Government funding supports new platform that will help businesses act for biodiversity

Posted on: 23 September 2021

Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the National Parks & Wildlife Service (Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage), Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) will be working alongside the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community Ireland to establish the Irish Business and Biodiversity Platform.

Drawing on an extensive network of environmental, policy and corporate sustainability expertise, the goal is to help Irish businesses recognise the risks posed by biodiversity loss and take action to halt the growing crisis.

Due to launch online early next year, the Business and Biodiversity Platform has Government seed funding from the Departments of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and Land-Use and Biodiversity. The funding is for an initial three-year period and fulfils one of the objectives set out in Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021.

Open to engaging with businesses of all scales, from small-to-medium enterprises to large multi-nationals, the hub will hopefully develop as a resource that will positively transform the relationship between business and nature in Ireland.

Species under threat

With an estimated one million species facing extinction worldwide, Irish habitats in decline and the COVID-19 pandemic casting a spotlight on the health-related implications of habitat destruction, experts warn biodiversity loss poses as much of a threat to our planet as climate change – and with healthy ecosystems and habitats needed for climate regulation and carbon storage, the two issues are closely interlinked.

NCI’s recent survey of Irish businesses found that while many are now seeking to take action on climate change, spurred on by rising consumer awareness on the topic, biodiversity has had a relatively lower profile. Companies are struggling to understand their connection with biodiversity and its relevance to their business. This knowledge gap leaves businesses potentially vulnerable to a range of risks (e.g. strategic, financial, operational and compliance) and unaware of new opportunities presented by the green economy.

Jane Stout, Director of Natural Capital Ireland, and Professor in Botany at Trinity College Dublin, said:

“Biodiversity, the variety of life at various scales from genes to species to habitats, is our life support system, but it is complex, hard to measure and not so easily translated into metrics. Given the scale and potential business, economic and health risks associated with biodiversity loss, businesses urgently need to start addressing the problem, right through their operations, from raw material sourcing to processing, manufacturing, assembly and sales.

“All businesses depend on biodiversity to some extent, from sourcing coffee to fuel  employees to the materials used to construct their offices. I am proud that NCI is leading this innovative platform to help businesses identify their impacts and dependencies, develop strategies and practical actions, and measure progress using tailored best-practice approaches.”

Minister of State for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, said:

“I’m delighted that Ireland’s first Business and Biodiversity Platform is taking shape with the support of some leading organisations in natural capital, responsible business and biodiversity engagement and I’m looking forward to seeing the Irish business community engage with the science to drive action on this important agenda. We all know that businesses have an impact on nature, but they depend on it too. It’s time that the private sector addressed biodiversity loss as a material risk and took strategic action to protect, conserve and restore nature.”

Minister of State for Land-Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, added:

I’m delighted to support this platform. I believe it will be really valuable to businesses because it will build their awareness of both their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. With that awareness, they will then be able to reverse some biodiversity loss, have a positive impact on their local community and employees and also enhance their business reputations.”

Business in the Community brings together a large network of businesses that have signed up to act to help the environment and local community. Cillian McMahon, BITCI Corporate Responsibility Advisor, said:

“Biodiversity has been a strategic focus for us since 2014. The topic has been embraced by several of our member companies and they have developed highly ambitious biodiversity action plans. As the link between climate change and biodiversity loss becomes more apparent, BITCI believe that the Business and Biodiversity Platform will play a key role in helping member companies to apply nature-based solutions as part of their Climate Action Roadmaps.”

National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Una FitzPatrick leads the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, a nationwide campaign connecting businesses with measures to support pollinating insects. She said:

“Already, over 350 companies have signed up as supporters of the Pollinator Plan and have committed to taking action for biodiversity. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is excited to be part of this innovative new platform to develop biodiversity indicators for businesses. It will allow companies to transparently measure the direct impact of their actions; and will better demonstrate the contribution of the sector to helping reverse biodiversity loss.”

Media Contact:

Thomas Deane, Media Relations Officer | | +353 1 896 4685