Deloitte: World’s largest companies take action to conserve biodiversity in response to rapid decline of ecosystem services
New York, NY, 15 October 2012 — According to a recent study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and Deloitte France, a majority of companies in the Fortune Global 50 have reported taking action to reduce or eliminate their impacts on biodiversity.
“Conservation of biodiversity is crucial to business success and to society’s well-being,” says Dave Pearson, Global Leader, Deloitte Sustainability, DTTL. “Biodiversity loss can limit ecosystem services such as water filtration, crop pollination, food and timber production, and control of diseases and pests, that are not only essential to communities but also increase operational costs for businesses that are critically dependent on these services. Assessing and mitigating these risks helps businesses secure their future growth.”
The study found that more than 80 percent of companies in the Fortune Global 50 are communicating about their biodiversity and ecosystem management. Among the oil and gas companies in this group, 90 percent (15 out of 17 companies) are providing specific details on their efforts to manage their dependency and impact on the ecosystems.
Additionally, the companies in the study reported on a diverse range of performance metrics to measure biodiversity risks and impacts linked to their activities. Nearly 75 percent of companies (37 out of 50) reported using biodiversity indicators that were closely aligned with the latest sustainability reporting guidelines from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Suggested biodiversity indicators include impacts related to the location and size of land occupied, and products and services utilized for operational purposes.
Some of the specific biodiversity management practices described by oil and gas companies include:
The report suggests the following actions for organizations to consider as part of their efforts to help conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services within their operations:
Assess dependence: Careful analysis of business operations with regard to ecosystem services can help identify the services that are most important to an organization.
Evaluate impact: Businesses should customize performance indicators to identify the key risks associated with the use of its ecosystem services in order to gauge impacts and track progress against set goals.
Formalize a strategy: Strategize a long-term plan for conserving biodiversity and securing ecosystem services by first determining which actions can be taken internally (i.e. operational changes) and which actions require assistance from external groups, such as conservation groups.
Engage internal and external stakeholders: Businesses are encouraged to cascade their biodiversity strategies through business lines and externally, establishing responsibility to both internal and external organizations.
Public communications and performance reporting: Accurate measurement and performance reporting on biodiversity and ecosystems creates an organizational discipline to follow through on the strategic plan, and also helps build credibility with key stakeholders.
About the study:
The study examined recent public communications by the Fortune Global 50 (the top-grossing companies of the Fortune Global 500), including their corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports, annual reports, websites, and press releases about their efforts to manage biodiversity and ecosystem impacts. Nearly one-third of the Fortune Global 50 companies are in the oil & gas sector. The other companies are broadly distributed across sectors including automotive, commodities, conglomerate, consumer services, electric utilities, electronics, financial, health care, retail, technology and telecom. Access a copy of the study.
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