National Biodiversity and Business Network to assist businesses to integrate biodiversity issues into their strategies

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) in collaboration with its partners has spearheaded the development of The National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) which is aimed at facilitating the mainstreaming of biodiversity issues into business strategies and operations in South Africa. The NBBN has been developed in response to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity which encourages the development of national business and biodiversity initiatives.

The EWT’s partners include the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Nedbank Limited, Hatch Goba, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties and Pick ‘n Pay. The objectives of the network include the following:

  • Providing a national platform to facilitate strategic discussions about biodiversity and business
  • Creating national momentum about mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into businesses
  • Facilitating the development of a national agenda in terms of biodiversity and business
  • Facilitating cohesion and integration in the discussion and agenda about biodiversity and business
  • Facilitating focussed, pragmatic and useful interventions to support businesses in the mainstreaming process

Dr Marie Parramon-Gurney, Head of Conservation and Business at the EWT says that the network will provide businesses with support and will provide the opportunity for businesses to understand both the risks and opportunities that biodiversity represents for businesses. “… [T]he network will facilitate the development and provision of relevant information, tools, resources, benchmarks, pilot-studies and strategic support to businesses looking to mainstream biodiversity issues. In order to do so, the Network will organise various events, forums, training sessions and an annual conference,” adds Parramon-Gurney.

Why should business be concerned about biodiversity?

Parramon-Gurney explains that it is important for businesses to integrate biodiversity into their strategies and operations as biodiversity includes water, soil and other natural resources that businesses depend on. A reduction in biodiversity can impact on the price of natural resources and other utilities that businesses depend on like electricity. Integrating biodiversity into a business also presents opportunities as a new environmentally conscious market is emerging. Businesses need to identify their current and future impacts on the environment as well as identify the natural resources that they will depend on in the future in order to remain competitive.

Collaboration and developing a common vision

The network also presents the opportunity for collaboration between South African business, government and non-governmental organisations to share their ideas on biodiversity and develop a common vision, says Parramon-Gurney.  “…[T]he NBBN has been established in alignment with government's objective to build strategic partnerships in order to achieve an environmentally friendly developmental path. The Network will provide a national platform to stimulate a strategic discussion about biodiversity and business and the development of a national agenda in this context.”

Membership

Any business can take part in the network and membership is free. If your company would like to be a part of the network, email Dr Marie Parramon-Gurney on mariep@ewt.org.za.

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Amanda Botes