What is the Business Case for Biodiversity Offsets? — my new paper in SQ — raising the sustainability quotient

Some time ago I have been asked by Divya Narain if I could con­tribute an arti­cle to the lat­est issue on busi­ness and bio­di­ver­sity of “SQ — rais­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity quo­tient” –the bul­letin of the Bom­bay Cham­ber of Com­merce and Industry.

I sug­gested to write some­thing about the busi­ness case for bio­di­ver­sity off­sets (includ­ing some extracts from my PhD). I am happy to announce that SQ is now avail­able online (open access). You can down­load the full ver­sion directly on the web­site of the Bom­bay Cham­ber of Com­merce and Indus­try and find the abstract to my arti­cle below.


Bio­di­ver­stiy loss is one of the biggest chal­lenges that we are fac­ing. There­fore, actions need to be taken to halt this global loss urgently and imme­di­ately. One such tool, Bio­di­ver­sity Off­sets is gain­ing wide accep­tance around the world. To put sim­ply, the neg­a­tive impacts of busi­ness oper­a­tions on bio­di­ver­sity need to be com­pen­sated or coun­ter­bal­anced by con­ser­va­tion or restora­tion mea­sures in order to ensure there is ‘No Net Loss’ of biodiversity.

An impor­tant ques­tion that has become a cor­ner­stone of the dis­course on bio­di­ver­sity off­sets is – Is there a busi­ness case for bio­di­ver­sity off­sets i.e. does it make good busi­ness sense for com­pa­nies to off­set their bio­di­ver­sity impact?

In gen­eral terms, there are two types of moti­va­tions for busi­ness to adopt bio­di­ver­sity off­sets, which align with the val­ues assigned to bio­di­ver­sity by humans: 1. Eth­i­cal value: altru­is­tic moti­va­tion for the imple­men­ta­tion of bio­di­ver­sity off­sets. 2. Value of ben­e­fit: improve­ment in busi­ness and enhance­ment of profit. The view that the busi­ness case of bio­di­ver­sity off­sets is based mostly on the weigh­ing of costs and ben­e­fits that they offer to busi­nesses could be an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion. It does not pro­vide room for the var­i­ous pos­si­ble types of involve­ment of other stake­hold­ers such as gov­ern­ment, investors, indus­try sec­tor as a whole. There­fore, we might con­clude that the busi­ness case is not one ‘case’ with strictly defined con­di­tions and par­tic­u­lar­i­ties but instead cov­ers a whole vari­ety of dif­fer­ent cases or types of bio­di­ver­sity offsets.



What is the Business Case for Biodiversity Offsets? — my new paper in SQ — raising the sustainability quotient — 1 Comment

  1. A very good dis­cus­sion of the demand side of off­sets. In my view, off­sets should be a manda­tory part of all devel­op­ment plan­ning regimes. While there are many motives for busi­nesses to vol­un­tar­ily seek to acquire off­set sites, manda­tory par­tic­i­pa­tion would ensure the great­est demand for off­set sites — both by area and by envi­ron­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics — and thereby con­tribute to the real­i­sa­tion of the great­est envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits. But this assumes the right types of land are avail­able in the right loca­tions to pro­vide off­set sites, and the greater the demand for off­set sites, the less cer­tain it is that such sites will be available.

    In order to ensure the pro­vi­sion and ongo­ing man­age­ment of appro­pri­ate areas and types of off­set sites at a price busi­nesses can afford, it is nec­es­sary to encour­age the par­tic­i­pa­tion of as many land own­ers and land man­agers as pos­si­ble — to encour­age the devel­op­ment of a large and liq­uid sup­ply of poten­tial off­set sites. Unless a busi­ness case is made for the com­mer­cial pro­vi­sion and ongo­ing man­age­ment of off­set sites, demand for sites will be frus­trated and the poten­tial envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits reduced. Devel­op­ment of the busi­ness case for the sup­ply side of bio­di­ver­sity off­set­ting is crit­i­cally impor­tant if off­set­ting is to realise its full envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic potential

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