Biodiversity and economy



Context and issues


Up until 2005, the year of the Paris Conference on “Biodiversity, science and governance”, most common opinion was that biodiversity issue was too complex for the involvement of businesses other than via a few sponsorship actions, unlike Climate Change issue for which a measurement unit was available: the ton of carbon. Biodiversity was then considered as an exogenous constraint, tackled via preservation actions for a few remarkable species, good only for the company’s image.

Since 2005, various studies have helped give biodiversity the importance that it deserves: the Stern report, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), the creation of the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité* (FRB) and the biodiversity committee on the initiative of French senators Marie Blandin and Jean-François Legrand.

Recognising the urgency of the situation, Orée and the IFB (French Institute of Biodiversity) initiated a working group in February 2006 to integrate biodiversity into business strategies. It was the first time in France that businesses, scientists and associations came together as a working group to examine biodiversity issues, and more specifically the reintegration of the economic activity into the dynamics of living systems. Given that the deterioration of ecological services could represent up to 7% of the world’s GDP in 2050, or €13,938 billion per year, reconciling economic activities and biodiversity requires the mobilisation of businesses as well as the creation of new tools.

The guide on “Integrating biodiversity into business strategies. Biodiversity Assessment of Organisations”, co-published by Orée and the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, is the result of the proceedings of this working group.

The challenge, well under way but yet incomplete, is to achieve a Biodiversity Accountability Framework, which would be the biodiversity equivalent of the “Bilan Carbone”. Corporate accounting is not geared to evaluate and monitor the relationships between businesses and biodiversity: this is why innovation is required, as outlined in the publication and now developed by the working group.

* Officially launched by the ministers of Ecology and Research in February 2008, the FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH ON BIODIVERSITY (FRB) includes public research organisations, environmental protection associations, managers of natural areas and biological resources and businesses with a single purpose in mind: addressing biodiversity challenges. It combines and replaces two existing structures by extending their tasks: the French Institute of biodiversity and the Office of genetic resources.