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May 23, 2023
Biodiversity Consideration; How To Source Sustainably for Raw Materials While Complying With Sustainability Standards
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It is important to preserve and restore biodiversity because it helps to address global environmental challenges, such as climate change and land degradation. Businesses can play a role in this by shifting towards sustainable production and consumption.
Akinboade P. Lydia

The ongoing decline in biodiversity is a pressing concern, characterized by an alarming rate of loss. Approximately 23% of the Earth's land surface is already degraded, highlighting the extent of the issue. In tropical regions alone, a staggering 32 million hectares of primary or regenerating forests were lost between 2010 and 2015. Moreover, over 85% of wetlands have vanished since 1970. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES),approximately 1 million species are at risk of extinction if no immediate action is taken. This unprecedented loss of biodiversity poses a significant systemic threat to the global economy, human well-being, environmental health, and the overall stability of ecosystems.

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Human activities are causing irreversible damage to biodiversity and ecosystem services. This is a major threat to human well-being and the planet's ability to sustain life.

In light of these challenges, we need to take urgent action to reduce the impact of our production and consumption patterns on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This will benefit both the planet and future generations.


Below are some ways to integrate the protection ofbiodiversity and ecosystem services into business activities:

1.     Businesses can help to protect biodiversity by incorporating systematic approaches to integrate biodiversity preservation, restoration, and sustainable utilization within their business models. This can be done by conducting impact studies, establishing clear goals, and developing specialized strategies for biodiversity protection.

2.     Businesses can ensure sustainable manufacturing practices and build trust with customers by prioritizing transparency, traceability, and efficient utilization of materials across the value chains.

3.     Businesses should integrate the preservation and ethical utilization of ecosystem services and biodiversity into every stage of the product life cycle. This can be done by designing products that are circular and durable, which will reduce the strain on material consumption and mitigate the adverse impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

4.     Businesses can help to protect biodiversity by participating in business coalitions for biodiversity. These coalitions can help to disseminate best practices and promote collective action.

5.     Businesses can demonstrate their commitment to protecting biodiversity by adhering to sustainability standards and obtaining certifications. This can help to build trust with consumers and attract environmentally conscious customers.

Businesses can help to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES) by implementing a range of effective strategies, such as sustainable procurement, product design, circular economy, and consumer awareness.


While SMEs have taken some environmental initiatives, there remains a substantial task ahead.

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Encouragingly,  according to a 2021 survey by the SME Climate Hub, 60%  and medium-sized businesses are working to reduce their environmental impact. They are doing this by exploring sustainable sourcing alternatives, improving packaging and waste management practices, and striving for resource efficiency. However, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed.

The agriculture sector is both a major contributor to climate change and a potential solution. By reducing emissions and sequestering carbon, agriculture can play a significant role in combating climate change.

While the economic shift towards a low-carbon economy is undeniably essential, it alone cannot effectively halt global warming in the presence of ongoing or escalating environmental pressures. This is because of the intricate interdependencies among all species on our planet, as well as the amplifying effects of human activities through biophysical interactions within the Earth system. Recognizing the complex web of interactions is vital to comprehending that addressing environmental challenges comprehensively is imperative for mitigating the impacts of global warming.

Biodiversity and climate change are interconnected. Climate change is harming biodiversity, and biodiversity can help mitigate climate change. By prioritizing biodiversity conservation, we can accelerate the transition to a nature-positive and carbon-neutral future.

Biodiversity is essential for food production and a thriving economy. A transition to a greener economy can unlock $10 trillion in new business opportunities. However, it is worth noting that these economic systems are also responsible for nearly 80% of the destruction inflicted upon the natural world. Recognizing the intrinsic link between a thriving economy and the preservation of biodiversity emphasizes the urgent need to adopt sustainable practices that protect and restore nature while simultaneously fostering economic growth.



