What if biodiversity were an asset to be maintained and enhanced by business, rather than a risk factor? Something that will only be possible if we can measure the value of this “natural capital”. This is the goal of Dr. Kathy Willis’ work, Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.
A biologist by training, she has been developing maps and software for about 10 years that enable companies to quantify the ecological value of the natural ecosystems in which they operate. An innovative approach that extends beyond the approach adopted by Corporate Societal Responsibility (CSR). Explanations and case study.
How does your approach differ from the traditional CSR approaches?
These approaches contributed to create a bond between biodiversity and businesses. As such, companies generally focus on protecting species, communities and landscapes considered as “threatened”, “rare” or “vulnerable”. Thus, there are examples of CSR programmes funded by companies that have successfully taken action to safeguard them.
We actually need to go further and teach that biodiversity can be an important resource in itself, that adds value to the business. This is what we call “natural capital”, referring to economic capital. This is the global stock of natural resources, made up in particular of living organisms, soil, air and water, that provide flows of environmental services. For example, these flows include the capturing of carbon in the biomass, the regulation of water cycles, the reduction of soil erosion, etc. They also provide Man with numerous socio-cultural services, in the recreational or aesthetic spheres, for example.
Consequently, by protecting and increasing the assets of this natural capital, businesses can create a form of reciprocity between business and biodiversity.