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Impact and dependence of business on biodiversity

Key economic sectors depend on and have a direct and indirect, positive or negative impact on biodiversity. Biodiversity is directly at the centre of many economic activities, and a healthy biodiverse planet is a precondition for humankind to exist – and thus for businesses to grow and for the economy to recover following a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keeping nature healthy is critical for the economy, both directly and indirectly. The World Economic Forum ranks biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top five threats humankind will face in the next ten years. Businesses rely on biodiversity as inputs into their production processes, with over half of global GDP – some €40 trillion – dependent on nature and the services it provides.

Conversely, if we continue doing business as usual, and contribute to destroying ecosystems, the continued degradation of our natural capital will considerably limit business opportunities and socio-economic development potential. Internalising biodiversity into business decisions can enhance the health and well-being of all people and tackle inequalities, create new jobs and sustainable growth in rural, post-industrial and coastal areas; strengthen resilience against environmental and climate stressors; and minimise the risks of future outbreaks of infectious diseases with disastrous health, economic and social impacts. From the perspective of the private sector companies, integrating natural capital and biodiversity impacts and dependencies will enhance corporate decision making and business resilience as well as minimise investment risks. It will better inform, transform and improve their companies’ sustainable decision-making processes, including by removing key blind spots in company risk assessments.

This means putting together a highly interdisciplinary team of experts, including biodiversity and corporate practitioners. It needs to cover biophysical and socio-economic aspects related to multiple sectors that have different impacts and ways of managing and accounting. Key expertise is needed in accounting, ecology, business management and organisation, social, political and environmental economics. This topic does not cover developing natural capital accounts or measuring biodiversity footprints.

The proposals should cover all of the following points:

  • identifying criteria and indicators for measuring dependence, impact and contribution to the recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • developing methods to reduce adverse impacts and related material and reputational risks, and to develop the business case for long-term sustainability, for business sectors in addition to forestry, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, energy and mining, infrastructure and manufacturing and processing, that are directly dependent upon ecosystem services;
  • developing a tool box to measure, assess and monitor the dependence and impact of the business sector on biodiversity, improved risk management linked to biodiversity, and the contribution of business to biodiversity recovery[[Based on, and/or in cooperation with relevant projects funded by the EU (such as ‘Aligning Biodiversity Metrics for Business and Support for Developing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Natural Capital’), under Horizon 2020 (‘WeValueNature’, ‘MAIA’) or LIFE (such as ‘Transparent’), and the EU and national Business@Biodiversity Platforms, and further EU and global networks and platforms]];
  • assessing the broader impact of businesses on biodiversity, the cumulative impact and the indirect impact from supply chains, trade or substitution effects (such as tele-coupling);
  • collating targets and regulations (at any level within the EU and in associated countries) that stimulate innovation generating a positive impact on biodiversity and on the decoupling of environmental pressures from increased output;
  • promoting (1) business cases that contribute to the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity and the wide range of ecosystem services and (2) public accountability, informing regulatory agencies and guiding financial investments and influencing producer, retailer and consumer behaviour. Analysing the added value of creating a Horizon Europe prize[[]] for innovative businesses that improve biodiversity and its wide range of ecosystem services, focused on nature-based solutions[[Complementary, and in distinction to the European Business Award for the Environment]]. Delivering timely input to IPBES assessment on business, and the processes on IPBES objectives for building capacity, strengthening the knowledge basis, supporting policy, and communicating and engaging, on impact and dependence of business on biodiversity, and the relevant IPBES task forces.

Proposals should also show how their results could provide timely information on project outcomes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Projects are expected to cooperate with projects HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-20: Support to processes triggered by IPBES and IPCC, HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-01-10: Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-01-04: Natural capital accounting: Measuring the biodiversity footprint of products and organizations.

Proposals should make available the relevant evidence, data and information via the Oppla portal, and prepare to feed in the uptake of its results according to an agreed format to the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity. Collaboration with the Knowledge Centre should also include its stakeholders forum.

The project should set out a clear plan on how it will collaborate with other projects selected under this and any other relevant topics, such as HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-16: Biodiversity, water, food, energy, transport, climate and health nexus in the context of transformative change, and with the European partnership on biodiversity HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-02-01[[]], by participating in joint activities such as workshops or communication and dissemination activities. The project should also set out a clear plan on how it will collaborate with key business-related networks that promote the integration of biodiversity into corporate decision making. Proposals should include specific tasks and allocate sufficient resources for these coordination measures.

This topic should involve the contributions from the social science and humanities disciplines.