Business & Biodiversity – How businesses understand and work with biodiversity

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Industrial ecology (MPTSE), MSc
Andréasson, Hanna
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework that was agreed in 2022 puts increased demand on businesses to understand and take responsibility for their dependency and impact on biodiversity. With the current lack of standardised methods enabling transparency, comparability and equality, there is vast amount of work ahead and there is a need for transformative change to create a new trajectory where the goals and targets of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework can be achieved. The aim of the thesis was to analyse the relationship between business and biodiversity by mapping how businesses understand and work with biodiversity within their organisation, and what incentives or barriers are recognised. The purpose was to bridge the gap between business and biodiversity by increasing knowledge and potentially inspire businesses who haven’t yet initiated their work with biodiversity to do so. A qualitative method was used combining a literature study and an interview study with semi-structured interviews. The interviews were held with 17 businesses, from nine different sectors, who had claimed to work with or have an interest in biodiversity. The findings show that businesses’ understanding of biodiversity varies and that there is a lack of knowledge. Although most businesses have a definition for biodiversity, it is not always clear how biodiversity relates to their businesses, as dependency and impact are rarely defined. Businesses tend to use their own methods to strategically work with biodiversity, focusing on implementing biodiversity related measures, use certifications and participating in trade associations. Official frameworks are used to a lesser extent, but among these the most commonly used ones are the Global Reporting Initiative, GRI, and the Mitigation Hierarchy. There is also interest in the upcoming frameworks Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial, TNFD, and Science-Based Targets for Nature, SBTN, which both show potential in becoming standardised methods due to their alignment between each other and to different reporting standards. To set targets, businesses mainly use indicators that focus on activities connected to biodiversity, such as having certain numbers of biodiversity measures implemented or shares of certified products. However, businesses struggle to assess the actual impact on biodiversity and follow up on efforts. Due to this, most businesses do not tend to have any results yet connected to biodiversity, but the few that had used them to find hot spots and what to prioritise. The most frequently mentioned incentives are customers and social acceptance, the interest and internal drive from owners and management, and the demand from financial stakeholders and recent or upcoming regulation. The most frequently mentioned barriers are the lack of standardised methods to assess impact on biodiversity and follow up efforts, prioritisation, economy and the need for increased demand, lack of knowledge on what biodiversity means for businesses, and uncertainties of approach within the work with biodiversity. This thesis shows businesses willingness to work with biodiversity but that there is a need for further guidance as there is still a lack of knowledge and standardised methods. With the various recently adopted regulations and directives presented in this study, it is clear that the demand on businesses to understand and work with biodiversity will increase significantly. This study has identified different frameworks and tools that could be used by businesses to guide their work with biodiversity and discussed how different incentives have the potential to counteract recognised barriers. Hopefully, this can contribute to bridge the gap between business and biodiversity and inspire businesses to be part of the transformative change that is needed for the achievement of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and enhance life on earth.
Biodiversity , Business , Frameworks , Indicators , Incentives , Barriers
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