Business & Biodiversity Conference: Proceedings


The sub theme for the Business & Biodiversity Conference 2017 was “National Biodiversity Targets 2020: Challenges and Opportunities for Business” which had focus on key areas of natural resource management, role of biodiversity and ecosystem services, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation, wildlife conservation, development and institutionalization of ways for economic and sustainable development. The conference also provided awareness on ways in which business can support the National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs), how many activities performed by businesses on biodiversity management Links with the nation’s objective on biodiversity.


Climate Change Mitigation, Economy and Biodiversity


Honorable Chief Guest Dr. Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, MoEFCC, mentioned about the activities happening in regards with International Biodiversity Day and the “Swachhata Pakhwada- Cleanliness Fortnight” Initiative with the theme “Swatch Bharat, Harit Bharat”. She elaborated that “Biodiversity Conservation is like mother’s love which is a very comprehensive topic on human and biodiversity”. Industry is under continuous anthropogenic pressure, growing population and legal compliances and faces problems with cost effective regulations like Environment Impact Assessment. It is therefore required to fix standards for regulations and compliances, right ways to implement and responsibly achieve them. As Michel Porter stated “Compliance to environment regulation is profitable for business in every facet of business”. Biodiversity loss impacts business and resources, so it is crucial to reduce the negative impact of businesses on biodiversity and profitability. Profitability is achieved on long-run and it is the smaller businesses that need to be educated more. When we say “connecting to nature” it is to look for what is been given back to nature as replacement for what has been taken from nature. Businesses needs to look at their actions, consider biodiversity indexing through the help of initiatives like IBBI and put forth globally, the positive story through publishing their efforts and works in regards with biodiversity.

Mr. Brotin Banerjee, Chairman IBBI, MD & CEO, Tata Housing Development Company Ltd stated that  Businesses are either directly impacting or are dependent on nature and biodiversity for various ecosystem services it provides. Therefore, it becomes a necessity to understand biodiversity and how businesses are inter related and dependent on it. He said that integration of biodiversity into business ecosystem will enable us greatly to achieve growth, to meet the international commitments in a permanent way and also secure the future for next generations.

Mr. Mukundan, MD & CEO of Tata Chemical Ltd, highlighted that June 5th each year is celebrated as the World Environment Day in order to bring to everyone’s attention the environment problems like climate change, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. He also remarked that companies have made a quantum leap in their approach towards sustainability. Industry appreciates and is committed to the stand taken by Government of India to stay connected to nature and tackle the environmental and climate issues. The longevity of the industry relies on its commitment to sustainability, considering the socio-economic and environmental impacts, however it is uncertain how an industry should contribute to NBT’S and case studies that correlate to achieve NBTs may help. It is the conjugation of committed group of industries to act as catalyst and get others to integrate economy and environment into businesses.

A brief on what is happening at the global level was put forth by Dr. Konrad Uebelhoer, Director, Indo  German Biodiversity Programme, GIZ India. He briefed that GIZ works on poverty reduction and supports countries on global agreements- implementation of national and international policies. There is need for all countries to take responsibility on global environment issues and also to recognize the wide differences in the level of economic development between states and the varying ability to address the issues of climate change and biodiversity. Private sectors need to consider making biodiversity more valuable by learning and making better use of the nature through biomimicry, bio-friendly production, restoration, resource management by benefit sharing, carbon sequestration by forest and agriculture management systems and being committed to the global issues. And for this, Business and Biodiversity Initiative is a good platform for companies to join, be it large scale or small scale industry and work through these issues.

 Dr. Preeti Soni, Assistant Country Director and Head (Energy and Environment), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) quoted “Transfer the planet towards more and better sustainability, bringing together people, prosperity & planet in a sustainable and integrated manner.” It is required to have Environment Management system or Environment Base Adaption system to address climate change and biodiversity loss, for which India formulated the National Biodiversity Strategy Planning (NBSP) and various other initiatives like REDD+. The ecosystem management & resilience systems help in improving productivity & value addition, new market opportunity and increase consumers, green image or eco-friendly products & services. Businesses need to be active partners in environmental conservation and achievement of the global and national targets. UNDP aids through various initiatives and financial mechanisms like the National Adaptation Funds and Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) for achieving the targets. UNDP works towards bringing together economic, ecological and social benefits.

Dr Soni Presentation:  Session I UNDP 8 june 2017

The session was concluded by Ms. Seema Arora, Deputy Director General, CII- ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development by thanking all the speakers for their valuable ideas and suggestions. She thanked Dr. Amita Prasad for her guidance in shaping the conference and applauded MoEFCC and GIZ for the support to make IBBI a success. She mentioned how CII- ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development works towards social, economic and natural value creation for industries and also briefed on how the upcoming IBBI Natural Capital Externalities tool would aid industries to value their actions and de-actions.