The interdependence between businesses and biodiversity is undeniable, although the extent of their reliance on and impact on biodiversity varies across industries and enterprises. One of the primary contributors to habitat loss, which significantly diminishes biodiversity and places increased pressure on species, is the conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural lands for grazing or cultivation purposes. This transformation adversely affects the breeding, feeding, and nesting patterns of various organisms such as birds, insects, and other creatures due to the reduction in habitat diversity and landscape fragmentation. Furthermore, the loss of natural habitats also leads to the decline of native flora, further exacerbating the challenges faced by biodiversity. Therefore, recognizing and addressing these interconnected relationships is crucial for businesses to effectively integrate biodiversity considerations into their operations and contribute to the preservation and restoration of biodiversity.

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The majority of conventional agricultural practices are characterized by intensive methods that rely on unsustainable industrial farming techniques. These approaches, including monocropping and intensive tilling, contribute to habitat degradation, which is further exacerbated by changes in land use. Consequently, the consequences of such practices are reflected in the deteriorating quality of soils and ecosystems, directly impacting the productivity of agricultural lands. Moreover, conventional food production is associated with significant resource consumption, including energy, water, land, pesticides, and fertilizers, all of which have detrimental effects on ecosystems and habitats. In addition to habitat disruption, the destruction of natural habitats has also led to the migration of species. Therefore, recognizing the unsustainability of these practices is crucial for promoting alternative agricultural approaches that prioritize ecological integrity, minimize habitat disruption, and mitigate the risks associated with disease transmission.

The agri-food industry relies on biodiversity for its operations, but it also contributes to its loss. Biodiversity provides essential ecosystem services, such as provision of fresh water, the maintenance of fertile soils, nutrient cycling, pest control, and pollination, that are vital to agriculture.

Biodiversity loss has a negative impact on human society, both socially and economically. This includes increased costs for public services, higher food prices, and increased exposure to pesticides. Consequently, it is of utmost importance to acknowledge and confront the multifaceted impacts of biodiversity loss. By doing so, we can mitigate the social and economic burdens associated with its decline and foster a more sustainable future for all.


Eosta is a Dutch distributor of organic and fair fruits and vegetables, with a focus on overseas and tropical produce. They prioritize transparency and use their Sustainability Flower framework to monitor, manage, market, and monetize the sustainability achievements of their organic growers. Eosta developed a tool to account for the true cost of their products, highlighting environmental and social values. Through collaborations and utilizing existing data, they conducted an assessment that showed organic products outperform non-organic ones in terms of social and environmental impacts. The switch to organic farming reduced negative effects on biodiversity, improved soil quality, and led to cost savings and improved resilience for growers. Eosta's approach demonstrates the potential for SMEs to drive positive change in the agri-food industry.

Cafeology, a small coffee roaster in the UK, has become a leading independent coffee company by addressing the environmental impact of coffee production. They source bird-friendly shade-grown coffee, ensuring it is 100% organic and cultivated under optimal biodiversity conditions. This approach protects rainforests, supports migratory birds, and enhances growers' livelihoods. As an SME, Cafeology manages their supply chain responsibly, directly sourcing their Bird Friendly coffee from producers in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. They prioritize environmental responsibility and hold Fairtrade certification. Collaborating with like-minded supply partners, they uphold ethical sourcing and sustainability principles.

Cafeology has established a strong presence in the premium coffee market by offering biodiversity-responsible coffee. Their Bird Friendly coffee, distinguished by its "product purity," recognized by the Smithsonian Institution, has increased their resilience and opened up commercial opportunities. The cultivation of certified bird-friendly coffee has expanded significantly, reflecting the growing demand for their sustainable products over the past decade.

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How businesses can get started with biodiversity consideration

·        Familiarize yourself with the concept of biodiversity and its importance in agriculture and food systems, using resources like the TEEB AgriFood Operational Guidelines for Business.

·        Study secondary literature and case studies to understand the impact of agri-food companies on biodiversity and learn from SMEs that have integrated nature into their decision-making.

·        Assess your company's existing sustainability and environmental actions, such as CO2 reduction initiatives, science-based climate targets, and Life Cycle Analysis, to identify areas for improvement.

·        Define your company's purpose for considering biodiversity, whether it's mitigating risks or accessing new markets, to guide your direction and actions.

·        Familiarize yourself with food standards and certifications that incorporate biodiversity criteria, and consider sourcing or selling products certified with ambitious standards to contribute to biodiversity protection.