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BBOP: Business and Biodiversity Offset Program
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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.







Recent and upcoming BBOP Community of Practice webinars

BBOP's monthly webinar series on topics of interest to the Community of Practice are available here.  Recent webinars have included topics such as; the work of the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative, including their soon to be released Mitigation Hierarchy Guide; the policy, practice and outcomes of New South Wales, Australia's biodiversity offset program for designated Growth Centres of Western Sydney; and the World Bank supported study on a National Biodiversity Offset Scheme for Liberia's Mining Sector, presented by FairFields Consulting. If you would like to suggest a topic for an upcoming webinar, please contact us at!

Total joins BBOP Advisory Group

We are pleased to announce that TOTAL SA has joined the BBOP Advisory Group.  With almost 100,000 employees, Total is the world's fifth largest publically-traded international oil company.  Total made news in 2013 by committing to treat World Heritage Sites as "no-go" areas.    More information on Total's aim to reduce its biodiversity impacts can be found here.  The BBOP Executive Committee endorsed Total as the newest BBOP member, believing that they exhibit a commitment to comply with the mitigation hierarchy and a goal of continual improvement on biodiversity impacts.   


New BBOP Executive Committee members

BBOP welcomed three new members on to the BBOP Executive Committee in February: Steve Edwards, Programme Manager from IUCN;  Ernani Pilla, Natural Resources Senior Specialist in the Environmental Safeguards unit at the Inter-American Development Bank; and Jessica Nordin, Environmental Expert at Sveaskog, Sweden's leading forestry company.   These newest ExComm representatives will join current representatives: Liz Clarke, Zoological Society of London; Preston Hardison, Tulalip Tribes; Michael Jenkins, Forest Trends; and Sophie Le Pennec, ERAMET. All of these new members have significant experience regarding biodiversity compensation and the mitigation hierarchy.  For example, Steve Edwards is leading the working group developing the IUCN policy on biodiversity offsets, Ernani Pilla has significant experience evaluating and supporting IDB clients in Latin America to achieve better results across the mitigation hierarchy, and Jessica Nordin has worked on the ground to develop offsets to Swedish regulatory requirements and the BBOP Standard.  In addition to welcoming these new members, the BBOP Secretariat extends its sincere thanks for several years of outstanding service on the ExComm to Arthur Eijs, Government of Netherlands, Jeff Jeter, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Andrew Cooke, formerly with the Ambatovy Project. 

Publications and Tools

IUCN Biodiversity Offsets Technical Study and input papers on Policy Options for Governments and Technical Conditions for Positive Outcomes from Biodiversity Offsets

IUCN launched three studies on Biodiversity Offsets at the World Parks CongressThe Biodiversity Offsets Technical Study was developed by the IUCN Biodiversity Offsets Technical Study Group, with lead authors Kerry ten Kate (Forest Trends) and John Pilgrim (The Biodiversity Consultancy).  The study addresses the mitigation hierarchy and covers a number of technical issues such as biodiversity offset metrics and exchange rules, additionality and implementation options.  The study also examines broader policy concerns such as where do offsets fit within existing practice and policies, and what should be the scope of offsets policy.  The study is intended to inform IUCN's global policy on biodiversity offsets, which is still under development and which will be presented at the World Conservation Congress in 2016.

Two input papers for the Technical Study Group were launched by IUCN at the same time.  The first is Biodiversity Offsets: Policy options for governments (ten Kate and Crowe, 2014).  This paper defines key terms associated with the mitigation hierarchy, No Net Loss, Net Gain, and biodiversity offsets and reviews the number of governments with related policies and the multi-year processes under which these evolve and are implemented.  It outlines the basic concepts in NNL/NG policy, including the underlying principles, typical statements of policy and their scope and limits, exchange rules according to which the kind of biodiversity needed for an offset is defined, the metrics that quantify losses and gains, land-use (and marine) planning, and definition of the activities that create additional conservation outcomes and qualify as the 'gains' to offset the residual losses of biodiversity. The paper introduces typical policy options for implementing biodiversity offsets, considers the data and capacity needs if government is to run effective NNL/NG polices and offsetting systems, and stresses the vital role of government in monitoring and enforcement.  It sets out the broad range of potential roles of government in designing and administering NNL/ NG policies and offsetting systems and identifies the principal categories of cost for government in developing and implementing NNL/NG policy.   Finally, it sets out some of the lessons that have been learnt from the experience in various countries from designing and operating NNL/NG and biodiversity offset policy and programs and outlines suggested ways forward for governments interested in exploring NNL/NG policy options.

