The Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP) is a partnership between companies, financial institutions, governments and conservation experts to explore biodiversity offsets. Forest Trends and Wildlife Conservation Society provide the Secretariat for BBOP.
BBOP envisages a future in which the mitigation hierarchy is rigorously applied worldwide to a high standard by governments and the private sector for projects in all sectors, emphasizing avoidance and minimization, to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity.
BBOP has just published an updated Overview document, “To No Net Loss and Beyond: An Overview of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP)”. This reviews BBOP’s progress and achievements over the last several years and describes the Standard on Biodiversity Offsets and accompanying Guidance Notes as well as listing some other important developments such as the 2012 revision of the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6. The Overview sets out the future direction for BBOP and biodiversity offsets.
BBOP Standard Translations
The BBOP Standard is now available in Spanish, French and Japanese as well as English and will soon be available in Portuguese. We are grateful for translations provided by the following organizations: The World Bank and Wildlife Conservation Society (Spanish); ERAMET, The Ambatovy Project and the French Ministry of Sustainable Development (French); and Tohoku University and Response Ability (Japanese).
BBOP Community of Practice Webinars
has initiated a webinars series in order to share experiences and
learning across the Community of Practice. Recent webinars include:
- Biodiversity Offsets and the credit market in the State of Victoria, Australia, by Michael Crowe
- Biodiversity Offsets and 'No Net Loss' of Biodiversity and India by Kerry ten Kate and Divya Narain
- Outcomes of the New Zealand Department of Conservation's Biodiversity Offset Programme by Gerri Ward
- Overview of the revised IFC Performance Standard 6 and initial experiences Lori Conzo
The presentations and webinar recordings can be found here. Watch this space as well for more details on upcoming webinars.
next webinar is planned for late February, to present an overview of
the relevant outcomes from the Special Symposium organized by the IAIA
Biodiversity & Ecology Section (see upcoming events section below
for more details). An email explaining how BBOP Community of Practice members can register for this webinar will be sent in mid-February.
feel to suggest topics related to the mitigation hierarchy,
biodiversity offsets, compensation and landscape-level planning on
which you would like a webinar or workshop to be run, by sending your
suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the topic attracts support, we will do our best to run a session on
that subject and keep you informed. This offer is open to any
organization or individual, and is not limited to BBOP members.
BBOP10 Advisory Group meeting
The BBOP Secretariat is planning the tenth meeting of the Advisory Group in Western Europe in May. The main focus of the meeting will be on sharing experience of applying the BBOP Principles and Standards and biodiversity offset best practice generally in different settings around the world. If you have experience to share and would like to participate, or if you know of organizations that you feel would have much to contribute and to learn from attending the meeting, please get in touch by contacting email@example.com so we can extend an invitation.
The Environment Bank and voluntary biodiversity offset pilot scheme in the UK
The UK is now a third of the way through the Government-sponsored 2-year voluntary pilot scheme for offsetting, on which we reported in our April 2012 newsletter.
Many of the planning authorities in different parts of the UK that are starting to explore biodiversity offsets are using the independent brokerage of The Environment Bank, which is a member of BBOP and which strongly endorses the BBOP guidance and principles.
According to the Environment Bank, the application of habitat-based metrics is new and untested in the UK, where species are often the focus for planners. The company reports that developers are initially nervous of what they perceive to be extra investment, but nonetheless there is strong and growing interest from all stakeholders, with several small offsetting schemes under negotiation and the supply of potential receptor sites growing.
The Environment Bank believes that for offsetting to succeed in the UK, government will need to address the current lack of a mandatory framework. It reports that a range of stakeholders are recommending such a framework to give clarity, speed up processes, prevent long negotiation with developers, provide a level playing field and send the right signals for market players to start investing in the natural environment - providing offset sites. The Environment Bank registry and trading platform called the Environmental Markets Exchange (EME), now has 50 sites and 200 members. The Environment Bank would welcome readers signing up to the Exchange and engaging in dialogue. The EME can be found here.
The Environment Bank has also recently released its publication “Biodiversity Offsetting: a general guide”, available here.
Oyu Tolgoi Project and Rio Tinto
The Oyu Tolgoi Project, Mongolia, which is managed by Rio Tinto, has released documentation related to its measures to conform to Performance Standard 6 (PS6) of the International Finance Corporation and Performance Requirement 6 (PR6) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Biodiversity Consultancy led the production of the PS6/PR6 documentation in partnership with Fauna & Flora International and others. These are the first publicly-available documents that conform to the guidance accompanying the 2012 version of PS6, determining critical habitat and defining an approach to demonstrating NPI over the long-term
The Environmental Social Impact Assessment document is available here
Companies encourage government to set a clear goal of no net loss in the Natural Capital Leadership Compact
Natural capital accounting was an important topic of discussion at Rio+20, with several high level events on the topic. The 50:50 Campaign, facilitated by the World Bank's WAVES program (Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services) brought together more than 50 governments and 50 corporations supportive of working towards natural capital accounting. The UNEP Finance Initiative launched The Natural Capital Declaration at Rio+20, in which 39 financial sector CEOs committed to integrate natural capital considerations into their financial products and services.
