One of my professors would regularly quote Herman Daly by reminding us, “The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.” This recognition, the basis for the field of ecological economics, is firmly taking hold in the corporate sustainability world, especially as we witness the real-time, intricate links between climate and nature. So much so that GreenBiz debuted a conference in October called Bloom.
For two days, several hundred corporate nature-lovers came together for learning, connection, and rich conversation on one of humanity’s most urgent topics: “where biodiversity meets the bottom line.” The conference was thoughtfully designed to highlight nature from start to finish. Moments of important reflection were offered through content curation and unique opportunities like the “quiet recharge room,” featuring hundreds of tropical plants, rainforest sounds, and a waterfall.
Here are my top takeaways from Bloom 23:
- It is critical that conservation and restoration plans center the wisdom and participation of Indigenous communities. A well-founded approach to nature restoration follows the leadership of Indigenous communities, who already play an outsized role in protecting biodiversity as custodians, stewards, and protectors.
- Since the economy and nature are inextricably linked, we need to consider nature in the context of every business system - not as a separate practice. As the Daly quote above reminds us, the economy exists within nature, not the other way around. Loss of nature represents a profound risk to business that is material to every sector, as well as deeply troubling existential and spiritual concerns for many.
- The top five factors driving nature loss are well-known, so let’s do something about them while we still can:
- Change in land use and sea use
- Resource exploitation
- Climate change
- Invasive species
- As the corporate biodiversity topic unfolds, sustainability professionals everywhere are searching for ways to measure and baseline their biodiversity impacts. Methods of gathering this type of data are dramatically different from those used with carbon or waste accounting, and can include sound sensing, remote sensing, environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, participatory science, and AI to map changes over time. Companies early in their biodiversity journey can take the first steps by looking internally at sourcing data to identify high-risk purchases and geographies within the supply chain, as well as where gaps in sourcing data exist.
- Several resources seemed to come up in conversations repeatedly at Bloom. Those included:
- Nia Tero, is a nonprofit organization that works in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples who sustain thriving territories and cultures to strengthen guardianship of Earth and all beings. They keep a database of organizations that work with Indigenous communities as full partners.
- Encore is a free online tool that highlights nature-related risks and dependencies by sector, making it essential for companies looking to get started.
- Nature4Climate drives investment and action on nature-based solutions as a necessary piece to solving the climate crisis. Their NCS World Atlas highlights nature’s role in mitigating climate change through 16 “pathways,” activities that enhance the protection, restoration, and management of natural and working lands.
If you were at Bloom and want to connect, or want to talk about biodiversity progress, please reach out!