29 October 2012. The EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform was launched three years ago in order to facilitate and promote actions by the business community in favour of biodiversity. IUCN and other partners were contracted by the Commission to set-up the Platform. This contract has now come to an end and for the time being, this is the the last newsletter you will be receiving from the Platform during the present phase of its activities.
Thanks to the efforts of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and in particular Shulamit Alony (“Shuli”) and its partners ECNC (European Nature Conservation Centre), PwC and ELO (European Landowners’ Organization), to the commitment and interest of business partners and the energy and engagement of Marta Kaczynska from the Commission side the Platform has been successful, particularly in relation to increasing awareness, exchanging information and benchmarking good practices.
Based on the experience of the last three years, the European Commission is now reflecting on how the B@B Platform could continue in the future. In particular, we need to take account of the many national initiatives on business and biodiversity that have been started in the EU Member States as well as international initiatives such as those led by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and IUCN, and the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) for Business activity.
A new phase of the B@B Platform should bring added-value and offer something new. The feedback on the current Platform which the European Commission has received from the Member States, the business community and other stakeholders suggests that there is general support for a continuation of the Platform in particular with regard to the exchange of information across the EU and providing a framework/context for national initiatives on the same subject.
From the Commission's perspective, a new platform could also be used as a forum for engaging in strategic discussions with businesses on an enabling environment that would encourage business to scale up its investment in protecting biodiversity, in particular given the challenging economic climate in which we are now operating.
The Commission is persuaded that initiatives such as green infrastructure and no net loss will present new opportunities for business. Some of the actions under these initiatives will be eligible for support through existing EU measures, such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Policy. Yet private investment can also be encouraged through new, innovative financing mechanisms such as payments for ecosystem services, favourable loan conditions for biodiversity positive projects etc. The Commission would benefit greatly from business input regarding the design and creation of such mechanisms.
In conclusion, thanks to work of the current B@B Platform we have made considerable progress in recent years. We need to build on these foundations and make sure that any future mandate of the Platform is fully adapted to the evolving situation in the Member States and internationally.
On behalf of the European Commission, I would like to thank all companies which actively contributed to the success of the B@B Platform for their commitment to biodiversity and their will to discuss and share with their peers actions to reduce their environmental impact. If you would like to be involved in discussions on the future of the Platform, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Murphy, PhD
DG Enviroment, European Commission
29 October 2012. The Organization Led Initiative (OLI) on Forest Financing convened to respond to requests from the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) to: analyze gaps and opportunities in forest-related financing; identify and propose options to overcome barriers to financing; and develop proposals on improving financing, including through a voluntary global forest fund.
In order to achieve the above, OLI reviewed the work of the 2012 Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Advisory Group on Finance (AGF) Study on Forest Financing, and discussed best practices and lessons learned in forest financing. It also developed suggestions on future options for forest financing.
Participants discussed member country and organization experiences in the implementation of the Forest Instrument and the Global Objectives on Forests, as well as innovative approaches to financing, and partnerships with the private sector.
Meeting deliberations were supported by keynote presentations on the way forward on forest finance by Uma Lele, International Expert, and Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development for the World Bank, who presented issues related to forests across sectors.
The report of the OLI meeting will be submitted to the second meeting of the open-ended intergovernmental Ad Hoc Expert Group on Forest Financing (AHEG2), which was established by the special session of the ninth session of the UNFF.
The meeting took place from 19-21 September 2012, in Rome, Italy. Read more on the meeting website: http://www.cpfweb.org/oli/en/
Source: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) - Biodiversity Policy & Practice: http://biodiversity-l.iisd.org/news/oli-analyzes-experiences-and-options-for-forest-financing/
Picture by Å ÄuglÃk/Flickr
29 October 2012. EFTEC, a UK consultancy, has published a report describing the “innovative use of financial instruments and approaches to enhance private sector finance of biodiversity”. More recently, a study was conducted to calculate the trade-off between tourism and the protection of an endangered species in an Austrian national park. The aim was to optimize biodiversity conservation and visitor management, using a mathematical tool which takes into account the potential financial contributions from visitors.
Ecotourism can be described as a way to enjoy tourism while minimizing the impact on nature and wildlife. Even if some researchers argue that ecotourism necessarily involves a certain level of disturbance of ecosystems, some studies show that trade-offs are possible: while visitors do have a negative impact on habitats (foot trampling, noise, etc.), they can also contribute to its improvement through projects or financial contributions.
From this idea, the study used a mathematical tool to calculate the trade-off on the specific example of the Hohe Tauern National Park (Austria), where visitors can enjoy the presence of the endangered Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca saxatilis).
The aim of the study was to analyze how to balance the income generated from visitors with the disturbance inflicted to the bird by tourists’ hikes with the aim of reducing the negative impacts of tourism on the species.
The main results of the study were:
- High-quality tourism: High-quality tourism is achieved when conservation is prioritized over tourism, which means the number of tourists is limited.
Some visitors are willing to pay more to visit a better protected site. This means that a high-quality site with fewer visitors can raise as much money as a poor quality site with many visitors. Therefore, this conservation policy can ensure financial contributions from tourists and increase the cultural value of the area.
- Commitment: Parks should be rewarded when they meet their conservation targets in order to maintain their level of commitment. The awareness of visitors is also necessary to ensure that measures are effective, since unaware visitors may pose a threat to conservation targets through disruptive behaviours, etc. To ensure that visitors are willing to participate in the site’s policy and protect the environment, more information on-site should be provided (information panels, signposts, etc.).
- Kick-start the works: Parks often need a starting amount to launch conservation works until revenues from visitors can represent a sufficient amount. In such cases public financial support is necessary.
- Beyond those financing aspects, three measures are highlighted in the model to manage the “two-edged” effects of eco-tourism: - Restriction and monitoring of the number of visitors - Habitat conservation measures (creating quiet zones, limiting the track network, etc.) - Species conservation measures (restocking, limiting the access to some areas during the reproduction period, etc.)
29 October 2012. Food supply companies have identified the protection of biodiversity as an important issue in their operations, mainly through their supply chain which leads to agriculture, procurement, etc. However, taking action is at times difficult, as companies are mostly processors and their impact on biodiversity goes through their suppliers.
Collaborations with NGOs, think-tanks and research institutes have recently become a common method for companies to act in favour of biodiversity. In this field, the World Resources Institute (WRI) is particularly active.
The ESR (Ecosystem Services Review), led by the WRI, involved in its design a pilot phase with companies testing the ESR methodology. The WRI also launched The Business & Ecosystems Leadership Group, an innovative partnership between WRI and leading companies dedicated to advancing business strategies, markets, and policies that align corporate performance and ecosystem stewardship.
The WRI is also part of the PESE, a partnership among companies and civil society to demonstrate the business benefits of ecosystem services in Brazil. This is led by the Center for Sustainability Studies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (GVces), the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) and the WRI.
Another example is the Nature Capital Leaders Platform gathering influential companies such as Unilever, Nestlé, Alstom with a global reach, working to address the impacts of ecosystem and natural capital loss and degradation on business, as well as their customers and wider society.
In a field like biodiversity protection, where knowledge is still to be produced and research is costly, collaboration can be an efficient way to progress. It is also a way of creating standards with the support of NGOs, getting acknowledged and differentiating from other companies.
For further information:
Picture by jimpg2_Peace Group Moderator Needed/Flickr
29 October 2012. The costs of not valuing fully the impacts of human activities on the environment, including unfettered deforestation, are likely to affect adversely the context in which all companies do business, economies grow and investors allocate capital.
For a global investor, destruction of forests and the ecosystem services they provide makes no economic sense. While deforestation accounts for around 15–20% of global carbon emissions, it was not being accounted for in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) framework. The Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) project was born in 2008 and four years after that initial suggestion, the FFD Project and the CDP are to merge, bringing together corporate disclosure around the earth’s atmosphere, water and forests, resulting in the world’s largest and most comprehensive natural capital disclosure system.
The FFD Project works on a number of levels. Most disclosing companies have found the process of analysis very helpful in assessing their own risks and developing timely solutions to potential problems. Some important companies that joined the project last year were Disney, Johnson & Johnson and Tesco.
Extreme weather events, climate change and factors such as deforestation, population growth etc. are increasingly causing supply disruptions and, as a result, there will be a significant increase in participation in the project of FFD.
Two major barriers to participation have been recognized: materiality and internal resources. The first barrier is due to the fact that companies automatically equate materiality of a commodity with money spent on or earned from it; therefore for many companies, none of these forest-risk commodities counts – at first sight – as being significantly material.
Similarly, the issue of insufficient internal resources to disclose is frequently encountered. However, those companies which are leading the way in sustainability do not view disclosure requests as a series of unrelated questionnaires designed to take up valuable time, but as part of a broader strategic plan to tackle risks from natural capital, social and community issues and governance.
Fiona Wheatley from Marks & Spencer maintains that: “As a business, we realise the importance of actively managing sustainability challenges. It helps us understand how to do this well and it also allows it to be reflected, not just to investors but to the many other stakeholders – from NGOs and academics to our customers – who really want to know who we are’’. Metrics are one small, but crucial, element in translating corporate promises into operational reality. Voluntary corporate efforts to protect forests are all positive – but regulation is also needed to properly safeguard them. When it comes to improving supply chain sustainability, certification schemes are playing a growing role.
Reference: Environmental finance. Forest Footprint Disclosure: Investment, transparency and corporate efforts to tackle deforestation.
European debate on biodiversity – What European policy for biodiversity conservation in the coming years?
29 October 2012. A high-level debate on the development of EU biodiversity policy was organized by the 14 European partners of the REVERSE project (www.reverse.aquitaine.eu). The event was held in Brussels on 25 September 2012 and marked the closing of this three-year project.
The roundtable included representatives of the European Commission (DG Environment), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the European Environment Agency (EEA), and the European Parliament (Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development). It was emphasized that economics is the currency of policy, so success in biodiversity conservation can only be reached with economic arguments. Hence the private sector has a crucial role to play in biodiversity conservation. The EU B@B platform was the first step of the European Commission to intensify activities with the private sector.
At the end of the debate the REVERSE partnership presented recommendations to better take biodiversity into account in European sectoral policies (agriculture, land planning, and tourism). In relation to agriculture and biodiversity, one of the key recommendations was to support European networks of stakeholders working on the conservation, enhancement and management of agrobiodiversity, in order to encourage regional and national initiatives and create new entities, also encouraging knowledge transfer in in situ and ex situ conservation. This provides a direct link with the ELN-FAB project (www.eln-fab.eu).
The key actions and recommendations in relation to agriculture and biodiversity are:
- Establish a system that allows the impacts of agricultural production processes and farm management on biodiversity to be made visible and quantified, and define correction and compensations measures (European Farm Evaluation System).
- Raise awareness in the agricultural sector and among the general public about the importance of preserving natural and cultivated biodiversity and of mitigating the impact of agriculture on biodiversity. Communicate the environmental, technical and economic advantages of cultivating biodiversity and of biodiversity friendly agricultural practices by means of participatory projects.
- Link public financial support to good agricultural practices related to biodiversity conservation, facilitate access to Rural Development Program funds to farmers who actively maintain these practices, and promote the payment for ecosystem services. Favour credit access to farmers who limit negative impacts and enhance positive impacts.
- Maintain, promote and enhance High Nature Value farmland through economic support and an increase in the protection level, as a key to the survival of natural biodiversity, the maintenance of landscapes and rural vitality.
- Protect existing biodiversity of agricultural interest as well as the heritage of knowledge and culture linked to it. Preserve and maintain genetic resources by supporting both ex situ collections and in situ/on-farm conservation, as well as the establishment of networks of stakeholders for the exchange of knowledge.
- Implement specific and coordinated marketing strategies and actions (including labelled certification) as a means of promoting on farm-conservation of endangered local varieties and local breeds.
- Recognize and support the establishment of GMO-free territories.
- Legally recognize farmers’ right to exchange and market their own propagation material for biodiversity conservation, dynamic management or plant breeding purposes.
- Promote dynamic on-farm conservation of genetic resources applying protocols of participatory plant breeding. Support the characterisation of technical, nutritional, organoleptical, social interests of these new genetic resources to allow their promotion among agricultural stakeholders and final consumers.
For more information see http://reverse.aquitaine.eu/
29 October 2012. On 4 October 2012, the European Commission published a draft Regulation on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union. This draft Regulation establishes rules governing access and benefit-sharing for genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, in accordance with the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol.
