homenews and insights biodiversity and small business

Understanding the basics of biodiversity: an easy guide for businesses

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By SSE Energy Solutions
17 January 2023

Business Energy

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As media coverage of the climate crisis continues to grow, small businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the role they play in helping the UK achieve net zero targets.

In comparison, the global biodiversity challenges seem to attract less attention, even though ecosystem-restoration and net zero ambitions go hand in hand.

Here, we’ll explain why it’s important for small businesses to understand the biodiversity crisis and how doing your bit for biodiversity conservation is not only good for the environment, but also makes good business sense.

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What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity, or biological diversity, refers to the variety of living species on Earth. WWF describe biodiversity as being critical to supporting everything in nature that we need to survive, including food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.

That’s why loss of biodiversity, commonly referred to as the biodiversity crisis, is not only an environmental issue but also raises economic, social, and moral questions as well.

According to UN experts, changes in land and sea use, exploitation of natural resources, global heating, pollution, and the spread of invasive species are the five main drivers of biodiversity decline.

Why should small businesses care about biodiversity?

Whether it’s higher raw material costs or changing consumer and investor interests, the decline in biodiversity causes a number of problems for businesses of all sizes.

When businesses are invested in protecting natural habitats and promoting biodiversity conservation, they can:

  • Improve efficiency in supply chains - The increasing number of floods, heatwaves and droughts are having a major impact on local and international supply chains. A survey from the Business Continuity Institute found that 42% of respondents reported extreme weather events causing disruptions in their supply chains. As a result, more businesses are seeing the need to strengthen their supply chain resilience and make their supply chains more sustainable.

  • Meet consumer interests - According to research conducted by SAP, over half of respondents (55%) said they’d be willing to pay more for sustainable and ethically-sourced products. And as younger generations gain more purchasing power, this shift in attitude isn’t a trend that’s going to go away. That’s why it’s important to adapt your business now rather than later, to stand out against your competitors and be recognised as a sustainable brand.

  • Support emerging legislation - The discussions at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal suggest we’re going to see a greater focus on measuring and disclosing biodiversity loss. A leading industry expert has said that even if mandatory reports or targets aren’t introduced as part of these negotiations, we should expect to see them in the near future.

How small businesses can limit biodiversity loss

Promoting biodiversity in your business might be easier than you think. Here are a few business practices you can introduce to limit biodiversity loss and become a more sustainable business.

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  • Review your purchasing habits - Our spending decisions impact global biodiversity in many complex ways. For example, overconsumption of high-polluting goods leads to increased carbon expenditure from transportation and can disrupt natural habitats, which cause ecological harm and loss of biodiversity.

  • Grow food and plants - If you have outdoor space, planting native and pollinator-friendly species can be beneficial for long-term biodiversity conservation. Visit the Royal Horticultural Society’s website for help and advice to help you get started.

  • Change employee culture - We all need to change our attitude if we want to tackle the biodiversity crisis. As a small business owner, you can lead the way and help to encourage this mindset shift at every level of your business.

  • Support community projects - Speak to your local MP or councillor about upcoming environmental projects or initiatives. If there isn’t anything planned, why not organise something yourself, such as a community litter pick-up? It’s a great opportunity to advertise your business to the local community!

  • Join a task force - The anticipated biodiversity targets are likely to vary depending on the size and type of business you own. Joining an industry-specific task force or group can help you make the changes you need.

If you found this page useful, visit our small business sustainability hub for more free tools, tips and expert advice.

Please note, SSE Energy Solutions has written this blog for information purposes only. We recommend speaking to your own business and financial advisors before taking any direct action that will impact your business.