billman1_Buda MendesGetty Images_pantanal fire Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Making Business Work for Nature

From the energy industry to industrial agriculture, the private sector has long reaped large financial rewards from environmental destruction. But the costs of that destruction are growing, and businesses' responsibility – and motivation – to reverse it becoming more apparent.

GENEVA – The latest edition of the United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook, published by the Convention on Biological Diversity, makes for bleak reading. As the report notes, biodiversity is essential to address climate change, ensure long-term food security, and prevent future pandemics. And yet the world is missing every target that has been established to protect it. If this is to change, business must step up.

From the energy industry to industrial agriculture, some of the private sector’s financial success has come at the expense of the environment. And as environmental destruction progresses, natural disasters are becoming increasingly common – and increasingly devastating. This is rapidly increasing the material and existential risks to companies’ employees, supply chains, and profits.

This year alone, the COVID-19 pandemic – which has already resulted in more than one million deaths – has disrupted supply chains, tanked global demand, and pushed the world economy into a deep recession. Meanwhile, businesses in the United States have been facing massive wildfires and rolling power blackouts amid intense heat waves. The world’s largest tropical wetland – the Pantanal in Brazil – is also on fire. And China and Africa have been hit by severe flooding. It is clearly in companies’ interests to avoid the proliferation and escalation of such catastrophes.

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