The Art of Measuring Natural Capital


Mr. P. S. Narayan, Vice President & Head Sustainability, Wipro Ltd. presented on the topic “Value of Natural Capital to Businesses”. Humanity benefits from Natural Capital which is a stock for under pinning the ecological flow, Ecosystem and goods services and economic benefits. Valuing natural capital includes soil, air, water, geological resources, flora and fauna and the benefits in all aspects- economic, ecological, social and cultural. Most countries which are economically strong do not fare well in inclusive growth index and it is to be aware that value of natural capital is not reflected by GDP or HDI of a country. It is required to give a common denominator to help businesses prioritize and align the natural capital strategies along with business strategies. It is a challenging task but a beneficial goal for companies. It will help the companies to anticipate regulatory changes, understand risk from delimiting natural capital and respond to investor decisions. Companies need to identify contributions of natural capital to revenue and capital use. CII -IBBI is working along with GIST Advisory on the Natural capital tool that would aid companies for valuation in terms of natural, human and economic capital with India’s region specific data.

Mr Narayan Presentation:  Session II Art of Measuring Natural Capital

Over a Video, Mr. Pawan Sukhdev, CEO & Foundar, GIST Advisory Pvt. Ltd presented his insights on the theme of the session. “How to measure the impacts and dependencies of operations on nature”. The world is moving away from the narrow share holder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism and looking only at financial capital would be a management injustice. This basic flaw gave way to the institutionalization of Natural Capital Protocol. To ensure a high level service, low level risk and great level security a collective efforts to measure Natural Capital impacts and dependencies should be done. CII and GIST Advisory are jointly working on the tool development “Natural Capital Externalities (NCX)” with small group of companies as leaders and pilots. The world is at an increased risk of climate change which is risk to the value added services of agriculture, logistics and demand-supply equations. It is very essential to measure, mitigate and reduce these impacts. It is the first national coordinated effort to present a framework of methodology thus making the piloting companies, global leaders for NCX tool.

Mr. Nachiketa Das, Sr. Economist, GIST Advisory Pvt. Ltd gave detail insights into the NCX tool. NCX is a business performance measurement and management toolkit. It enables management to respond to global and local environment threats across operations and upstream and downstream of value chain. The toolkit measures using 6 major drivers Green House Gases, Air pollution, Water & Land pollution, Water consumption, Land use change and waste disposal data fom companies. It is a robust scientific methodology done using primary data and estimates natural capital impacts at regional. It provides monetary estimates, makes company future ready for identifying and mitigating risks and improves stakeholder reporting. It is scalable across operation sites/ value chain and has unmatched price competitiveness.  

Mr Das Presentation:  Session II NCX Toolkit

Session III

Sustainable Agriculture & forestry- a key to survival


Ms. Marina Kosmus, Head- Private Business Action for Biodiversity, GIZ started the session on sustainable agriculture and how it is related to biodiversity. Biodiversity is the diversity of genes, species and ecosystems in different elements and structures. These elements in their structures provide benefits like carbon sequestration, climate regulation, food and other goods. The question is how we can contribute to biodiversity conservation and the one way is to look into “Biodiversity Friendly production & Commercialization”. Sustainable management means use, conserve, restore and understand the impacts and dependencies of biodiversity. Also it is required to consider the ways of promoting and increasing positive efforts. Ms. Marina presented the details of the GIZ project “Private Business Action for Biodiversity” and potentials of having labels and standards.

Ms Kosmus Presentation:  Session III_GIZ_PBAB

Dr. Suhas Buddhe, Chief Managing Director, BioCare India Pvt. Ltd spoke about how they entered into agriculture sector and the challenges faced. BioCare started its journey as pro-biodiversity business with organic agriculture products that help in storing organic carbon. The biggest challenge was to convince the rural farmers to use these products and convince the government the fact of the product being eco-friendly. BioCare succeeded because of innovation in product, communication and also marketing. It is required to have a conventional dealer distribution network and good communication about the products and its effects to environment. Most pro biodiversity businesses are not financially sustainable and require financial support system. Changes in financial aid system of the country is needed in order to promote pro- biodiversity businesses.

