Articulating and Assessing Biodiversity Impact

22 April 2024

Introducing Biodiversity Impact Assessment Framework (BIAF) 

The need to better target investment where there is the greatest potential to reduce pressures and recover nature is growing. And in this circumstance, The Biodiversity Consultancy and WWF Switzerland have developed a new framework, the Biodiversity Impact Assessment Framework (BIAF). The framework offers a unique way to articulate and quantify potential impacts on biodiversity from investments and projects to make informed decisions and enhance outcomes. 

The recent Living Planet Report by WWF reveals a stark decline of 69% in global wildlife populations between 1970 and 2018 (WWF 2022). The continuous degradation of natural habitats driven by economic activities underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts to reverse these trends. However, the existing funding dedicated to biodiversity conservation is just 17% of what is necessary to halt and reverse biodiversity loss (UNEP 2021).  

BIAF can help orientate critical finance towards activities and business models with the greatest potential to reduce pressures and recover nature, mainstreaming science-based assessment of biodiversity benefits into investment processes. The report ‘Articulating and Assessing Biodiversity Impact: A framework to support investment decisions’ jointly published by The Biodiversity Consultancy and WWF Switzerland comprises how the framework can support investment decisions and enhance outcomes for biodiversity, with four case studies.

What is the BIAF? 

BIAF is a framework method aimed to help market participants identify impact pathways to biodiversity and quantify potential benefits from investments or projects. It helps to evaluate potential investments based on their ability to contribute positively to biodiversity. This involves systematically identifying both positive and negative impact pathways of how a business model or project influences pressures of nature and biodiversity and quantifying the net impacts using the well-established Biodiversity Extent, Condition, and Significance (BECS) framework. 

At the core of BIAF, is the flexibility offered by the BECS framework. BECS allows the assessment and estimation of net benefits to biodiversity from a wide range of investments or projects by taking into account: Extent, Condition, and Significance (BECS). 

  • Extent: Measures the geographical area or volume affected. 

  • Condition: Assesses the changes in biodiversity integrity or quantify, measured through biodiversity metrics tailored to context. 

  • Significance: Evaluates the relative conservation value of biodiversity. 

These components form a robust foundation to estimate the net benefits to biodiversity from investments or projects. Using these components, BIAF quantifies the impact of the potential investments. 

The framework is designed for pre-investment assessments, allowing investors and consultants to systematically articulate and quantify specific impacts of investments/projects on biodiversity, and assess and compare diverse approaches. 

Applications, challenges, and future collaborations 

The report explores the practicality and effectiveness of BIAF through four case studies, demonstrating its transformative potential in real-world scenarios. The framework allows users to identify significant impact pathways and leverage them to enhance biodiversity outcomes. 

While the pilot applications have been successful, the developers acknowledge several challenges, such as the need for greater automation and better representation of uncertainty in assessment processes. These issues are slated for improvement in the next development phase, emphasizing the iterative nature of BIAF's enhancement.  

Hence, we are inviting stakeholders to adopt BIAF, including investors, developers, and financial institutions, to contribute to its refinement and widespread application. This collaborative effort is crucial for developing BIAF into a globally recognized standard that can significantly influence positive biodiversity outcomes.

Click here for full report

Categories: Financial Services, Publications, Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity Strategy, Nature Positive, Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity

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