A group of UK companies have come together to establish a new business to business hub, the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum

Continued loss of biodiversity and climate change represents a major risk to economic growth and sustainable livelihoods – transformative and collective action is urgently needed, change that not only halts the decline in biodiversity but helps restore biodiversity – to “bend the curve”.

Action on climate change and on biodiversity are of course linked. And engaging sustainably with biodiversity is increasingly expected by business clients and customers, and also provides exciting business opportunities strategic advantage and a chance to increase resilience. The WEF Nature Risk states that $44 trillion of economic value generation – more than half of the world’s total GDP – is dependent on resources from nature; while between 1992 and 2014 human capital per person increased by about 13% globally and the stock of natural capital per person declined by nearly 40%. 

“We have collectively failed to engage with Nature sustainably, to the extent that our demands far exceed its capacity to supply us with the goods and services we all rely on.” (Dasgupta Review 2021)

Now is an opportune time to bring UK businesses together to focus on the urgent need to conserve nature, to adapt and seek new business opportunities in this new green era. This mainstreaming of biodiversity, alongside delivering net zero for climate is not only critical for the planet, but also fundamental for business success as we create new opportunities and make the most of first movers into green markets.

To help facilitate this opportunity, a group of UK companies have come together to establish a new business to business hub, the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum. The vision of the UKBBF is for UK businesses to integrate biodiversity into their decision making; and for nature to be valued, conserved, restored and managed sustainably across all sectors by 2030.

The Forum is the first of its kind in the UK and is fully supported by the International Chamber of Commerce UK and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). The role of the UKBBF will be to:

  • Support UK businesses in identifying opportunities to implement practical solutions
  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences across sectors, from SMEs to large corporates, raising awareness and improving performance
  • Act as a unifying voice for UK businesses on the importance of nature – including UK and international biodiversity policies

We are of course already seeing action across the private sector on biodiversity mainstreaming, with large and small companies making clear statements for action. The Business for Nature initiative has over 530 companies committed to reversing nature loss. From companies like bp and its new biodiversity position, including an aim to achieve net positive impact on biodiversity in our new projects from 2022;  to smaller companies such as Anne Veck Ltd developing practical biodiversity toolkits for hair salons. “Many small business owners instinctively want to operate sustainably in order to save the planet. But they need simple user-friendly help on what to do.” Keith Mellen, Director, Anne Veck Ltd. And companies like Sound and Fair, which sources sustainably sourced timber from community managed natural forests for musical instrument makers worldwide, represents the type on innovation and sustainability approach which is needed. Paul Harrison, Executive Chairman said “We need to steadily shift the dynamics of markets and finance so that businesses that operate in a nature positive way gain the advantage and rewards, whilst businesses that negatively affect biodiversity lose advantage and reputation.”

Every piece of action makes a difference, but to make the transformative changes, reverse the decades of biodiversity loss, much more is needed. Actions by businesses on biodiversity needs to be more than just an ‘add-on’ – they need to be part of a company’s purpose and factored into decision making – and this is how we believe the Forum can help. A UK Forum to provide clear practical solutions to UK companies on how to mainstream biodiversity and for sharing experiences.

The green revolution also presents new business opportunities and innovations. An example is the development of eDNA, which enables biodiversity to be surveyed from DNA traces that accumulate in water. UK-based SME NatureMetrics is a world leader in this technology and was founded with the mission to make biodiversity measurable by all organisations and individuals. “We are so excited to see the UK business community now coming together to address biodiversity – this is a crisis that can only be addressed through collective action, taking account of the interdependencies between businesses of all sizes and the natural world we all depend upon” Kat Bruce, Founder of NatureMetrics.

The UN Biodiversity Conference in October will be a pivotal event in setting out not just the new global biodiversity goals and targets for 2030 and beyond, but a framework against which governments, businesses and civil society need to act and change – the role of the UK Business & Biodiversity Forum is to help businesses make that change.

Dr Mark Johnston

UKBBF steering team member; Strategy Lead for Nature-based Solution, bp plc; Chair of the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Working Group, IPIECA.

UKBBF steering team members: Anne Veck Limited, Balfour Beatty, Barratt Developments plc, bp plc, Mott MacDonald, NatureMetrics, ERM, Skanska, Sound and Fair, The Biodiversity Consultancy, WSP

The UKBBF will be holding various events and activities during 2021 (including side events at Climate COP26 and Biodiversity COP15., for details please e-mail the Forum team info@business-biodiversity.co.uk or follow on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/uk-business-biodiversity-forum 

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