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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLS
CONFERENCES AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Conference: To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond
On 3 and 4 June 2014, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in London for the first global conference on approaches to avoid, minimize, restore and offset biodiversity loss was held. They discussed how to ensure that development is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in biodiversity. Hosted by Forest Trends, the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP), the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) at ZSL, the representatives came from companies in the extractive, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry and retail sectors, from governments and intergovernmental organizations, from financial institutions, NGOs, civil society, universities, research organizations and from consultancies and small businesses. They explored international experience and policy on no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social fairness.
A short list of cross-cutting, key issues that emerged as major themes from the conference and a longer summary of each session are available from this page. In addition, most sessions at the conference were videotaped and are also available from the same page, along with a short highlights video. The conference agenda provides links to video recordings of speakers from each recorded session as well as links to the presentations delivered at the conference.
A key issue emerging from the conference was a need to undertake effective land use planning to set priorities and ensure viable conservation outcomes. Other key issues identified by the conference attendees included: the need to strengthen protection of biodiversity and the importance of developing effective capacity building programs. More than 90% of attendees who responded to the conference survey felt there was a greater need for training of professionals in this field. Another major conclusion emerging from many participants was the need to develop clear and unambiguous policy requirements around the world to establish high standards; the adoption of best practice standards in mitigation (e.g. BBOP Standard, IFC PS6) in order to enable good outcomes for biodiversity and people; the need for effective monitoring, verification and enforcement; and the importance of creating more opportunities for dialogue on these issues.
The Summit raised many important issues and engendered interesting debates that will guide the future development of mitigation including offsets and land-use planning around the world. What was clear was that for offsets to work, they must form part of a well-developed mitigation plan where project developers assess their impacts on biodiversity and seek ways to avoid and minimize those impacts first.
With mitigation rules in place that promote best practice and with offsets of residual impacts required, there is great potential to achieve more and better conservation than has been the case with development planning in the past through funding from the private sector.
We would like to thank all the sponsors, listed here, who helped us make this conference a success.
For additional coverage on the NNL Conference see here and here.
Publications and Tools
Policy Development for Environmental Licensing and Biodiversity Offsets in Latin America
In this article in the journal PLOS|ONE, authors Ana Villarroya, Ana Cristina Barros, and Joseph Kiesecker of The Nature Conservancy examine the national environmental licensing policy frameworks in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. They find that although most of these countries enable the use of offsets, only Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru explicitly require their implementation. Moreover, although detailed offset policies are in place or under development, most countries do not seem to have strong requirements regarding impact avoidance. They conclude that areas requiring further work include how best to: (1) ensure conformance with the mitigation hierarchy; (2) identify the most environmentally preferable offsets within a landscape context; (3) determine appropriate mitigation replacement ratios; and (4) ensure appropriate time and effort is given to monitor offset performance.
Comparing biodiversity offset calculation methods with a case study in Uzbekistan
In this paper published in Biological Conservation, authors Joseph Bull, E.J. Milner-Gulland, K.B. Suttle, and N.J. Singh apply various biodiversity offset quantification methodologies to a common case study in order to determine their influence on biodiversity outcomes. The study uses data from 40 years of natural gas extraction and impact in Uzbekistan. The authors first calculate biodiversity impacts by estimating what they call spatial 'functional forms' of disturbance. Various offset quantification methodologies are then used to calculate the requisite gain in order to achieve No Net Loss. The potential biodiversity outcomes are compared, including "in kind" vs. "out of kind" offsets. The authors conclude that different approaches can lead to very different ecological outcomes and that gains from out of kind offsets may outweigh those from strict in kind offsets.
CBD Releases Guidance on Integrating Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Standards
In June the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released guidance on improving biodiversity and ecosystem services safeguards in voluntary standards and certifications. The document, part of CBD's Technical Series, was written in collaboration with the UN Environment Program's World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It aims to introduce standard-setting organizations to key concepts like the mitigation hierarchy and "landscape / seascape approach", and outline best practice for safeguards.
Biodiversity Banking Assessment for Finland
This new study offers a preliminary assessment of the applicability of habitat banking in Finland. Regulations in Finland require avoidance and minimization measures for large-scale projects within the EIA process, but compensation is not currently considered in permitting procedures. Biodiversity banking is evaluated in this context and the study identifies a number of advantages and disadvantages for biodiversity banking in Finland. In the former category, the study finds that Finland has well-functioning institutions; a model upon which to build in the "METSO" voluntary forest biodiversity conservation program for private forest owners; a number of Finnish companies interested in exploring No Net Loss approaches; significant experience with restoration activities; and a substantial biological data and knowledge base to build upon. The analysis provides multiple recommendations, including implementing a long-lasting piloting phase prior to the possible development of biodiversity banking program. Although the report is in Finnish, the abstract and Executive Summary are in English.
