Strengthening business involvement for biodiversity through a working group built on trust and collaboration

Full Solution
On-site working group meeting
CF UICN

In June 2009, the IUCN French Committee created a multi-stakeholder working group called “Business and Biodiversity” that brings together French IUCN Members and IUCN experts with the business partners of the French IUCN Committee from different sectors (energy, waste and water, cosmetics and aggregates) to  find better solutions for biodiversity. This working group contributes to the development of studies and tools on different subjects such as creating and enhancing awareness among employees on biodiversity issues, corporate reporting on biodiversity, and invasive alien species management on production sites and headquarters.

Last update: 25 Jun 2020
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Context
Challenges addressed
Loss of Biodiversity
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness

While the private sector is increasingly putting in place practices to reduce its impacts on biodiversity and restore ecosystems, it is important to support them to ensure and reinforce the efficiency of their strategies and actions. Therefore, an open space of dialogue is needed between different stakeholders to share views, discuss and identify the best solutions for biodiversity.

Beneficiaries

The working group brings together IUCN members (NGOs and representatives of the French governement), IUCN experts and the French Committee's business partners (EDF, Engie, Storengy, Veolia, Primagaz, L'Occitane, HeidelbergCement France and Eqiom).

Scale of implementation
National
Ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Area-wide development
Buildings and facilities
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Urban wetlands
Theme
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Legal & policy frameworks
Outreach & communications
Extractives
Water provision and management
Standards/ certification
Location
Paris, France
West and South Europe
Process
Summary of the process

The IUCN French Committee organizes and brings together the members of the working group several times a year, thus creating a space of dialogue between its participants. These meetings are an opportunity for each member (state representatives, NGOs, companies) to share their opinions, ideas, skills on biodiversity issues. 

The synergies emerging from these exchanges favor efficient changes towards common objectives. They can result in publications of studies and tools for a better consideration of biodiversity by the private sector. 

Building Blocks
Enhancing multi-stakeholders dialogue

The working group serves as a dialogue platform to find better solutions for biodiversity.  

The chair is made up of French IUCN Committee teams and an President  is elected usually among the business partners for a three-year mandate. The President shares with the IUCN team the concerns of businesses in order to guarantee a relevant agenda.  

The dialogue is reinforced first through a virtual meeting to agree on the yearly agenda based on a chair’s proposal, and then complemented by two face-to-face meetings per year. An improvement the last years has been the organization of sites visits on a voluntary basis from our business partners to learn from each other and confront the practices through concrete actions. It gives an insight on the replicable actions as well as the context-specific ones.  According to the needs, more meetings and exchanges can be organised throughout the year.  

Enabling factors
  • Frequent meetings and exchanges: face-to-face meetings, on-site visits, phone calls, e-mails 

  • Bi-monthly newsletter, with space given to the members to share their initiatives 

  • Diversity of members: scientists, NGOs, business biodiversity managers, protected areas managers, government representatives from the ministry of the ecology, representatives from the new governmental agency for biodiversity, international representatives of IUCN  

  • Trust and transparency between members

Lesson learned
  • The confidence built with the business partners thanks to long-term partnerships enhance a fruitful participation among the working group members based on co-construction. 

  • It is essential not only to engage all relevant stakeholders, but also to have an IUCN internal dialogue without companies to define risks and opportunities beforehand. 

  • It is important to have an appointed focal point who agrees the agenda of the meetings and animates the discussions. The focal point should support working group members’ initiatives to put on the agenda their insights, struggles and solutions to deal with biodiversity issues that are raised.  

  • A diverse multi-stakeholder group ensures that different views are expressed and results will be widely shared and accepted in order to co-create solutions. The business representatives in the working group are specialized in biodiversity. A next step would include business members coming from non-environmental departments, such as the purchase department to further incorporate biodiversity issues in the whole company.
Collaborating in a common framework

Each year, the working group agrees on the theme for a shared working study, which aims to share the good practices, identify the leverages and obstacles in order to better address the solutions. The co-creation of the study ensures the members’ interest in the discussed topics, thus guaranteeing their commitment. In addition, aiming towards common goals enhances the synergies among the working group.   

For example, a working group focused on the mobilization of employees identified 11 examples of successful practices such as organizing nature visits on site, displaying signs presenting biodiversity issues of operational sites, organizing events and moments of exchange with specialists, identifying a biodiversity referent, organizing training sessions or competitions. 

Two fundamental aspects to efficiently mobilize the employees were determined:  

  • On one hand, the requirement to elaborate an engaged social approach led by the top management of businesses (CEOs); 

  • On the other hand, the importance of promoting measures that lead to action and promoting their experiences.

Enabling factors
  • Define a collaborative framework through a co-created study with the chair approval 

  • Diversity of ideas and skills to enlarge the spectrum of the opportunities to protect and restore biodiversity and the spectrum of envisioned solutions.   

  • Regular reporting to the working group members on the on-going and realized work

Lesson learned
  • Bringing together different stakeholders enhances communication and understanding between cross-sector stakeholders around a common goal. A common goal can facilitate the publication of studies and tools needed by the working group members in their activities.   

  • Bringing external speakers from the IUCN network to share their expertise on the ongoing study enables to go deeper in the discussions as well as to answer to raised questions.

Impacts

This working group brings together diverse stakeholders and produces materials. This way of working, based upon cooperation and collaboration allows the stakeholders to build efficient and operational solutions. It fastens the integration of biodiversity issues in business strategies and actions. It also enables each party to understand the reality of others: the hurdles, the goals, the effective leverages and the resources. 

The outcomes of its reflections are widely shared to spread solutions, tools, and studies to reduce the impacts on biodiversity. 

So far, the working group released 6 publications which were widely shared. The latest 3 are:

  • Corporate biodiversity reporting and indicators: situation analysis and recommendations

  • Raising awareness and mobilizing employees for biodiversity  

  • Invasive alien species on business sites

Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
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