Engaging a cement multinational and its subsidiaries to enhance and broaden their biodiversity conservation efforts in Benin

Published: 11 September 2020
Last edited: 11 September 2020
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NGOs Benin Environment and Education Society (BEES) and Eco-Benin have been working with the Heidelberg Cement Group and its subsidiaries SCANTOGO and CIMBENIN to amplify their biodiversity conservation efforts. The NGOs and the businesses met in 2018, first at a biodiversity-related reward competition organised by Heidelberg Cement Group and later across a series of workshops and site visits. Multiple discussions on conservation issues and opportunities ensued. Eco-Benin and BEES now support Heidelberg on actions like the conservation and protection of hippos, sea turtles, manatees and mangroves, as well as community engagement events, working towards the implementation of a CSR action plan from a state-adopted CSR charter, and motivating other companies to consider biodiversity issues. With the subsidiaries, they work on the community-managed Mono transboundary reserve, declared a UNESCO MAP and the Biosphere Reserve in 2017.


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
River, stream
Temperate deciduous forest
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Protected area governance
Sustainable financing
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations




One challenge was to engage a company that was already aware of and contributing to biodiversity efforts, and working with them to push these efforts further. As with business CSR activities, though beneficial, activities are not always substantial and sustainable, so it was necessary to show that it was important to go beyond the existing situation.


  • Heidelberg Cement: strengthened biodiversity approach and actions, supporting sustainability reporting and reputation.
  • BEES and Eco-Benin: they learned from this experience and engaged other companies.
  • Communities in the Mono transboundary reserve.

How do the building blocks interact?

Thanks to Heidelberg Cement’s existing consideration for biodiversity issues and the launch of a reward initiative, they were able to connect with NGOs who could support them in doing more. The SRJS’s programme provided the right tools for BEES and Eco-Benin to be empowered and prepare for engaging with Heidelberg. Thanks to IUCN’s existing contact, which facilitated discussions between the NGOs and Heidelberg, more discussions could take place, leading to understanding obstacles and coming up with substantive collaboration ideas. These ideas for action were carried forward with the help of an in-company champion. In summary, benefiting from contacts with an international organisation, building on the business’ existing biodiversity interest, having an in-company “champion” and applying valuable skills gained through training contributed to the success of this engagement.


Heidelberg Cement’s biodiversity efforts not only positively contribute to biodiversity, it also provides strong and inspiring evidence to incentivise the Beninese private sector to follow suit. The creation of the Stated-created CSR Charter will ensure that other business in that landscape become more aware of their impacts and dependencies on nature and seek to participate to biodiversity and contribution efforts, with the support of other NGOs.


This business engagement experience empowered both BEES and Eco-Benin, since with experience comes knowledge in the form of lessons learned for future actions on influencing business. The success of this work also constitutes crucial evidence to convince other businesses that they also can contribute to biodiversity efforts and gain from it. Eco-Benin and BEES became more confident in the skills that they learned and sharpened throughout this journey, to be able to find other businesses to support on their journey towards sustainability.


Since 2014, Heidelberg Cement (HC) has launched the “Quarry Life Awards” to reward innovative scientific and community projects that raise awareness and educate quarry actors about biodiversity issues, and help the company connect with its local stakeholders. It was in this framework, that BEES and HC were able to interact. Using previously established contacts between IUCN and Heidelberg’s former Coordinator for biodiversity conservation, biodiversity information and landscape restoration projects, BEES and Eco-Benin were able to engage them on more actions. In addition, Heidelberg Cement already has a biodiversity policy, which provided the NGOs with a good entry point and a foundation to build on.


BEES and Eco-Benin had participated in the Shared Resources, Joint Solutions (SRJS) Programme in which they learned more about effective business engagement approaches and making win-win and compelling arguments. In their discussions, they realised that the company had the will to do more, but only needed more support and motivation to it. Thanks to the former Coordinator’s enthusiasm, they were able to push the biodiversity conversation further in the company. The two NGOs and Heidelberg Cement collaborated to conserve and protect endangered wildlife species, according to the IUCN Red List, across the border of Togo and Benin. Now that the company’s management is fully on board, it motivates and pressures the Beninese and Togolese company focal points to work more on biodiversity, who then work with the NGOs to help them prepare related actions and documentation.  BEES and Eco-Benin have also signed an agreement with ScanTogo and CIMBénin, two subsidiaries of Heidelberg Cement, which stipulates the planting of 20,000 plants in the Bouche du Roy Reserve by Eco-Benin.


Other companies have since taken notice of this success and want to add to biodiversity efforts. Indeed, before this, most businesses didn’t realise that they could act to safeguard nature at this magnitude. Also, the National Council has adopted a CSR Charter that includes a self-assessment framework for business, which will allow companies to develop a CSR action plan; it is likely that NGOs will support them to ensure biodiversity integration in the plan. Finally, this success has also further equipped and motivated Eco-Benin and BEES to increase their business engagement.

Contributed by

Gautier Amoussou Éco-Bénin