Extraction and Biodiversity in Limestone Areas
Limestone areas are critically important for the rare and understudied species restricted to them, yet they are increasingly threatened by the imapcts of quarrying. To address this issue WWF International, IUCN, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International, produced this briefing paper aimed at regulators, associations and operators in the cement and aggregates industry. The paper describes the importance of the biodiversity found in limestone areas and why it is particularly vulnerable to extraction, as well as providing solutions on how the extractive sector can lower its biodiversity impacts in limestone areas. Recommendations include the application of robust Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System. And that biodiversity risks that are identified from new or existing sites should be addressed in accordance with the mitigation hierarchy.
Importance of Baseline Specification in Evaluating Conservation Interventions and Achieving No Net Loss of Biodiversity
In this paper published in Conservation Biology, the authors examine the choice of reference frames (baselines or counterfactuals) for biodiversity offsets and analyze the effects of the choice on whether interventions met stated objectives. An analytic model and a simulation model (applied to native grassland offsets in Melbourne are used to investigate the implications of setting different frames of reference in regions subject to various biodiversity trends and anthropogenic impacts. Both models showed that achieving No Net Loss (NNL) depended upon the interaction between reference frame and background biodiversity trends. With a baseline, offsets were less likely to achieve NNL where biodiversity was decreasing than where biodiversity was stable or increasing. With a no-development counterfactual, however, NNL was achievable only where biodiversity was declining. Otherwise, preventing development was better for biodiversity. When only development and offset locations were considered, offsets sometimes resulted in NNL, but not across an entire region. Choice of reference frame determined feasibility and effort required to attain objectives when designing and evaluating biodiversity offset schemes.
Biodiversity Offsets: A Primer for Canada
This report published by Sustainable Prosperity and the Institute for the Environment at the University of Ottawa aims to establish a common understanding of the use of biodiversity offsets, as applicable to Canada, and define the issues that should be considered by policy-makers considering implementing biodiversity offsets. The report describes how offsets work, key issues for policy-makers to consider in design and implementation, and key policy and regulatory considerations. The primer also provides a brief but useful review of Canada's current experience with compensatory mitigation mechanisms and lessons learned in other countries. Two general observations are offered. First, although biodiversity offsets cannot be the sole solution to the challenge of addressing biodiversity loss and offsetting is the approach of last resort in the mitigation hierarchy, they have significant potential in some applications. Second, where there is scope to use biodiversity offsets, there is no single template or approach for a biodiversity offset system that will work best in all circumstances. Additional related material, including presentations, are also available from the website for the February 2014 conference organized by the Institute of the Environment: Biodiversity Offsets in Canada: Getting It Right, Making a Difference.
The Legal Status of Environmental Credit Stacking
This article published in Ecology Law Quarterly examines eight different credit stacking scenarios in the US context, such as stacking endangered species and carbon credits, and the emerging rules that govern the sale of credits. The authors find that there is diversity in how different US federal and state agencies handle credit stacking, without clear rules on when unbundling stacked credits is permissible. The article concludes with considerations that agencies could take into account in developing a credit stacking protocol to avoid double counting and ecological loss.
Biodiversity offset markets: current challenges and prospective developments
In this PhD thesis, Carlos Ferreira researched the creation and development of markets for biodiversity offsets, identifying biodiversity offsetting programmes in operation worldwide and focusing for closer evaluation on Eingriffsregelung (Impact Mitigation Regulation) in Germany; Bio-banking in the United States; and pilot biodiversity offsets in England. Analysis of these cases led the author to a number of findings, including the following:
- Biodiversity offsets are varied
- Markets for biodiversity offsets require legal support to emerge, even if this support is indirect
- No net loss of biodiversity is the unique selling point of biodiversity offsets
- Better quantification will help, but better communication is necessary
The author sets out a number of recommendations to policy-makers in the thesis. The thesis executive summary may be found here.
CSBI announces its workplan
The Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative (CSBI) is a partnership between IPIECA, ICMM and the Equator Principles Association that has come together to develop and share good practices related to biodiversity and ecosystem services in the extractive industries, particularly the application of IFC PS6. The CSBI programme of work is divided into four work streams, with a focus on developing tools and guidance in its initial phase of work:
- A timeline tool is being developed and tested which aims to better align project development, biodiversity impact management, and financial timelines and milestones.
- A practical guide will be developed on what ecological information is needed to inform the biodiversity baseline assessment for projects.
- Guidance will be developed on the systematic application of the mitigation hierarchy.
- Knowledge sharing, including bi-annual roundtable events, and quarterly webinars.
More information is available on the CSBI website.
