A business coalition to protect biodiversity
Private companies have a key role to play in protecting our natural capital. Green Week showcased a number of innovative technologies and good practices that are helping the EU reach its 2020 Biodiversity Strategy targets.
Biodiversity affects all sectors of the economy, including some unexpected corners. Luxury brands group LVMH, for example, depends on high-quality natural raw materials in almost all of their products. Sylvie Bénard, Director of their Environment Group, told Green Week audiences how the company has developed natural capital indicators in four areas. The company looks at secure and strategic access, traceability of raw materials, environmental responsibility of suppliers, and preserving critical know-how, and ensures that the findings are implemented into short- and long-term thinking. LVMH funds scientific research to support its biodiversity policies, evaluating cosmetics against the Nagoya Protocol, for example.
Carpet and floor-covering manufacturer Desso BV uses raw materials from oil and limestone extraction. Rudi Daelmans, their sustainability director, revealed how the company promotes innovation with a focus on design and a “cradle-to-cradle” approach.
Desso has developed a roadmap to eliminate toxicity from its products, avoid virgin resource inputs, use renewable energy, ensure clean water and air, and protect biodiversity. Progress is measured against the EU’s 2020 strategy and vision for 2050.
Platform for progress
The fight to stop biodiversity loss has allies in the mining and extraction industry as well. Jesús Ortiz, a director at the Competence Centre for Materials, Heidelberg Cement Group, told the conference how quarries, sand and gravel pits can be high-value habitats for biodiversity, with excellent potential for protecting local flora and fauna, and hosting educational nature trails.
Conservation efforts in quarries, for example, have led to the yellow-bellied toad making a comeback in Germany. The Heidelberg Group employs 14 biologists, has worked in partnerships with BirdLife International and other NGOs, and was the first company in the sector to issue internal biodiversity guidelines, he said.
Artur Wójcikowski, CEO of Procom System SA, an IT and automation company that focuses on power generation and sustainable buildings, presented his company’s solution to a problem threatening biodiversity. The water pumps and filters involved in hydroelectric power production are often harmful to fish, and in addition to the negative effects on biodiversity, the repair costs add to the expense of renewable energy.
Procom developed a system of electrodes in the water that generate an electric field to stop fish from swimming close to pump and filter intakes. By modifying fish behaviour, the system can also control invasive alien species, as well as predators in aquaculture. The technology is easily replicated, and is already being implemented in Latin America, Europe and the United States.