How can and should national and corporate reporting be sensibly broadened to include information on Biodiversity including Ecosystem Services?
Which values and indicators are available and useful to both corporate and national accounting? Are there synergies between corporate and national accounting?
How can reporting of Biodiversity translate international and nation law as well as be reflected in ongoing regulatory standard setting processes?
The Value Balancing Alliance and BASF, in collaboration with a network of leading German research institutions - Leipniz Institut IÖR Dresden (National Reporting), Helmholtz Association UFZ Leipzig (Corporate Reporting) and IZT Berlin (Science-Policy Interface) -, are contributing to the increasingly urgent and public debate around these questions.
By creating in-depth knowledge of current corporate as well as national accounting and reporting practices, the project aims to facilitate targeted cross-stakeholder cooperation as well as mutually beneficial knowledge and expertise sharing.
The decline in biodiversity continues and current sustainability efforts, protected area systems and biodiversity strategies have not reversed the trend in biodiversity loss. A major cause is the structural failure of economic accounting and reporting systems at national and corporate level, where the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services often play no or only a minor role. With the growing understanding of the central role of biodiversity for intact ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services, nature is gaining recognition for its contribution to both social well-being and future prosperity. Hence, international initiatives by the UN, the EU Commission and the World Bank are working towards the inclusion of biodiversity into national and corporate accounting systems.
As the consequences of climate change and the decline in species are becoming more evident, there is growing awareness among the majority of German citizens for the need of more sustainable practices. Not only political decision-makers but also companies are increasingly scrutinized for their ecological responsibility. Businesses that consider ecological concerns in their production processes and act accordingly are more likely to gain credibility with consumers and potentially have economic advantages related to customer relations, business cooperation and the financial market. Thereby, assessing and reporting biodiversity impacts and values in a standardised and comparable form is critical for supporting decision-making on more sustainable practices.
The inclusion of biodiversity and ecosystem services into corporate reporting is an incipient trend. It is the expectation that it enhances the understanding of the value of biodiversity for businesses and, in the long term, leads to more sustainable economic activities at national and international level. International initiatives and organisations including the Natural Capitals Coalition and the Value Balancing Alliance among others are collaborating with the European Commission on the standardisation of corporate reporting processes. The same applies to economic reporting at the macro level, i.e. the national level.
The project works towards supporting the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services into corporate and national accounts, so that the multiple values of biodiversity and ecosystems, e.g. for social prosperity as well as a "productive factor" - and not only as raw material - receives a higher appreciation in politics, economy and society.
1 UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting—Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft. The core issue here is the further development of environmental economic accounts.
Dr. Karsten Grunewald
phone: +49 351 4679 227
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project "Bio-Mo-D" within the framework of the Strategy "Research for Sustainability" and "Research Initiative for Conservation of Biodiversity"