Infrastructure and industrialization

Sustainable Development Goal 9

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Overview

Biodiversity provides ecosystem resilience and contributes to the ability to respond to unpredictable global changes and natural disasters. As biodiversity is lost, ecosystem services are compromised, and, in some cases, there is a risk that some thresholds will be passed, undermining the functioning of the Earth’s support system.

Successful implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the associated Aichi Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals, requires that biodiversity be mainstreamed into business practices. While environmental and economic concerns may appear to be very different issues, they are actually deeply intertwined. Businesses are both affected by, and rely upon, biodiversity and ecosystem services. There are some industries whose profitability depends directly on the health of ecosystems, for example forestry, fishing, agriculture and ecotourism. Other sectors have a direct impact on ecosystems and biodiversity through their operations, such as mining, construction and energy. Growing awareness of these impacts and dependencies is leading many companies to measure and manage the risks, and to engage in mitigation, offsetting and sustainable use approaches. The importance of business to biodiversity cannot be overstated. The private sector accounts for most of the world's production of goods and that what they make and how carefully and efficiently they use earth's resources will determine the future of biodiversity conservation.

Challenges

The goods and services provided by biodiversity are important to all people. For many they constitute social safety nets. In business, every company depends on resources that are either directly or indirectly extracted from nature. If a resource, upon which the company depends is under severe stress, or collapses entirely, the company’s long-term viability may be threatened. Sustainability and the protection of biodiversity is not only beneficial for all, they also provide huge business opportunities. As consumers become more aware of environmental issues and look for “green” products, companies are increasingly being obliged to consider these issues in their business models, decisions, sourcing and production methods.

In recent years a critical link has been identified between society, the economy and the natural environment. Many business leaders are recognizing that to remain competitive, especially in challenging economic times, biodiversity issues must be factored into their operations. In addition, the public are becoming increasingly aware of the impact their daily lifestyle choices are having on the natural environment both directly and indirectly through issues such as climate change. Because biodiversity is not an infinite resource, business leaders need to factor biodiversity management into their corporate planning at a level equal to the social, economic and other business issues they face on a daily basis. Despite these risks, many companies fail to recognize the link between healthy ecosystems and their organization’s interests. While some companies have taken steps to address their environmental impacts, most are not fully aware of their dependence on ecosystem services and the possible business implications of degraded services.

Messages

  • The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study noted that ecosystem services resulting from natural environmental processes represent tens of trillions of dollars per annum worth of benefits that are currently used for free. By the same token, the loss of these services due to environmental degradation is on the order of US$5-7 trillion per year, roughly comparable to the GDP of China.
  • Managing biodiversity is a way to manage risk. For businesses, the consequences of biodiversity degradation and loss can lead to a higher cost for inputs to business processes, or the disruption of key elements of a value chain.
  • Businesses rely on natural resources for their production processes and depend on healthy ecosystems to remove waste, and maintain soil, water and air quality. Businesses can also have major negative impacts on biodiversity. While the private sector is part of the problem, it is also part of the solution—it can offer innovative solutions to conservation. By addressing their environmental footprint, companies can open up new opportunities, respond to consumer demand for responsible products, pre-empt new regulations and save both costs and natural resources.