Biodiversity and ecosystem health are critical to the planet’s well-being, and it is the responsibility of each individual to protect them. However, leaders of large organizations are in a unique position to create initiatives and momentum with their stakeholders to bring better stewardship to people and the planet. This article will explore the business case for protecting biodiversity and why it matters to your bottom line. We will discuss the economic risks associated with biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, the benefits of being responsible stewards of biodiversity and ecosystem health, and how leaders can address biodiversity and ecosystem health through their roles and organizations. We will also provide some examples of companies that are working on biodiversity and ecosystem health initiatives and how leadership and executive coaching can help organizations make headway with their initiatives.
The Business Case for Protecting Biodiversity: Why Ecosystem Health Matters to Your Bottom Line
Biodiversity and ecosystem health are complex issues that encompass much more than the environment. They include all living systems of which businesses are a significant part as a collective of human systems. Not only do biodiversity and ecosystem health support life, food production, health, and a habitable Earth, but they also support businesses. According to the World Economic Forum’s recent Nature Risk Rising Report, more than half of the world’s GDP ($44 trillion) is highly or moderately dependent on nature. Hence, leaders must include biodiversity and ecosystem health as part of their strategic priorities and actions.
What are the economic risks associated with biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation?
Biodiversity risk, as defined by PwC, is a result of direct impacts or dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as regulatory, financing, reputational, and supply chain risks arising from a business’s relationships with biodiversity and ecosystems. The consequences will not just affect companies with direct reliance on natural resources but will also affect the supply chains and growth objectives of most industry sectors in the developed and developing world. With new regulations by governments in many parts of the world put in place to protect biodiversity and ecosystem health, companies are required to comply or face legal consequences, which can culminate in financial and additional penalties. With increasing demand by stakeholders and investors for organizations to be responsible environmental stewards, organizational reputations and, therefore, profit are at risk. Many people are looking for organizations to contribute to the benefit of the people and the planet, contributing to the longevity of the quality of life on the planet for future generations. They are looking for action on brands that claim to care about diversity and the environment.
What are the benefits of being responsible stewards of biodiversity and ecosystem health?
While addressing biodiversity and ecosystem health may sound daunting, harnessing the passion and power of people to collaborate can create a positive path forward, one step at a time. The benefits of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem health are many. People learn resilience, organizations become more adaptable, and everybody benefits. Organizational and leadership brands are strong. Walking the talk with biodiversity and ecosystem health initiatives builds trust and relationships because it is the right thing to do. More people are more likely to be attracted to work for and invest in your organization. New business opportunities can be created. Organizations can support others with their know-how around sustainability. Their impact ripples out to those they interact with, multiplying the positive impact on people and the planet.
How can leaders address biodiversity and ecosystem health through their roles and organizations?
Following are some ideas to get the ideas flowing about how you can incorporate sustainability into your business operations and decision-making:
- Assess the direct impacts of your operations on related ecosystems and identify opportunities for improvement. This includes local ecosystems and beyond. For example, include the impact of your business travel, supplies sourcing and usage, and requirements of your team to travel.
- Engage with stakeholders to understand their concerns and perspectives on biodiversity and ecosystem health. This includes direct stakeholders and other stakeholders such as government groups, NGOs, and community groups.
- Develop a biodiversity strategy that sets clear goals and targets for protecting and regenerating biodiversity and ecosystem health and integrate these considerations into your broader sustainability strategy.
- Get people involved. Have a community of champions within the organization that consistently bring these initiatives to life with others in the organization and in a purpose-based, solutions-oriented, and positive manner. Have people share what they are passionate about around sustainability and regeneration.
- Implement organization-wide practices such as reducing waste and pollution, promoting sustainable land use practices, and supporting conservation initiatives in your supply chain or elsewhere.
By protecting biodiversity and ecosystem health, executives can help address some of the most pressing environmental regeneration challenges of our time and secure economic and social benefits for their businesses and communities.
Some examples of companies working on biodiversity and ecosystem health:
- “A lot of our license not just to grow but, frankly, to continue operating, depends on how effectively we can demonstrate operational excellence in sensitive environments, so we have incorporated biodiversity thinking in our activities for some time.” Roxanne Decyk, Executive Vice President, Global Government Relations, Royal Dutch Shell (PwC report)
- “Biodiversity is the foundation of our business. Agriculture depends on biodiversity as the adaptation of agriculture to new environmental conditions depends on the inherent diversity within plants. Essentially, biodiversity is the foundation of agriculture.” Juan Gonzalez-Valero, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Syngenta (PwC report)
- “Across much of the globe, biodiversity has been significantly altered by human pressure, including land-use and sea-use change, overexploitation through harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing, climate change, pollution and introduction of invasive species. ConocoPhillips recognizes that our exploration and production activities contribute to pressure or impacts on biodiversity and nature. We manage biodiversity risks and mitigate impacts to areas with biological or cultural significance through the use of the Mitigation Hierarchy. We support habitat and species conservation through strategic proactive conservation initiatives.”
How can Leadership and Executive coaching help you make headway with your biodiversity strategy and ecosystems health initiatives?
Leadership and executive coaching can be valuable tools in helping you build the capabilities to lead sustainability and regeneration initiatives throughout your organization. A coach can work with you to identify your values and beliefs and help you develop a clear sense of self-awareness. They can also support how to lead from your values and support you in reflecting on your actions based on values and purpose.
Coaching can also provide a safe space for you to explore ways to move forward more effectively through communication, alignment, collaboration, influence, and innovation capabilities and to create team and organizational cultures that support sustainability and regeneration, including biodiversity and ecosystem health initiatives.
If you would like to explore coaching as a way to build your leadership capabilities, please book a complimentary exploration call with me so we can discuss options.
In conclusion, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem health is not just the responsibility of individuals but also of businesses. Leaders can incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem health into their strategic priorities and actions to secure economic and social benefits for their businesses and communities. By assessing the direct impacts of their operations, engaging with stakeholders, developing a biodiversity strategy, getting people involved, and implementing organization-wide practices, executives can help address environmental regeneration challenges and build a stronger, more adaptable organization. Leadership and executive coaching can also help leaders build the capabilities to effectively lead sustainability and regeneration initiatives.
Yours in regeneration
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