The second input paper is Technical conditions for positive outcomes from biodiversity offsets (Pilgrim and Ekstrom, 2014).  This paper assesses the conditions under which biodiversity offsets benefit biodiversity and achieve no net loss, asking two key questions: 1) Under what conditions do biodiversity offset approaches provide positive outcomes for biodiversity, irrespective of the concept of no net loss? 2) Under what conditions is it possible to achieve no net loss through the implementation of biodiversity offsets?  The report considers how advances in offset science and practical offset implementation demonstrate that there is often a trade-off between certainty and simplicity.  It concludes that current offsetting outcomes would be most improved through integration of societal biodiversity conservation goals, greater adherence to the mitigation hierarchy and better implementation.  It identifies the conditions that facilitate better outcomes for biodiversity, including some form of scientifically-based approach to compensate for impacts, compared with the status quo in which compensation for residual losses of development projects is usually absent or inadequate. While the status quo in some countries is much better than this, the lack of compensation for development impacts on biodiversity is unfortunately common across much of the world. The authors conclude that in many cases, even low-quality, incomplete, impermanent, poorly implemented biodiversity offset approaches could provide more positive outcomes for biodiversity than a status quo of limited or inadequate compensation.  On the second key question, the paper concludes that achieving no net loss is a much more ambitious goal than securing positive outcomes for biodiversity from offsets, and thus requires a much more narrow and strict set of conditions – both technically and politically. The authors conclude that achieving 'no net loss' is likely to prove challenging, and will require numerous facilitating, technical and implementation conditions to align.

No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact Approaches for Biodiversity: Exploring the potential application of these approaches in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors

In this new report, IUCN explores the challenges and opportunities of the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors adopting No Net Loss (NNL) and Net Positive Impact (NPI) approaches that hitherto have been applied primarily in the extractives and infrastructure development sectors.  The report acknowledges that these sectors present a much greater challenge, due in part to greater biodiversity impacts, a wider array of stakeholders involved, less financial capital and limited exposure to financial sector standards than the extractives sectors.  Yet, the report, finds that under certain conditions NNL and NPI approaches to agriculture and forestry landscapes associated with companies' operations and supply chains could have a greater impact in reducing biodiversity loss than in other sectors.

The report concludes that NNL/NPI is potentially applicable to the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors under two main conditions and based on the application of a five stage process, which includes the full implementation of the mitigation hierarchy.  Native biodiversity needs to be enhanced and/or species or areas of conservation concern protected and agriculture and forestry production species need to be diversified on–site, and/or, productivity and natural resource use efficiency improved and safeguards to protect natural habitats off–site against conversion are needed.  Furthermore, the risk of biodiversity losses would outweigh opportunities for conservation gain where the development project will cause large–scale impacts on ecosystems and/or species in natural areas where regional biodiversity loss is not occurring;  where there is a risk that the protection measures and safeguards for natural habitat areas and/or species and areas of conservation concern in and around the production site will be poorly designed or will not be enforced effectively; and where the identification of relevant biodiversity values to establish NPI goals has not been derived from existing societal biodiversity conservation goals in policies or plans (e.g. national biodiversity policies, strategies, action plans, international policy), and does not take account of local and other relevant stakeholder input (including farmers, foresters, and resident communities as applicable).

IUCN will present a summary of this report, discuss its implications and possible next steps in a webinar on 11 JuneThere are currently two time options, either 10.00 CET or 16.00 CET.  If you would like to join the webinar, please RSVP to with your availability for the two time options. The log-in information will then be sent directly.


Is there any empirical support for biodiversity offset policy?