In addition, sixteen companies which are members of the Natural Capital Leaders’ Platform (Alstom, AngloAmerican, Arup, Asda, Aviva, Grupo Andre Maggi, Kingfisher, Mars, Natura, Nestle, Olam, Puma, SAB Miller, Unilever, Volac, and Votorantim) developed the “Natural Capital Leadership Compact”. This is a business statement of intent that also urges governments to commit to a global policy framework on the responsible and sustainable use of natural resources. In it, among several other commitments, the companies pledge to operate within the limits of natural systems, and they urge governments to “set a clear goal of ‘no net loss’”. The Compact goes on to say that “Some companies have already adopted the principle of ‘no net loss’, aiming to replenish natural capital of forests or biodiversity depleted through their operations. Governments should set similar goals for key natural capital assets (e.g. wetlands, forests and coastal habitats)”.
The Australian Government’s Environmental Offsets Policy
The policy guides the use of offsets under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). It is accompanied by Offsets assessment guide (the guide). The policy and guide were released following approval by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP, and after extensive consultation and research.
As part of the National Environment Law Reform agenda, the policy provides guidance on the role of offsets in environmental impact assessments under the EPBC Act and how the department considers the suitability of a proposed offset. It aims to improve environmental outcomes through the consistent application of best practice offset principles, to provide more certainty and transparency, and to encourage advanced planning of offsets. It replaces the draft policy statement Use of environmental offsets under the EPBC Act (2007).
The accompanying guide uses a balance sheet approach to quantify impacts and offsets. It applies where the impacted protected matter is a threatened species or ecological community. The guide has been developed for expert users in the department to assess the suitability of offset proposals, but it is also available to proponents to assist with planning and estimating future offset requirements.
The policy, guide and supporting documents are available on the department’s website at: http://environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/environmental-offsets-policy.html
Those with questions on the policy or the guide, can contact the Regulatory Reform Taskforce at EPBC.Reform@environment.gov.au or James Trezise – A/g Assistant Director Regulatory Reform Taskforce; Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australia at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Zealand through its Cross-Departmental Biodiversity Offsets Programme led by the Department of Conservation, continues to develop its Best Practice Guidance on Biodiversity Offsetting. The Guidance will include a section on the application of the BBOP Standard in the New Zealand context. As noted in the last BBOP newsletter, the Guidance is not intended to be treated as a formal standard nor regulation, but used in an advisory capacity. Although the formal stakeholder feedback period on the guidance document has closed, additional stakeholder input is being gathered before it will be finalized and released sometime around mid-2013.
Meanwhile, the proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS), while not in legal effect, has been recognized by the Environment Court as “worthy of respect as a reflection of considered opinion”. The law firm Buddle Findlay provides a brief overview of recent judicial and policy developments in New Zealand here. A more detailed examination of key issues, including:
- limits to biodiversity offsets;
- application and sequencing of the mitigation hierarchy; and
- what level of residual impacts require consideration of an offset
is provided in this opinion piece by BBOP member Mark Christensen of Anderson Lloyd, which examines these issues in the context of decisions taken in five cases by the Environment Court.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
The Multilateral Financial Institutions Working Group on Environment: Sub-Group on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services held a forum on 5 November 2012 on Processes and Tools for Assessing and Addressing Impacts. The aim of the meeting was to develop a plan for how experts and MFIs can work more effectively to address biodiversity and ecosystem services issues that arise in development projects. Presentations include. Sessions included 1) Training and Capacity-Building for Biodiversity-Inclusive Impact Assessment; 2) Ecosystem Services Impacts Analysis; 3) Spatial Management Tools for Project Impacts Scoping and Screening and 4) Compensation for Residual Impacts: Measuring, Offsetting and Trading Biodiversity. Presentations can be found here.
World Conservation Congress Jeju, September 2012
At its meeting in Jeju, Korea , the IUCN family discussed biodiversity offsets, among many other topics. BBOP Secretariat member Ray Victurine was part of the discussions, as were several BBOP Advisory Group members. The results of IUCN’s deliberations are found in resolution 110, entitled Biodiversity offsets and related compensatory approaches, available here. The resolution notes the work and products of BBOP, including the Standard, and calls on the Director General to establish a working group to develop an IUCN general policy on biodiversity offsets to provide recommendations for the IUCN Council by the end of 2014. In parallel, the resolution requests the Director General to contribute to the current state of knowledge about the practical implementation of biodiversity offsets by undertaking project work with partners, IUCN Members and Commissions and by sharing experiences.
Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services in Impact Assessment: Special Symposium organized by the IAIA Biodiversity & Ecology Section.
Location: Inter-American Development Bank | Washington, DC, USA
Dates: 7-8 February 2013 (Pre-registration for this seminar is open through 23 January).
The aim of this symposium is to bring together impact assessment practitioners working at the cutting edge with both policy makers responsible for shaping IA frameworks and scientists committed to finding practical ways forward. Symposium themes: Baselines and data collection; Biodiversity risk assessment; Biodiversity and extractives; Biodiversity and agriculture; Net positive impact; Forecasting and offset design; Monitoring and adaptive management; Identification and valuation of ecosystem services; Engaging communities on biodiversity and ecosystem services; GIS and landscape analysis; Planning and regional strategies.
Biodiversity Offsetting for Mining, Energy & Infrastructure Development, Australia (12-13 February).
This conference will explore policy developments and emerging industry approaches for biodiversity offset delivery in Queensland and New South Wales. This event aims to offer policy and industry insights into:
- Strategic market-based approaches for biodiversity offset delivery
- How to gain approvals for state and federal biodiversity offset policies
- Cost-effective approaches to locate and secure biodiversity offsets
- Opportunities for collaborative and regional approaches
- Mechanisms for negotiating and developing offset programs
- Managing and maintaining legal security of offsets in perpetuity
More information can be found here.
Marie A. Brown , Bruce D. Clarkson , Barry J. Barton & Chaitanya Joshi (2013): Ecological compensation: an evaluation of regulatory compliance in New Zealand, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, DOI:10.1080/14615517.2012.762168
In this article to be included in a special issue of Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, the authors examine ecological compensation compliance in New Zealand. The study investigates compliance with 245 conditions relating to ecological compensation across 81 case studies across New Zealand under the Resource Management Act 1991, and concludes that present tools and practice in New Zealand are not adequately securing the necessary benefits from ecological compensation requirements, with 35.2% of requirements not being achieved. Significant variation in non-compliance with ecological compensation occurs between different activities, applicant types and condition types, while critical variables within the planning process influence levels of compliance.
Biodiversity offsets: voluntary and compliance regimes. A review of existing schemes, initiatives and guidance for financial institutions
UNEP-WCMC and UNEP-FI have published this paper providing an overview of biodiversity offsets as a mitigation mechanism and examples of the different types of global regulatory and voluntary initiatives adopting the concept. Compliance regimes are divided into three categories: Species and habitat legislation (primarily in North America, Europe and Australia); Environmental Impact Assessment regulations; and Offset or compensation regulations. Opportunities, challenges and risks for businesses and the financial sector are delineated, as well as a summary of how five multilateral financial institutions approach the mitigation hierarchy and offsets. The paper describes motivations for financial institutions to engage with offsets, including demonstrating leadership, gaining an ability to influence the regulatory process, reducing operational risk exposure and taking advantage of new business developments.
Resource Paper for the IUCN Congress Technical Event on Biodiversity Offsets
This paper, prepared by BBOP member The Biodiversity Consultancy, provides a summary of technical issues for discussion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September. The report asks two key questions:
- Under what conditions do biodiversity offset approaches provide positive outcomes for biodiversity, irrespective of the concept of no net loss?
- Under what conditions is it possible to achieve no net loss through the implementation of biodiversity offsets?
The paper suggests that much of the uncertainty surrounding biodiversity offsets over the past five years has been addressed (identifying BBOP’s work as particularly valuable in achieving this) , and “there is high-level consensus on biodiversity offsetting principles and best-practice, with only a couple of 'big issues' needing concerted further research”. However, the report also lists 19 conditions that are likely necessary to ensure offsets achieve their goal of no net loss. These conditions relate to issues such as metrics, scope and scale, limits to what can be offset; additionality; time considerations; and managing uncertainty.
A broad conclusion of the report is the need to balance science and pragmatism, by not “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good”, and encouraging the conservation community “to applaud voluntary offset efforts, to actively support attempts to achieve no net loss through best-practice offsets, and to provide practical guidance and constructive criticism within a safe learning environment.” An accompanying presentation of the paper at the World Conservation Congress can be found here.
Forum CSR International
The latest edition of forum CSR international presents ideas, methods and tools for companies to integrate biodiversity better into their business operations. A number of short but relevant pieces relate to biodiversity offsets:
- Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, provides brief overview of the early stage discussions of the EU's “No Net Loss” Initiative which is to be launched by 2015.
- Pavan Sukhdev’s article “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Measuring impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services for business opportunities” explores how businesses can assess their biodiversity and ecosystem risks and dependencies (through a five step process that notes BBOP as a relevant tool) and integrate them into their business operations.
