By Bronagh Loughlin
The planet’s biodiversity is under threat and the primary culprit is human beings, the ones who depend on it the most. Slowing biodiversity loss is one of humanity’s greatest challenges. However, since we play a big part in creating the problem, it’s become crucial for us to shift our mindsets to become part of the solution.
The term biodiversity is used to describe the variety of living species on planet Earth, including animals, plants, bacteria and fungi. Whilst Earth’s biodiversity is so incredibly rich that many species have yet to be discovered, many species are being threatened with extinction as a result of human activities, putting the Earth’s magnificent biodiversity at risk.
Currently our planet is experiencing biodiversity loss which will have many horrendous impacts on all living beings on our planet. Biodiversity loss, for those who do not know, refers to the disappearance or decline of biological diversity. In 2019, the United Nations (UN) presented an ambitious report on biodiversity, warning that out of approximately eight million species, one million species are in danger of becoming extinct.
Biodiversity loss has not slowed down, if anything, it has become even more of a threat. There are many things that impact biodiversity. These include climate change, pollution, destruction of habitats ie soil pollution and deforestation, invasive alien species flourish as they compete for food and introduce parasites and diseases to other species, and overexploitation of the natural environment, in other words consuming at a speed greater than that of natural regeneration, which has a clear impact on the planet’s fauna and flora.
Now that you know how biodiversity loss is caused, you may be wondering how this affects you? Biodiversity loss has numerous consequences, not only for the environment, but also for human beings at a health and economic level. As we degrade ecosystems, the risk of future pandemics increase. The extinction of species also has an adverse effect on food production, proliferation in pests and increases CO2 emissions.
While all of this sounds really bad and may seem like there is no coming back, there are plenty of actions we can take to prevent biodiversity loss and help nature repair. Individuals, governments and businesses can take actions. In particular, fixing nature could be an excellent strategy for businesses.
Businesses rely on nature for numerous resources such as food, fibre, minerals and building materials: ecosystem services such as pollination of crops, water filtration, waste decomposition, climate sequestration and climate regulation; and healthy and prosperous societies that give them customers and workforces.
For the above resources, there are potential risks for businesses if they continue to allow the loss of biodiversity and natural habitats: increasing cost, operational risks, liability risks, supply chain continuity, predictability and resilience as well as regulatory, reputational, market and financial risks. These are a few of the immediate impacts that business leaders have to consider.
Those who recognise the importance of nature and act to protect it could greatly benefit from that: long-term viability of business models, cost savings, increases in operational efficiency, increased market potential, access to new markets, innovation, stable supply chains and better relationships with stakeholders and customers.
Businesses can take action through specific projects, across their business and supply chains; from sectoral collaboration to aligning, integrating and enforcing policies for nature, people and climate.
These steps could lead to building a better economy and preserving the delicate balance of the natural world.
Beyond business actions, we can all do our part individually to fight biodiversity loss. We can prioritise sustainable food and sustainable mobility and engage in responsibleconsumption and recycling practices. Also, we can reduce small actions we take that commonly pollute the planet, help raise awareness of the smallest actions through environmental education and support any action that is aimed at restoring nature and protecting biodiversity.
There are many reasons that biodiversity is important for human health and wellbeing for the planet. With biodiversity repair and cumulative action from governments, industry and individuals, we can restore nature and continue to protect the remaining species on our planet.
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