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Assessing corporate impacts on the environment and biodiversity

05-19-2011 08:40 AM CET | Energy & Environment

Press release from: ALTOP Publishing House

Next to the analysis of current supply chain, greening the industrial facilities is a further step towards successful biodiversity

Next to the analysis of current supply chain, greening the industrial facilities is a further step towards successful biodiversity

Munich, 18 May 2011 - More and more companies are becoming EMAS or ISO 14.001 certified: companies becoming sustainable is not just a question of ensuring theirgood reputation, but is also intimately intertwined with strategic corporate processes. However, when it comes to the responsibility of companies for biodiversity, most companies lose their bearings. As part of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, the first ten companies performed a Biodiversity Check and in doing so, received practical support to manage biodiversity. The participants play a leading role in their respective sectors like TUI in the travel sector, VAUDE in the outdoor equipment sector or the airport manager Fraport.

"Biodiversity? Finally something that does not concern me”, is how many companies answer the question about their impact on biodiversity and its integration in their company strategy. However, every industry profits from services provided by nature and many do so by causing large negative impacts on ecosystems and eventually common goods. The total costs of biodiversity loss from deforestation amount to $ 4.5 trillion a year, according to the TEEB Study.

A few companies recognised the changing tide and invest –like Puma –in assessing, calculating and presenting their influence on the environment. Ever since the German initiative "Biodiversity in Good Company” published a handbook for biodiversity management in 2010, the demand for the next phase has been growing. The Biodiversity Check, offered by an EU financed campaign and supported by renowned partners such as the Global Nature Fund (GNF) fulfils this demand.

Different sectors represented

From a car producer to an airport manager, from large travel agencies to mid-size producers of outdoor products: the ten companies that performed the Biodiversity Checks offered by the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign are active in a broad range of sectors. The Biodiversity Check enabled companies to get an overview of the impacts of the different departments and operations on ecosystems and biodiversity. All departments – from management, procurement, production and logistics to marketing and human resources are analysed. Many sectors are linked to biodiversity by a direct or indirect dependence on the services that nature provides us with. In the extractives industry the link is easy to see and that is why companies like HeidelbergCement or the industry association ISTE (Industry Association for Non-Metallic Mineral Extraction Companies in the German state of Baden-Württemberg) have been experimenting in finding ways to minimise and offset the damage that is done to valuable habitats for different species. A ‘net-gain’ of biodiversity is the ambitious goal that ISTE upon which its members agreed when cooperating with the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign.

"As an outdoor equipment company we are taking our responsibility for biodiversity seriously. That is why we have performed a Biodiversity Check and are implementing measures that were recommended”, says Hilke Patzwall, the head of sustainability and CSR at Vaude when she describes the integration of biodiversity in the company’s operations. "We have, for example, designed more natural grass lawns by sowing flowers from the region and we installed nesting boxes on our company’s premises. The focus however, is on our products, by using for example environmentally friendly materials such as biological cotton. In our production process we use ‘bluesign’, the worldwide strictest environmental textile standard. We also concentrate on sensitising our corporate partners”.

Biodiversity protection is active risk management

Companies, that focus early on their environmental impacts, hold a competitive advantage and are better prepared for stricter legislation. Companies that use the environmental management system EMAS are, for example, obliged to report on the topic as biodiversity has become a key performance indicator in 2010. In addition, the revision process for ISO 14.001 has begun and it is likely that in the future companies with an ISO environmental management system have to report on their link with biodiversity.

The Biodiversity Check of the European initiative enabled the participating companies to connect different sustainability topics to construct a coherent environmental overview. In the evaluation the check was found to form a good decision base for further action and as a practical aid to identify meaningful indicators. "The Biodiversity Check gave us important directions to further develop our biodiversity strategy”, according to Jörg Kämer, responsible for sustainability management and corporate compliance at Fraport AG which manages the Frankfurt Airport. "In addition, we found concrete aspects that can immediately be integrated in our activities”.

With the results from the Biodiversity Check the participating companies will now implement targeted measures to reduce –or even better –avoid negative impacts. From a long term perspective, this is not just an advantage for the environment and society, but also for the company. Mitigating risks, reducing costs and increasing employee motivation have a positive effect on the company’s balance.

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About the Biodiversity Check

The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign offers the Biodiversity Check. By using the environmental management systems EMAS III and ISO14.001 as examples, the different departments and processes of selected production plants and production lines are checked for their negative impact on biodiversity or for potential risks associated with them. The environmental report, the sustainability report and other documents are scanned by using a thematic matrix and specific questions to the different departments such as procurement, production and marketing are being asked. Based on these answers and after a round table meeting, the B&B team writes a report with recommendations for targets, measures and next steps.

The Biodiversity Check does not have the depth of an environmental impact assessment, nor is it a certification or a label awarded after the process. The check is confidential which means that problems and possible obstacles can be freely discussed. The company does not commit itself to anything – not even to continue with the topic of biodiversity.

Depending on the size of the analysis the B&B experts need 5 to 20 days; the amount of time for the company lies between two and four days. The costs depend on the size of the company. Fifty percent of the costs will be covered by the co-financer of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, the European LIFE programme. The other fifty per cent will be covered by the company.

More information about the Biodiversity Check: www.business-biodiversity.eu/Biodiversity-Checks

About the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign

The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, led by the Global Nature Fund (GNF) was initiated by a consortium of European companies and NGOs. The goal of the project is to show the big importance of biodiversity, also from an economic point of view, and to motivate the private sector for the protection and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign supports companies through Biodiversity Checks, workshops and regional biodiversity forums. Experts and other stakeholders can present their profile, company profile and case studies for free. The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign is co-financed by the LIFE+ Programme of the European Union and collaborates with the Biodiversity in Good Company initiative that published the Corporate Biodiversity Management Handbook (www.business-and-biodiversity.de).

More information about the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign: www.business-biodiversity.eu

More information and contact persons:

Stefan Hörmann, Project Director, Global Nature Fund, Büro Bonn
Tel.: 0228-18 48 69 411; Mobil: 0160-532 10 52
Email: hoermann@globalnature.org

Marion Hammerl, Managing Director Lake Constance Foundation,
Tel: 07732 – 999545
Email: marion.hammerl@bodensee-stiftung.org

Fritz Lietsch, Leiter der Kommunikation der Kampagne, München
Tel: 089 - 746611-11
Email: f.lietsch@forum-csr.net

Since 25 years, ALTOP publishing house is one of the leading information hubs for sustainability in society and economy.

ALTOP publishes "ECO-World", the alternative yellow pages and provides lots of adresses for sustainable companies and products on www.eco-world.de. Newsletter and web portal provide informations about LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

Since 2005 ALTOP publishes the magazine forum CSR international in combination with the web portal www.forum-csr.net together with other organisations like B.A.U.M. e.V. or the Club of Rome.

Two Specials of forum already dealt with business and biodiversity. More issues about this topic are in the pipeline.

ALTOP Publishing House
Gotzinger Str. 48
81371 Munich
Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 89 74 66 11 23
E-Mail: s.stoebener@forum-csr.net

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