Oil companies SOCO and Total pledge to steer clear of World Heritage Sites
Following the commitment by Total SA in February to treat World Heritage Sites as "no-go" areas, British Oil company SOCO followed suit in June by pledging to stay clear of all World Heritage sites and stop any exploratory activities in Virunga National Park. UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee welcomed this news. World Heritage Centre Director Kishore Rao added, "It is encouraging that this position is now more and more accepted in the oil and mining industry and is also used as a criterion for several large investment banks."
Asking more of offsets in Madagascar
Research recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management suggests that Rio Tinto's offset methodology for mining impacts in Madagascar could be strengthened. In particular, the author believes that additionality of the offset may have been weak in places: "In Madagascar, Rio Tinto did not take into account the fact that the potential deforestation its offsetting project aimed to avoid was partly inflicted by the company itself, through road-building, arrival of migrant workers, and other factors," writes the study's author Malika Virah-Sawmy in a summary article.
Virah-Sawmy does not suggest that there is no place for offsets in conservation planning, but rather that scientific basis and transparency need to keep improving. Additionality and leakage in particular are "poorly dealt with in existing biodiversity offset projects – and as a result, they are much less effective than they could be." Read more at Phys.org.
New South Wales announces new policy (POLICY)
Following completion of a public consultation the NSW Government has released the NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects. The policy will come into effect on 1 October 2014 for a transitional period of 18 months. The policy is underpinned by the Framework for Biodiversity Assessment (FBA) which sets out the process for assessing biodiversity impacts and offset requirements. The FBA will be complemented by a decision support tool for calculating biodiversity impacts, the number and types of credits required to offset those impacts, and help estimate the land area needed to achieve the offset. The credit calculator will be available for use by 1 October 2014.
As part of the policy a biodiversity offsets fund will be established over the coming 12-18 months. Offset developers will be able to satisfy their offset requirement via a monetary contribution to the fund. The fund will act as a broker, making payments to landowners in exchange for landowners managing biodiversity on their land in order to meet the offset requirements of project developers. An interim fund is also under development, which will help landowners set up stewardship agreements in areas forecast to have a high demand for offsets in the future.
The new policy marks a shift away from a "like-for-like" requirement from developers, who are now able to fund other conservation work of equal or higher conservation priorities if like-for-like offsets are not available. One element proposed in the draft policy, which would have enabled the "discounting" of offsets based on claimed social and economic benefits, was eliminated based on the public consultation. The NSW Government characterizes the changes as offering efficiency to developers and certainty for other stakeholders in an effort to achieve better outcomes for the environment and communities. However some groups have been critical of the changes, see more from the Sydney Morning Herald. The NSW government will continue to consult with stakeholders over the next 12 to 18 months before implementing legislation that will give full effect to the policy and the fund.
Deadline extended for the public consultation on the EU initiative on No Net Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The deadline for the ongoing consultation on the EU "no net loss" objective for biodiversity was recently extended to 17 October 2014. The European Commission launched the consultation as part its EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, which aims to halt biodiversity loss and to conserve ecosystem services.
Although the consultation does not propose any specific legislative measures, it does raise the prospect of the Commission adopting a formal "mitigation hierarchy" for development. The consultation asks whether the Commission should issue an EU framework for offsetting with common standards and technical guidance; whether offset sites should be secured from future development; whether offsetting should always be at or in close proximity to the site where the damage took place; whether offsets should be on a "like for like" or can be "traded up" (meaning that the offset may be in the form of rarer or more highly valued biodiversity); and whether small developments should be exempt.
For further context and background on the EU No Net Loss initiative, click here and here. To learn more about the consultation, obtain background documents including reports from the EU Expert Working Group on No Net Loss, and learn how to submit your comments click here. Additional background on the consultation as well as practical information on submitting comments can be found on the Biodiversity Offsets Blog by Marianne Darbi.
World Bank Safeguards Review
The World Bank has begun a public consultation on its environmental and social safeguard policies. The consultation will run from September 1, 2014 to November 30, 2014. The proposal document is available here. The environmental and social safeguard policies under review include OP 4.01 Environmental Assessment, OP 4.04 Natural Habitats, and OP 4.36 Forests. Under the proposed structure Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs 1- 10), ESS6: "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources" incorporates key provisions of OP/BP4.04 (Natural Habitats) and OP/BP4.36 (Forests) and requires the borrowers to assess and take measures to mitigate the impacts of the project on biodiversity, including loss of habitat. As part of the review and update process the Bank is also considering whether and how it could potentially address a number of emerging areas that are not covered by the current safeguard policies. These include free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous People. An accompanying background paper is available here.
Mark King, Chief Environmental and Social Standards Officer at the World Bank, states "The proposed framework would also strengthen the conservation of biodiversity, taking the existing safeguard policy on natural habitats and forests and introducing more stringent requirements, as well as more clarity on how risks and adverse impacts on natural habitats must be mitigated."
