Biodiversity loss poses direct threat to economy

May 31, 2024

Make the protection of biodiversity part of business operations

Amsterdam/Leiden, May 21, 2024 – Our nature is under pressure: the Netherlands is a champion of biodiversity loss. And this does not only affect the birdwatcher. A strong economy cannot exist without a resilient living environment, healthy food and clean drinking water. Biodiversity loss poses a direct threat to maintaining these essential components of a good quality of life that we often take for granted.

In the Netherlands, excess nitrogen, desiccation and fragmentation of natural areas are among the main causes of the decline in habitat for plants, insects and animals. The abundance of asphalt, concrete and stone not only leads to a loss of biodiversity but also increases urban temperatures and restricts natural water drainage. In addition, pesticides, unnecessary use of drinking water in production processes and the discharge of polluted water damage fragile ecosystems. As a result, over 90% of all surface water in the Netherlands is polluted.

Lack of knowledge about the impact of biodiversity loss also means many opportunities to quickly bring about positive change. In partnership with Naturalis, BNP Paribas is investigating how to raise awareness of biodiversity loss in the business world and how to make biodiversity protection a part of business operations.

Room for nature in the workplace

The introduction of reporting obligations regarding ecological impact is an important step towards biodiversity protection, but does not directly translate into nature restoration. Therefore, it is important that companies take action now. One of the ways to do this is to invest in green infrastructure on their own premises. This not only benefits nature, but also creates a healthier working environment. For example, by providing more variety in vegetation that attracts insects and birds. Large roof surfaces of distribution centers and unused parking and storage spaces are suitable for this. 

Using semi-permeable materials can reduce water pollution. Natural water treatment systems, such as wetlands, offer opportunities to purify wastewater in a natural way, without discharging it into open water that is connected to vulnerable ecosystems. The pressure on natural water resources can be relieved by collecting rainwater for activities where drinking water is currently used.

Measure what is missing

Establishing a baseline for biodiversity on business sites, followed by setting goals to increase it, is an effective strategy to measure and encourage progress. With readily available mobile tools, such as cameras and microphones, biodiversity data can be collected via apps. Involving people in the baseline measurement and making the impact of giving nature space visible, biodiversity becomes tangible. Discovering new species of beetles, butterflies and hoverflies around the workplace annually makes nature tangible again.

The urgency to protect biodiversity is high and companies play a crucial role. By conscientiously managing water and land, companies can take responsibility for the management and preservation of local ecosystems themselves. Collecting and analysing biodiversity data enables companies to quantify their impact and involve staff in nature restoration efforts. Taking care of one’s environment and ensuring its well-being is everyone’s responsibility.

“Nature is in such a dire state that we not only need nature conservation but also need to move towards nature restoration. We cannot achieve this without the business community, which is why companies need to know much more about the roles they can play. Through the strong relationships that BNP Paribas has within the business community, our collaboration ensures we can reach companies more effectively and share our knowledge with them. Conversely, through BNP Paribas, we learn what companies need and what hinders them in biodiversity restoration.”

Edwin van Huis, General Director Naturalis