Businesses depend on biodiversity as the source of raw materials and natural capital in industries such as agriculture and agribusiness, mining, pharmaceuticals, and construction, among others. Today, many industry players are aware that aside from inflation and competition, biodiversity loss, which could lead to loss of supply of raw materials, could result in significant business losses.
Today, biodiversity is at the forefront of sustainability efforts. Global actions through decisions made at the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have generated global attention on the direct links between business and biodiversity.
In ASEAN, an increasing number of companies are beginning to recognize the role of biodiversity in the sustainability of their businesses. Still, the challenge to balance profitability and sustainability remains. An equally important challenge is mainstreaming biodiversity in business policies, operations, products and services, beyond traditional short-term CSR activities.
In October 2010, business and biodiversity experts from ASEAN and Japan gathered at the Business Opportunities in Biodiversity International Conference and Exhibition in Manila to raise the business sector’s awareness on the values of biodiversity and encourage corporations to support conservation initiatives. Organized by the ACB in cooperation with the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat, the conference discussed the impact of biodiversity on business sustainability. The conference was held back-to-back with the 3rd ASEAN-Plus-Three Leadership Programme on Sustainable Production and Consumption, which served as a crucial step toward equipping business and industry leaders with the necessary know-how and tools needed to contribute their share in ensuring sustainable development in their own backyards.
Another major business and biodiversity effort in the ASEAN region was the Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity initiated by the private sector in 2011. Spearheaded by the Sirindhorn Foundation headed by Royal Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and supported by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Royal Government of Thailand, the workshop resulted in the Cha-am Declaration on Biodiversity.
A Business and Biodiversity Forum was organized as one of the Parallel Special Thematic Sessions at the 2016 ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity (ACB2016) held in February 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Forum allowed the sharing and exchange of insights into global and regional efforts in expanding dialogues and forging partnerships on business and biodiversity. A number of businesses stated that they benefit from higher investment returns and lessen their environmental footprint by integrating biodiversity initiatives in their regular operations.
Another regional effort on business and biodiversity is the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity Awards organized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. In 2010 and 2014, the awards recognized outstanding efforts by the business sector to conserve biodiversity.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
In 2007, the Government of Germany and the European Commission launched The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity initiative. TEEB is a global initiative and study that aims to evaluate the costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation, and compare the economic benefits of biodiversity conservation and the costs of failure to take protective measures. It is focused on making nature’s values visible and also outlines the cost of policy inaction. The study presents a compelling rationale for promoting its application in the daily decisions of governance and management.
The TEEB approach promotes three (3) steps: (1) identifying and assessing the full range of ecosystem services and people affected; (2) estimating and demonstrating the value of ecosystem services; and (3) capturing the value of ecosystem services and seeking solutions to identified issues. TEEB is regarded as both a tool and methodology that can be used to influence and inform decision makers about the costs and benefits of biodiversity, economic opportunities in tapping natural resources as sources of high value services, and policy incentives which can be created to support the sustainable use of biodiversity.
Valuation of Biodiversity in the ASEAN region
TEEB has clearly drawn international attention. Since the TEEB study, a number of international fora have been initiated by government and non-government organizations to promote the results of the study. After the launch of the TEEB Synthesis Report in CBD COP10, the AMS, through ACB, recognized the need to support the global TEEB initiative in the ASEAN region.
In 2012, ACB implemented the ASEAN TEEB Scoping Study, which gathered and reviewed existing evidence on the value of ecosystem services in ASEAN. It identified key critical ecosystems and ecosystem services in ASEAN, conducted an initial set of case studies to highlight the value of ecosystem services, and identified and recommended policy relevant case studies in AMS. The study estimates that the annual value of lost mangroves in ASEAN will reach USD 2 billion by 2050 if threats to biodiversity and ecosystems are not immediately addressed. ASEAN is expected to lose coral reef-related fisheries valued at USD 5.6 billion by 2050 assuming business-as-usual scenarios persist. On the other hand, the estimated cost of restoring coral reefs amounts up to EUR 11 million per hectare (IEEP and Ramsar Secretariat, 2013).
Programme Development and Implementation Unit