Global supply chains – particularly those of transnational corporations – play a huge role in shaping international resource use and impacting nature. For example, a recent study showed how thirteen ‘keystone corporations’ control 11-16% of the global fisheries marine catch, and 19-40% of the largest and most valuable stocks, including species that play important roles in their respective ecosystem. As such, the private sector is a key player in achievement of global biodiversity outcomes.
While some companies and sectors are engaging heavily with nature conservation and striving for a sustainable footprint from their operations – for example through the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative, the Equator Principles and the Natural Capital Coalition and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – many are still unaware of the importance of nature and their negative impacts on it, or struggle with how to make meaningful commitments and ensure these commitments are aligned with their business models and profit margins. Greater engagement with the private sector is required for understanding how business operations can contribute towards multilateral environmental agreements such as the CBD
With its roots in private sector engagement through the mitigation hierarchy, the conservation hierarchy can provide a transparent framework for understanding the impacts of business operations on nature. It can then help companies to explore different pathways to prevent and compensate for these impacts throughout their supply chains, and conduct additional conservation actions. This can also be conducted in the context of economic trade offs, allowing businesses to simultaneously achieve economic returns and outcomes for nature.
Case study examples of private sector applications of the Conservation Hierarchy principles can be found for:
|BASIC practice (focus = meeting legal requirements)||GOOD practice (focus = understanding and preventing impact)||
LEADING practice (focus = preventing and reversing impacts)
|Avoid||Prevent impacts on legally protected species and ecosystems that overlap directly with the corporate operational footprint.||Prevent impacts on legally protected species and ecosystem that overlap with the corporate operational footprint and supply chains.||Prevent impacts – on threatened species and ecosystems, as well as those attributed value by local stakeholders – that overlap with corporate operational footprint and supply chains.||Proactive Conservation Actions||Fund research into threatened biodiversity, and technology development that could reduce future business impacts. Openly share data collected on biodiversity impacts and encourage other businesses to adopt similar practices. Share conservation messages with consumers and consider species or causes that could be promoted as part of corporate branding, to raise public awareness.|
|Minimise||Reduce impacts on legally protected species and ecosystems that overlap directly with the corporate operational footprint.||Reduce impacts on threatened species and ecosystems that overlap with the corporate operational footprint and supply chains. Source certified ‘low biodiversity impact’ raw materials.||Reduce impacts on threatened species and ecosystems that overlap with the corporate operational footprint and supply chains. Work with other actors in supply landscapes to reduce cumulative species impacts.|
|Restore||n/a||Implement initiatives to further mitigate known impacts on species and ecosystems in supply chains, such as replanting cleared areas, re-stocking depleted populations.||Implement initiatives to further mitigate known impacts on species and ecosystems in supply chains, such re-planting cleared areas, re-stocking depleted populations.
Work with partners to investigate those species or habitats that could be reintroduced/restored within corporate supply landscapes.
|Offset||n/a||n/a||Fund and otherwise support the work of species conservation NGOs and partners in supply landscapes. Fund species recovery plans for affected species and ecosystems.|