Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and Minister of State for Land-Use and Biodiversity Senator Pippa Hackett have announced a joint departmental backing for a national Business and Biodiversity Platform to help the private sector take practical, measurable actions to address the biodiversity crisis.
Due to launch online early next year, the Business & Biodiversity Platform has Government seed funding for an initial three-year period and fulfils one of the objectives set out in Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021.
The platform will be established by drawing on an extensive network of environmental, policy and corporate sustainability expertise to help Irish businesses to recognise the risks posed by biodiversity loss and take action to halt the growing crisis.
A recent study conducted by National Capital Ireland (NCI), explored Irish businesses and found that while many are now seeking to take action on climate change, spurred on by rising consumer awareness on the topic, biodiversity has had a relatively lower profile.
The study found that companies are struggling to understand their connection with biodiversity and its relevance to their business.
The knowledge gap leaves businesses potentially vulnerable to a range of risks – strategic, financial, operational, compliance – and unaware of new opportunities presented by the green economy.
Businesses urgently need to start addressing the problem
NCI director Jane Stout explained: “Given the scale and potential business, economic and health risks associated with biodiversity loss, businesses urgently need to start addressing the problem, right through their operations, from raw material sourcing to processing, manufacturing, assembly and sales,” she said.
Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) brings together a large network of businesses who have signed up to act to help the environment and local community.
BITCI corporate responsibility adviser Cillian McMahon commented: “Biodiversity has been a strategic focus for us since 2014. The topic has been embraced by several of our member companies and they have developed highly ambitious biodiversity action plans.
“As the link between climate change and biodiversity loss becomes more apparent, BITCI believe that the Business and Biodiversity Platform will play a key role in helping member companies to apply nature-based solutions as part of their Climate Action Roadmaps,” said McMahon
National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Una Fitzpatrick leads the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, a nationwide campaign connecting businesses with measures to support pollinating insects.
Fitzpatrick commented: “Already, over 350 companies have signed up as supporters of the Pollinator Plan and have committed to taking action for biodiversity.
“It will allow companies to transparently measure the direct impact of their actions, and will better demonstrate the contribution of the sector to helping reverse biodiversity loss,” Fitzpatrick added.
Minister Noonan commented: “We all know that businesses have an impact on nature, but they depend on it too.
“It’s time that the private sector addressed biodiversity loss as a material risk and took strategic action to protect, conserve and restore nature,” he insisted.
Minister Hackett, commenting on the platform said: “It will be really valuable to businesses because it will build their awareness of both their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity.
“With that awareness, they will then be able to reverse some biodiversity loss, have a positive impact on their local community and employees and also enhance their business reputations,” she added.
There are an estimated one million species facing extinction worldwide, Irish habitats are in poor condition and the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the health-related implications of habitat destruction.
The experts warn biodiversity loss poses as much of a threat to our planet as climate change, and with healthy ecosystems and habitats needed for climate regulation and carbon storage, the two issues are closely interlinked.
The new biodiversity platform will be open to engaging with businesses of all scales, from small-to-medium enterprises to large multi-nationals, the hub will develop as a resource that will positively transform the relationship between business and nature in Ireland.
The platform is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the National Parks & Wildlife Service (Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage), Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) will be working alongside the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community Ireland .