Companies are increasingly aware that degrading forests, marshes, meadows, e.g., jeopardizes their benefits. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced this trend, but there is more to it. Many forward-thinking businesses have understood that shareholders and butterflies share the same issues.
Corporate groups find it now acceptable to support conservation NGOs or to create their own dedicated foundations. Upgrading their infrastructures to a more biodiversity-friendly standard is also now a mainstream trend. Take, for example, the German car manufacturer Audi, which wants to showcase its vehicles within butterfly-filled meadows and no longer surrounded by quasi-sterile lawns. It is a significant move (with a car? 😉) in the corporate messaging. In addition to the fact that this kind of actions generally benefits workers productivity.
Transforming the company’s supply chain is certainly an even more significant engagement. Let’s talk about the cosmetic manufacturer L’Occitane, which is committed to preserving biodiversity and already supports the conservation of endangered species. What is the link between shampoo and disappearing plants, you ask? These plants are part of more or less natural habitats which increase production profitability by reducing operation costs, enhancing resilience climatic hazards due to climate change and avoiding supply disruptions.
Moreover, L’Occitane isn’t alone: the leader in the cosmetic sector is consolidating its ecological position as well. L’Oréal recently launched an environmental and social impact labelling for its products. At a time when much is said about nutrition scores, some companies are trying to be transparent with customers and respond to climate activism. In a calculated way, this transparency is also to the benefit of the company: work on environmental performance (biodiversity performance also 🤔) is a great driver of innovation, and therefore of competitive advantages.
So, what does this mean? Are businesses now entirely committed to halt or even reverse biodiversity loss? If they aren’t now, they will all soon be at least concerned by it! The latest WEF’s Risk Report highlighted biodiversity loss as the second global risk, after global warming. Recognizing that services provided by nature are twice that of the global economy, it is easier to understand the top managers’ concerns. In other words, to produce what we receive from forests, swamps, rivers, seas, etc. would require us to pay for a global economy twice as big as the current one, 😬. Let’s think about how much our shampoo would cost if it were to be produced with human-made fresh air, clear water, colouring, artificial climate, and products we derive from forests.
In this context, some companies are more and more willing to engage for nature and to partner with policy-makers. Are these stand-alone cases? Is it actually a longer-term endeavour? More about this in the next issue which will show that companies are coming together and also seeking support from several stakeholders.