Nature and business: biodiversity for a sustainable development

Published on Friday, 7 October 2016

The annual World Business Council for Sustainable Development was held in Chennai in India. Environmental and water protection were among the issues at the heart of the event, as well as a working group coordinated by Enel 

On Sunday, October 2, India – the world’s third largest emitter of CO2 – submitted a ratification document of the Paris agreement on climate change to the United Nations. The document was signed on the birthday of the historical Indian leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

With its signature of the Agreement, India has committed itself to producing at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030, including 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022.

The document represents an important step towards a sustainable growth model, for a country whose strong economic growth poses challenges to the preservation of the environment and its natural resources. In order to discuss sustainability and business, from October 3 to 6 in Chennai, India hosted the annual meeting World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – an international network that brings together 200 multinational corporations interested in working toward a sustainable future for businesses, society and the environment .

The title chosen for this year’s summit was “Implementing Sustainability at Scale”, indicating the possibility of applying sustainability as a scalable growth model. During the event, participants (including Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, Mukund Rajan from Tata Son, Sunny Verghese from Olam International and Robert Swaak from PWC), met to discuss topics such as cities and sustainable transport, the fight against climate change, responsible water consumption and respecting ecosystem services.

Enel, among the leading international utilities in the WBCSD, participated in the meeting with Luca Meini, Head of Environmental Policies. In addition to discussing the Group's Open Power philosophy and our company’s experience in the integration of sustainability into business models, Meini acted as a coordinator for the meeting and launched the start of the WBCSD Working Group “Biodiversity Measurement, Valuation and Reporting,” a roundtable created by the organisation to allow companies to exchange views on how businesses can act responsibly to protect biodiversity in their operations, particularly when dealing with a crucial resource such as water.

“The goal of the workgroup is to foster a debate on how to assess and address issues related to the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity, a crucial aspect on which the productivity of businesses and the functionality of various ecosystems depends. Large companies such as ours therefore need to analyse and identify indicators of biodiversity to fully integrate them into their growth strategies.”

“Enel – Meini explained – is conducting several biodiversity projects around the world, but their effects are only perceived locally, lacking a full overall view. The objective of the WBCSD working group is to find a connection between the various initiatives and to then give our stakeholders an overview of the situation. The idea is to define a way to measure and catalogue practices and results quantitatively, in order to create a metric for biodiversity, as was done for CO2 emissions. Consolidating a method to measure the integration of management actions and the preservation of ecosystems and the environment into business, allows us to connect biodiversity to the implementation of two of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals – SDG 14 and 15 – dedicated to the conservation of oceans and forests.”

Defining a metric for biodiversity means helping companies to be more sustainable in their business operations, integrating the protection of natural habitats and resources into their strategies. After all, as Gandhi said, “it is actions that count. Our thoughts, however good they may be, are false pearls until they are converted into actions.”