Placements 2017/2018 - Thomas Smith

Analysis of international biodiversity targets to understand and maximize their relevance to the private sector

Home: University of Leeds

Host: University of Oxford / The Joint Nature Conservation Committee.   

Project Summary

Motivations and aims 

Businesses struggle to understand what actions they can take to manage their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, and the benefits derived from acting. This placement used real-world case studies to define what action by business regarding biodiversity looks like, and demonstrate how these actions can benefit businesses themselves and contribute to both international biodiversity goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Processes and outputs 

A call was issued for real-world examples, resulting in submissions from multiple sources and countries. 18 cases were selected, spanning diverse business sectors, locations, habitats, and species. The cases highlight the many options open to businesses to manage their interdependencies with biodiversity, and how acting can contribute to a range of biodiversity targets and multiple SDGs. The scale and type of action varies considerably: sometimes specific to a certain site, and predicated on meeting regulatory requirements, in others more extensive, involving new processes and going beyond compliance. All the featured cases share a clear statement of the work involved and an understanding of the benefits that the actions have delivered. The report indicates how these actions can be translated across different contexts.  

Conclusions and next steps 

The enthusiastic response to the call for cases demonstrated that: 

  • There is much more businesses can do to manage interdependencies on biodiversity within existing regulatory frameworks 
  • Action on biodiversity can take many forms and underpins more than conservation policy, supporting the pursuit of multiple SDGs, delivering benefits to business and society. 
  • Businesses want to know more about how action on biodiversity can deliver multiple benefits, particularly in contributing to the SDGs 
  • Transparency regarding motivations to act regarding biodiversity is often limited, and the role of scientific evidence in decision-making and evaluating the impact of actions taken unclear 

This project is only a first step, with more work needed to: 

  • Provide a systematic view of what action on biodiversity looks like within different sectors 
  • Map out the level of effort required to realise different actions 
  • Explore processes that will enable businesses act, e.g. applying structured decision-making 
  • Emphasise the contribution that conservation science can make to ensuring actions taken are meaningful and deliver a wide range of anticipated benefits   
  • Integrate business contributions to achieving biodiversity goals, especially with discussions regarding the post-2020 international targets for biodiversity now underway 

Final placement presentation (click to view):