The Regulation does not apply to genetic resources for which access and benefit-sharing is governed by a specialised international instrument to which the Union is a Party. The Regulation will only apply to genetic resources and traditional knowledge that were acquired and utilized after the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol for the Union. In practice, all users will have to exercise "due diligence" to ascertain that the genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge they use have been accessed in accordance with applicable legal requirements and to ensure that, where relevant, benefits are shared. Users will also be obliged to declare at specific check points that the correct procedure has been followed.
Picture by Dag Endresen/Flickr
19 October 2012. With 24,000 sand and gravel pits and hard rock quarries, the European Aggregates industry has a strong potential to contribute to biodiversity not only after restoration of the extraction sites but also during operations by coordinated aggregates extraction allowing sufficient space to pioneer and cater for species. Being closed for public access, aggregates extraction sites provide protection for plant and animal species for many years.
UEPG, the European Aggregates Association represented in 31 countries, is a reliable partner for EU stakeholders and a participant of the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform. With the help of a biodiversity-only dedicated Task Force, it has established an ever growing online database with more than 150 biodiversity case studies from 18 countries across Europe. Each case study provides information on the name of the company, location of the extraction site, objective, context, solution, result and partners if applicable.
As in 2010, UEPG issues an extra category for biodiversity excellence at its next European Awards Ceremony in September 2013. The European Aggregates Association will continue to actively encourage its member associations to foster biodiversity among their member companies, and where appropriate for them to partner with local NGOs, universities, research centres and other interested stakeholders.
The European Aggregates Association promotes both the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity throughout the economic crisis. Despite dramatic downturns of production in our industry sector, UEPG underlines the importance of biodiversity as part of sustainable development. Indeed, coordinated aggregates extraction and environmental protection can co-exist as the many examples on biodiversity and restoration in our industry demonstrate. UEPG cooperates with IUCN and signed a Letter of Intent in May 2012.
Read more www.uepg.eu
19 October 2012. The book "Corporation 2020: Transforming Business for Tomorrow's World" describes in pragmatic terms the necessary path of transformation for today's "cost-externalizing" corporations into tomorrow's responsible companies. It presents solutions that cut across the spaces of policy, self-regulation, and legislation-including disclosing corporate externalities, setting limits to corporate leverage, replacing taxes on corporate profits with resource taxes on extraction, and setting ethical standards in advertising.
Listen to author Pavan Sukhdev's video on the value of nature and its services for the human economy from the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign website : link to video.
19 October 2012. Awe-inspiring landscapes, untouched nature, rich heritage and traditional communities: these are just some of the reasons why national parks, nature parks and other designated protected areas are becoming some of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. In light of the increasing number of visitors more and more places are turning to a tourism that ensures these fragile assets remain intact and that brings additional benefits to the local population.
Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve, Italy, has been combining tourism and nature conservation successfully since its establishment in 1983. In 2004 Monte Rufeno decided that it was time to formalise the work they had been doing with regards to sustainable tourism. They applied and began to work towards the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST), developed by the EUROPARC Federation, the umbrella organisation for European protected areas, in the 1990s. They are just one of 107 regions in 13 countries across Europe that has taken this step and boarded the sustainable tourism band-wagon.
Millions of tourists visit "Charter awarded" protected areas each year. Tourism brings many benefits to a region but can also put it under a lot of pressure. In natural areas, which are particularly fragile and where nature conservation is a priority, the trick lies in developing a tourism which preserves the environment on which its activity is based. Carefully built from the ground up, after much shared thinking, the ECST is a set of guidelines that helps Europe's most treasured places to do just this. It reflects the international priorities expressed in the recommendations of Agenda 21 adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and by the European Union in its 6th Environment Action Programme and Strategy for Sustainable Development.
Here are some figures on the Charter Parks:
- First 6 parks awarded in 2001
- Today 107 parks certified in 13 EU Countries
- 4 million people live in those areas
- 3206 partner organisations and businesses
- 73 million people visit Charter Parks each year
- 441 million Euros are invested by Charter protected areas to accomplish their sustainable tourism actions
- 700 local products are supported by parks and business operating under sustainable tourism principles.
Read more here.
9 October 2012. The "Greening Partnership Day" is an event dedicated to the dialogue between stakeholders working hand in hand to highlight biodiversity challenges in practical terms. The European Landowners' Organisation (ELO), Syngenta, and OPERA Research Centre are bringing together academics, farmers, industry, policy makers to identify and promote existing and innovative solutions for more sustainable farming and management activities. In the context of the Common Agricultural Policy reform and the EU environmental challenges, the organizers have identified the need to better understand what is meant with "greening practices" and this will be addressed during the event.
The first part (9.00 to 11.00 AM) will focus on "Greening in best practice". The seminar is hosted by Mairead McGuinness, MEP and will provide the context to shift the discussion on the "greening" measures from the general policy approach to the definition of the available solutions. What would be the best management practices that support the implementation at farm level? The core of the meeting will be on practical examples of greening measures by farmers, complemented by a dialogue between policy makers and scientists. The debate should not focus only on one or two practices, but ensure the diversity of management tools offered to land managers. The conference will invite the decision-makers and people from the field to an open debate on the issue.
In the second part (2.00 to 6.00 PM), the 5th edition of the "European Biodiversity Conference", hosted by Veronique Mathieu, MEP, will be focusing on the current economic and scientific context coupled with environmental challenges of the EU. It will address the issues of how to create a smart, sustainable and inclusive European green economy, regarding resource use, agriculture and the environment. What does this challenge mean for EU policy-makers? And to what extent can land managers, innovation and new technologies respond to that need? Finally, how can we best link all these elements for a sustainable European agriculture and environment?
At the heart of the European Parliament, a highlight of this event will be in the exhibition area (3rd floor) which will host the "Virtual Farm Tour". The participants will have the possibility to meet farmers, experts and officers specialized in the implementation of field margins and management practices in favour of biodiversity. Moreover, they will be able to discover the life-filled exhibit which will give them the opportunity to understand concretely what is meant by greening practices.
You can register here.
9 October 2012. The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) will be running the 2012 Online Course "Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities for the Finance Sector." The 2012 course is an updated version of the highly successful course launched in June 2007 and re-run since then.
The course run by the UNEP FI Climate Change Working Group will offer courses on this important issue over the internet with the aim of increased quality and effectiveness in training. Through the running of the first course, UNEP FI has found strong demand amongst financial institutions to learn about climate change and how it affects their industry. Today, with the climate change agenda becoming even more relevant for the financial services sector, UNEP FI is pleased to offer this eighth course.
For more information see here.
To see the brochure see here.
9 October 2012. What is the role of business in halting nature degradation? Is there a successful example of business solutions for biodiversity loss? Are companies showing interest in investing in biodiversity conservation? The answers to these questions are provided in this interview by the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Mr. Peter Bakker, during the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju, Korea.
The 2012 IUCN Congress allowed global recognition of how the private sector can be a major player when it comes to biodiversity conservation.
To watch the interview, click here.
17 September 2012. There is still very little awareness of the enormous diversity of breeds and varieties found in European agriculture or the need for conservation. The aim of the SAVE Foundation and the Annual European Agrobiodiversity Day on the 29th of September 2012 is to generate public and media attention for the importance of the conservation of the genetic diversity of livestock breeds and cultivated plants.
This initiative intends to help producers of traditional produce to find a market for their products, or to remind our politicians about their international obligations to create strategies to protect the national agrobiodiversity. The SAVE Foundation points out that public awareness is important and this year the subject is the economic value of Agrobiodiversity, entitled "Economic value of local breeds and seeds".
For more information see here.
17 September 2012. During the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 several workshops and other events addressed biodiversity and related issues from a European perspective. "The role of Business and Biodiversity platforms in biodiversity conservation in Europe" event was organized by the IUCN Regional Office for Europe in partnership with the European Commission, DG Environment and the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands.
Ongoing initiatives at the European country level and linked with the European Business and Biodiversity Platform and Campaign were presented. This gave the opportunity to also present a review of national and regional Business and Biodiversity initiatives in Europe, based on a study that has been carried out in recent months.
For more information see here.
17 September 2012. Businesses have an important role in determining the quality of decision-making processes around natural resources management which affects the success of biodiversity conservation and the extent to which ecosystems can maintain and enhance their capacity to contribute to human well-being. With a challenging but realistic ´blueprint for action´ in mind, global companies have strong environment objectives, controls and measures in place in order to make a significant contribution to ´ecosystem resilience´.
During the IUCN Congress 'Invoking the Precautionary Principle: Shell´s approach to protecting the environment: an analysis' workshop was presented, where Shell invited feedback on its approach to protect the environment and encouraged an open dialogue: are we doing enough, when and how much is enough, and how and where to improve performance?
For more information see here.
30 August 2012. There is a need to broaden the debate on sustainable food security from a straight comparison between organic and conventional farming to a consideration of a variety of farming techniques. This is the conclusion of a new review of research that indicates, for some crop types, organic yields can nearly match conventional yields under good management practices and growing conditions.
The global food system needs to feed a growing population whilst minimising its environmental impact. Organic farming aims to produce food with the least harm to the environment. However it has been argued that, because it often has lower yields, it requires more land to produce the same amount of food than its conventional counterparts, which leads to deforestation and biodiversity loss.
For more information see here.
30 August 2012. A private invitation to work with Tomorrow's Company to set new incentive structures for a sustainable world.
UNEP FI and a series of partners took the first steps of a project that will evaluate the ability of existing incentives within capital markets to drive sustainability with the launch of a working paper.
Tomorrow's Capital Markets represents the first phase of a long-term effort that aims to scrutinise sustainability the effectiveness of the current incentives structure and correct its most blatant flaws.
The paper identifies the complexity of incentives faced by different actors along the investment chain and flags some of the fundamental challenges – from communication gaps to the lack of viable metrics – arising from this intricate web.
Tomorrow's Capital Markets also extends an invitation to all parties interested in developing this agenda to partake in dialogues scheduled throughout 2012-13. The initiative will culminate with a major presentation of findings and proposals in the fall of 2013.
Read full paper here.
30 August 2012. Water for Business, a new guide specifically designed for businesses to help them identify water tools and initiatives most suitable for business needs and environmental sustainability was released by WBCSD, IUCN, and SustainAbility.
The guide, which is available online, will help businesses to use water more effectively and support their efforts in adopting more sustainable solutions in partnership with other stakeholders.
The guide outlines the benefits of the different tools available, illustrates how a combination of complementary tools can best meet wide ranging needs, and helps businesses to manage the complexity of water-related challenges.
For more information see here.
20 August 2012. As Coordinator Beneficiary of the LIFE project 3WATER, the European Landowners Organization (ELO) promoted its efforts in the LIFE area at the Green week held in May 2012.
The 3WATER stand presented the project, its achievements and its target species: Bittern (Botaurus Stellaris) and European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea). The project contributes to the implementation of Natura 2000 restoration and conservation of specific habitat types and species of Community Importance in the core of the Natura 2000 area in Midden Limburg in Belgium.
Expert ELO staff, who was available at the stand to answer questions from attendees, highlighted the unique character of this project, being implemented through a private-public partnership. Special emphasis was placed on the fact that the project does not only focus on enhancing nature conservation but it also greatly contributes to the connection between ecology, education and economy.
The project was presented to attendees in an interactive and innovative way through a comic strip. Attendees could also virtually contribute to the project objective to multiply the number of tree frogs in the target area by creating an origami frog at the stand.
The Green Week is the biggest annual event regarding European environmental policy. Its twelfth edition took place in Brussels from 22 to 25 of May 2012 and turned the spotlight on water. Under the title "EVERY DROP COUNTS - The Water Challenge", the conference attracted over fifty exhibitors from all over Europe.
More information on the website www.3water.eu
20 August 2012. The first workshop on long-term finance has facilitated technical and analytical discussions on scaling up the mobilization of climate change finance after 2012.
The workshop was held on 9-11 July in Bonn, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The sessions explored various sources of climate finance, public, private and alternative sources; and different approaches to mobilize financial resources in order to scale up long-term finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation in developed and developing countries. For more information see here.
20 August 2012. The First Global Soil Week will provide a platform to initiate follow-up actions on land and soil-related decisions made at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference and will take place within the framework of the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership.
The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam (IASS) established the Global Soil Forum (GSF) in 2011, which organizes and hosts the first Global Soil Week in 2012. The event will take place in Berlin on 18-22 November 2012.