The World Bank website on the Safeguard Policies Review and Update process states that "during the consultation period it will seek feedback through a combination of formats, including online channels and targeted face-to-face meetings". However, input and comments can also be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Zealand releases Good Practice Guidance on Biodiversity Offsetting
The New Zealand Government released its Good Practice Guidance on Biodiversity Offsetting on the 7th of August. This non-statutory guidance is the result of a three-year Cross Government Department Research Programme that investigated offsetting concepts and approaches in New Zealand. The guidance draws heavily from the BBOP guidance and places it in a New Zealand context, where in most cases, biodiversity offsetting is a voluntary offering.
The Guidance is designed for policy makers, planners, developers and decision-makers who need to gain an understanding of the concepts. Additional resources are also available for a more technical audience such as ecologists and policy advisors involved in the design or assessment of a biodiversity offset. These additional resources include:
- A decision support tree for the offsets process
- Three papers exploring the Limits to biodiversity offset in New Zealand
- Currencies and accounting systems
- Dealing with uncertainty and risk: use of multipliers and discount rates
- Assessing a biodiversity offset against the BBOP standard
- Biodiversity offset management plans
The Guidance, additional technical resources, and an overview of biodiversity offsetting in New Zealand can all be accessed from this site
France provides additional information on the application of the mitigation hierarchy
This four page briefing document published in June by the French Ministry of Sustainable Development provides additional information regarding the application of the mitigation hierarchy. This complements the national guidelines on the mitigation hierarchy published by the Ministry of Sustainable Development in 2013. Notably, the briefing states explicitly that ecological gain should be achieved in terms of species, habitats, and ecosystem function. It also specifies that the application of the mitigation hierarchy should be integrated as early as possible into project design, and reaffirms that avoidance and minimization are priority steps. If residual impacts remain after avoidance and minimization steps, compensation is mandatory in the case of damages on "major environmental issues" including:
- remarkable biodiversity (threatened species, Natura 2000 sites, biological reservoirs, surface waters in very good ecological status...);
- major ecological corridors (migratory routes, corridors identified in local planning documents...);
- key local ecosystem services (water purification, health, recreation.).
The need to pool compensation measures in the form of habitat banks is also anticipated, and is something with which France has been experimenting since 2008. The document states that additional habitat banking pilot operations will be launched soon to "compare between a broader range of regions, targeted species or ecosystems and institutional arrangements".
Conferences and Upcoming Events
CBD COP 12 Business and Biodiversity Forum
Mainstreaming Biodiversity: Innovative Opportunities for Business: 12-14 October 2014: Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. The twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) will take place on 6 - 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. The CBD Secretariat, in conjunction with the Government of Korea (and other partners) is planning an extensive programme of business-related activities during the COP. The business and biodiversity forum will be a 3 day series of business engagement events, including a High Level Segment (involving Ministerial and CEO level discussants), a business and biodiversity workshop, a meeting of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity, and several media/launch events. The overall theme of the business forum will be "Mainstreaming Biodiversity: Innovative Opportunities for Business" which will look at practical methods for businesses to play a role in the overall objectives of the Convention and the Strategic Plan 2011-2020. Day 1 will be dedicated to several parallel events aimed at different business stakeholder groups including biotrade, tourism, commodities, and the Global Partnership. Days 2 and 3 will focus on an exchange of creative practices aimed at showing how businesses can contribute to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi targets, including through mainstreaming biodiversity into business practices. The events of the forum will demonstrate economic opportunities related to biodiversity for business as well as look at different aspects of the challenges that face companies. More information can be found at: http://www.cbd.int/business/bc/cop12.shtml.
16th Annual BIOECON Conference: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability
The BIOECON Partners have announced the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of "Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability". The conference will be held once again on the premises of Kings College Cambridge, England. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Learn more here.
15th International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA15)
The theme for 2015 will be "Impact assessment in the digital era"
Dates: 20-23 April 2015
Location: Florence, Italy
Proforest is seeking a motivated, organised, and experienced professional to implement its consultancy services in natural resources management, particularly in relation to forestry and agricultural commodities in South East Asia (SEA).
The position offers the opportunity to take an executive role in the management and delivery of Proforest's consultancy services in South East Asia, and respond to the rapidly growing demand for Proforest's services in the area of sustainable forestry and agricultural commodities. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the post will involve business development and coordination of the agricultural and forestry commodities service area, and managing and/or participating in a range of projects; particularly in relation to agricultural production, sourcing and supply-chain management. This includes providing clients with policy advice, research, training, audits and other services, tailored to their needs. Recent clients include RSPO, Sabah Softwoods, Nestle, Shell, Tetra Pak and WWF. The post will involve international travel and fieldwork , particularly in the SEA region.
Based in: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . Application deadline: 17 October 2014. Click here for more information.
- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Patrick Maguire, Amrei von Hase, Ray Victurine, Sebastian Winkler)