From Commitment to Action: World Biodiversity Day 2023

We face a global biodiversity crisis. Biodiversity losses are running at unprecedented levels with up to a million species facing extinction in coming decades. The maintenance of biodiversity is an important and shared responsibility. That’s why the ResponsibleSteel International Standard requires sites to take stock of the risks and impact they have on biodiversity. Anne Sophie Pellier, Senior Programme Manager at Fauna & Flora and ResponsibleSteel Board Member, discusses how the steel industry is working to protect biodiversity.

World Biodiversity Day 2023 feels very significant. We are riding on a new wave of optimism with the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, setting out a goal to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 – putting nature visibly and measurably on the path of recovery.

This comes at a critical time. We understand nature’s vital contributions to our planet and to society, and its interconnections with climate change. Yet nature is under threat like never before. Biodiversity loss stands in the World Economic Forum’s top five global risks, reflecting the potential for significant negative impacts for humanity within the next 10 years; for our food, water, economy, health and well-being.

We must act together and swiftly, putting nature loss on a par with climate change and aligning our new goal for nature with the net-zero Paris Agreement. If we fail to do so, the consequences will be catastrophic.

The business community is critical to this; not only due to the scale of its impact, but because biodiversity loss directly translates into business risk. Loss of ecosystem resilience, reputation damage and supply chain disruption can all have an impact.

Fauna & Flora: Why we value our membership of ResponsibleSteel

Fauna & Flora is a nature conservation charity protecting the diversity of life on Earth; for the survival of species and habitats, the planet and people. We have a long history of working with businesses, supporting them to put biodiversity at the heart of decision-making.

Being a member of ResponsibleSteel enables us to come together with other stakeholders to influence the industry’s commitment to biodiversity and help drive the development of the standards necessary for sector-wide change.

We are encouraged by the significant steps the industry is already taking to protect nature. At an operational level, steel companies are developing biodiversity plans, aiming to minimise negative impacts on biodiversity and to restore sites no longer used. Some are investing in reforestation and habitat restoration projects locally to offset residual impacts on biodiversity, and are seeking to reduce their supply chain impacts through the sustainable sourcing of raw and recycled materials.

As companies invest in reducing their carbon emissions and transitioning to more sustainable energy sources, this also brings positive benefits for biodiversity. In addition, we’ve seen how some are engaging in sectoral and company-specific partnerships, to share good practice and create consistency across the industry.

Achieving our 2030 ambitions for nature: what next for the steel industry and biodiversity?

If the steel industry is to build on this progress and continue to push boundaries, companies need to further integrate biodiversity into core business practices, and commit to becoming nature positive. Companies need to go beyond mitigation and identify opportunities to invest in habitat restoration where mining has caused damage, and to support conservation initiatives in regions of high biodiversity value. Importantly, companies must be transparent about their impact on biodiversity and support progress towards conservation goals.

If we are to spearhead the transformational change so urgently needed, companies should use their influence to engage and educate employees, customers and other stakeholders on the importance of protecting and restoring nature and the role they can play.

If we are to reverse nature loss at the scale and pace needed, progress should be underpinned by collaboration – with other businesses, government, civil society and local communities – to exchange knowledge and identify solutions to our shared challenges.

By Anne-Sophie Pellier, Senior Programme Manager in Corporate Sustainability, Fauna & Flora

Anne-Sophie Pellier works in partnership with businesses to bring about positive change for biodiversity, providing them with best practices for avoiding and mitigating their impact on nature’s assets. She has worked in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development for local communities for 13 years in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Europe, during which she developed her expertise on ecosystem services and natural capital. She joined the ResponsibleSteel Board in 2022.

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