- The article “Emerging Lessons from the UK Ecosystem Markets Task Force” by Guy Duke, highlights the results of a scoping report published in May 2012 that catalogued the 12 most promising business opportunities that protect and/or value nature’s services. Biodiversity offsets were among the opportunities ranked highest. The business-led EMTF will report in March 2013 to UK Ministers. A paper for the EMTF on biodiversity offsets (“EMTF Second Phase Research: Opportunities for UK Business that Value and/or Protect Nature – Discussion Paper - Opportunity 1: Biodiversity Offsetting”) has been published as part of a second phase of research now underway for the EMTF. The biodiversity offsets paper, along with others that provide evidence to the EMTF, provide a basis for stakeholder discussion and are in the process of being revised. While they are in the public domain, these are listed as works in progress and not for citation.
WBCSD: Picking up the Pace - Accelerating public policies for positive outcomes
This publication by WBCSD was developed for CBD COP11 with case studies on biodiversity and ecosystem policy implementation. It aims to better align public policy efforts with business experience so that business can play as full a role as possible in conserving and sustainably managing ecosystems. It offers a policy process framework with nine recommendations on how government and policy-makers can positively engage business in the policy-making process. “Offsets and no net loss” is identified as one of five priority policy areas that provide the most potential to deliver efficient and effective policy. As such a brief case is provided: “The mitigation hierarchy, biodiversity offsets and no net loss. Brazil’s National System of Conservation Units (SNUC) and Anglo American Brazil”.
Biodiversity Offsetting: A general guide
The Environment Bank recently produced this publication which provides a good overview of the topic for a UK audience which is now implementing a pilot scheme launched by Defra with six local authorities over the next two years. The publications covers topics the what, where, why and how of biodiversity offsets as well as next steps in the UK.
CBD Business News Magazine on Biodiversity Standards
The May 2012 issue of “Business.2020” (the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s magazine on Business and Biodiversity) focused on Biodiversity Standards. The issue included over-arching pieces examining the function of standards, examples of standards developed by individual companies and examples of standards developed by independent bodies. Included in the last category, is an article by Kerry ten Kate, BBOP Director, entitled “The importance of standards for business and biodiversity”. The article discusses how standards in general can help firms assess and manage biodiversity risks and opportunities, and notes in particular how the BBOP Standard is being applied and trialed since its release in early 2012. Several lessons are shared, and three recommendations made regarding what might help companies improve the uptake of biodiversity standards, namely: 1) road-maps to help firms learn about the full range of standards available; 2) a consolidation of standards (or standards that dove-tail neatly together) to streamline business processes and 3) building the capacity of advisors to help companies meet standards and and support monitoring, reporting and verification. The article and the magazine can be found here.
Forecasting the path towards a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity for Rio Tinto QMM
Rio Tinto has committed to achieving a Net Positive Impact (NPI) on biodiversity. IUCN is now collaborating on a joint initiative with Rio Tinto to improve conservation outcomes and capacities across both organizations in order to contribute to industry-wide improvements in the mining sector. The Rio Tinto ilmenite mine in southeastern Madagascar, run by QIT Madagascar Minerals (Rio Tinto QMM), has been chosen as a pilot site to test the tools designed to achieve and quantify NPI on biodiversity. This publication aims to provide the data, theory, and predictions for the potential long-term outcome of a biodiversity conservation programme at the mining site.
The Little Biodiversity Finance Book
The 3rd edition of the Little Biodiversity Finance Book was released in June 2012 and provides an introduction to financing options for biodiversity and ecosystems services. The book aims to help governments, NGOs, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities to compare existing and future options for biodiversity and ecosystem finance in a clear and consistent way. It provides a brief overview of offset markets as well as BBOP within the section on Direct Market Mechanisms.
Compensating for damage to biodiversity: international experiments and lessons for France
The French Ministry of Sustainable Development (Ministère du Développement Durable) consulted 29 countries on their compensatory practices, challenges and applied solutions. The degree of maturity of compensatory policies varies greatly between countries. Nevertheless, common schemes are apparent in terms of ecological assessment methods, in addition to economic, financial and legal mechanisms. Certain solutions could inspire the French methodological framework that is currently being developed. recent publication on biodiversity offsets based on a consultation conducted in 29 countries. The study is available both in French and in English. A summary document is available as well in French and English.
New South Wales Biobanking Review
The Australian State of New South Wales’ BioBanking program enables biodiversity credits to be generated by landowners who commit to enhance and protect biodiversity values on their land through a biobanking agreement. After two years in operation, the NSW’s Office of Environment and Heritage launched an official review of the Biobanking program in May 2012 (with submissions invited until 9 July 2012). This article by the Ecosystem Marketplace provides a summary of the program.
- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Patrick Maguire, Amrei von Hase, Ray Victurine, Sebastian Winkler)