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Environmental sustainability ensures today’s needs are met without compromising or depleting natural resources and jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Why is environmental sustainability important for businesses?
Today, humanity is facing a triple planetary crisis: climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution. These intertwined challenges are threatening the well-being and survival of millions of people around the world and putting our economies at risk.
According to the World Economic Forum, over half the world’s total GDP5 – US$44 trillion – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and, as a result, exposed to risks from nature loss. A nature-based transition could create US$10 trillion in business opportunity and create 395 million jobs by 2030.
ICC recognises the escalating environmental crisis and we are committed to mobilise business to accelerate and scale action to ensure a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.
ICC leads business engagement on key environmental issues and international processes, most importantly:
Biodiversity – making biodiversity action everyone’s business
Halting and reversing the alarming current rate of biodiversity loss is becoming an increasing priority for governments, as well as for businesses. A 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that nature was declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history with around 1 million animal and plant species now threatened with extinction, many within decades.
ICC is committed to engaging and enabling businesses to contribute to addressing the biodiversity crisis and to fulfilling the three objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources (access and benefit sharing). It has been actively engaged for many years in providing business perspectives and expertise to improve the enabling framework for access and benefit sharing (ABS) and is helping to increase business understanding on how to manage and communicate their impact on biodiversity.
ICC played an instrumental role in the CBD COP15 negotiations in December 2022 which resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework (the Framework) and the establishment of a multilateral mechanism to share benefits from the use of biodiversity.
The Framework includes goals, targets and policy directions over the next three decades which will lead the way to achieving the CBD 2050 vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature”. This will translate into actions, policies and regulations at regional and national levels that will have direct consequences on the operations of companies and the transformation of their business models. The agreement has the potential to unlock new business opportunities, and to create a level playing field and an environment that will enable business globally to reduce negative and increase positive impacts on biodiversity.
Business participation in the development and implementation of national biodiversity plans going forward is essential to ensure that policies and actions are targeted to the needs and challenges of national economies and sectors, and are sufficiently ambitious to achieve the level of action the biodiversity crisis demands. ICC remains committed to supporting governments and businesses as they look to translating the requirements to action to ensure successful implementation of the framework.
ICC also continues to lead business engagement on the implementation of the CBD’s third pillar on access and benefit sharing (ABS), which aims to ensure that benefits created from the use of genetic resources in research and development are shared with countries providing these. By contributing business expertise and perspectives, ICC is working with policy makers and other stakeholders towards an effective, equitable and workable ABS system that is effective in creating benefits for all countries and stakeholders, and supports research and innovation. Business, led by ICC, will be an active contributor to the process of developing the multilateral benefit sharing mechanism established at CBD COP15.
Plastic pollution is a global problem with approximately 7 billion of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced from 1950-2017 becoming plastic waste, ending up in landfills or dumped. Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being.
The environmental, social, economic and health risks of plastics need to be assessed alongside other environmental stressors, like climate change, ecosystem degradation and resource use.
ICC recognises and supports the need for urgent and ambitious action by all stakeholders to address rapidly increasing levels of plastic pollution globally and welcomed the adoption in March 2022 of the UNEA 5.2 resolution to develop a legally binding instrument (LBI) to end plastic pollution by 2024 – effectively the only binding treaty negotiation in the environmental space through the UN. An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee has been established to lead the negotiation process.
The business community has a critical role to play in providing the solutions that will be needed to address the challenge of plastic pollution at the required scale and speed. A coordinated, concerted and holistic approach will be required with respect to design, use, reuse, and recycling of plastics. So too will the need to take into full account the interlinkages between climate, biodiversity and trade, in moving from a linear to a circular economy.
ICC remains deeply committed to support the INC Secretariat and Members States’ efforts and forthcoming work to secure an ambitious, effective and workable agreement by 2024 ─ that rallies all actors of governments and society in the collective charge of addressing plastic pollution ─ including setting the frame and direction for accelerated business action.