Environment

Business for biodiversity

24/12/2014

Business success can go hand in hand with protecting the environment. The European Business and Biodiversity (B@B) Platform held its first annual conference in November on the links between business and biodiversity.

If you use the right business model, protecting biodiversity is good for business and good for the environment. This is the message delivered by the B@B Platform, an EU-level forum bringing together over 170 organisations from a variety of sectors to develop tools and approaches that integrate biodiversity considerations into business practice.

Europe deserves a financial and an economical triple-A rating. But we also want a triple-A rating in our environment.

“Protecting biodiversity creates jobs, stimulates investment and gives our European industry a competitive edge,” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, opening the conference. “For genuine green growth we now need a paradigm shift. Europe deserves a financial and an economical triple-A rating. But we also want a triple-A rating in our environment.”

Business taking the lead

The conference saw businesses showcase success stories, best practices and new business models, in a programme that included sessions on the Platform’s three main work streams.

The first – on natural capital accounting – is based on the idea that natural resources should be regarded as capital assets in our accounting systems. Two companies – Heidelberg Cement, in Germany, and Codorníu, from Spain – revealed how tools developed by the Platform helped them choose their approach to natural capital accounting.

The second work stream focused on how innovation can contribute to nature protection while creating business opportunities. ECNC, an NGO based in the Netherlands, presented their ‘waste to wear’ business model, where fishing nets recovered from the sea are turned into textiles for making socks, carpets and swimwear. The session also featured presentations from Royal Dutch Shell on a green infrastructure project, Tractebel Engineering's ‘temporary nature’ business model, and on natural capital accounting from Landmarc Support Services.

In the third session, on innovative financing for business and biodiversity, Greek Bank Group Pireus explained how they co-finance biodiversity projects with support from the European Commission's LIFE funding programme. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency showed how they have engaged 14 financial institutions – including venture capital and pension funds – in taking action to protect natural capital. Green infrastructure consultants Green4Cities showcased a number of new business opportunities.

Other sessions included presentations about actions in Germany and the UK, and the NGOs Global Nature Fund, the Nature Conservancy, CEEWeb and the Union for Ethical Biotrade spoke about their experiences.

Moderated by Tony Juniper, a senior environmental campaigner, the main discussion panel featured Commissioner Vella and three business leaders: Guy Sidos, CEO of the international cement company Group Vicat; Laurent Piermont, CEO of CDC Biodiversité; and Tim Haywood, CFO and Head of Sustainability at Interserve PLC, a support service and construction company.

Most of the day's presentations are available via the link below. As a next step, companies will vote to decide which topics will become the focus under each of the three work streams. The Platform also presented plans to expand membership to include more sectors – such as insurance, financial institutions, consumer goods and retail – and more national platforms.

 

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