Deepening our commitment to biodiversity

A message from the JBIB chairman

On behalf of all JBIB (Japan Business Initiative for Biodiversity) members, I would like to say what a great pleasure it is for us, on the occasion of CBD COP12, to again see our friends and peers from all over the world and to have this opportunity to make new acquaintances. I am also very glad to see that the Conference of the Parties is being held in Asia for three times in a row, and that this time the host is our neighbor, the Republic of Korea. The theme of COP12 is “biodiversity for sustainable development” and it provides an occasion for all participants to share and review the progress we have made toward the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set four years ago in Nagoya. We are very excited over the prospect of hearing how far we have proceeded and to also share with you how much progress we ourselves have made.

Lately I have been hearing more and more about “natural capital.” These two words imply the importance of biodiversity and ecosystems in a more direct and obvious way to us businesspeople. When we started JBIB six years ago in 2008, we first needed to understand the relevance of biodiversity to our businesses. Ecosystem services and their economic values are convincing in underscoring how much we depend on them and how significant they are. However, external and special to many of us involved in business. That is why business impacts used to be regarded as external costs and not taken into account in the balance sheet.

However, as recurring and growing natural disasters strike our lives and businesses, more people are coming to realize that our life and business supporting system, natural capital, is being lost. It is not enough to join biodiversity conservation activities. We need to embed biodiversity conservation in our daily business operations so that we can achieve truly sustainable production and consumption and ensure that the impacts we make through use of natural resources are well within safe ecological limits. This is set as one of the Aichi targets. It is thus time for us in business to treat natural capital in the same way we do financial capital. I believe that only such business commitment will make it possible to attain true sustainable development.

All JBIB endeavors are in line with this idea. Along with our new members, we have further developed our own approaches and tools based on five themes: 1) business and biodiversity relations, 2) sustainable land use, 3) forestation, 4) water and ecosystems, and 5) responsible procurement. The five working groups have respectively developed, or are developing, original guidelines.

Among such efforts, here I would like to touch upon sustainable land use. JBIB’s set of guidelines for sustainable land use was introduced at COP11 to show our efforts to effectively use corporate premises to restore and revitalize ecosystems that were once lost by the development of rural or industrial areas. Since then the guidelines and our approaches have been widely accepted by many Japanese companies other than our members. We have recently spun off a new organization, the Association for Business Innovation in harmony with Nature and Community (ABINC), to develop a certification system based on the guidelines. Eleven corporate assets have already been certified since the beginning of 2014. These outcomes were introduced as an example of business contribution to biodiversity conservation in the fifth national report submitted by the government of Japan. We were also endorsed as a leading business group contributing to biodiversity conservation in the white paper published by the Ministry of Environment in 2014. We anticipate that the ABINC certification will expand to become a national standard. I wish that this certification system will be used broadly in many other countries as well, because with an increased number of certified premises, we can expect that such company premises will be used not only to enhance the biodiversity and ecosystems within them, but to also connect them and integrate and restore the local ecosystem.

Lastly, I would like to offer my congratulations on the expansion of the CBD Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity and express my hope that our approaches can add to the advancement of global business efforts. I am looking forward to meeting new friends, hearing new ideas, and working more closely and tightly with all of you.

On behalf of the JBIB on the occasion of CBD COP12,

SHIN Yoshiaki
Japan Business Initiative for Biodiversity