With the European Union pledging to dramatically cut the current loss of biodiversity by 2010*, Earthwatch, the international environmental organisation, can provide businesses with the resources they need to play a significant role in the reversal of this alarming trend.
Earthwatch understands that biodiversity can only be sustained by engaging all sectors of society and, as a result, is currently working with around 35 international companies to achieve positive environmental outcomes, including involving employees in Earthwatch field research projects.
Dave Hillyard, Director of Programme Development at Earthwatch, says, ‘Biodiversity, the variety of life and natural systems, is fundamental to a healthy society, and business is obviously an integral part of this. As we continue to lose biodiversity, businesses will start to miss out on important opportunities like new product development and the latest technology. This loss represents a real business risk, particularly for some sectors, as the research project we are currently working on with ISIS Asset Management and DFID will hopefully identify later this year**.'
The recently re-designed http://www.businessandbiodiversity.org/***, hosted by Earthwatch, is a one-stop-shop where people can find out about the important role biodiversity plays for business. Since the re-vamp in January 2004, 20 909 visitors have been recorded to the web site, a change of 7, 628 per quarter.
Through the website, companies can see how their sector impacts upon wildlife and nature, what other companies are doing to conserve and manage biodiversity, and find out what they could be doing themselves.
BP is one example of a successful working partnership between Earthwatch and the business sector. BP has a company-wide strategy for managing its impact on, and contribution to, biodiversity and has been working with Earthwatch to develop and monitor its biodiversity action plans (BAPs) at its key sites.
With a significant number of BAPs in place, Earthwatch is now working with BP as they develop a means of assessing their quality, identifying areas for improvement and integrating their verification within their ISO 14001 environmental management system.
Greg Coleman, Group Vice President, Health, Safety and Environment, BP p.l.c, says, ‘Conserving the environment is both a moral necessity and a valuable business opportunity. Working in collaboration with Earthwatch has helped us develop strategies, tools and processes to manage BP's impacts on the natural environment.'
Dave Hillyard, further comments, ‘Leading businesses are aware of the risks biodiversity poses to them and are taking positive steps to address them. However, in general, businesses need to become more aware and involved in biodiversity management. By visiting http://www.businessandbiodiversity.org/ they will be able to see how easy it is to take steps towards reversing this devastating decline of biodiversity and the risks and opportunities it presents to their business.'
The site offers news, practical tools and guidance for action, details on the legislative and policy contexts of biodiversity, as well as links to organisations, publications and case studies of companies focusing on biodiversity.