can work hand-in-hand with public policy objectives.

There is a need for governments to recognize business realities, in particular, the importance of clear and predictable national and international policies to level the playing field and enable long-term business planning and investment, and to create the necessary enabling policy and regulatory frameworks for achieving the mainstreaming of biodiversity and sustainability considerations into business operations and models. This could be achieved by:

  • Changing the narrative of biodiversity policies to an emphasis on economic opportunities, using language and metrics businesses can understand;
  • Promote the development and application of tools and methodologies to undertake the holistic valuation biodiversity and ecosystems, and to reflect these values in financing and investment decisions;
  • Aligning incentive policies towards the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, including for promoting investments in innovative business models, technologies, and products, offering nature-based solutions to pressing societal challenges;
  • Enhancing environmental data and metrics to advance evidence-based decision making and planning;
  • Strengthening the role of Environmental Impact Assessments and, in particular, Strategic Environmental Assessments;
  • Promoting integrated land use and city planning;
  • Provide clear and consistent rules for the application of the mitigation hierarchy;
  • Supporting the further development and application of environmental standards and guidelines, for instance for greening infrastructure programmes;
  • Take measures to promote transparency and accountability of corporate activities related to biodiversity and ecosystem services;

Participants noted the important role of indigenous peoples and local communities in achieving the objectives of the Convention and of policies and processes to ensure their effective involvement and participation in licencing, regulations, and spatial planning – for instance related to infrastructure planning – that ensure that their traditional knowledge, innovations and practices are duly taken into account.

An ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework should reflect these points, building on existing good practices for managing biodiversity, and be designed to enable concrete implementation action. The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 11 to 15 March 2019 could also take these points into consideration and take action to create the enabling environment for the mainstreaming of biodiversity and sustainability considerations into business operations and models.