Admittedly, I did exaggerate a bit with the play on words in the title of the post and the pathos of the words unveils more sarcasm than an honest question. But as long as this blog exists I have felt the need to clarify the relation between the long standing success of the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – happy birthday BBOP!) and the newbie, which is the Biodiversity Offsets Bog (short: BOB). This feeling was encouraged by several people’s remarks or questions in this regard: Is another platform needed or useful beside BBOP and if yes, what would be the added value of it? How does it relate to the BBOP No Net Loss Discussion Group on LinkedIn? How can such a platform be sustained in the long run? Now, these points have been loosely touched here and there on the blog and I will summarize the main points in this post.
What’s wrong with BBOP?
Frankly, that’s not the question. And I can openly tell you (you will know or find out anyway), that I have been actively engaged with BBOP for several years now, also as part of its Advisory Group. For me, this doesn’t entail any conflict of interest with my work as (independent) researcher and environmental planner and I am not playing in the lobby of business to sell greenwashing for environmental pollution or degradation. To make it clear, I do also think it is to wrong BBOP to accuse them of the latter. At the heart of BBOP there are some highly motivated and committed folks (Kerry, Patrick, Amrei – you name them) who are striving to make a positive impact (sorry for the buzzword). In the past decade they have (scientifically sound) discussed various aspects of biodiversity offsets (most prominently the mitigation hierarchy and the appropriateness of biodiversity offsets, including the “No Go” option for development), set up a community of practice (with webinars, an online library, a LinkedIn Discussion group, organized (and contributed to) various events and most importantly developed standards and guidelines and tested these on biodiversity offset pilots around the world. Now, that I have largely pointed out how I value the work of BBOP, I want to point to its inherent problems in the light of the growing controversy and public discourse on biodiversity offsets. This leads me to the following question:
Why is there a need for the Biodiversity Offsets Blog beside the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program?
More precisely the question should be asked why I saw a need for a Biodiversity Offsets Blog. The answer is actually quite simple. I was searching for a flexible, adaptive and quickly responsive solution to structure, organize and comment the increasing information and news on biodiversity offsets that are available online. And that is something that the impact and heavyweight of BBOP isn’t so much suited for. Furthermore, from the point of view of offset critics, negative language connotations arise with regard to BBOP as the name includes the word “business”. While I personally don’t think this is justified, I still do understand this line of argumentation and want to open the discussion broadly on the weaknesses (and chances) of biodiversity offsets, but also on the concept as such (do we have the right to exchange one piece of nature for another?). To some extent the different LinkedIn Discussion groups can contribute to this discussion and I have engaged in interesting discussions around biodiversity offsets there and thus also share the updates from the Biodiversity Offsets Blog on LinkedIn. But (professional) social networks have a limit when it comes to structuring and organizing information such as links, files, pictures, discussions ets.
What are the goals of the BOB?
The goal is to mainstream and facilitate the discussion on Biodiversity Offsets. This includes the following objectives:
- The focus lies on biodiversity offsets as such (not market based instruments or other more general topics).
- The formerly widespread information shall be brought together to make it easily accessible for a maximum of people
- And thereby to unite the societal debate with academic findings and practical insights.
- This includes joining different perspectives (biodiversity offsets are not restricted to the interest of business).
The Biodiversity Offsets Blog combines general information (including an updated list of experts, literature, websites etc.) with frequent blog posts on new articles, scientific papers, political news, offset examples on the ground and so on.
Despite similar aims BBOP and the BOB apply very different means and temporal scales
BBOP and the BOB both aim for a lively discussion and exchange on biodiversity offsets, in order to draw valid conclusions and develop best practice for (or instead of) biodiversity offsets. However, while BBOP seeks to mainstream biodiversity offsets grounded on the best possible scientific knowledge, the BOB wants to critically examine and discuss the phenomenon of biodiversity offsets and compile as many related information as possible. As a result both apply very different means and especially temporal scales:
|Standards and guidelines||Discussions and drafts|
|(agreed) principles||Opinions and viewpoints|
|Long term||From day to day|
|Promotion of biodiversity offsets||Discussion and controversy on biodiversity offsets|
|Elaborated texts||Think-and-write scratchpad|
|Mainstream issues||Including very specific issues|
|Giving answers||Raising questions|