The First Global Soil Week offers a forum of interactive exchange and dialogue. Stakeholders from science, government, business and civil society will come together to share their land and soil-related experience and expertise, and to develop future plans of action for sustainable land/soil management and governance.
For more information see: http://www.globalsoilweek.org/
31 July 2012. The private sector is one of the key stakeholders in conserving biodiversity. Countries set business and biodiversity platforms and encourage businesses to join them and contribute to the protection of our natural heritage. In addition to platforms, many other initiatives, projects, fora, roundtables and learning sessions are organized around the world to encourage engagement of the private sector. All of these initiatives appeal to companies asking to participate and "do something" for biodiversity and nature conservation.
Yet, companies are rather confused by this variety and a common question in boardrooms nowadays is how many fora as such a company has to join. Naturally, joining one or more of these, if taken seriously, requires resources and man power.
Therefore, the involvement of associations including umbrella organizations through platforms is important, in particular to SMEs that more often than not are not able to join all initiatives and carry the load of their participation.
The variety of available fora raises the question of cooperation between the different platforms and possible coordination within the European Commission as well as how the work could be defined and clarified to avoid overlap, duplicate efforts and waste of resources between and among the platforms.
The concept of business and biodiversity needs to be developed in a way that both the private sector and the environment can benefit. The combination of business and biodiversity needs to become a common practice for the private sector and undoubtedly a part of the business model of every company regardless of its type, size and geographical location.
Understanding policymakers' role and their level of involvement in this process is also important, in particular since the business sector would like to see policymakers around the table along with NGOs and business representatives.
National platforms give businesses the opportunities and the benefits of being involved in the framework of national legislation, taking into account local economic, social and environmental situations, not forgetting the advantage of communicating and sharing information in the local language. The added value at the regional level is to participate in the EU Business and Biodiversity Platform, where more strategic issues can be discussed in a European context. Platforms provide companies prospects for long-term development and contribute to creating a framework mechanism supporting biodiversity protection and the sustainable use of ecosystem services.
31 July 2012. European leader in local tourism, the Pierre &Vacances-CenterParcs (PVCP) Group, manages a network of more than 51,000 apartments and homes in France. The Group launched its sustainable action plan in 2008 consisting, among others, of labelling and certification of its sites. The Group is the manager of nearly 200 hectares of green spaces.
The PVCP residences are often located in attractive natural areas such as mountains, seashores and the countryside. The PVCP Group has already welcomed more than 7.7 million European clients in its tourism residences.
Since 2010, the PVCP Group has contributed to the creation of a green label "Ecojardin" ("Eco-Garden"). This project brings together nine French cities and several territorial associations in order to deal with nature and ecosystem issues. The PVCP Group is the only private operator of green spaces which participates in this project. The objective is to provide green spaces managers with a tool aiming both to assist them to improve their maintenance of green spaces, and to showcase their efforts towards their own teams and the general public.
Furthermore, in the framework of its sustainable action plan, the tourism operator has also started in 2008 an inventory of natural areas followed by the implementation of a customized management of biodiversity on its sites. Thus, pilot sites have carried out daily actions to promote biodiversity preservation and development, including: reduced use of phytosanitary products; late mowing; reduction of noise and visual pollution; limited night lighting to avoid light pollution; preservation and creation of biological niches (lesser cut of branches, swatches, grassy strips); protection of endemic fauna; valuation of local plant species; communication targeted at customers.
Since September 2011, further actions have been focused on the development of a management plan for natural areas and green spaces, and a biodiversity mapping methodology to be deployed across all sites of the Group.
Currently, the Group is working on creating tools in order to help the implementation of new practices onsite: awareness-raising and communication targeted towards the public, pedagogical workshops,visits of eco-friendly green spaces, etc. This initiative is planned to be launched between October and December 2012 on 20 sites that will be provided with drafted management plans and mapping methodology. The overall implementation is scheduled for the end of March 2013.
Find out more about the PVCP Group sustainable action plan and Ecojardin label:
31 July 2012. According to the commitment made in the National Environment White Paper in June 2011, the UK Ministry of Agriculture commissioned the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to investigate how Britain's entire food system must change to keep food affordable without destroying nature, at a time of soaring world population growth.
This resulted in the "Green Food Project" (GFP) the conclusions of which have been published on 10 July 2012. Roundtables were organized bringing together delegations of farmers, food suppliers, retailers, caterers, scientists, and environmentalists in order to conciliate the production of quality food with an increasing demand and respect for the environment.
Five food subgroups were established within the GFP to work on sector-specific tools and recommendations. Each subgroup produced a report with its first conclusions addressing various topics such as research and technology, knowledge exchange, our future workforce, investment, building effective structures, valuing ecosystem services, land management, consumption and waste. Several issues were thus tackled with an important focus on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
More information can be found here and here.
The dairy subgroup studied two scenarios in order to address the twofold objective of an increased production in a better environment: the potential to maximise productivity and the consequent impact on the environment on the one hand, and the potential for the sector to improve its environmental performance and the consequent impact on productivity on the other hand. To address a number of these concerns, the subgroup identified overall solutions such as reducing waste, optimising farming efficiency and resource use and management practices for farmers which were assessed against a set of environmental and productivity indicators.
TESCO, for instance, created in 2007 the TESCO Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG) composed of 700 farmers and aiming at guaranteeing a fair price for their production under the condition that they respect quality and welfare standards. TESCO is running a pilot programme with 12 of its TSDG farmers and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This initiative, in collaboration with Liverpool University, intends among other targets to monitor bird populations and their development and to set best practices to preserve ecosystem balance, as agricultural intensification has been a major contributor to farmland bird decline.
Find out more about the TESCO Sustainable Dairy Group here.
The work of the Green Food Project is now aiming at building on the results to influence decision-making and policies, and keep raising awareness among the field actors.
31 July 2012. The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.
Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today's global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households.
Since the 1900s, some 75 per cent of crop diversity has been lost from farmers' fields. Better use of agricultural biodiversity can contribute to more nutritious diets, enhanced livelihoods for farming communities and more resilient and sustainable farming systems.
In the framework for action and follow-up of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the diversity of agricultural conditions and systems was noted while resolving to increase sustainable agricultural production and productivity globally, including through improving the functioning of markets and trading systems and strengthening international cooperation, particularly for developing countries, by increasing public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development. Key areas for investment and support include sustainable agricultural practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies; research and development of sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains; and strengthening urban-rural linkages. The need has also been recognized to significantly reduce post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.
For more information visit:
31 July 2012. Amid skepticism that much would be accomplished during the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Avoided Deforestation Partners convened a group of extraordinary people from all walks of life — government officials, CEOs, scientists and NGO leaders — to discuss innovative pathways to protect forests while providing food, fiber and fuel for a growing global population.
The event focused on the urgent need to transform agricultural practices in ways that benefit farmers and provide for local communities, as well as protect forests. His Royal Highness Prince Charles opened the proceedings via a special video message. Among prominent participants were Dr. Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, Bianca Jagger, Plant a Pledge Campaign Ambassador and Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Edward Norton, actor, environmentalist and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.
The event featured three substantive panels, each of which provided lively discussions on a variety of initiatives to reduce deforestation. One of the panels was moderated by Julia Marton-LeFèvre, Director General of IUCN.
For many, the highlight of the event was a conversation between Richard Branson, Edward Norton and Dr. Goodall. The three shared personal experiences on the impacts of climate change — from the last remaining forests of Madagascar, the Maasai wilderness in Kenya, to Gombe National Park in Tanzania —and how spending time or working in these countries with local people has inspired them to make conservation a passion. Richard Branson stressed the point that, "The one imperative is…we've got to get every single business in the world and every single businessman and every single entrepreneur to play their role… if we do this, we can get on top of the world's problems."
Furthermore, the United States Government announced it would partner with companies of the Consumer Goods Forum, representing more than 400 companies and brands operating with combined annual revenues of over US$3.1 trillion, to support the Forum's pledge to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020.
Toward the end of the program, Maurice Strong, former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, said, "I am learning more by listening to people who are actually doing things. I am much more encouraged and inspired by what is happening here [than the negotiations]. Here you have the doers. This meeting can make a difference. We all have to make the Earth a better home for all those who will inherit it from us."
Find out more here.
31 July 2012. The Swiss company 'GrobKies' has published a monitoring report in cooperation with the Foundation Nature and Economy (StiftungNatur und Wirtschaft) on certifying restored sites. In defined areas selected numbers of species were monitored for a period of 6 years (2006-2011) in order to learn more about their development.
Aggregates quarries and pits are not only delivering essential material for the European economy but are also offering valuable habitats for rare animal and plant species. The area is closed for public access and is being restored, as previously agreed with state authorities. But taking care of the environment does not end with restoration. Such sites need to be observed by experts monitoring the development of the habitat and the presence of invasive species.
During the monitoring period of the project, it was observed that the diversity of plant species decreased. This was due to the arrival of more sophisticated plants attracted by more fertile soil which began replacing pioneers. The reduction of diversity was also caused by migration of garden plants and invasive species (neophytes).
Results showed that the protection of rare species needs regular interventions in order to maintain the appropriate habitat conditions. This would allow even rare species to spread fairly quickly. At the same time, the withdrawal of rare species would be as fast if no intervention would take place. Therefore, invasive neophytes had to be identified and removed immediately before they could settle and spread.
Surprisingly, the highest diversity was observed not in restored areas without disturbance but in the dynamic and changing environment created by coordinated aggregates extraction allowing sufficient space to pioneer and cater for species. For example, the rare Yellow-bellied Toad spawned in too small water holes which were drying out quickly during summer. Putting the frog eggs into bigger water spaces saved some of the reproduction, thus ensuring the survival of the eggs.
The full monitoring report is in German and available upon request.
31 July 2012. Landmark principles create a United Nations-backed global insurance industry initiative to support the development of a green economy and resilient communities.
Close to 30 leading companies from the insurance industry, worth over USD 5 trillion in total assets and representing over 10 per cent of world premium volume, together with insurance associations from different regions around the world, have joined a UN-backed process to promote a set of Principles for Sustainable Insurance that aim to "green" the sector and provide insurance tools for risk management in support of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The Principles provide a holistic approach to managing a wide range of global and emerging risks in the insurance business, from climate change and natural disasters to water scarcity, food insecurity and pandemics. They represent the first ever global sustainability framework tailored for the insurance industry that takes into account the fundamental economic value of natural capital, social capital and good governance.
The Principles also aim to position the insurance industry as a lever for the green economy and sustainable development. Signatory companies will publicly disclose their progress in implementing the Principles for Sustainable Insurance on an annual basis.
The Principles are a result of a six-year global development process carried out by the UN Environment Programme's Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a strategic initiative involving the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and financial institutions worldwide. In 2006, UNEP FI created a working group of leading insurers to study the impacts of a wide range of environmental, social and governance issues of the insurance business and sustainable development. This group was initially co-chaired by AXA and Insurance Australia Group, and is currently chaired by Munich Re.
Read the full article here.
Download the principles for sustainable insurance here.
27 July 2012. The European Landowners Organization (ELO) together with Syngenta created a network of farmers and land managers who are committed to implement innovative practices thus contributing to sustainable food production and finding environmental balance.
The Pollinator Network initiative (PNi) is an emblematic project using this approach and it promotes a model of economically viable, highly productive and resource-efficient agriculture demonstrating that modern farming and environmental management can coexist on the same field. The initiative is supported by a network of farmers and land managers acting for biodiversity who are willing to use a "bed" of plants as their field border – particularly indicated for pollinating species. These strips are also considered as excellent habitat and a source of food for birds, small game and roe deers.
The Pollinator Network Initiative's ambition is to provide training support for farmers, land managers and agronomists. It is designed to create a forum for knowledge-sharing on sustainable agriculture practices for biodiversity all around Europe and enhance the harmonization of our current agricultural system within the European landscapes. Several training sessions and field trips will be organized in October 2012, in Brussels, Belgium and in the Czech Republic.
Present in over 16 countries of the European Union, the Pollinator Network initiative seeks to promote greening practices in a simple but concrete and understandable way for farmers and land managers. In 2012, the network will reach about 10,000 hectares of pollinators strips implemented in Europe.
A training video to be found here.
For more information:
Delphine DUPEUX: email@example.com;
Caroline MAHR: firstname.lastname@example.org.
