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Are biodiversity concerns compatible with business models?

5 episodes
  • 1
    Will biodiversity and finance go mainstream in 2021?
  • 2
    Business and biodiversity: a square peg in a round hole?
  • 3
    Executives: bonuses for good grades in CSR
  • 4
    Balancing business and biodiversity: a step in the right direction?
  • 5
    TESSA: a tool for biodiversity-based decisions
Épisode 1/5
Denise Young, Podcaster and writer
On April 12th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Simon Zadeck
Simon Zadek
Chair of F4B and Director of Migrant Nation

Key takeaways

  • 2021 will be an important year for taking biodiversity into account in financial activities. The F4B (Finance for Biodiversity) initiative, chaired by Simon Zadek, is part of this approach.
  • Taking biodiversity into account is urgent: if nothing is done, 20% of species could disappear in the coming decades.
  • However, the “financialisation” of nature is not unanimously accepted: some see it as the problem rather than the solution.
  • Converting nature into economic value does not necessarily mean that its importance in the well-being of humans is better understood.
Épisode 2/5
James Bowers, Chief editor at Polytechnique Insights
On April 12th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Sylvie Méléard
Sylvie Méléard
Professor at École polytechnique (IP Paris) and Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France
Denis Couvet
Denis Couvet
President of the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity and Professor at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Sandrine Sourisseau
Sandrine Sourisseau
Doctor in Environmental Sciences at Veolia

Key takeaways

  • Today, tools exist to financially evaluate the services provided by ecosystems (such as carbon capture or flood protection), but some researchers criticise them for not going far enough.
  • Veolia has joined forces with the Institut Polytechnique and Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in the framework of the “Chair for Mathematical Modelling and Biodiversity”.
  • The company’s objective is to meet its target of carrying out diagnoses and action plans for 100% of its biodiversity-sensitive sites by the beginning of the 2020s.
  • The chair holders are in charge of creating realistic mathematical models capable of predicting the evolution of biodiversity according to certain parameters, such as climate change.
Épisode 3/5
James Bowers, Chief editor at Polytechnique Insights
On April 12th, 2021
3 mins reading time
Patricia Crifo
Patricia Crifo
Professor of Economics at École Polytechnique (IP Paris), Researcher at CREST (CNRS) and Associate Researcher at CIRANO

Key takeaways

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a set of indicators designed to assess the impact of companies on society and the environment.
  • Increasingly more companies are choosing to calculate part of executive bonuses to these CSR indicators as an incentive to pay attention to the long-term impact of their decisions.
  • Patricia Crifo, professor of economics at the École Polytechnique (IP Paris), sought to assess the real impact of these policies. Her study shows that in 2015 70% of CAC40 companies were using CSR bonus systems, compared to 10% in 2006.
  • However, she finds that CSR contracts are not always effective. In companies whose governance is particularly shareholder-oriented, their effect is even almost nil.
Épisode 4/5
James Bowers, Chief editor at Polytechnique Insights
On April 12th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Lisa Mandle
Lisa Mandle
Lead Scientist with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University

Key takeaways

  • InVEST, developed by the Natural Capital Project, is an open source software suite used by large groups (such as Unilever or Dow Chemical) wishing to reduce their impact on biodiversity.
  • The aim is to map and quantify the services provided by nature (carbon capture, flood protection, etc.) referred to as “ecosystem services”.
  • InVest thus helps companies to find the best solutions to their problems by taking into account both economic and environmental criteria.
Épisode 5/5
James Bowers, Chief editor at Polytechnique Insights
On April 12th, 2021
3 mins reading time
Kelvin Peh
Kelvin Peh
Lecturer in Conservation Science at the University of Southampton

Key takeaways

  • TESSA is a tool to help take biodiversity into account in development projects. It is specifically aimed at non-specialists who want to assess the value of a plot of land and the cost of its restoration.
  • The tool has been downloaded 2,500 times in over 69 countries. At least 12% is from the private sector, proof that companies are increasingly taking biodiversity into account in their strategies.
  • The team has partnered with AXA insurance so that the firm’s clients can assess the impact of their portfolios on biodiversity and make decisions accordingly.

Contributors

Denise Young

Denise Young

Podcaster and writer

Podcaster and writer specialised in climate change and finance. Find Denise Young's podcast New Climate Capitalism via Twitter: @NewClimateCap.

James Bowers

James Bowers

Chief editor at Polytechnique Insights

James Bowers has a PhD in molecular biology from the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle and an MSc in Science Media Production from Imperial College London. He has six years of experience creating engaging scientific media in digital, TV and other outlets in the UK and France. Most recently, James worked as a science communication consultant and trainer for a French agency, Agent Majeur, for three years where he co-authored the book, Sell Your Research: Public Speaking for Scientists published by Springer.