Evidence-based action by the private sector is vital for biodiversity outcomes
Evidence-based practice in the business-biodiversity community can ensure benefits to biodiversity and business.
A study led by The Biodiversity Consultancy’s Thomas White, and coauthored by Leon Bennun (Chief Scientist) and Benjamin Jobson (Consultant), proposes a set of principles for making sure that business biodiversity strategies are evidence-based and likely to deliver positive biodiversity outcomes.
The study outlines the need for evidence-based practice in the business-biodiversity community, where the effective use of evidence can ensure both benefits to biodiversity and for business. For biodiversity, using evidence increases the likelihood of positive outcomes being achieved from mitigation action. For business, the probability of reaching ambitious biodiversity targets can be increased, there can be reduced operational and financial risks associated with ineffective action, and therefore reduced costs needed to reach biodiversity goals.
The authors propose a set of six principles to be followed when designing biodiversity strategies to help ensure they are evidence based:
- Embedded - An expectation and capacity for evidence use should become embedded in biodiversity management operations, requiring leadership from key staff.
- Collated and appraised – Evidence on biodiversity baselines in areas influenced by business, potential negative impacts, as well as the effects, costs and acceptability of mitigation actions should be compiled and critically appraised.
- Guided – The compiled evidence should be used to guide conclusions of impact, and decisions of which mitigation actions will be implemented. Structured processes can be put in place for deciding upon appropriate, and effective actions.
- Transparent – Strategies developed, including predicted impacts, actions taken (and the evidence base underlying those), and progress should be regularly reported to show the progress made and allow others to understand why and when actions were taken.
- Monitored – Reporting will only be possible with regular monitoring of actions implemented and outcomes. Where possible, businesses should look to trial approaches and build the evidence base. Progress towards meeting targets should be reviewed regularly.
- Shared - Lastly, the paper recommends that businesses look to share evidence generated from baselines and monitoring. This can avoid costly duplication of effort, and provide data that can further improve the effective of business action.
There is currently a huge opportunity for businesses to help contribute to achieving global biodiversity goals. However, ensuring that effective outcomes are achieved from biodiversity mitigation is vital. An evidence-led and science-based approach to action is an important step on that journey.
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