Official launch of the National Biodiversity and Business Network

Posted on May 21, 2013

The ALCRL is officially a supporting partner of the Network and has actively contributed to most of the discussions leading to the formation of the Network.

The launch was attended by as many as 50 representatives from the private sector, civil society, the academic sector and government.

Presenting the goals and objectives of the Network, Dr Marie Parramon-Gurney from the Environment & Wildlife Trust (who are hosting the Network Secretariat) stated that in the context of the Network, “the scope of work will be broader than biological diversity in its strict legal definition. It will include biodiversity, ecological infrastructures and related ecosystem services and the overall natural capital.”

The formation of the National Biodiversity and Business Network is driven by the realisation that

· the current depletion of our natural capital (which can be defined as the sum total of physical and biological resources and related ecosystems services and products underpinning human and economic survival) is as a result of what is referred to as market failures, mainly due to the fact that economic markets and the economic actors do not internalise environmental externalities;

· we are currently facing a situation of ‘negative inter-temporal externalities’, which describes the situation when the natural capital is depleted at rates greater than the regeneration rates;

· “the world no longer lived off the dividends of the natural capital, but off the capital itself”, as stated in the Natural Capital Leadership Compact: ‘Committing to Natural Capital’, developed by the University of Cambridge (which is a collective call for action for businesses to properly value and maintain the earth’s natural capital): and

· a structural shift is being initiated globally and nationally regarding the way biodiversity should be managed. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the private sector has an essential role to play in the management of the country’s natural capital.

Adding to the voices that made a contribution to the discussion during the launch, Dr Chikozho pointed out that

- this Network could not have been conceived at a better time. It certainly provides a useful innovation platform bringing together key actors from different sectors to sit around the table and engage in two-way dialogue that enables business and biodiversity sustainability champions to overcome key obstacles in this landscape;

- historically, efforts by various actors to address challenges in the nexus between business and biodiversity have often proceeded largely independently. Yet there are a lot of benefits to be gained from collective energies and shared knowledge; and

- we therefore need to reiterate that ultimately, biodiversity stewardship is everyone’s responsibility and no amount of science, no matter how interdisciplinary and applied, will, in and of itself, solve environmental problems. In addition, no amount of policy and regulation will, in and of itself, solve the business and biodiversity sustainability challenge. Problems have to be identified, de-composed and solved by multiple stakeholders. Some of the answers will be found at the interface of science, policy and end-user engagement and this is where a network such as the one launched recently comes in handy. We look forward to our continued active participation in the Network as its key programmatic agenda unfolds.

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