Biodiversity is the diversity of life, comprising the wealth of species, genes and ecosystems on Earth. It provides the basis for functioning ecosystems, which in turn deliver services such as fertile soils, clear water, pollination or climate regulation.
Yet the loss of biodiversity is progressing faster than ever before, and it is increasingly jeopardising human livelihoods.
Businesses can play an important role in combating the causes of biodiversity loss. On the one hand, the services provided by nature are at the basis of many economic processes. On the other hand, economic activity alters biodiversity and ecosystems in a negative way.
The global Private Business Action for Biodiversity project promotes promising methods and instruments for biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation. It tests and enhances them and systematises the experience gained in a way that enables both private and public actors to use them. A special focus is placed on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are part of agricultural supply chains.
In an initial scoping phase, the project team has worked together with cooperation partners in Brazil, India and Mexico to develop implementation strategies with the aim to test and improve selected instruments and mechanisms for promoting biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation in the partner countries.
In Brazil, the focus is on two palm products: açaí and carnauba. Açaí grows in the tropical Amazon rainforest and is increasingly cultivated in plantations that have a low biodiversity – rather than in mixed forests. Carnauba palms grow on riverbanks in the predominantly semi-arid Caatinga, a region in north-eastern Brazil, and are increasingly threatened by invasive species and changes in land use. Wax extracted from the leaves of the palm trees is used in car polish, cosmetics and sweets.
- The project concentrates on the following instruments:
- Developing successful management practices for carnauba areas,
- Cooperating with and supporting the Initiative for Responsible Carnauba
- Improving the sourcing of carnauba wax by modifying the standard of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT)
- A system for impact monitoring with regard to ecosystem services is tested as part of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, and applied to açaí.
In India, the project addresses spice cultivation in the Western Ghats, a mountain range in southern India that is known for its great biodiversity. The project promotes biodiversity-friendly practices in the cultivation of pepper, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon as well as chili.
- Biodiversity Action plans for the integration of biodiversity aspects in and around farms are being adapted to the needs of small-scale spice producers, tested and improved. Results and recommendations will be shared with the Indian spice sector.
In Mexico, the main focus of the project is on agaves. This plant has a particular tradition in the country and is used, for instance, to produce mezcal and tequila.
- Setting up a monitoring system for the biodiversity-friendly production of agaves,
- Providing support in marketing ‘bat-friendly tequila and mezcal’ and advertising this with a label (‘bat-friendly’),
- Integrating the costs for increased biodiversity protection into the production and marketing process.
At global level, the pilot interventions in the partner countries are being methodically supported and documented to guarantee ongoing sharing of experiences and methods between the international level and the partner countries.