The threat to biodiversity is often overshadowed by the climate crisis, though it is in fact key to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, because the two issues are closely linked, says European investment Bank Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle.

“To deliver on our climate objectives and achieve transformative change, we need to start mainstreaming biodiversity in all policies and activities,” Fayolle told the World Conservation Congress (IUCN) in Marseille on 7 September.  

Speaking on the same theme at another event four days earlier, Vice President Fayolle argued that companies should be calculating their biodiversity footprint just as they calculate their carbon footprint. “It is in the interest of global corporate strategies to include and reduce the risks linked to biodiversity for the stability of their own activities, thanks to appropriate and ambitious action plans," he said at the Giverny Forum on corporate, social and environmental responsibility.

The risk management and impact assessment tools that the European Investment Bank is developing to address the two issues have many common characteristics, he said.

The EIB Vice President has laid out his views in detail in an article, published in Les Echos, co-signed with Marie-Claire Daveu, director of sustainable development at French luxury Group Kering, Maud Lelièvre, President of the French Committee of the IUCN and Romain Mouton, President of the Cercle de Giverny. Below is the full text of the article.

Biodiversity and climate — two fronts in the same war

The IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille and COP26 in Glasgow in November are the two major events in the 2021 environmental calendar, and they will both play a decisive role in the future of our planet.

The recent IPCC report reminds us how urgent the climate emergency really is and echoes the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warning from two years ago that over one million species are threatened with extinction. And France is not immune. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is home to 1 742 species under global threat — placing it among the ten countries with the highest number of threatened species.

Protecting biodiversity is all too often overshadowed by the climate. However, these two issues are more closely linked than ever. Ecosystems play a key role in regulating the climate and climate change is one of the main threats to biodiversity. The international nature conservation community has already mobilised under the aegis of IUCN and expects effective cooperation between all stakeholders and the public and private sectors to ensure that concrete and ambitious action is taken.

Only the design and implementation of a clear roadmap with the participation of all players will enable all sides to evaluate and address their own impact on natural ecosystems. Commitment at the highest level will be the starting point for transforming business models into renewed economic systems to promote the conservation of natural habitats.

According to the World Economic Forum, global corporate strategies have every interest in including and reducing biodiversity risks to the stability of their own activities through tailored and ambitious action plans.

To be effective, a strategy must be developed across supply and value chains. Traceability throughout the creation process and lifecycle of a product or service is also key for detecting and assessing direct and indirect impact.

Global corporate strategies have every interest in including and reducing biodiversity risks

Cross-cutting dialogue is vital for implementing effective biodiversity conservation policies, and is an increasingly important requirement for investors, who are keen to prioritise sustainable activities. Financial tools have demonstrated their transformative power through reliable and verifiable environmental, social and governance data, which are crucial for directing investors towards more virtuous financing. At the same time, governments have a duty to promote and encourage biodiversity, potentially prompting the notion of tax benefits.

Politicians must also set an example by continuing public procurement-related efforts such as including tough environmental clauses. This conviction would benefit from being shared by all public institutions. Support from elected representatives at the municipality, department and region level is particularly vital, as implementation at the local level alone can guarantee long-lasting effectiveness.

With a shared vision, public and private sector structures of all sizes can perfectly combine economic efficiency with environmental performance. We hope that the coming months will see ambitious decision-making triggering decisive action. We have the opportunity and the duty to completely transform our economic model to make it compatible with preserving and renewing the globe, with its formidable diversity as the cornerstone of the stability of our amazing planet.

Opinion article originally published in French in Les Echos