27 July 2012. 12 promising opportunities for UK business to help protect and value nature's services were identified in a recent report.
The report 'Opportunities for UK business that value and/or protect nature's services', was commissioned by the Valuing Nature Network for the Ecosystem Markets Task Force, and looks at the business opportunities arising from the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA): the UK assessment of the state of UK's ecosystems, the services they provide, and the value of these services.
A diverse team of environmental economists, plus specialists in environmental technology, product markets, offsetting and sustainability, were brought together by lead consultant Guy Duke to analyse the evidence presented by the NEA.
The report outlines the business case for valuing and protecting nature's services. It highlights a series of drivers that are leading businesses to increasingly consider and manage impacts on ecosystems and to look for business opportunities while they do so.
The report identified eight key types of opportunities available to businesses, from financial and legal services to product markets and environmental technologies. From 40 opportunities, drawn from reviewing the NEA and stakeholders' ideas, the team have pulled out a preliminary list of 12 top opportunities which they say show real promise. The findings will support the Task Force's work on opportunities for UK businesses from valuing and protecting nature.
To find out more details about this initiative and the 12 opportunities follow the links below:
27 July 2012. FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP) has concluded its 53rd Session on May 24, 2012 in New Delhi, India. The committee welcomes the proposed new FAO strategic objectives in which forestry and forest-based products play a vital role.
By offering a variety of business opportunities including the emerging bio-economy, in combination with sustainable forest management, forestry and forest-based industries contribute to increased wealth, environmental progress, and direct and indirect employment, thus addressing many of the global challenges identified by FAO.
Recognizing the present and future contribution of forestry and forest-based industries to the cross-cutting strategic objectives of FAO, ACPWP requested that FAO continues to ensure that forestry and forest-based industries play this important role.
ACPWP made three further recommendations:
- That FAO develops an analysis on the relative impacts and returns of water use in forestry.
- That FAO works with the industry to understand what future skills and educational strategies are needed as a result of the transition to the emerging bio-economy.
- That FAO adopts a new proposed advisory committee structure reflecting greater geographic balance and scope of work, new name; and that also provides increased guidance to the Programme of Work and Budget of FAO.
Forestry and forest-based industries are strategically positioned close to rural communities, providing livelihoods and contributing to the eradication of hunger globally. Forests and forest-based industries have a strong track record of developing a variety of products and services in a sustainable manner. They offer innovative solutions to many of the world's most pressing problems including climate change mitigation and energy security.
12 July 2012. Celebrating World Environment Day, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a biodiversity project in Georgia to protect mountain and freshwater ecosystems through tourism.
Biodiversity is tourism's natural capital, motivating millions of people to travel the world each year. Yet biodiversity is at risk on a global scale due largely to unsustainable human activities.
"Biodiversity is central to all our lives, yet is being lost at an alarming rate," said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. "Through developing sustainable tourism we can help to change attitudes and increase conservation. This particular project will raise awareness of Georgia's great biodiversity, generate income for nature conservation and preserve precious species and habitats for future generations."
"Georgia, as part of the Caucasus region, is a biodiversity hotspot. These hotspots are recognized globally as priority sites, based on criteria such as the diversity of species and plant types, and this rich biodiversity increases Georgia's attractiveness as a tourist destination," said the Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Maia Sidamonidze. "Ecotourism can fund conservation, contribute to the protection of endangered ecosystems and promote development in poor areas. However, there are also examples of tourism having a negative impact on the environment. In light of these contradictory impacts, this project aims to reduce such conflicts by raising awareness of these areas for protection."
"Ecotourism has a great future and there is huge potential for the development of ecotourism in protected areas in Georgia. We hope that in the near future Georgia will have an ecotourism country label," said Giorgi Shonvadze, Chairman of the Agency of Protected Areas.
The project, to be carried out by the UNWTO Consulting Unit on Tourism and Biodiversity, will develop tourism products in mountain and freshwater ecosystems in four protected areas in the country, in order to raise awareness of these areas, as well as generate income for their conservation.
Read more here.
12 July 2012. Although bird species disappear with intensive agriculture, research in Costa Rica shows that forest intermingled with cultivated land rescues biodiversity.
To keep up with projected demand, farming output will need to double in the next few decades. This inconvenient fact is bad news for the environment as a whole, and biodiversity in particular. Large-scale, high-intensity agricultural production, scientists say, dramatically reduces variation between bird communities of different areas.
But Stanford scientists say there may be a way to increase agricultural land without substantially impacting biodiversity.
A new paper by biology graduate student Daniel Karp, with Stanford biology professors and Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment fellows, Gretchen Daily and Paul Ehrlich, shows that low-intensity tropical agriculture can maintain regional species differences at levels similar to those of intact forest. The study appears in June 22 issue of the journal "Ecology Letters".
Read the full article here.
12 July 2012. Multi stakeholder initiative, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reported unprecedented growth for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in the year 2011 as accounted for in its inaugural qualitative review entitled "2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative" (2011 GIN). The 2011 GIN, the first of its kind for any sustainable commodity, will be an annual report aimed at recording and analysing the growth and trends of RSPO and CSPO in the global marketplace.
The report confirms the upward trend in the supply and sale of sustainable palm oil, since the certification of the commodity was first launched by the RSPO in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 supply of CSPO has increased by 250% while sales volume has grown by over 6 times, approximately 620%.
According to the report, the year-on-year supply of CSPO in 2011 increased by 73%, reaching 4,798,512 metric tons compared to 2,773,567 metric tons in 2010, while year-on-year sales volume increased by a whopping 94%.
The remarkable surge in supply can be attributed to the rising number of certified growers entering into RSPO's certification process. While in 2008, RSPO could count 17 certified mills in just two countries (Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), today there are 29 grower companies with 135 certified mills in six countries: Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands – an increase in certified mills of approximately 8 times over a 3 year period.
Darrel Webber, Secretary General of the RSPO commented that: "The growth of CSPO has shown an escalating trend and clearly reflects the inclination of sustainability standards towards palm oil. RSPO praises the efforts of growers for embarking on the certification process and committing themselves to the RSPO Principles and Criteria. A total of US$21.5 million worth of premiums has been paid to date to RSPO certified growers since the first certificates via the Book & Claim system under the GreenPalm were traded in 2008 - and we hope that the growers have found this valuable in empowering their transformation to sustainable cultivation practices."
RSPO membership has also been rapidly expanding in the past year. Membership of consumer goods manufacturer increased by over 60% while the retailers category increased by 50% – both primarily from the European regions which is an affirmative step in accelerating demand of CSPO. The processors & traders category also intensified by over 30% strengthening commitment along the palm oil supply chain, another integral development in transforming the market.
Read full text here.
28 June 2012. Habitat fragmentation has been identified as a significant cause of biodiversity loss. The French Ministry for Environment, in the framework of its national Biodiversity Action Plan, is implementing "green and blue" infrastructure with the objective to create and to re-create ecological connectivity via land and water across the territory in order to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.
Quarries, being important elements of the land-planning, are potentially impacted by this issue due to potential changes in the functioning of ecological networks that they may induce, and by their ability to recreate high quality habitat which can contribute to the restoration of ecological networks.
The French Association of Aggregates Producers (UNPG – Union Nationale des Producteurs de Granulats) has launched a study in 2011 in order to understand and assess the role of quarries in the ecological networks. The study is being jointly done with an environmental consultancy (ENCEM) and with the National Museum of Natural History in cooperation with the industry.
To better know the links between quarries and ecological connectivity and the influence of extraction sites on that connectivity, the study will evaluate and quantify how two populations exchange individuals from one side of the quarry to the other. Since a quarry substitutes one habitat for another, we might expect that its effect on ecological networks is favourable for some species, and negative for others. It is therefore necessary to work on two signature species reflecting both aspects.
The sites have been selected according to several criteria, including the confirmed presence of the two target species, the absence of major infrastructure or linear urbanization, the homogeneity of the biogeographical area, and belonging to a network. The panel of selected sites (64 sites) includes 12 networks of quarries and 3 referential networks (no quarry).
According to the results of the study, which should be completed in 2014, a method for evaluating the effect of quarries on ecological networks will be proposed. This method would be applicable at different scales: network or site level, and will be accompanied by guidelines aiming at better taking into account ecological networks and connectivity into quarrying activities.
The study is based on 64 selected extraction sites and will be finalised in 2014.
28 June 2012. Members of the European Parliament, together with the Gypsum industry, launched the EP Gypsum Forum on 18 June in Brussels, with the objective of strengthening the movement towards sustainable construction and renovation in Europe, a sector that provides 15 million jobs.
The Forum has begun preparing their first high-level event scheduled for 13 November 2012 at the European Parliament's premises around the topic of "Sustainable construction and renovation is the route to a low carbon economy". This debate aims to influence the upcoming European Commission Communications on competitiveness of the construction sector and on sustainable buildings – these are crucial to stimulate job creation and to reduce pollution and emissions.
MEP Anja Weisgerber (EPP, Germany), Member of the EP Environment Committee is chairing this initiative. Conscious of the strategic importance of this sector for the economic and social well-being of people in Europe, the aim is to foster a constructive dialogue among all the stakeholders involved, at every step of the market and supply-chain of the building and renovation sector in Europe (from extraction of the materials for construction products up until their recycling). She said "We need to create a long term vision and develop innovative solutions for the sustainable use of resources, encourage sustainable building design and identify ways to increase recycling in construction. At the same time we should not lose sight of consumers' requirements for safety, health and comfort".
The secretariat of the Forum is supported by Eurogypsum, the European Plaster and Plasterboard Manufacturers association. The president of Eurogypsum, Dr. Maurizio Casalini, sees the importance of the EP Gypsum Forum in order to get a forward-looking vision "to go from products to systems, from environmental products to environmental systems, and from extraction to recycling and re-naturation".
Gypsum is present at all stages of the construction process, from extraction to manufacture of products and their recovery and recycling.
The Forum website can be found here.
28 June 2012. "Justmeans – Business. Better." has published an article on the role that has to be taken up by the financial sector in giving value to ecosystems and their services in order to halt the enormous species loss that is currently occurring because of human intervention and action. The article states that policy makers have failed to protect biodiversity and the only way to address the issues properly is for the financial sector to further take up their role in putting a price on ecosystems.
The article bases itself on the latest release from the Worldwatch Institute of their flagship publication "State of the World" this year subtitled "Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity." In it, the authors argue that it is critical to determine, understand and apply economic value to ecosystem health.
"Accurate valuation of ecosystem services is vital to create greater accountability and awareness of the ecological impact of our actions," said Erik Assadourian, Worldwatch senior fellow and State of the World 2012 project co-director. "By understanding ecosystem services in monetary or physical terms, leaders can assess and improve the sustainability of their policies."
The rise of biodiversity investments in recent years has been helped by the drive to valuate the ecosystem services that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems provide—from carbon storage, clean drinking water and crop pollination to pest control, pharmaceuticals and bio-energy. The recently launched Natural Capital Declaration, an agreement signed by the CEOs from 20 financial institutions to integrate natural capital criteria into financial products and services, also sends a strong message across the financial sector that healthy biodiversity and ecology can and must be supported by the world economy.
You can read the article here.
Picture by B_cool
14 June 2012. A case study from the Ljunghusens Golf Club, a participant to the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform, is featured in the RioPlus Business magazine, published ahead of the Earth Summit in Brazil later in June. The magazine is produced as part of the RioPlus Business website whose aim is to highlight the role and potential of the private sector – the business and investment community – in contributing to sustainable development through the work related to biodiversity, land management and climate change.
The website presents case studies, best practice and innovative projects that showcase how investment, products and services related to biodiversity, land management and climate change help deliver sustainable development on the ground. The various projects are grouped under five themes: sustainability scenarios, innovations, ecosystem services, sustainable land and water management, and latest research.
The Ljunghusens Golf Club and its case study from Sweden's wetlands appears in the magazine under the sustainable land and water management category. Activities within the project include:
- Ecological studies on plants, birds, mammals amphibians and red listed species.
- Work on habitats (increase the size of habitat patches, connect internal habitat patches, connect patches with external habitats, create new habitat corridors, improve and diversify habitat edges).
- Consultation with local nature conservation organizations.
- Activities for environmental education.
- Conservation and enhancing landscape and cultural heritages.
- Activities to conserve reduce and minimize water consumption.
- Careful use of fertilizers.
The case study by Ljunghusens Golf Club is also part of the "Best practices in B@B: Compilation of case studies per sector from participants" produced by the EU B@B Platform.
