What’s it about in short: Steve Edwards of IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Programme explains how government and business are looking at ways to compensate for the impacts of development on biodiversity.
When was it released: January 15, 2015
By whom: IUCN
More info: http://www.iucn.org/?18817
As implementing biodiversity offsets is a long-term exercise, there are as yet, limited examples. Some that are showing promise include offsets that are in progress such as at Rio Tinto’s QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) site or regulations around offsets in New South Wales, Australia.
Aside from biodiversity impacts, there are many cultural and social aspects to consider, making the concept of offsets complex and controversial. Concerns are being raised that offsets are being used as a ‘licence to trash’ and that lost biodiversity cannot be replaced. Others warn against the ‘commodification’ of biodiversity. Another criticism is the danger of ‘cost shifting’, for example, when funding for offsets for species protection potentially erodes government responsibility for nature conservation.
At the same time, however, proponents of offsets say that they can potentially generate important investment in biodiversity conservation, particularly in countries where it could not otherwise be afforded.
Several of IUCN’s member organisations have been involved in advising government and industry on offsets for several years. But with the emergence of offsets, both voluntary and regulatory, there is lack of clarity on what they mean, how to design and implement them, and what mechanisms can be put in place to ensure they are used properly, and even more importantly, when offsets cannot or should not be used. Some policies exist at a national and regional level but none that can be universally applied.