In 2014, Curran et al. published a paper in Ecological Applications discussing the effectiveness of ecological restoration and whether there was any empirical support for biodiversity offsets. A joint response to this paper by several members of the BBOP Secretariat and the Advisory Group will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal clarifying some of the concepts used in the debate concerning offset performance, and explaining the rationale behind improved implementation of the mitigation hierarchy and offsets.



The Third State of Natural Capital Report from England's Natural Capital Committee

On 27 January, England's Natural Capital Committee (NCC) published its third State of Natural Capital Report.  The NCC's mandate is to "advise the Government on how to ensure England's 'natural wealth' is managed efficiently and sustainably, thereby unlocking opportunities for sustained prosperity and wellbeing".  BBOP's Director, Kerry ten Kate, is a member of the Committee. The report envisions a development path in which natural capital loss is halted and eventually reversed in order to counteract accumulated natural capital debt. It is shaped around the Government's net gain commitment.  The report notes that pressures on natural capital are already too high but are set to intensify, with more people expected to be added to England's population over the next 25 years than in any previous similar time period. Given these increasing pressures, significant changes to past practice will be required to achieve the Government's commitment to be the first generation to "leave the natural environment in a better state than that in which it was inherited". To meet this commitment the Committee advises that Government should develop a strategy with a 25-year plan to protect and improve natural capital and the benefits it provides; determine how this is to be funded, drawing on a combination of public and private funding; assign institutional responsibility for monitoring the state of natural capital; incentivize wider adoption and uptake of the corporate natural capital accounting framework outlined in the report and consider requiring provisions to be made for the maintenance of natural capital; step up action to ensure that the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meet the target of incorporating natural capital into the national accounts by 2020; revise its economic appraisal guidance to reflect natural capital better and apply this revised guidance to new projects; and drive a substantial, long term interdisciplinary research program on natural capital to inform future iterations of the strategy. For their part, organizations should create a register of natural capital for which they are responsible and use this to maintain its quality and quantity.

Specifically on the mitigation hierarchy and net gain, the Committee recommends that "The National Infrastructure Plan should incorporate natural capital into each of the main infrastructure sectors, following the mitigation hierarchy for managing impacts (avoid, minimize, restore, offset). An investment program for natural capital should also explicitly feature in the National Infrastructure Plan."  As one of the funding sources for the 25 year plan, the report recommends that Government should "ensure that damage to renewable natural capital is, where possible, avoided and minimized, but where it does occur, it is fully compensated by investment in renewable natural capital of equivalent or higher priority or value".

No net loss in other words: a book based on the premise that 'the aggregate level of natural capital should not decline'.

Professor Dieter Helm, Chairman of the Natural Capital Committee, has released 'Natural Capital – valuing our planet', a book published by Yale University Press and following closely the recommendations of the Natural Capital Committee in its recent report to the UK government . GDP, the conventional measure of economic growth, does not involve a proper balance sheet, and the future consequences of depleting natural capital are ignored, such that depleting natural assets typically leads to an increase in GDP.  At the heart of this book is an asset-based sustainable natural capital rule: passing on to the next generation a set of assets at least as good as the ones we inherited requires a number of conditions to be met and a line in the sand to be drawn - the aggregate level of natural capital should not decline. This requires that natural capital is incorporated in national and corporate accounts, measured, and valued to make sure that the aggregate rule is not broken.  To meet the aggregate rule, the economic rents from depleting non-renewables should be set aside in a fund, which is potentially very big, creating significant opportunities to improve natural capital.  Professor Helm recommends three policies necessary to implement the natural capital approach to economic policy: compensation; environmental taxes, subsidies and permits; and the provision of natural capital public goods, including protected areas, parks and nature reserves.  Compensation is at the heart of the aggregate natural capital rule.  To ensure there is no decline, there needs to be compensation for any physical damage within the aggregate. Alongside the fund for depletion of non-renewables, this could result in a colossal conservation programme.