The full RioPlus Business magazine can be found here.
The "Best Cases in B@B" publication can be found here.
14 June 2012. Proving there is plenty of life after LIFE, the Dutch company Paperfoam, a recipient of LIFE funding from 1999-2001 (LIFE99 ENV/NL/000232) has recently launched a commercial product that achieves one of the key goals of its LIFE Environment project. The target of the "Paperfoam" project was to develop new, "green" products for the industrial packaging market based around a patented "injection moulding" technology and using recyclable raw materials, such as potato starch, rather than the usual polystyrenes or cardboard. The beneficiary aimed to show that it was possible to produce a commercially viable, environmentally friendly alternative that could be used for packaging both food and non-food items.
The non-food side was relatively straightforward, and Paperfoam was already receiving orders from large international companies for packaging for electrical goods by the end of the demonstration project. Today it produces products ranging from USB trays to packaging for eye drops. Food packaging proved more complex, but now Paperfoam has successfully launched its first product in this market: an egg box.
Developed in partnership with Rondeel, a Dutch company that supplies eggs to supermarkets, the new egg box, which is made of 100% recyclable or compostable starch-based Paperfoam, can be found housing Rondeel eggs in the German supermarket Kaiser’s Tengelmann.
For more information see here.
14 June 2012. Despite progress in some areas, Europe must do more to create the "green economy" needed for the continent to become sustainable, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The "Environmental indicator report 2012" presents established indicators that illustrate progress towards improving resource efficiency, and indicators that depict the risk of passing environmental thresholds. Jointly, they enable policymakers and the public to reflect on where Europe stands vis-à-vis some aspects of a green economy.
The report emphasises that improving resource efficiency remains necessary, but stresses that this in itself may not be sufficient to ensure a resilient, sustainable natural environment. In some cases, reduced ecosystem resilience may even be irreversible, for example biodiversity loss leading to species extinction, or when environmental or climate tipping points are passed.
The report was presented to members of parliament (MPs) from more than 20 EU Member States during a visit to the EEA on Monday 14 May 2012.
The report uses well-established environmental indicators, assessing progress towards a green economy along six environmental themes:
- Nitrogen emissions and threats to biodiversity: progress has been made to reduce pollution causing acidification and eutrophication. However, nitrogen emissions from sewage and agriculture remain high, and these pollutants continue to damage ecosystems and habitats.
- Carbon emissions and climate change: domestic greenhouse gas emissions have decreased substantially across the European Union but continue to rise on the global level. Rising temperatures threaten ecosystem resilience.
- Air pollution and air quality: air pollutant emissions have decreased in many parts of Europe; nonetheless, poor air quality is still a serious health issue, particularly in many cities.
- The marine environment: overfishing, shipping and other maritime activities put pressure on the marine environment; leading to altered, often less resilient marine ecosystems.
- Stress on water resources: managing water use and demand has helped reduce water use in all sectors; but high levels of water stress still endanger ecosystems in European water bodies. This problem is exacerbated by climate change and inefficient water use in some areas.
- Use of material resources: there has been progress in 'decoupling' economic growth and material resource use. However, overall consumption and production patterns are not sustainable.
4 June 2012. On 24 May 2012, Slovenskéelektrárne, a.s. Slovakia, with the project "Energy for Nature: Saving most precious animal species in Slovak mountains" was awarded the prestigious European Business Award for the Environment 2012 in the new category Business and Biodiversity for its outstanding achievements in halting biodiversity loss and supporting natural ecosystems. The Jury concluded that in addition to supporting Natura 2000 and creating sustainable public-private partnerships, the project has engaged employees and the local community. It is a template for cross-border corporate social responsibility and biodiversity financing. For more information click here.
The other two nominees in this category originate from the UK and France. The British "Cafédirect" is an SME with global outreach and a fair trade record, which developed and implemented adaptation strategies with smallholder tea and coffee farmers. The French entry was the French inland waterways operator, Voies Navigables de France (VNF), which has designed and implemented an innovative ecological engineering approach to restore, maintain and consolidate the country's embankments. For more information see the EC Newsletter.
The other four winners reflect contributions to sustainable development in: management, product, and process innovation respectively, and international business cooperation. The 2012 winners are: Marks and Spencer (UK) for management; Aquamarine Power (UK) for product; Umicore (Belgium) for process; INENSUS GmbH (Germany) for international business cooperation.
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Resource efficiency is the key to a competitive, sustainable Europe. These companies show that it is not only possible but desirable to combine a healthy bottom line with environmental protection. They are green growth in action and I applaud them."
The five winners represent large corporations and SMEs, old and new Member States, and sectors from retail to energy to material engineering. Most of the applicants were SMEs. The greatest number of entries (62) was in the newly introduced "business and biodiversity" category, which was created thanks to the effort of the EU Business and Biodiversity Platform. They were selected from a shortlist of 14 candidates from nine European countries and wide-ranging economic sectors. They are companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance.
The jury was made up of 20 experts from European and national authorities, academia, businesses and the green technology sector. A record 156 submissions for the awards were received this year, a 10% increase on 2010.
The winners were announced at an evening ceremony during Green Week. At this large event organized by the European Commission Directorate General for the Environment, the B@B Platform was presented at the stand hosted by the European Landowners' Organization, one of the implementing partners of the B@B Platform.
More information on the winners, the runners-up, the selection procedure and past EBAE competitions can be found here.
Read more on the Green Week.
4 June 2012. There are approximately 6,500 golf courses in Europe. Around 50% of golf land is playing surface, and the other 50% is typically semi-natural vegetation, including rough grasslands, scrub, woodlands, wetlands and open water. Applied research highlights that golf courses often provide valuable green-space which protects and conserves species of local, national and even international importance.
Encouraging golf clubs and developers to do the maximum
Since 2005, the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) has been dedicated to motivating and helping existing golf clubs and new golf developments to embrace biodiversity conservation.
GEO aims to ensure all golf courses fulfil their biodiversity potential – becoming living landscapes that contribute as, and within functioning ecosystems.
Two programmes, one international industry ecolabel
GEO has therefore developed two fully customised and integrated programmes for sustainable golf facilities:
- the GEO OnCourse™ is a programme for existing golf clubs, driving continual improvement through helping golf course and club managers define what to do and how to start;
- the GEO Legacy™ is designed to help new golf developments or renovations take sustainability to the heart of decision making – from conception to conclusion.
Both programmes are based on practical guidance, comprehensive yet streamlined content, third party verification and transparent public reporting of outcomes.
GEO Certified™ is golf's ecolabel earned after successful completion of either programme. GEO Certified is a highly credible mark of assurance, signifying commitment and achievement around comprehensive criteria covering key aspects of golf course ecology and biodiversity conservation:
- Landscapes and ecosystems
- Energy and resources
- Products and supply chains
- Environmental quality
- People and communities
These criteria are weighed depending on whether they are mandatory ('Must' criteria) or demonstrate the applicants credible engagement ('Should' criteria).
GEO is a not-for-profit organisation serving the global golf community. Their work is made possible with input from scientific and environmental groups and support from a growing number of industry stakeholders, including the R&A, European Tour, and many golf industry associations and national golf federations.
Golfbaan Landgoed Bleijenbeek GEO Certified™
Golf Course Bleijenbeek was awarded the GEO Certified™ ecolabel in 2011 and is a strong example of ongoing commitment to biodiversity protection and development. The course is part of a 270 hectares estate in the Limburg province of the Netherlands and borders the National Park Maasduinen, a Nature 2000 area. As part of an extensive network of ecosystems the course functions as a corridor for promoting species migration, and the inventory of flora and fauna that has been recorded since the course opened shows a rich variety of species. A range of habitats have been maintained or restored, from grasslands to dense woodlands that are home to many species including a species of beaver that is rare in the Netherlands and a number of forest edge birds.
Along with the course design, the brook was brought back to a natural meandering shape in cooperation with the local Water Board and there are many water elements with rich shoreline vegetation.
This article results from the collaboration of GEO and PwC.
4 June 2012. When it comes to the effects of food production on the environment, palm oil is a visible product. Indeed, the effects of its production on the environment and deforestation have been popularized through sometimes virulent campaigns.
Among the most serious impacts are:
- large-scale forest conversion
- loss of critical habitat for endangered species.
While 80% of the production of palm oil comes from Indonesia, EU imports represent 12% of global imports. This issue is particularly obvious for companies in the food supply sector which import products from outside the EU and must find ways to source sustainably. The WWF has released its Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard 2011 which gives an overview of the current situation.
According to the FAO, palm oil represented already 65% of global vegetable oil trade in 2006 with a production that doubled over the last decade. Food producers have thus sought ways to reduce their indirect impact on the environment through their imports. Solutions to lessen the impact include sustainable sourcing and substitution.
Many companies focus on the sourcing of sustainable palm oil with reduced environmental impact. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) provides a solution with 10% of the crude palm oil production being certified. Among the companies committed to source 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) are Carrefour (2015), Casino (2010), Tesco (2012), Unilever (2015), etc.
However, according to the WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard, even though the sales of CSPO have been multiplied by 4 between early 2010 and end 2011, around 50% of the CSPO production finds no buyer.
Some food producers or retailers use other vegetable oils as a substitute to palm oil mainly on fried products (crisps, fries, etc.) such as Léon de Bruxelles, McCain but also on other products such as bread, pastry, etc. although the substitution can be technically more difficult. Casino offers a range of such products without palm oil and Findus France has decided to use no palm oil in all its prepared dishes from 2010 on.
As consumption is still growing, both solutions are complementary in order to reverse this trend and consume with a lower impact.
For further information:
4 June 2012. In the Farmers and Agrobiodiversity project over a hundred farmers in Brabant, The Netherlands, have started to work with measures that contribute to the improvement of biodiversity. This means adapting or changing farming methods. The necessary factual underpinning for this was not available until now. Important questions can now be answered; a study of the economic and environmental effects of the biodiversity measures has been completed. In short, is there profit in agrobiodiversity?
The research was conducted on behalf of the Farmers and Agrobiodiversity project by DLV Dier together with DLV Plant, LBI and WUR. The topics were put forward by the project participants. Calculations were carried out for ten biodiversity measures (for dairy cattle and arable farms). The gains for the environment, the financial benefits for the farmer, and the extra work involved were determined. One of the study's strengths is that the provisional results were shared with the project participants during a network meeting. There is support among the participating farmers.
An example of the measures is cooperation between dairy farmers and arable farmers in crop growing. The study shows that both could earn money from this and it is also favourable for biodiversity, meaning double the profit. Other measures covered by the calculations include the prevention of soil compaction, less grassland renewal, sowing grass/clover, mowing grass mixtures, increasing cow lifetime, growing substitutes for concentrate feeds, fertilizer application and efficient irrigation.
A farm biodiversity scan has been developed under the project. This is a relatively simple measure of the level of biodiversity achieved.
The information obtained is needed to make strategic and operational choices on the farms. The study results enable further scaling-up and dissemination of agrobiodiversity. The full report 'Is there profit in biodiversity?' can be consulted via this link.
For more information on the Farmers and Agrobiodiversity project, contact the project leader Bart Bardoel (ZLTO) via telephone 0031 6-21212438 or email: email@example.com.
4 June 2012. The European forest and forest-based sector asks for a full and inclusive recognition of forest industries in the future EU Forest Strategy.
The forest owners, both public and private, and the forest products industries of the EU urge the Commission to develop a Forest Strategy that would not only take into consideration the forests of Europe, their sustainable management, and the multiple functions, goods and services they supply to the European society, but also the downstream uses of forest resources.
For more details please read the joint position sent to the Commission on 29 March 2012.
The European forest-based sector, represented in Brussels by CEPF, CEI-Bois, EUSTAFOR and CEPI, follows the process of developing a constructive and inclusive EU Forest Strategy closely, in particular since the final addressees will be the forest owners and the industries. As the process involving the stakeholders and Member States representatives is going on, the European forest-based sector draws the attention of the Commission to some fundamental principles to be taken into account when elaborating the first proposal.
4 June 2012. Hanson's King's Dyke nature reserve at Whittlesey near Peterborough took top honours in the biodiversity category at the 2012 Sustain' magazine awards. Hanson is part of the Heidelberg Cement Group AG, a participant to the B@B Platform.
