Only 24% of Organisations Have a Biodiversity Strategy in Place

Despite nearly nine in ten executives stating that biodiversity is important to the planet, protecting it remains at the bottom of the corporate agenda, as greater emphasis is currently being placed on tackling climate change, according to the Capgemini Research Institute’s latest report, Preserving the fabric of life: Why biodiversity loss is as urgent as climate change.

Currently, just 16% of organizations have already assessed the impact on biodiversity of their supply chain, and only 20% for their operations.

And although many solutions already exist to address biodiversity loss including impact assessments, artificial intelligence (AI), or synthetic biology, businesses are only investing less than 5% of the required amount to address it.

Though climate change and biodiversity loss are closely interlinked, the immediate focus for most organisations is presently directed towards climate concerns, with a majority of executives believing that biodiversity holds a lower rank in priority compared to climate change.

In fact, just over half of executives globally believe it is not the role of a private company to address biodiversity, just to follow biodiversity regulation – and this even reaches 78% in Italy and 75% in Japan.

Lack of Urgency

Nearly half (47%) of executives regard biodiversity loss as a medium-term risk for their businesses and 30% perceive it as a long-term risk (2050) while just 17% view it as an immediate concern – with significant regional differences in the perception of the biodiversity emergency.

Ultimately, the report estimates that global corporate investment in biodiversity preservation represents less than 5% of what is needed from all stakeholders (public and private) in the next 10 years to reverse damage to the biodiversity-ecosystem.

Strategies Are Lacking

Organisations are increasingly aware of the catastrophic consequences of the loss of biodiversity and other related ecosystem damage. However, only a quarter of organizations have a biodiversity strategy, with Australia (15%), Germany (16%), Canada (17%) and Italy (18%) lagging behind.

These strategies may include initiatives such as investing in circular practices, developing science-based targets, or considering biodiversity’s impact on investment decisions. On average, land preservation or restoration projects are a bigger focus than freshwater and ocean projects. Furthermore, only 16% of organisations have completed an impact assessment of their supply chain on biodiversity and just 20% have done the same for their operations.

In general, executives agree on the importance of conserving biodiversity but 59% of those surveyed find that the complexities surrounding biodiversity create challenges.

Unlike carbon, which is easy to define, measure and document, biodiversity is more difficult to determine in terms of quantification, observation, and consequently, impact evaluation. These complexities are attributed to the absence of globally uniform benchmarks for gauging and overseeing impacts on biodiversity, ambiguities in goal setting, and a skills gap in the biodiversity talent market.

“Every business depends on biodiversity and ecosystems: whether it is direct inputs such as water or fibers, or ‘ecosystem services’ like water regulation or soil fertility, a thriving and functioning biosphere is critical to human well-being, wider sustainability goals as well as economic growth and stability. However, many organizations underestimate their direct impact on biodiversity loss, and their responsibility in protecting and restoring it,” comments Cyril Garcia, Group Head of Global Sustainability Services and Corporate Responsibility and Group Executive Board Member at Capgemini.

Technology Will Play a Critical Role

A key part of the future of biodiversity conservation and restoration will include the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions alongside blockchain technology and sensors to simplify the monitoring and tracing of diverse populations, encompassing animals, birds, and plants.

Leveraging AI and robotics can aid in species tracking while minimizing disruptions to the surrounding biodiversity. Synthetic biology will also be part of the solution to some of the most severe threats to the environment including reducing chemical and plastic pollution.

In fact, almost three-quarters of executives agree that digital technologies will also be key to their organisation’s biodiversity efforts. To that end, organisations are particularly investing in AI and machine learning (31%), followed by 3D printing (30%), and robotics (28%).