Although many tools like impact assessments, AI or synthetic biology exist to address biodiversity loss, businesses are investing less than 5 per cent of the required amount to address it
Despite nearly nine in ten executives stating that biodiversity is important to the planet, protecting it remains at the bottom of the corporate agenda, as greater emphasis is currently being placed on tackling climate change, according to the Capgemini Research Institute’s latest report, Preserving the fabric of life: Why biodiversity loss is as urgent as climate change. Currently, just 16% of organisations have already assessed the impact on biodiversity of their supply chain and only 20% for their operations.
Over half of executives globally believe it is not the role of a private company to address biodiversity, just to follow biodiversity regulation – and this even reaches 78 per cent in Italy and 75 per cent in Japan.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of executives regard biodiversity loss as a medium-term risk for their businesses and 30 per cent perceive it as a long-term risk (2050) while just 17 per cent view it as an immediate concern – with significant regional differences in the perception of the biodiversity emergency.
The report estimates that global corporate investment in biodiversity preservation represents less than 5% of what is needed from all stakeholders (public and private) in the next 10 years to reverse damage to the biodiversity ecosystem.
Only a quarter of organisations have a biodiversity strategy with Australia (15 per cent), Germany (16 per cent), Canada (17 per cent) and Italy (18 per cent) lagging behind. These strategies may include initiatives such as investing in circular practices, developing science-based targets, or considering biodiversity impact on investment decisions. On average, land preservation or restoration projects are a bigger focus than freshwater and ocean projects. Furthermore, only 16 per cent of organisations have completed an impact assessment of their supply chain on biodiversity and just 20 per cent have done the same for their operations.
“Every business depends on biodiversity and ecosystems: whether it is direct inputs such as water or fibers, or ‘ecosystem services’ like water regulation or soil fertility, a thriving and functioning biosphere is critical to human well-being, wider sustainability goals as well as economic growth and stability. However, many organisations underestimate their direct impact on biodiversity loss, and their responsibility in protecting and restoring it,” comments Cyril Garcia, group head of global sustainability services and corporate responsibility and group executive board member at Capgemini.
Many organisations have made biodiversity an integral consideration within their supply chain. Of the executives surveyed, 58 per cent say their organisation has updated their supplier code of conduct to include biodiversity considerations, while about half mention that their organisations are investing in deforestation-free supply chains and require sustainable forest management practices from their suppliers.
When exploring specific industries, the consumer goods sector emerges with the highest percentage (26 per cent) of organisations that have already evaluated the impact of their operations on biodiversity, whereas the public/government sector exhibits the lowest percentage (14 per cent) in this regard. In the context of supply chains, the retail sector claims the highest completion rate (26 per cent) for impact assessments, whereas the agriculture and forestry sectors indicate the lowest completion rate (10 per cent).
Necessary to addressing the biodiversity crisis are changes at organisational, behavioral, and cultural levels, with the adoption of circularity playing a critical role. Almost two thirds of executives say their organisation has implemented circular economy practices, such as recycling and reusing and over half of organisations are taking steps to mitigate negative impacts on land and water.
A key part of the future of biodiversity conservation and restoration will include the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions alongside blockchain technology and sensors to simplify the monitoring and tracing of diverse populations, encompassing animals, birds, and plants. Leveraging AI and robotics can aid in species tracking while minimising disruptions to the surrounding biodiversity. Synthetic biology will also be part of the solution to some of the most severe threats to the environment including reducing chemical and plastic pollution. In fact, almost three quarters of executives agree that digital technologies will also be key to their organisation’s biodiversity efforts. To that end, organisations are particularly investing in AI and machine learning, 3D printing and robotics.