Ms. Alka Talwar, Chief CSR & Sustainability Officer, Tata Chemicals Ltd highlighted the underlining facts that motivated their business to integrate sustainable practices. One such initiative of them is the “Smart Krish” which guides farmers on ways to increase productivity and water conservation. As a business entity it is required to include the supply chain as a circular economic aspect not just cradle to grave. The challenge faced here for the public and private sector is to work together by taking up the common goal. To save biodiversity, better awareness and better use of resources is required.

Dr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India, explained that the responsibility of why we are doing what we are doing and the cultural & traditional ethos towards biodiversity being embedded into us are the main reasons why Initiatives like the IBBI are successful in India than in other countries. Mr. Singh put forth the key challenges with business and biodiversity. Firstly, the most important challenge is the ability to understand biodiversity itself and the inter connection between soil, water, nature and how it affects the people. Once companies have analyzed this understanding then the rest follows. Second challenge would be conversion of this knowledge into actions and communicating the innovations achieved by companies. The third challenge, most important concern of country like India is to bring in SMEs to work on biodiversity. This would be achieved by collating the innovations, government incentives and certification mechanisms together accessible to SMEs by leading industries. Institutions like CII leads its way in guiding the companies to capacity build and take actions with the Indian Business and Biodiversity Initiative (IBBI) and make mainstreaming biodiversity conservation a success.

Mr. Pradip Sarmokadam, Member Secretary, Goa State Biodiversity Board stated that biodiversity touches every sphere of business, life, ecology & economy. It is difficult to understand biodiversity as the effects of it can’t be seen/felt like that of climate change and hence poses the great challenge. As a responsible authority at state level there is a lot being done to mainstream biodiversity conservation. The Goa State Biodiversity board ensures that the local community understands and practices ways to conserve the resources. Considering the Assess Benefit Sharing (ABS) guidelines it is required to understand the movement of resources across states & across continents other than maintaining the People Biodiversity Register and one major challenge being faced is with reaching out to industries on details of such material movement.  

 Session IV

Limiting Mining Sector Impacts on Biodiversity




Mr. S. Vijay Iyer, Managing Director, Rio Tinto India while setting the context of the session mentioned that today’s mining is modern, high tech-data driven and uses mechanics with least human interface. However, it is to understand that the act of mining itself is a challenge. There is element of destruction and it requires the company to avoid impacts on environment. The planning should consider the mitigating the impacts or plan for offsetting the damage. There are three major challenges faced: (1) Lack of intent- willingness to mitigate the impact and limitation of the ability to do sustainable mining with small parcels of land; (2) Regulatory Compliance: Capability issues, business issues like finance, profitability and productivity; and (3) Lack of awareness- issues of knowledge, having the right tools and the capacity to carry out.

Mr. V. M Deshpande, Tata Steel Ltd spoke on how companies build the corporate philosophy to re-  inforce actions towards environment. Tata steel believes to “Personalize nature’s health to promote human health” and works with the biodiversity policy “no net loss”. The main concern of operations is protection, restoration and conservation. Companies need to have transparency and two ways dialogue from the top level to bottom level management to keep the continuity of actions.

Mr. Mitesh Pandya, Associate VP – Sustainability & CSR, Vedanta Limited outlined the framework that is practiced by Vedanta and required for sustainable mining. Firstly, it is essential to have uniform standard guidelines. Secondly, it is required to design sustainable operations at the initial phase of project. Thirdly, a collaborative monitoring framework, impact and baseline assessment and proper financial and other approaches are required. Finally, a community commitment and collaboration would aid in addressing the issues of biodiversity in terms of species restoration/ protection and project success.

Dr. Shalini Dhyani, Scientist, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) highlighted the impacts of mining and how NEERI is working to come out with ways to mitigate them. Some of the impacts are fragmented land use, invasion of species, accelerated climate change and waste generation. Among all, impact of waste is high because of bioaccumulation and bio-magnification. NEERI looks into various mines and tries to implement positive actions like zero soil intervention, tailing, chemical enumeration and efficient plantation technology. To come up and work towards sustainable mining practices it is required for the businesses to make a Community Corporate Partnership and encourage Corporate Ecological Responsibility.

Dr. Deepak Apte, Director, Bombay Natural History Society spoke on the legislation framework existing in India that are essential for mining sector- Forest protection, Environment protection and Wildlife protection. All the essential raw materials required to be mined are located mostly in biodiversity rich areas like the forests and this makes mining itself a challenge. Plantation alone is not the solution but it is essential to have planned mining activities. Companies need to comply to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) more dedicatedly as it is the ecological evaluation of the mine area. There are certain key points to be looked into collaboratively by industry and government- having performance continuity, systematic investment for ecological grid, and improvement of governance.