Understanding the Business and Ecosystem Value of Biodiversity

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© matejmo / Getty Images
© matejmo / Getty Images

Related tags: Biodiversity, L’Occitane

Integrating biodiversity in sustainability strategies is crucial to both business and the planet, experts said during a recent webinar sponsored by the Quantis sustainability consulting group.

“The Business and Ecosystem Value of Biodiversity”​ explored how businesses using science-based targets can collaborate with partners throughout the value chain to protect biodiversity.

A key takeaway: “Biodiversity is not an add-on. It is also not a nice-to-have​,” s​aid Scott Miller, Senior Sustainability Consultant at Quantis. “We all are interconnected.  The harm we inflict upon our planet’s biodiversity is the harm we do to ourselves. We must reverse this trend, and we must do so now.”

Biodiversity ‘not an add-on’

The webinar identified biodiversity as a material risk, stressing the need to future-proof businesses against their own impacts on species, ecosystems and genetic diversity.

“When healthy and diverse ecosystems exist, they deliver something known as ecosystem services,” ​Miller explained. “These are absolutely essential to maintaining our economy and our very existence.”

The path forward, he says, requires businesses to establish visions that acknowledge industry’s impact on biodiversity loss and missions that set ambitious goals to tackle dependencies and impacts on biodiversity.

“Having a sustainability strategy without considering biodiversity is simply not good enough,” ​Miller emphasized, citing added pressures by scientists, NGOs, consumers, investors and international frameworks to counter “mass extinction and ecosystem collapse”.

Integrating biodiversity for business resilience

To build resilient businesses that “contribute to a nature-positive world”, ​Quantis calls for a shift in strategy away from a “siloed approach with targets for incremental improvements”​ towards an “integrated strategy aligned with the needs of the planet.” ​ 

According to this life cycle approach, biodiversity must be fully integrated – along with climate and social goals – into sustainable business strategies that avoid and reduce negative impacts and pivot to restoration.

Quantis sets forth a comprehensive methodology to help companies understand impacts, identify hot spots, adopt metrics-based strategies, establish clear action plans and engage actors throughout the value chain.

“The key is that we all must get involved.  The activation must be comprehensive,” ​Miller said. “L’Occitane is a stellar example of embracing exactly this.”

L’Occitane: ‘a stellar example’

L’Occitane Group, a global manufacturer and retailer of natural cosmetics and well-being products, recently announced the launch of its “nature-positive”​ biodiversity strategy across the company’s six brands.

“We felt the need to structure our strategy with ambition and targets for the whole group and for the whole value chain,”​ said Raphaëlle Archambeaud-Sicot, Group Sustainable Development Director at L'Occitane.

To evaluate the overall stress on biodiversity, the group submitted to an independent assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2016 – a critical first step in a methodology that then prioritizes, measures, sets targets, acts and tracks progress.

“It clearly showed that our main impact on biodiversity is on the sourcing of our raw materials,” ​said Archambeaud-Sicot, adding that L’Occitane uses some 1,500 raw materials to create its formulas.  

The group has since set a target of achieving 90 percent traceability for all plant-based raw materials by 2025 for its main L’Occitane en Provence and Melvita brands. The overarching strategy also fixes targets throughout the value chain such as improving the biodegradability of formulas, fighting plastic pollution and reducing water use through its dry factory project. The ambition extends to implementing regenerative agriculture practices and reforestation projects for transformative and systemic change.

“For me, sourcing is key, understanding your impact on the whole value chain, so measurement, measurement, measurement, and then you can engage all the teams to make progress on those KPIs,” ​Archambeaud-Sicot said.

“And really also stay close to the field and to the soil and to nature.  I think that if we are all still connected to nature, we can all more easily understand the challenges we have in front of us.”

In her presentation, Archambeaud-Sicot pointed out L’Occitane Group’s main challenges and opportunities:

-          Get the full traceability of thousands of plants – need strong collaboration with all suppliers and need regulations
-          Biodiversity metrics/footprint, how to measure all in the same way – need common standards
-          Always consider biodiversity AND climate AND social impact
-          Scale-up to the whole value chain, all brands – use mapping, assessment and tools to assess the whole activity
-          Integrate biodiversity (and other externalities) in finance and accounting
-          Collaborate with other companies, organizations to have a real impact (but then identify the good partners)
-          Explain biodiversity to all employees, leaders and customers




Related topics: Market Trends

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