The former clay quarry adjacent to the Hanson brick works has been developed into a community nature reserve over the last 17 years. More than 140 species of birds have been recorded on the site, including the Marsh Harrier and Bittern, along with butterflies, dragonflies and various mammals, including water vole and otter.
King's Dyke is particularly important for its invertebrates, with over 2,500 species recorded, one of which is thought to be new to the UK. The large numbers of ponds support more than 5,000 Great Rested Newts, While common lizards, Grass Snake and Slow Worm are also found in good numbers.
The award was collected by Hanson's head of sustainability and environment Martin Crow and Philip Parker, who manages the site on behalf of the company.
"We are delighted that King's Dyke has been recognized," said Mr. Crow. "It is a haven for wildlife and an important educational and recreational facility. Its success demonstrates the significant role the quarrying industry can play in re-shaping the landscape to enhance biological diversity both during and after mineral extraction."
Steve Oxley, editor of Sustain' magazine, said: "Year on year we have seen the quality of entries to the awards increase. I would like to congratulate Hanson on its success."
More information can be found here.
4 June 2012. A new report from the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), co-funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, makes a powerful business case for sustainable banking.
The performance of sustainable banks, which base their decisions first and foremost on the needs of people and the environment, were compared to 29 of the world's largest and most influential financial institutions. In a number of key areas, including return on assets, growth in loans and deposits, and capital strength, the sustainable banks outperformed their mainstream contemporaries – sometimes substantially.
"This report shows that doing good benefits the banks," says Luis-Felipe Derteano, Chairman of Grupo ACP, the parent company of Mibanco, a Peruvian microfinance institution and one of the co-founders of the GABV. "And not just in a theoretical and ethical sense. These banks are doing well when measured against conventional benchmarks such as the financial bottom line."
Derteano continues: "The report's findings are crucial for a global banking industry which has tremendous potential to affect positive change through its ability to lend money to finance entrepreneurs and stimulate local economies. Most importantly, it shows that a sustainable approach to banking offers all of us the prospect of a stable, prosperous future."
The GABV, which now has a total of fifteen members but is continually growing, believes the new report highlights sustainable banking's growing relevance.
"Clearly, there is growing demand worldwide for value-based banks that have a triple bottom line approach to banking, balancing people, the planet and prosperity," says Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity, Canada's largest community credit union and GABV member. "Our challenge now is to meet this growing need for lending and other bank services among people traditionally unserved or underserved by the big banks."
Read more, including a summary and full version of the "Strong, Straightforward and Sustainable Banking" report here.
11 May 2012. The EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform will participate in the Green Week – the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, organized by the European Commission.
During Green Week the Platform will be presented at the stand hosted by the European Landowners' Organization, one of the implementing partners of the B@B Platform. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the B@B team and get acquainted with the Platform's activities and outputs. A selection of case studies showcasing best practices in the private sector will also be available for visitors at the stand.
The ceremony for the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE) will be held during the Green Week. For the first time a new 'Business and Biodiversity' Award will also be given to a European company with outstanding achievements in halting biodiversity loss and supporting natural ecosystems. The 14 nominees for this year's Awards will be promoted and will have their projects exhibited during the Green Week. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Brussels on the evening of Thursday 24 May 2012.
Green Week is organized for the 12th time and will take place from 22 to 25 May 2012 in Brussels. This year's theme is "Water". Over the past decade, the conference has established itself as an unmissable event for anyone involved with protecting the environment. The 2011 edition attracted more than 3,000 participants from government, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, academia and the media.
Interested parties can register for the event via this link.
11 May 2012. A recently launched call for proposals by the European Commission Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry invites interested parties to apply for funding for projects connected with eco-innovative products, techniques, services or processes which aim at prevention or reduction of environmental impacts or which contribute to the optimal use of resources.
The specific objectives of this call are to promote the adoption of new and integrated approaches to eco-innovation in fields such as environmental management and environmentally-friendly products, processes and services; to encourage the uptake of environmental solutions by increasing the market and by the removing the barriers to market penetration; to promote high-added value products, processes, technologies or services; and to increase innovation capacities of SMEs.
The main priority areas of this call for proposals are materials recycling, sustainable building products, food and drink sector, and water. The call is open to any legal organisation in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA), candidate countries and third countries. The deadline for the submission of proposals is 6 September 2012.
Further information can be found here.
11 May 2012. The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) Business Day 2012, the official United Nations Major Group Business and Industry event, is a high-profile platform for interaction between business leaders and policy-makers. The 2012 edition runs under the theme "Achieving Scale" and the role of trade and investment in sustainable development. It will include a wide range of business, government and NGO participants, and will address both sector and cross-cutting issues.
The Business Day will identify key actions and catalysts to drive scale in sustainable development to input to the Rio+20 Conference and foster collaborative action among participants. A variety of sector-oriented dialogue sessions will highlight business solutions, commitments to action, and hurdles to achieving scale. Sessions currently planned include: Agriculture, Cement, Chemicals, Consumer Goods, Energy/Power, Forestry, Materials, Oil & Gas, Transport, or others.
A working "roundtable" luncheon for senior government, business and UN officials will also take place. Participants will include Heads of State, CEOs, and senior leaders from key stakeholder groups.
The event will take place on Tuesday 19 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
More information can be found via this link.
Registration for the event can be made via this link.
27 April 2012. On the second day of the 1st European Biodiversity Summit, held on the 17th and 18th of April in Stuttgart, Germany, one of the sessions focused on the opportunities for financing biodiversity and exploring the economic value of biodiversity for investors.
The aim of this session was to highlight new developments in financing biodiversity conservation through tapping private capital sources and to show the status quo of markets for biodiversity. Biodiversity is an interesting candidate for investors with a public mandate, but in order to get private sector investors involved, the financial sector has to become more convinced of economic value of biodiversity. Both private as well as public sector investors are willing to scale up their investments in biodiversity, if a stronger business case for doing is developed.
The lively session provided interesting and useful insights into both the considerations of investors with a public mandate and private sector investors towards financing biodiversity as an asset, next to possibilities to build a stronger business case for biodiversity to increase the interest of a wide range of investors. The reports and presentations from this session, as well as the other parts of the summit, will soon be available here.
For more information on the session and the panel members, visit the website.
Copa-Cogeca holds major debate on EU biofuel policies and land use changes, warning EU model for calculating impact of biodiesel on emissions is flawed
27 April 2012. Copa-Cogeca held a major debate this week on European Biofuel Policies and the impact of land use changes on greenhouse gas emissions, warning that the EU model for calculating the impact of biodiesel on emissions is fundamentally flawed and differs greatly from models and classifications used in the US. In the US, the benefits of canola biodiesel in terms of reducing emissions are highly renown, Gerard Tubery, Chairman of Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Oil seeds and Protein Crops stressed.
The move came after the reports evaluating the impact of land use change on greenhouse gas emissions relating to biofuel demand in 2020 which were commissioned by the EC from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) were discussed in further detail in Copa-Cogecas Working Party. Mr Tubery insisted “It’s ludicrous that the reports promote the idea that rapeseed biodiesel is worse than bioethanol. This is not the consensus view at international level. Indeed, the U.S. canola biodiesel is recognized as an advanced biofuel”.
Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said biofuels offer many advantages in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing employment in EU rural areas. And they can be produced in the EU in a sustainable way, without being responsible for indirect land use changes.
Increased biofuel production in the EU also relieves land pressures in non-EU countries and helps to combat deforestation of tropical rainforests. The development of biodiesel is also important as the rapeseed plant can be used simultaneously for both biodiesel production and as a cheap feedstuff for animals. In fact, only part of the oilseed, cereals and sugar beet used to produce biofuels is actually converted into energy. The majority stays in the feed sector and is used as animal feed, with 6-8 million tonnes of rapeseed oil used in biodiesel out of 160 mt of vegetable oils and fats global supply.
It is consequently unacceptable to use these reports to allow an impact assessment of political options for an EU legislative proposal on indirect land use changes related to biofuels in 2012, Mr Pesonen concluded.
27 April 2012. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has highlighted a new study on how Mexican bats with Brazilian roots are boosting the US cotton industry. The study was published in the journal "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment," and was co-authored by Rodrigo Medellin, Ambassador of the Year of the Bat and Scientific Councillor to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
UNEP notes the importance of bat conservation, as supporting ecosystem services are critical to a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy, one of the themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).
According to the study, in the summer the Brazilian free-tailed bat migrates from its habitat in central Mexico to breeding grounds in the north of the country and south western areas of the US, where it feeds on moths and other agricultural pests. According to the study, the natural pest control that bats provide has an economic value of US$740,000. The study takes into account the value of cotton crops that would have been lost in the absence of bats and cost savings made through the reduced use of pesticides.
According to Medellin, it is important to conserve bat habitats worldwide for the sake of their economic benefits alone. He also highlights that the CMS-backed Year of the Bat 2011-12 is an essential tool to convey the value of ecological services bats provide to human economies and the health of ecosystems.
16 April 2012. As the EU B@B Platform gets to its third and last year of activity, a workshop organised by the European Commission's DG Environment addressed the future of the Platform and cooperation with similar national initiatives.
On 22 March, Pia Bucella, Director of Nature, Biodiversity and Land use at the European Commission (EC) opened the event attended by around 50 representatives of companies, NGOs and Member States by stressing on the importance of businesses being part of the biodiversity policy agenda.
Francois Wakenhut, Head of Biodiversity at the EC stated: “The EU B@B Platform is a great tool for the Commission to connect with the private sector in delivering on the EU Biodiversity Strategy targets and actions. Building on this and the lessons we have learnt after almost 3 years of the initiative, we are looking into options for expanding it in the future by attracting more partners from the business sector and mobilizing small and medium enterprises to join the process”.
A number of national Business and Biodiversity initiatives were presented during the meeting. Among them there were the German Biodiversity in Good Company initiative, the Nordic Council platform comprising Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the UK and Belgian national platforms, as well as the Leaders for Nature initiative of the IUCN National Committee in The Netherlands. Synergies with those initiatives were central to the discussions on the future of the EU B@B Platform.
An electronic questionnaire will be forwarded to the Platform participants in order to determine the most appropriate setup for the future initiative and how it could best fit the participants’ wishes and needs.
A number of studies and reports have been produced by the Platform with the aim of identifying and sharing best practices on the business contribution to biodiversity conservation. You can read more on the B@B website. The Platform has recently launched a publication compiling case studies from the private sector. See here.
16 April 2012. On the 27th of April, the University of Antwerp, the Belgian Science Policy office, and the partners of the Belgium’s ecosystem services (BEES) project will host the final conference of the Belgium’s Ecosystem Services (BEES) at the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) are profoundly changing the way society manages and uses its natural resources. In a broad range of policy domains, questions are raised concerning the dependency on sound ecosystem functioning, and how to cope with opportunities and externality costs caused by erosion of ecosystem services. The scale and magnitude of this problem calls for cross-policy domain involvement and cooperation of scientists, policy makers and major economic stakeholders.
The TEEBelgium D0 conference will:
- Present the prospects and challenges for development of a TEEBelgium initiative, based on the results of the BEES project (Belgium’s Ecosystem Services).
- Debate conclusions of ecosystem service prospects for the finance, business, agriculture and nature conservation domains with international experts and Belgian policy makers.
For more information about the conference, updates, and to register for participation, please refer to this website: http://www.teebelgium.be.Read more
16 April 2012. Nature-based tourism boosts local economies while conserving the natural environment, according to University of Florida research. Studying nature tourism businesses in Costa Rica, Taylor Stein, report author and University of Florida associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, found that successful ones “usually invested in environmental protection and maintenance,” while “tour businesses of all sizes circulated money throughout local economies,” according to a UF news report.
Providing patrons an environmental ‘feel-good’ factor about their vacations is a key strategic element for Costa Rica’s larger, successful ecotourism businesses, but successful nature tourism businesses “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk,” Stein found.
“It used to be that you didn’t see hotels bragging about the fact that they don’t wash the bath towels every day of your stay,” he was quoted as saying. “But now, it’s rare not to see these signs in most hotels. If that makes customers happier, the hotels will do it.”
Besides helping customers know and feel they’re supporting a healthier, more sustainable natural environment, successful nature tourism businesses in Costa Rica also go the extra yard when it comes to highlighting their businesses actual “green” practices and the value and importance they place on environmental conservation. “They provide environmental education to visitors, supported conservation initiatives, recycled waste and used environmentally friendly equipment,” the UF report notes.
