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Businesses around the world are currently grappling with the immense pressure of climate change, and rightfully so. Failing to meet climate goals will have irreversible global consequences. However, amid this heightened focus on climate change, the urgency of addressing the looming biodiversity crisis often gets overlooked and relegated to being a ‘mere’ environmental issue. It’s important to acknowledge that with over half of the world’s GDP moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services, addressing biodiversity loss goes beyond being just an environmental concern.
In Arcadis’ recent biodiversity webinar, I had the opportunity to discuss with experts from business and the finance sector how the private sector is in a prime position to effect real change toward biodiversity restoration. The only question is: How and where do we begin?
The challenge of measuring biodiversity
Unlike carbon emissions, which can be quantified, measuring biodiversity is inherently complex. The sheer diversity of life on Earth, coupled with the need for location-specific measurements, presents significant difficulties. Without accurate measurements, it becomes challenging to make informed decisions and implement effective actions.
An example of the impact of accurate biodiversity measurement is our successful collaboration with Spadel in Belgium. Using Arcadis’ Biodiversity Net Gain Calculator, we conducted a robust assessment of the company’s impact on land since its foundation, which revealed a biodiversity-positive performance. This, in turn, led to the development of operational guidelines that align with the Science Based Targets Network’s parameters, demonstrating how concrete data can drive meaningful change in the business sector. What’s more, these principles are transferrable, and can be applied on projects across the world.
Companies are increasingly being called upon to not only make commitments, but also take tangible actions to preserve nature. Despite the significant impact of biodiversity on businesses, corporate efforts and commitments toward biodiversity remain inadequate. According to a 2022 report by S&P, less than 20% of 500 companies have made explicit commitments to address biodiversity loss.
A key concept that gained prominence to boost companies’ participation in conservation efforts is the notion of being ‘nature positive’ through corporate strategies. This goes beyond merely mitigating negative impacts on the environment, and instead focuses on actively contributing to the restoration and conservation of biodiversity.
To support our clients in adopting a nature-positive approach, we have helped them develop solutions that work in harmony with nature. How does this work in practice? Our experts in the Netherlands have successfully created an archipelago using dredged materials from the bottom of Lake Markermeer. This project not only proves to be cost-effective and ecologically resilient, but also promotes the growth of vegetation and flourishing of wildlife in the area. It stands as one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in Western Europe, serving as a pioneering example of nature-based solutions in action. And in the US, our team successfully restored 94 acres of Louisiana's coastal wetlands using sediment from local dredging operations. This project will build up and restore 25,000 acres of wetlands over the next 50 years, strengthening coastal protection and ecosystems.