May 22 is International Day for Biological Diversity and this year's theme is "building a shared future for all of life". Biodiversity Day is about increasing awareness and understanding and recognising that biodiversity remains the answer to many of our planet's challenges. From climate change to food and water security, biodiversity is how we build a secure future together with all life on earth.
Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet, it is the term used to describe the enormous variety and variability of life on earth and it is the most vital feature of our earth. According to Prof David MacDonald from Oxford University, "without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity".
The many interactions with the varied levels of biodiversity on our planet have made our planet habitable for billions of years. These levels begin with genes, then individual species, to communities and entire ecosystems, like rainforests and reefs. These layers of interactions represent the intuitive wisdom and understanding of the many species on earth about how to survive and thrive through the vastly varying environmental pressures and challenges.
Just as the future of our planet requires biodiversity, we also need diversity in strategy and leadership. Our differences and uniqueness can be the greatest gifts we offer to an organisation, our communities and our earth.
As leaders, we hold collective wisdom and understanding of what it takes to manage the valuable diversity within our organisation. Our job is to move through the pressures and the challenges while sustaining our varied unique position.
We know each team member plays a vital role and brings an integral piece to our organisation. Like the spider monkey, which seems to have little to do with maintaining biodiversity and yet, they disperse the precious seeds for the hardwood trees that are most effective in removing carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere. We need them.
How can we look at biodiversity within our organisations, our thinking and our leadership? We all have a unique role to play; we invite you to look at your role and what makes it so special. We invite you to look more deeply at the diversity within your organisation and team and evaluate all the unique and divergent gifts.
What can we do to help the continued proliferation of biodiversity on our planet? How can we give nature the space and protection it needs to heal and thrive? As leaders, we know how important it is to come together and take action to support the well-being of future generations. We understand the bigger picture and that each person plays a valuable role in securing a healthy, strong future. Biodiversity Day invites us to come together; join heads, hearts and hands and act towards 'building a shared future for all of life'.
As part of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity the following recommendations have been made to leaders.
Take steps to preserve and create spaces for wildlife Promote a nature-friendly environment around your business, clean up the spaces and whenever possible create green areas. If space is available within your building or property, plant native shrubs or plants. If you are setting up/expanding a new site, plant, store, warehouse or building, be conscious of the space and plan it in a way that minimizes disruption to nature. And look for green building certification whenever possible to help you make informed decisions.
Endorse environmental causes
Use your business space to raise funds and/or awareness for organisations and individuals who foster biodiversity conservation. Actively associate your business with NGOs and individuals - this will help you showcase your business policies to a diverse consumer base and support conservation. Ensure a representative of your business is present at sustainability drives, clean-up drives and other events that support the environment. Raise awareness among employees and business partners about the role of nature in our lives and the need to protect and restore natural habitats.
Choose eco-friendly packaging options Rely less on packaging, avoid over-packaging to prevent waste generation.
Use natural, biodegradable and certified materials for packaging. Use recycled materials to cut down on demand for unsustainable materials and promote a circular economy. Choose materials that can be reused and/or recycled by your customers. Reduce and eliminate waste generation Assess how much waste is generated by your business and find ways to reduce it. Learn and implement composting. Reuse materials to their maximum capability. Ensure to clear your entire stock - either through discounted sales or by donating them to underprivileged communities.
Assess the carbon footprints of each of your products All your products have a carbon footprint, which is determined by a range of factors. Learn how to estimate this carbon footprint. If possible, get external help and have your products labelled for their carbon footprint. Minimize the common factors that may increase your product’s carbon footprint - such as reliance on plastic.
Encourage employees to use greener alternatives Educate, encourage and incentivise employees to save energy, water and resources, and to choose a greener lifestyle (such as carpooling to work).
Foster urban diversity Set up bird feeders or water baths around your building to help birds, or other types of habitats for a variety of species and pollinators around your sites. While designing your products and business space, ensure to minimize or eliminate your impact on urban biodiversity.
Learn about sustainability and biodiversity Understand what sustainability is and how to achieve it. Understand the importance of biodiversity and how it benefits your business directly or indirectly. Understand the importance of the Nagoya Protocol.
Create a healthier work environment Human health and the environment are interlinked. Use your business space to create a greener surrounding for your employees. Growing plants within your business will boost biodiversity as well as employee morale. If you practice composting, use the compost to increase soil fertility around your business. FAO explains that healthy soils form the basis for healthy habitats for living beings.
Raise awareness on biodiversity conversation Use your advertising/marketing space to periodically include news or messages about the importance of biodiversity. For example, if you publish newsletters, include a footer informing your readers about the importance of biodiversity. This helps in ‘mainstreaming’ the subject.