Stein also found that successful nature and ecotourism businesses in Costa Rica are also intensely focused on local spending and business networking. In addition to employing local residents, they focus on purchasing supplies locally and use local lodging.
30 March 2012. The shortlist for the 2012 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE) has been revealed, following a two-day jury meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 14 finalists come from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Finland and the United Kingdom. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Brussels on 24 May 2012, during Green Week, the European Commission's annual conference on environment policy. The European Business Awards for the Environment are granted to innovative companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance.
European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: "To prosper in resource-constrained world, our economies must become more efficient in their use of natural resources. The European Business Awards for the Environment show that this is possible. They reward companies that are making the best possible use of resources throughout their life cycle to create as much economic value and as little environmental impact as possible."
The finalists were selected from 156 submissions, originating from 24 European Member States and candidate countries. The high number of applications – a 10 % increase compared to the 2010 competition – highlights the increasing environmental commitment of European businesses and their willingness to adopt eco-innovative practices, despite the current economic climate.
The Business and Biodiversity Award shortlist:
Café Direct - SME - United Kindgom. Project Title: Adaptation for Smallholders to Climate Change (AdapCC)
Slovenské elektrárne, a.s. - major Corporation - Slovakia. Project Title: Energy for Nature: Saving most precious animal species in Slovak mountains (the Tatras National Park)
Voies Navigables de France - major Corporation – France. Project Title: Restoring the French waterways embankments in an ecological engineering approach.
30 March 2012. A group of global businesses have worked with the city of Tilburg in The Netherlands to find ideas that can accelerate progress toward the city's climate neutral vision. The companies are part of a unique project (the Urban Infrastructure Initiative or UII) bringing multi-sector expertise to help cities achieve their sustainability visions. A group of five companies together with WBCSD (AGC, CEMEX, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and TNT) active in energy efficiency, equipment, materials and logistics pooled their resources to identify practical solutions. Tilburg's climate vision was the focus. Housing, transport, business estates and energy supply were the target areas.
The Urban Infrastructure Initiative vision is a world where cities provide a sustainable environment for people to live, work, move and play. The aim is to work with cities to implement more effective and affordable sustainable solutions. The initiative was launched in 2010 by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) as a business contribution to urban sustainability. It brings together companies with vast knowledge, skills and experience in sectors including energy and water, mobility and logistics, building materials, engineering, equipment and support services. They have global coverage and are active in all stages of the infrastructure lifecycle.
You can find the report here.
30 March 2012. The food and drink industry has a key role to play in moving towards a more sustainable use of renewable resources. The industry therefore welcomes the recognition within the Commission's Communication of the role Europe's food manufacturers play in responding to global challenges such as human health; mitigating the effects of climate change; helping to preserve natural resources and ensuring the highest standards of food safety and food security in Europe.
Encouraging innovation is central to bolstering the competitiveness of Europe's food industry both at home and worldwide. The current EU framework creates a number of bottlenecks to innovation for food operators, for example, lengthy lead-times for companies seeking to bring new products and processes to market for Europe's 500 million consumers, which, in turn hinders investment in R&D by manufacturers.
In particular, food manufacturers welcome the three aspects identified in the Communication, and will continue to work with stakeholders (via the European Technology Platform (ETP) Food for Life, for example) to encourage the uptake of innovative technologies and processes for Europe's bioeconomy. As Europe's first manufacturing industry, accounting for over 274,000 companies (99.1% of which are SMEs) and employing over 4 million people directly, food operators want to see the creation of an environment in which the sector can flourish, creating jobs and opportunities in these difficult economic times
16 March 2012. Rabobank, a Dutch bank, has just recently started an initiative called the World Food Game. Its aim is to involve young people (between 16 and 25 years old) in the creation and launch of a game about cooperatives and food supply chain sustainability. In their words this is "a game [addressing] cooperative entrepreneurship with the world food problem as its theme".
On a dedicated Facebook page participants can contribute ideas and comment on other people's inputs about how the game should look like, what the rules should be, as well as the humour and fun aspects of the game. By going to the Facebook page and 'liking' World Food Game, users join the co-creation platform. Alongside the online dialogue, 6 separate co-creation "sprints" will be created at various colleges and universities in The Netherlands. The organizers of these workshops will be using an innovative method of learning called Mind Sessions (in Dutch) - an iPad game designed to create outputs, solutions and insights through fun and design-thinking
If you want to get involved, visit the World Food Game on Facebook
The Twitter hashtag is #WorldFoodGame.
16 March 2012. Tesco and the RSPB, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity, have announced a ground-breaking partnership called 'Together for Trees' to help protect rainforests around the world.
Deforestation is a major cause of climate change – it causes more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere than the world's transport sector.
The UK's biggest retailer and the charity have teamed up to increase awareness of the deforestation crisis and raise essential funds to support on-the-ground conservation work to tackle the problem.
Together For Trees aims to raise over £1million for the RSPB in its first year. Customers will be able to help save endangered rainforests every time they re-use a bag. They will be able to donate their green Clubcard points, Clubcard vouchers or give money directly to the programme via a new website www.tesco.com/trees. Tesco is additionally contributing £75,000 from the sale of its new range of "Together for Trees" reusable bags.
Picture by tauntingpanda
16 March 2012. FMO and Triodos Bank have launched the online magazine Upsides.com with the slogan 'Upsides changes, discovers, believes and inspires' (www.upsides.com). It offers an international platform for the vision and accomplishments of business leaders, entrepreneurs and bankers from Latin America, Asia and Africa. Upsides.com is the only magazine that approaches sustainable development in emerging markets from a responsible finance perspective. It offers interviews with thinkers and doers who are capable of aligning profitable business with the needs of society and do so within the boundaries of our ecosystem.
For more information see here.
2 March 2012.The European Biodiversity Summit is the only event on sustainability and biodiversity in Europe with a distinct business focus. It will take place on 17 and 18 April 2012 in Stuttgart, Germany. IUCN is among the main organizers of the Summit.
The 2-day event will provide the latest information on biodiversity valuation, new EU regulations and the link to climate change. Practical examples of how business can seize biodiversity opportunities will be presented. High-level representatives from companies such as Unilever, Iberdrola, Otto Group and Robert Bosch will join prominent politicians and leaders and present keynotes in front of more than 500 participants.
The market place exposition during the Summit will give participants the opportunity to connect with these businesses as well as with NGOs, politicians and scientists. The plenary sessions of the conference will be complemented by diverse expert workshops focusing on business- and biodiversity-related topics, ranging from legal compliance and biodiversity finance to supply chain management and valuation of nature. The Summit is organized by the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, an initiative funded under the EU LIFE Programme.
The European Biodiversity Summit is an opportunity for corporations of all sectors throughout Europe to demonstrate their leadership in sustainability and biodiversity.
To register for participation, click here.
You can find the flyer here.
You can find a detailed programme here.
Picture by Srdjan Cicovacki
2 March 2012. Soil degradation is a worrying phenomenon in the EU. Between 1990 and 2006, at least 275 hectares of soil per day were permanently lost through soil sealing – the covering of fertile land by impermeable material – amounting to 1,000 km² per year, or an area the size of Cyprus every ten years. Soil erosion by water is estimated to affect 1.3 million km² in Europe, an area equivalent to 2.5 times the size of France. Soil degradation affects our capacity to produce food, prevent droughts and flooding, stop biodiversity loss, and tackle climate change. These are some of the main findings of two new reports on the policy and scientific aspects of European soil presented by the European Commission.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "These reports highlight the importance of preserving European soils if we are to safeguard supplies of quality food and clean groundwater, healthy recreational spaces, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. We need to use the resources from our soils more sustainably. The best way to do this would be through a common approach across the EU. The Commission has put legislative proposals on the table, and I hope our new reports will help Council and Parliament move towards action."
The reports underline the need for action to prevent the ongoing deterioration of Europe's soils. Erosion, soil sealing and acidification have all increased in the past decade, and the trend is likely to continue unless challenges such as rising land-use, the inefficient use of natural resources and the preservation of organic matter in soil are addressed. According to the policy report, five years after the adoption of a Soil Thematic Strategy, there is still no systematic monitoring and protection of soil quality across Europe. This means that existing actions are not sufficient to ensure an adequate level of protection for all soil in Europe.
Picture by umpquawild
2 March 2012. In an increasingly resource-constrained world, corporations must measure, manage and mitigate their impact and dependence on the ecosystems where they operate and through their supply chains. To help build this capacity into company infrastructure, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched its Business Ecosystems Training (BET) program.
BET is designed to improve the understanding of managers and employees across business functions about their company’s direct and indirect impact and dependence on ecosystems, ecosystem services and biodiversity. Designed specifically for business, it incorporates WBCSD methodologies, materials and tools that have been developed over the course of 15 years, as well as material from other institutions.
Visit http://www.wbcsd.org/bet.aspx to learn more about BET and download the freely-available training material.
2 March 2012. New research has explored how well different governance systems can achieve desirable conservation outcomes. Results confirmed the importance of adaptive management, which relies on regular monitoring to enable ‘learning through doing’ to refine actions, and suggested that leadership using expert knowledge was also significant in successful governance.
With increasing policy concern about the degradation of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, there have been a large number of different approaches to reduce the negative effects of human activity on nature. These approaches can vary widely, from community management regimes to state-run protected areas, and also involve a range of economic or social instruments, such as subsidies and taxes, as well as regulatory tools, such as restrictions on access or use. However, to date, there has been no systematic comparison of the effectiveness of these different approaches.
The study, conducted under the EU GEM-CON-BIO1 and TESS projects2, analysed 26 local/sub-national and eight international conservation initiatives for three important outcomes: enhancing the delivery of ecosystem services, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources and maintaining biodiversity. The three outcomes were scored using expert judgment, whilst the governance system was described using data from questionnaires collecting ecological, economic and social information. Five main indicators were identified to describe the governance system: adaptive management; knowledge leadership, i.e. the frequency of consultation with a higher authority; use of regulatory tools; state/private management and the management priorities in terms of economic, social or ecological goals.
2 March 2012. The World Wetlands Day theme for 2012 is Wetlands and Tourism and is linked to the theme for the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties, COP11: Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation, which will take place in July 2012, in Bucharest, Romania.
Wetland tourism has benefits both locally and nationally for people and wildlife – benefits such as stronger economies, sustainable livelihoods, healthy people and thriving ecosystems. At least 35% of Ramsar Sites around the world record some level of tourism activity and this percentage is consistent throughout all regions. Of course it is important to consider tourism in all wetlands – not just those designated as Ramsar Sites – since the Contracting Parties to the Convention are committed to managing all wetlands.
It is worth noting that tourism is one of the many services that wetlands deliver. Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to their health and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity.
2 March 2012. The Rainforest Alliance announced that it has teamed up with the Sustainable Spices Initiative (SSI) to interpret the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standards to incorporate the sustainable production of spices. SSI is the first major program to address sustainability in the production of spices and this announcement marks the 11th World Spice Congress in Pune, India.
Founded by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and four leading players in the Dutch spice market, this major spice program will aim to implement SAN standards to the production of 34 different types of culinary spices. These standards will address key issues in the production of spices, including loss of biodiversity, heavy use of agrochemicals and poor conditions for workers - problems which plague the production of spices globally.
16 February 2012. Some 200 companies and practitioners gathered last week at a European meeting to discuss how motorway and railway construction can contribute to biodiversity conservation. Organized by Eiffage, a large construction group, and the University of Paris 1, the workshop was hosted by the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign in Paris.
Case studies dealing, inter alia, with the challenges of bat flights crossing motorways, the effect of road and rail construction on the distribution of newts and the results of landscape restoration in southern France were presented. Legal aspects related to the construction business were reviewed.
"This was not a publicity exercise, or a corporate social responsibility event, but a meeting to exchange practical information, to learn from each other and to raise key biodiversity issues for the construction sector," said Valerie David, Group Director for Sustainable Development of the Eiffage Group.
One of the challenges for the industry in France is how to comply with European rules and regulations, an issue that was addressed in the first session of the meeting. Another key aspect is how to deal with the biodiversity impacts of development projects and avoid and mitigate the damage to the environment. The concept of habitat restoration was discussed, and examples were provided from several regions of France. Compensation for biodiversity impacts, offsets and how to determine the value of biodiversity were also tackled.
