Planetary boundaries as a source of external risk:
In the second in our series examining how organisations canDownscale Planetary Boundaries, Jim Ormond discusses how the rapid decline in biodiversity represents a growing source of external risk.
Between 1970 and 2006, the number of wild animals declined by a third, and humans are now driving plants and animals to extinction faster than new species can evolve (IUCN 2010). Crucially, this rapid biodiversity loss represents a critical and tangible financial risk to business. Indeed, if one compares the annual “cost” of greenhouse gas emissions (approx. $1.7trillion in 2008) with the “cost” of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation (estimated to be between US$2 and US$4.5 trillion), the magnitude of the risk becomes particularly clear.
In order to prevent sudden and irreversible environmental changes to biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide, in 2009 Rockström et al proposed a planetary boundary for biodiversity which recommended that the extinction of species should not exceed ten species per million per year. The current rate of extinction of ≥100 E/MS clearly exceeds the proposed boundary.
What does this boundary mean to an individual organisation? How can one organisation measure its impact on biodiversity / eco-systems on a regional or indeed global scale? Based on new research undertaken by Article 13 a number of emerging methodologies for organisations to apply context-based measurement to their impact on regional and global biodiversity have been identified.
"the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change"
This blog is the second in a series of blogs which - informed by our latest practitioner research - examine how leading organisations are beginning to apply planetary boundaries to organisational level performance For further information and to explore what planetary boundary thinking means for your organisation - please contact Jim Ormond - 0044 208 840 4450
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