Policy Developments

Biodiversity Law under Development in France

French biodiversity policy has been evolving and strengthening since 1976, when the "Law on Nature Protection", provided the first mention of the mitigation hierarchy and stipulated that all developments required an EIA.  More recent guidance on the mitigation hierarchy published by the Ministry of Sustainable Development in 2013 stated that if residual impacts remain after avoidance and minimization steps, compensation is mandatory in the case of damage resulting in "major environmental issues". Earlier this year a new law on biodiversity (Projet de loi pour la reconquête de la biodiversité, de la nature et des paysages) entered the legislative pipeline in France and was approved by the National Assembly, including the adoption of an important article on biodiversity offsets and an article introducing a Not Net Loss / Net Gain principle.

As approved by the National Assembly, the law:

  • allows for 3rd party provider of offsets (habitat banking); who will however need to get the prior approval of the French authorities to be able to operate;
  • allows for conservation easements, a traditional tool for conserving private land (also known as a conservation restriction or covenant) which is a legal agreement between a landowner and any public or private body acting for environmental protection that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values, and;
  • reorganizes agencies with biodiversity responsibility into a single agency (Agence française pour la biodiversité).

However the law is not fully adopted yet as the Senate still has to pass it, likely to be followed by negotiations between the Senate and National Assembly which may take several more months.  It is clear from these developments that the mitigation hierarchy, including offsets, has been identified as an important part of France's biodiversity policy.

The 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress launches dialogue on biodiversity offsets

Held once every 10 years, the 2014 World Parks Congress in November 2014 attracted 6,000 participants from 170 countries, and secured more than 70 new major conservation commitments, including Gabon's promise to protect 23% of its coastline, and the Elion Foundation and UNCCD's pledge to plant 1.3 billion trees along the historic Silk Route.  Hosted by Australia, the Congress explored eight different themes and four cross-cutting issues, and featured World Leader Dialogues and hundreds of side events.

The outcomes of the Congress are captured in the Promise of Sydney, which recognizes the important role of Indigenous Peoples' in the community and the opportunities presented by new technologies to advance protected areas conservation. More specifically, the Promise acknowledges the need to invest in nature's solutions -- supported by public policy, incentives, tools and safeguards -- that help to halt biodiversity loss, and mitigate and respond to climate change.

IUCN's Business and Biodiversity team hosted 32 sessions in the Business and Biodiversity Pavilion and at other venues, many of which were directly relevant to biodiversity offsets and the application of the mitigation hierarchy, including:

  • Net Positive Impact for Biodiversity: an exploration in agriculture and forestry sectors
  • Landscape approaches to Development and Conservation-the mitigation hierarchy and biodiversity offsets
  • Protected Areas and Biodiversity Offsets
  • Rio Tinto's experience and lessons from application of the mitigation hierarchy, including net positive impact, across its businesses
  • Implementation of a mitigation hierarchy: Challenges and opportunities
  • IUCN Biodiversity Offset Policy Consultation.  

This last session presented and discussed the Biodiversity Offsets Technical Study and the two related input papers discussed above.  Steve Edwards, who is leading the initiative on offsets for IUCN, gave an overview of the IUCN policy consultation itself and fielded questions.  Groups of participants discussed challenging issues, such as"no-go" decisions, permanence, and additionality.  Side sessions included a debate on the appropriateness and potential implementation of offsets in protected areas.  IUCN continues to gather input for the policy consultation. For more information on this topic see this article by Steve Edwards.

World Bank Safeguards Review update

Phase 2 of the World Bank's environmental and social safeguards review closed on 1 March, 2015. More than 2,500 pages of feedback were received from the public consultation on the first draft framework of the Bank's social safeguard policies. Under the proposed structure, Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs 1- 10), ESS6 focuses on "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources". 

The public consultation feedback is now under review with the purpose of revising the draft framework.  An initial review of comments on ESS6 indicates that a consistent message has been the need to clarify that offsets are a last resort in the mitigation hierarchy, as well as a strong preference to prevent offsets in Critical Habitat.  In addition, respondents stated the need for logging and hydropower projects to adhere to the mitigation hierarchy as well as projects in other sectors.

The review team plans to present a second draft of the Environmental and Social Framework to the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) of the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors this summer. A third round of consultations will be initiated after discussions of the second draft with CODE.  The Safeguards Review website provides additional information, such as a video and transcript of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings' discussion on the proposed Environmental and Social Framework; a World Bank presentation on the consultations and considerations for moving forward; and a study comparing the safeguard policies of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks.