IUCN Regional Director for Europe, Hans Friederich, commented: "This was an interesting meeting with a very broad mix of participants, including several IUCN Members and biologists, as well as a large number of industry representatives who may be less convinced about the values of ecosystem services. The case studies that were presented illustrate that many companies are taking biodiversity issues more and more seriously".The event was organized under the auspices of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, a partnership of several organisations including IUCN, managed by the Global Nature Fund and co-financed by the European Commission Life+ programme.
For further information please read here.
Visit the EIFFAGE website here.
16 February 2012. A call for specific biodiversity goals to be integrated into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was abandoned at the insistence of Germany during a meeting of environment ministers in Brussels on 19 December. In its proposal for a biodiversity strategy up to 2020, the European Commission had listed areas of concern that should be dealt with under the CAP. But several member states objected to this, arguing that it prejudged the outcome of ongoing talks among agriculture ministers on reform of the CAP.
The Polish presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers put forward a proposal re-designating the list as theoretical "examples", but this was still not acceptable to Germany. After several hours of discussion, Germany succeeded in having the entire paragraph on biodiversity objectives for the CAP deleted in the final version approved by ministers. This leaves only a vague reference to biodiversity in the CAP in the conclusions.
BirdLife Europe, a campaign group, said the deletion was symptomatic of an overall reluctance by environment ministers to clash with discussions in other Council bodies. The UK was able to water down language on funding for Life, the EU's environmental funding programme, arguing that it prejudged discussions over the multiannual financial framework. Language on fisheries was also made vaguer.
Ariel Brunner, Head of European Policy at BirdLife, said the decision was a worrying sign that environmental goals would not be taken seriously in forthcoming discussions on agriculture, fisheries and budget reform. "Looking at environment ministers compromising for hours on the protection of what should be the core of their political mandate – biodiversity – is a dangerous preview of the fate of biodiversity left completely in the hands of agriculture ministers," he said.
Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment, issued a statement condemning the deletion of the list, adding that the Commission would continue to push for biodiversity objectives to be made part of the CAP during the reform discussions. Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch Liberal MEP and the European Parliament's rapporteur on the issue, said the deletion of language on cross-sectoral integration meant that the strategy was "now a threatened species itself".
For further information please read here.
16 February 2012. The EBAE Awards will take place on 24 May during Green Week. Beginning in 2012, a new 'Business and Biodiversity' Award will also be presented to a European company with outstanding achievements in halting biodiversity loss and supporting natural ecosystems.
The European Business Awards for the Environment were established by the European Commission Environment Directorate-General in 1987. They are presented every two years and aim to recognise and reward European companies that set an example by successfully bringing together innovation, economic viability and environmental concerns. The scheme consists of five awards, rewarding companies for management practices, products, processes, international business cooperation and biodiversity activities that contribute to economic and social development without detriment to the environment.
The winner of the Business and Biodiversity Award will be selected from companies applying for one of the existing categories. The criteria include, among others, whether the action taken concerns important ecosystem/habitat/species, whether the impact is extensive and if the protection of biodiversity is sustainable.
Find out about the criteria for the Business and Biodiversity Award here.
Find out more on the EBAE Awards here.
31 January 2012. The EU B@B Platform has just started its third year of activities. The third year of this initiative seems the right and suitable time to research and discuss economic mechanisms related to biodiversity – one of the main concerns for the business sector. Companies struggle through the financial crises and biodiversity might seem another burden. Hence investigating this topic together with the Platform's participants will help stress the benefits for companies willing to play a role in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
For the year 2012, the Platform will maintain the communication with its participants and all other stakeholders involved and release a fact sheet regarding the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The website will be kept busy with frequent updates on new case studies, participants' work on conservation, projects and experiences. We will continue our efforts to promote the Platform and distribute the newsletter. These activities will reinforce the important role in communicating with businesses which is crucial in this dialogue.
We will continue the follow up on the EU Biodiversity Strategy implementation through a workshop with Member States Ministries' B@B focal points to discuss their role in implementing the Biodiversity Strategy and the role they see for the private sector in their countries. We will also follow up on previous years assessing and acknowledging companies' performance, through promotion of the new EU B@B Awards, as well as holding a mini consultation with the companies on use of the best practice benchmarking, collecting companies' comments and suggestions propositions. We have recently released a publication including a large number of case studies from the Platform's participants.
For further information please read here.
31 January 2012. In the Netherlands sand and gravel extraction is common. Society demands added social value to this kind of projects. Opportunities such as widening river systems, nature and development projects near the water occur. The quality of the new nature achieved in these projects is often unknown, but it is very important for the targets and green image of the extractive companies.
The sites 'Omsteg' (former agricultural landscape) in the East of the Netherlands and 'proefproject Grensmaas' (river bank) in the South were used for sand and grind extraction. The quality of biodiversity, especially in comparison to the biodiversity before extractive activities took place, is studied in these areas. For this purpose indicator groups, such as butterflies, odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and grasshoppers, are studied.
Results from the study show an increase of biodiversity and nature development in both investigated former extraction locations, compared to the beginning of the extraction work. Well executed land management and good aftercare by the extractive companies have been key factors to conserve and enhance biodiversity. The study also underlines that these locations have a very positive function in the landscape for both nature and recreation. In total 59 species of butterflies, odonates and grasshoppers have been found in the areas.
The 'Omsteg' and 'proefproject Grensmaas' have produced different results. Many indicator species were found in 'de Omsteg' whereas in 'proefproject Grensmaas' no such species were found. The development of insects in 'proefproject Grensmaas' already achieved an optimum and has slightly declined. For both sites, good land management is the key to ensure these results.
The new nature created thanks to sand and grit extraction in agricultural landscapes has become an important function for the surrounding area. The grind bank biodiversity at the Grensmaas is decreasing but is still of good quality. In inland areas eutrophication is causing declines too. In these areas, particular small treatments can maintain and improve nature quality.
This study is being carried out at the request of the Dutch Aggregate Association.
31 January 2012. On 14 December 2011, the National Australia Bank and the Rabobank Group announced a ground-breaking endorsement of the Natural Capital Declaration, at a meeting in London.
By endorsing the Declaration, financial institutions re-affirm the importance of natural capital in maintaining a sustainable global economy, and call upon the private and public sectors to work together to create the conditions necessary to maintain and enhance natural capital as a critical economic, ecological and social asset.
The Natural Capital Declaration has been developed during an 18-month global consultation by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV). It will be launched at the Rio +20 Earth Summit in June 2012, addressing the use of natural capital by businesses.
For more information see: http://www.naturalcapitaldeclaration.org/
31 January 2012. The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) has recently released a publication featuring more than 60 projects on sustainable agriculture from its member companies. The projects feature a wide selection of countries, commodities and sustainability issues along the economic, environmental and social pillars.
The publication can be found on SAI website using the interactive map as well as a detailed search engine.
For more information see: http://www.saiplatform.org/activities/projects
31 January 2012. The topic of certification often emerges when tackling biodiversity in the food supply sector. Certification is indeed a way to enhance the conservation of biodiversity along the whole value chain and inform customers who are often ready to pay a premium for it. However, the understanding of labels often relies on trust and reputation as few people have precise knowledge of the actual benefits of the certification for the ecosystems. This is because information is scarce and the benefits are hard to evaluate and quantify.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has recently completed a study on the environmental impacts and benefits of its dedicated programme. The full report was issued at end of 2011 and is the first study ever to examine fishery performance through the whole flow of the MSC assessment process. It focused on improvements in eight key outcome performance indicators that the MSC assessment process measures and tracks over time: stock status, population reference points, stock recovery, retained species, bycatch species, endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species, habitats and ecosystems.
The study provides tangible results on the benefits of the certification for fisheries and their environment. It demonstrates that fisheries experience both quantifiable environmental changes, such as improved stock status and reduced bycatch, as well as increases in knowledge and certainty about ecosystem impacts. This improvement was documented through changes in key indicators of environmental performance starting at pre-assessment and continuing through and beyond certification.
Through this initiative, MSC is setting an example for certification schemes on the environment and biodiversity protection by providing its users – from fisheries, food processors to end customers – with feedback on their investment which can contribute to increasing trust in labels and the transparency of certification.
More information at the following link: http://www.msc.org/about-us/news/newsitem/new-study-on-environmental-impacts-of-msc-programme-published
Executive summary: http://www.msc.org/documents/environmental-benefits/measuring-environmental-impacts-report-2011/researching-the-environmental-impacts-of-the-msc-certification-programme-executive-summary
31 January 2012. Throughout the world, tourists in search of environmentally friendly vacations are given a large variety of private and public touristic offers claiming to conciliate leisure and preservation of the environment. This includes protecting biodiversity as one of the concerns of people seeking responsible tourism. However, confronted with the variety of offers, they face difficulties in assessing the real benefits to the environment and ecosystems of their vacation. Standards or guidelines designed or acknowledged by a trustful organization can bring transparency in the offer and help consumers in their choices. The UNEP Green Passport campaign launched in 2008 is an example of helpful information provided to travellers and tourists.
France has recently decided to adapt the UNEP Green Passport initiative to raise tourists’ awareness on biodiversity in French Overseas territories.
The Green Passport is part of the State commitments adopted by the “National Strategy on Biodiversity from 2011 to 2020”. The aim of the Green Passport “Biodiversity in France’s Overseas Territories” is twofold: educate tourists on the protection of biodiversity and enhance this biodiversity as an asset for the development of tourism in Overseas territories. This passport introduces the issues and the richness of marine and land ecosystems to the tourists with some specific natural sites to discover in each of the twelve Overseas territories.
The document has been distributed since November 2011 to passengers at airports or in the main tourist sites. The passport will also be available at the main natural protected areas of each territory and can be downloaded on the website of the Ministry of Overseas France. 300,000 of these passports will be distributed over the coming months, of which 200,000 are in French and 100,000 in English for foreign tourists.
More information on the following links:
- On the UNEP Green Passport: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=528&ArticleID=5757&l=en
- On the French Green Passport “Biodiversity in France's Overseas Territories” http://www.interieur.gouv.fr/sections/a_la_une/toute_l_actualite/outre-mer/passeport-vert-pour-tourisme-durable
31 January 2012. How can more value be added to forests to ensure that they are well-managed and are not converted to other land-uses? The CPF maintains that markets have a crucial role to play in this regard. Recent studies have shown that the potential ecosystem values of forests, when taking into account their benefits to water, biodiversity, carbon storage and other diverse functions, total in the trillions of dollars.
The forest sector has played and continues to play an important and long-term role in the social, environmental and economic development of many countries around the world. The CPF is working to help unlock the potential of markets to realize the value of forests in reducing carbon emissions, conserving biodiversity, providing clean water and other roles that forests play and thereby retain these values in perpetuity.
Picture by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE
20 January 2012. The European Commission has recently released a new brochure presenting the EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted last year. The brochure includes a concise explanation of the six targets on which the Strategy is based. Click on "Read more" to see the file.
20 January 2012. International trade in wood and wood products affects forest stocks around the world. A recent study examines the relationship between changes in forest cover and international timber trade at global level. If finds that some wealthier nations with low population density can maintain forest areas while exporting wood; but other, usually poorer, nations, are losing forests through domestic and global demand for wood.
Most societies have converted natural forests to agricultural land and urban areas and exploited forests for timber resources. As income levels rise some areas become much more intensively farmed. Since intensive agricultural practices can reduce the demand for additional agricultural land, forests can recover: a process called 'forest transition'. Wealthier countries with high population densities tend to import forest products while maintaining stable forest cover.
International trade has a major impact on deforestation. Demand for wood in one country can increasingly be met by imports from other countries through international trade. Consumption in one area can therefore affect land use and land transitions in other areas. Additionally, imports can reduce demand for domestic wood and allow local recovery of forests.
Picture by ny156uk
20 January 2012. Traditional farming methods are crucial for protecting a number of threatened bird species in the developing world, including bustards, cranes, ibises and vultures, a study has found.
Livestock grazing and features associated with arable farming – such as hedgerows – create environmental conditions that certain birds currently depend on for food, shelter and breeding, the authors report.
But as industrial farming methods eliminate these habitats, these species are threatened with extinction, said Hugh Wright, a researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, and lead author of the study, published in Conservation Letters earlier this month.
"There really is no hope for these species if industrial farming continues unchecked," he told SciDev.Net.
Although reintroducing or mimicking traditional farming techniques has had success in conserving wildlife in Europe, "conservation in the developing world has always focused on pristine forest ecosystems and has paid little attention to where farming might be beneficial," Wright said.