How important are clean air, fertile soil and a summer meadow full of fragrant flowers to you? Admittedly: a trick question. But let’s be honest: far too often, we take what is commonplace for us for granted. All the processes that ensure that we can live are subsumed under the term biodiversity. It refers to biological diversity in its entirety and is essential for our (survival). So we at borisgloger thought about how we can advance this topic and thus make our contribution to a fair and public welfare-oriented world. Together with Agentur Auf! and colleagues of the biologist Dr. Frauke Fischer, we are currently looking for a suitable project that promotes the protection and reconstruction of biodiversity. But what is actually behind all this?
1. Biodiversity secures our survival cosmos
Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal species, i.e. also their genetic diversity within a species as well as the biological diversity of habitats or ecosystems.
- Genetic diversity contributes to different interests and abilities. We know this from us humans: One person likes to repair a car, another loves to bake bread. What is true for us is also important for other organisms, because this diversity leads to a variety of immune systems.
- Biodiversity is important to ensure the smooth functioning of ecosystems. And: only an intact diversity of species ensures the stability of an ecosystem.
- Different ecosystems such as desert, rainforest or coral reef are the basis for so-called ecosystem services. These are services that nature provides for humans. They include four areas: Supply services (the direct provision of natural resources such as wood), regulatory services such as in the context of disease and the climate, basic services such as photosynthesis, which forms the basis of all life, and cultural services such as recreation in nature. All of these components cannot be replaced by humans at all, or only at a high cost. Biodiversity encompasses this biological diversity with all eco and landscape systems.
This triad is important to preserve life. Conversely, the massive loss of biodiversity is life-threatening for humans. In terms of biomass, humans account for only 0.01 percent of global biodiversity.
The disappearance of a single species can cause the loss of the entire ecosystem because it destroys the interaction between plants, animals and organisms! This loss is irreversible: no human being will ever be able to restore an extinct species. Scientists assume, by the way, that there could be up to two billion species worldwide. Only about 1.5 million have been identified, including many microorganisms.
2. Biodiversity is more important than protecting the climate
The global report of the World Biodiversity Council presents both the worldwide state of knowledge on the situation of biodiversity and forecasts on the development and services of ecosystems until 2050. Biodiversity and the associated ecosystem services are even more important for our lives than a stable climate, and already more than a quarter of the animal and plant groups studied are threatened.
“Nature is not trading with us. Climate change is about how we live in the future; loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services is about if we can live in the future.”Dr. Frauke Fischer
Ecosystem services are worth about twice the global gross national product each year. In concrete terms, this means that far more than half of the gross national product depends on services from nature. If we simply left nature alone and considered nature-based solutions, we would automatically ensure a comfortable life. Instead, rivers are polluted, oceans are overfished, insects are killed, natural parks are exploited – and all this just to extract resources.
Humans are therefore the “main culprit”: Human activity has significantly altered more than two-thirds of the environment. The global extinction rate today is three to ten times higher than the average over the last 10 million years. Researchers have also studied: Even if we can meet the Paris target and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, some 49 percent of insects and 44 percent of plants will lose more than half of their habitats on Earth by 2100.
3. Companies influence biodiversity
To varying degrees, companies are dependent on nature; at the same time, their economic activities have an impact on biodiversity. Many companies follow a linear strategy (input-output-outcome). However, the conservation of biodiversity requires that economic institutions also think and act regeneratively.
As part of the EU’s Green Deal, whose overarching goal is a climate-neutral Europe, the “protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems” is one of the six environmental goals in focus. One challenge here is that the protection and restoration, and even loss, of biodiversity is not easy to measure. That, at least, would explain the lack of attention to this all-important issue. The focus is therefore more generally on the goal of climate neutrality or CO2 balances, which are easier to measure.
To date, few concrete guidelines are available to show companies how they can systematically advocate for the protection and rebuilding of nature. The first steps could be:
- Proceed consistently and systematically: A good starting point is to integrate environmental management into the corporate strategy and build competencies. Performance-based systems such as EMAS or ISO 14001, as well as 14001:2015 and ISO 14031:2013, help organizations to systematically reduce their (harmful) impacts on the environment and implicitly or indirectly address biodiversity.
- “Well-meant does not always equal well-thought” – this quote by Frauke Fischer should be taken to heart by companies. In order to protect themselves from greenwashing, experts in the field of biodiversity who are on board from the very beginning provide support. They can assess where the (individual) levers lie. We have also followed this advice, because we know: It is vital that we all take care of our best “service provider” – nature.
My book recommendation to get a better insight into the topic comes from Frauke and Hilke. A few facts are very sobering, but for those who want to understand the connections, the book offers a fantastic overview:
Fischer, Frauke; Oberhansberg, Hilke. Was hat die Mücke je für uns getan? Endlich verstehen, was biologische Vielfalt für unser Leben bedeutet. oekom verlag.
Read more about our first biodiversity project in our blog soon.
Agile Sketch by Karin Hofmann. Agile Sketching is a visualization technique that can be learned. Discover more.