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Over 200 Worldwide Leaders’ ‘Call To Action’ To Reduce Biodiversity Loss

A group of more than 200 leaders representing global financial institutions, governments and corporations from around the world have jointly released a “Call to Action,” calling for the international community to heighten efforts to protect biodiversity, reduce biodiversity loss, and improve the standards of biodiversity mitigation efforts.

The “Call to Action” was released by the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP) during this year’s Natural Capital Week (November 26-30) when leading organizations from around the world have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a variety of issues related to sustainable development.

The BBOP is an international collaboration among businesses, governments, financial institutions and civil society organizations, promoting sustainable development to achieve no net loss or a net gain of biodiversity.

The BBOP’s model of sustainable development follows the mitigation hierarchy, defined as avoidance, minimization, rehabilitation/restoration and offset.

“Governments and businesses face a true dilemma: How to support development, so people have access to food, materials, energy, infrastructure and jobs, while conserving biodiversity?” Kerry ten Kate, the director of the BBOP, said in a statement.

“Everyone is looking for practical approaches. The BBOP tools and resources provide the know-how, but many of our colleagues have issued the urgent ‘Call to Action’ to urge developers and decision-makers to act,” she continued.

The “Call to Action” comes at a time when biodiversity loss is increasing due to the destruction of animal habitats by human activity and climate change. The World Wildlife Fund’s 2018 Living Planet Report shows an overall decline of 60 percent in species’ populations between 1970 and 2014.

To this point, the major driver of biodiversity loss has been habitat loss due to human development and infrastructure projects, but these losses are expected to continue and will likely become more extreme as climate change worsens.

Some experts predict a biodiversity crisis that could take millions of years to recover from, impacting myriad species, from frogs to birds and insects, and everything in between.

The “Call to Action” provides guidelines for governments, corporations, financial institutions, multilateral banks, conservation organizations, academia and members of civil society to follow in order to protect biodiversity. It also asks that individuals hold their institutions to account to ensure that the guidelines are followed with transparency and integrity.

This is the BBOP’s message:

“This Call to Action urges action by the international community, governments, companies and civil society to step up efforts to reduce biodiversity loss and improve the standard of mitigation measures, including biodiversity offsets. It sets out the vision of appropriate development in the right place planned to achieve a net gain in biodiversity, and undertaken with integrity to a high standard. It sets out specific actions for governments, companies, financial institutions, multilateral banks and other donors, conservation organisations and academia, and members of civil society.” (emphasis in original)

Ray Victurine, the director of business and conservation initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society, is optimistic about the future of biodiversity and the efforts of organizations like the BBOP.

““There are already encouraging results in improving the mitigation of development impacts on biodiversity,” he said in a statement.

“In 2014, 39 countries had existing laws or policies requiring that ‘No Net Loss’ or even a ‘Net Gain’ of biodiversity occur through the economic development process. Today, over 100 countries require or enable similar measures,” he continued.

Victurine emphasized that important steps to mitigate biodiversity loss are already being taken by institutions across the world. He noted that 94 financial institutions and members of the Equator Principles Association have established safeguard conditions for project finance that require no net loss of natural habitat and a net gain in critical habitat. Sixty major businesses have also made public commitments or have stated aspirations to protecting biodiversity.

Joshua Berger of CDC Biodiversité, a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations Group, likewise emphasized the leading role that these institutions can play in reducing biodiversity loss and noted the impact of the efforts by the BBOP to promote the cause.

“Companies and financial institutions are getting more and more interested in measuring their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity,” Berger said in a statement.

“Mapping the impacts throughout the value chain and investments will soon become a priority,” Marc Abadie, the president of CDC Biodiversité, added in a statement. “The work the BBOP has done to clarify concepts and provide tools and roadmaps toward a net gain future is very helpful.”