Business at Biodiversity knowledge platform launched

Monday, 26 November 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Business at Biodiversity (B@B) Platform is a tool to foster dialogue with business and biodiversity. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Dilmah Conservation are developing the platform to encourage greater cooperation between businesses in Sri Lanka, including SMEs, and links to national and global initiatives. The platform will provide science, technical and management advice on biodiversity conservation issues to assist businesses to become more sustainable.

As in other Asian economies, in Sri Lanka the private sector is the engine of growth. Despite the past conflict and inflation becoming a serious issue in the country, the engine has propelled Sri Lanka’s economy forward. The combination of sustaining high economic growth rates and improving the lives of the poor or marginalised communities whilst not compromising on environmental conservation and restoration is one of the biggest challenges facing the country. Safeguarding the country’s biodiversity is integral to sustainable development, competitiveness, economic growth and employment. Many of the services that biodiversity and ecosystems provide are currently severely threatened.

The CCC, IUCN and Dilmah Conservation have joined forces to respond to this issue through the B@B Platform, a facility where businesses can come together to share experiences and best practices, learn from their peers and voice their needs and concerns aiming to strengthen the link between the business sector and biodiversity conservation.

The B@B Platform will engage and promote strong leadership of the private sector through a forum, where the sector can easily obtain technical support, share information, promote best practices and dialogue with state and civil society partners on biodiversity conservation issues to achieve a knowledge sharing system: a nationally-owned mechanism to promote dialogue and improve the exchange of knowledge, information and methods on biodiversity conservation, within and between the private sector and to link existing and emerging networks and initiatives. It will also help businesses to find solutions to adjust their activities to ensure fair income and sustainable growth, whilst providing benefits for biodiversity and ecosystems.

Drawing up an inventory

It will provide access to sectoral best practice for biodiversity conservation through the Resource centre of the B@B website. The platform will draw up an inventory of the current best practices through benchmarking initiatives supporting sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation.

The B@B platform will also contribute to the development of principles of best practice implementation. Principles of best practices implementation will be discussed through workshops, involving businesses and diverse stakeholders from the respective sectors. These principles will assist companies in including biodiversity concerns in their core business, contributing to sustainability performance.

Further, the platform will highlight outstanding contributions to biodiversity conservation. This facility will measure corporate performance on biodiversity conservation and assess best practices implemented. It will also provide access to technical advice and assistance in integrating biodiversity concerns in project planning and implementation and provide access to a project bank consisting of current and future projects, involving biodiversity solutions for business.

In addition to internal advice, the initiative will seek guidance from external representatives from academia, policy makers, media, financial and the business sector on a variety of implementation activities. An advisory panel will provide science, technical and management advice relevant to its functioning. The B@B will apply a membership structure. The additional advantage of membership is that member companies become part of a biodiversity network. B@B will provide the services of its expert groups on a concessionary basis for members given that B@B is not meant to be a profit making enterprise but a platform for facilitation.

The platform will establish global and regional linkages and share lessons of significance. Results from initiatives in various countries will also be exchanged. Through its extensive networks, the CCC will be able to cover not only the official, Government-driven initiatives, but also the initiatives undertaken by NGOs and the private sector. Mechanisms for linking globally and regionally with sustainability bodies will be worked out and CCC will facilitate networking amongst Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry. B@B will take the lead in establishing international links and networks with other such centres of excellence, networking bodies, notably are the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Global Compact.

Who can participate?

Sri Lanka based businesses ranging from SMEs to national and multinational companies, business associations as well as expert institutions, state agencies and nature conservation NGOs Contacts for more information, Head of Regional Business and Biodiversity Program Shiranee Yasaratne, IUCN Asia Shiranee; yasaratne@iucn.org, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Deputy Secretary General Alikie Perera; alikie@chamber.lk.

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