At the 7th plenary session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in France, Virginie Chapron-du Jeu, Chief Financial Officer of the Caisse des Dépôts group, and Marc Abadie, President of CDC Biodiversité, spoke up together to raise awareness of the impact of human activities on biodiversity. They also highlight the urgent need for an international tool to assess this impact, in order to inform financing or investment choices.
In Paris on 6 May, following its 7th plenary session the IPBES1 (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) will call on us all: public decision-makers, companies, NGOs and citizens. All over the world, biodiversity is declining at a rapid rate due to human activity causing the massive degradation of lands across the planet. Such human activities result in the disappearance of species, worsen climate change (deforestation, reducing the soil’s ability to store carbon) and by increasingly and directly affecting all aspects of human well-being: food, health, economy, etc.
France is one of the most concerned by this observation. Our country has an exceptional natural heritage. This heritage is located across two continents and in all oceans except the Arctic. It has the 2nd largest maritime area in the world, with over 10 million km² under its authority. French territories are also home to a wide range of land and marine ecosystems and contain close to 10% of the diversity of species known to the world, with over 180,000 species.
For several decades now, our country has applied a legislative and regulatory framework to protect biodiversity, assisted by Europe. Although efforts are real, it is clear that the framework set out by law is not enough to avoid the rapid decline of biodiversity. Artificialisation alone accounts for the disappearance of the equivalent of one département under tar or cement every 10 years. There is much urgency to work quicker, to go further and to find new levers.
France must cement its national ambition by involving the various societal stakeholders, by generating a collective momentum, which is a real challenge for territories, authorities and companies as well as for the State’s services, large networks of stakeholders and citizens. The biodiversity plan presented in May 2018 by Nicolas Hulot demonstrates this desire to accelerate the implementation of priority measures to achieve the objectives set out by the national biodiversity strategy (stratégie nationale pour la biodiversité - SNB), running until 2020.
In this context, the protection of biodiversity and economic development must be considered and carried out in tandem. Biodiversity must become a source of innovation and technological progress towards new development models. It could become a factor of territorial solidarity both at local and world level. On the international scene, it is a major geostrategic issue.
Biodiversity and the services provided by ecosystems are absolutely necessary to many economic activities and for the operation of human society. They are sources of value for society, although this value cannot always be measured using current tools and units. We are increasingly aware that not considering these externalities could endanger our economies and our societies.
The IPBES Global Assessment reveals that we must urgently undertake ambitious discussions. These must revolve around the global governance of biodiversity after 2020 under the Convention on Biological Diversity, but also around the measures to be taken in order to implement the Sustainable Development plan for 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Without quick and coordinated action, the expected evolution of indirect factors - particularly the increase in demographic growth and consumption - and a more globalised economy will lead to the non-achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi biodiversity targets and the failure of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In this critical context, it is vital that both the consequences of our activities and the advantages of the progress made are measured. Tools are necessary to assess the impact of companies, financial assets through value chains, and local or national policies, etc.
These impact assessment tools must have several qualities in order to set out a base on which all biodiversity footprint indicator must be built: be expressed in a metric unit, be positioned on a global analysis scale (due to globalised economy, whilst being allocated to a geography as biodiversity issues and the associated impacts are necessarily local), represent biodiversity as a whole (and not only the value of services that it provides), be based on a transparent and consensual methodology), be capable of attesting to the efforts made by companies through its variations.
This is the aim of the Global Biodiversity Score (GBS) driven by Caisse des Dépôts and developed by CDC Biodiversité since 2016 as part of the Biodiversity Economy mission and in partnership with the companies that are members of the Businesses for Positive Biodiversity club (B4B+). This facility aims to offer a report on companies’ biodiversity footprint with a view to providing an extra-financial report, and to act as a tool to assist with decision-making to identify direct, indirect or activity-induced impacts in order to reduce such impacts, and even to head towards the objective of generating a positive net impact on biodiversity. In terms of financial institutions, we must compare which sectors and companies are the most virtuous, in order to improve financing and investment choices, with a view to aligning the actions of private stakeholders with public policy objectives to protect biodiversity.
(A) Often described as the “IPCC of biodiversity”, IPBES is the global scientific and political body in charge of providing all decision-makers with the best evidence available on populations and on nature.