Peru develops a framework for No Net Loss

The Government of Peru has been developing a national framework for No Net Loss of biodiversity, which culminated in the release of a Ministerial Resolution on biodiversity compensation during the UNFCCC during the COP20 in December 2014 in Lima. The government now aims to implement its compensation guidelines and a multi-year roadmap to implement the Resolution.

In early 2014 a specialized agency called SENACE (Servicio Nacional de Certificacion Ambiental) was established to ensure sustainable investments for large scale projects. The agency forms part of the national system of EIAs (SEIA). The agency is hosted by the Ministry of Environment but includes a Board with representatives from the Ministry of Economy & Finance, Ministry for Mines and Energy, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Production and Ministry of Health. Forest Trends jointly with GIZ and other donors are closely working with SENACE to build capacity of this new agency which will have some 100 employees. The Ministry is also working closely with a civil society platform (which includes WCS, CCF and SPDA) on implementing the road-map which is already testing pilot projects for No Net Loss in different ecosystems and sectors in Peru. Theses pilots will ultimately inform and develop the metrics and necessary guidelines referred to in the Ministerial Resolution.



EU No Net Loss Initiative update

The European Commission closed its internet consultation on the EU No Net Loss initiative in October 2014. The consultation asked civil society, public authorities, business and NGOs for their views on a future No Net Loss Initiative at the EU level. Ideas and comments were gathered on how to develop the policy, how to ensure that impacts are avoided, minimized and compensated for; the scope and the scale of the initiative; which drivers of biodiversity loss and which economic sectors to include; how to tackle the challenges related to offsetting and the choice of policy instruments to use. The individual answers, statistics, charts and a summary report of the results can be found here: Results of the public consultation.  Next, the Commission will develop an impact assessment on the policy options for the No Net Loss initiative. As foreseen in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, the No Net Loss initiative is expected in 2016, once the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance  review of the Birds and Habitats Directives has been completed.  

Upcoming Events

IUCN webinar (11 June) on 'No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact Approaches for Biodiversity: exploring the potential application of these approaches in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors'.

IUCN's Global Business and Biodiversity Programme invites you to a webinar to present a summary of this new report, discuss its implications and possible next steps. When: Thursday 11th June – 2 options, either 10.00 CET or 16.00 CET.  Please RSVP to with your availability for the two time options for the webinar. The log-in information will then be sent directly.


27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology. 

This bi-annual gathering of the international community of conservation professionals will take place 2-6 August 2015 in Montpellier, France.   The joint meeting brings together the international community of conservation professionals to address conservation challenges and present new findings, initiatives, methods, tools and opportunities in conservation science and practice.  In addition, a one day symposium focusing on No Net Loss of biodiversity will be held at the ICCB.

IFC Performance Standards Community of Learning

The International Finance Corporation will convene a Community of Learning knowledge-sharing event for financial institutions and others in Washington DC, the week of 19 October. Participation in IFC's Community of Learning allows attendees to draw on IFC expertise in applying Performance Standards as well as benefit from knowledge sharing within a wide network of practitioners.

8th ESP World Conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) is a worldwide network, founded in 2008, to enhance the science and practical application of ecosystem services. To facilitate the needed dialogue between scientists, policy makers and practitioners ESP organises an annual international conference in different parts of the world. The central theme is 'Ecosystem Services for Nature, People and Prosperity'. The conference will pay special attention to the public and private sector dialogue on how the ecosystem services concept can be used to support conservation, improve livelihoods and engage the business community. 9-13 November 2015. Stellenbosch, South Africa.


World Forum on Natural Capital

The World Forum on Natural Capital , 23-24 November; Edinburgh, Scotland.  The inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital in 2013 was the first major global conference dedicated to natural capital. It built on the significant private sector interest shown at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012 and the many developments that have taken place since.  Participants will: gain understanding of the fast evolving debate about natural capital and how the opportunities and risks could affect their bottom line; be able to network with senior decision makers and sustainability leaders from around the world; and gain access to the latest developments and practical tools.


- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Patrick Maguire, Amrei von Hase, Ray Victurine, Sebastian Winkler)