The Natural Environment Awards:
The Natural Environment Awards are the first region-wide award scheme dedicated to recognising excellence within organisations in the West Midlands for protecting, restoring, and enhancing our natural environment.
As headline sponsors of the Natural Environment Awards, we’re proud to support the recognition of the achievements made towards creating and improving green and blue spaces across the region. We’re confident that such recognition will inspire other organisations towards taking action to enhance and protect our natural environment.
The biodiversity challenges
UN states that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. Not only this, three-quarters of ice-free land and two-thirds of marine environments have been severely altered. And since more than 50 per cent of global GDP in some way dependent upon nature the economic costs of this devastation are significant.
According to a new study released by scientists at London’s Natural History Museum, the UK has lost almost half of its wildlife and plant species because of human and land development since the Industrial Revolution. The country is ranked in the bottom 10 per cent in the world and the worst among G7 nations. This decline is aggravated by climate change as habitats change and sustenance resources become unavailable. (Source: Source: World Economic Forum, The New Nature Economy Report)
What needs to happen?
There is a pressing need to acknowledge that the future of individuals, organisations, and nations is inextricably linked to biodiversity. The current food crisis caused by exports of grain being blocked in Ukraine is a recent example.
There is more scrutiny on organisations to be able to report on their ESG commitments, and regulations are starting to put a value on nature. An example of this is the introduction of the Biodiversity Net Gain requirement and the forthcoming Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures. The challenge to address the issues that hinders progress made in biodiversity is time sensitive. We as people and organisations are running out of time to protect the healthy ecosystems that we rely on and before the impact of our actions on biodiversity becomes irreversible.
Businesses no matter how large or small have some impact on the environment and the ecosystems within it and vice versa. The decline of biodiversity is a rising problem and can conflict with the viability of organisations in the future, as natural ecosystems begin to fail. Any impact biodiversity has on humans translates to effecting business operations and the way organisations functions. Therefore, a strategy that supports, enhances and encourages biodiversity can help hinder this decline and actually have a positive impact on organisations.
Examples of initiatives from businesses and organisations that support biodiversity includes: creating green spaces and habitats on-site, encourage staff involvement in biodiversity conservation, supporting wildlife projects, transitioning to net zero and implementing a biodiversity action plan to manage operations and support the sustainable sourcing of raw materials.
The Government’s pledge
Last year the five UK statutory nature agencies - Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), NatureScot, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have together launched a new report - Nature Positive 2030 which sets out the priority actions and achievable steps for becoming “Nature Positive” – reversing biodiversity decline – by 2030, and concludes that we are currently not on track to becoming nature positive by 2030, but that this aim is achievable. The report recommends nine changes that can be delivered rapidly, by national and local governments, landowners, businesses, and others that will have particularly high impacts on reversing biodiversity loss this decade. These include ensuring that wildlife thrives on land and at sea; conserving, restoring and creating habitats and nature networks, tackling pollution and climate change, developing the market for green finance, adopting targets to become nature positive and developing the UK’s evidence base so that it is ready to support the larger, transformative changes underway.
The Government have set out commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, and tackle deforestation, marine litter, and illegal wildlife trade. New developments will be required to provide at least 10 per cent biodiversity net gain, which could be a new hospital, for example.
The ask of organisations
Organisations need to identify biodiversity as both a risk and opportunity to their business, and value it accordingly, examples of the actions that can be taken to support include:
- Undertaking biodiversity vulnerability risk assessments
- Setting ambitious and realistic biodiversity targets,
- Prepare a biodiversity roadmap
- Assess how they can interact with the blue/green economy to reduce nature-related risks
Other measures that could help this initiative would be becoming familiar with new and emerging tools, technologies, and data sets that can support the baselining, measurement, and management of biodiversity.