Should Biodiversity Conservation be Critical for ESG Considerations?

Climate change is a global challenge that has far-reaching impacts on economies, societies, and ecosystems. In the context of Nigeria, the effects of climate change have become increasingly pronounced, posing significant challenges to development and sustainability. Nigeria, being a country heavily dependent on agriculture, faces heightened vulnerability to climate change-induced events such as extreme weather patterns, rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, and prolonged droughts. According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), there has been a noticeable increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in recent years. World Bank Data sourced through Trading Economics shows that between 1980 and 2020, the country experienced a 1.1°C rise in temperature.

The impact of these changes on agriculture, which employs a substantial portion of Nigeria's population, has been devastating. Crop yields around River Niger and Benue have been affected due to the flooding of farmlands, leading to food insecurity and economic hardships for rural communities. Additionally, unpredictable weather patterns disrupt farming practices, affecting livelihoods and exacerbating poverty levels in the Northern region. Niger Delta region is not left out as they grapple with rising sea levels, posing a grave threat to its densely populated coastal communities. Increased flooding and coastal erosion have become more frequent, displacing residents, destroying infrastructure, and disrupting economic activities. According to the Federal Government, over 6 million people were displaced between 2008 and 2021 as a result of climate events and disasters has disclosed that.

The effects of climate change also extend to other sectors, including water resources, health, and biodiversity. Changes in precipitation patterns impact water availability and quality, resulting in water scarcity and sanitation challenges. Vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and cholera, are on the rise as changing climate conditions create more favourable environments for pathogens and vectors. Additionally, Nigeria's unique biodiversity, which is rich in flora and fauna, is under threat as ecosystems face disruptions from climate-induced changes.

In light of these realities, it is evident that climate change poses a significant and urgent threat to Nigeria's development and social well-being. To address these challenges, corporations must adopt robust climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, collaborate on a global scale, and prioritise sustainable practices to build resilience and safeguard the future for its citizens and environment.


Why Should Corporations Preserve Biodiversity?

Biodiversity conservation has emerged as a critical component of Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) consideration, reflecting the growing awareness of the ecological and social implications of business operations. As corporations wield significant influence over natural resources and ecosystems, there is a moral and ethical obligation to protect and preserve biodiversity. Companies can play a proactive role by integrating biodiversity conservation into their core business strategies, supply chains, and decision-making processes. This could involve sustainable sourcing of raw materials, implementing eco-friendly technologies, and supporting local conservation initiatives. However, at what cost should an organisation do these initiatives? Is corporate social responsibility not enough? Shouldn’t taxes be enough for government to take care of supposedly her responsibility? Aren’t government responsible for securing the lives, properties, and environment (including biodiversity)? How will corporations add this to the already stretched budget due to the growing economic crunch?  These questions and many more are valid enough not to make biodiversity a priority in ESG consideration.  Corporations can navigate this necessary burden yet satisfy outcomes in the long run if it is considered in ESG goals. Some of the ways it can be achieved are discussed below.

Asking for Incentives and Backing Regulatory Frameworks

To encourage corporations to invest in biodiversity conservation, effective incentives and regulatory frameworks are essential. Companies can ask governments for tax incentives, grants, or certification programs that reward companies for sustainable practices and biodiversity protection. Conversely, they can also request penalties or restrictions on activities that harm biodiversity. This should be strengthened by advocating for enacting laws to give legal backing against abuse and non-compliance. Requesting for review over time depending on the prevailing economic situation around doing business will also help in making it meet current realities. Exploring this option will be a win-win situation for all. The biodiversity is preserved, corporations have incentives, citizens live healthily and our earth is better for it. In the long run, corporations will have a longer time to do business in a friendly environment to benefit all stakeholders and the environment.

Carrying-Out Biodiversity Risk Assessment

Biodiversity risk assessments are vital tools in ensuring that economic development and human activities are balanced with environmental conservation. It serves as a tool to identify, understand, and manage risks associated with development, industrial activities, infrastructure projects, and other human interventions that could negatively affect the natural environment. The goal of biodiversity risk assessment is to ensure that actions taken by individuals, companies, or governments do not lead to significant harm to biodiversity and the ecosystems on which we all depend. By incorporating these assessments into decision-making processes, stakeholders can make informed choices that protect biodiversity and promote sustainable development. This approach contributes to the long-term health and resilience of ecosystems, benefiting both present and future generations. Corporations operating in ecologically sensitive areas, such as those near forests, wetlands, or marine habitats, need to conduct biodiversity risk assessments. These assessments involve evaluating the potential impacts of their activities on local ecosystems and identifying ways to mitigate negative effects.  By understanding biodiversity risks, businesses can adopt adaptive management strategies, invest in restoration efforts, and implement conservation plans that align with their operations and long-term sustainability goals.

Stakeholder Engagement and Collaboration

Stakeholder engagement and collaboration play a pivotal role in achieving successful biodiversity Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. Corporations must actively involve local communities, indigenous groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and scientific experts in their biodiversity initiatives. Given the interconnectedness of ecosystems, businesses, communities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), a collaborative approach is necessary to address complex biodiversity challenges effectively. Including diverse perspectives, will make businesses gain valuable insights, access local knowledge about ecosystems, and foster a sense of ownership and support for conservation efforts. Collaborative partnerships between corporations and conservation organisations can lead to innovative solutions and shared responsibilities, maximising the positive impact on biodiversity. By working together with local communities, NGOs, governments, and other stakeholders, businesses can integrate biodiversity conservation into their practices, enhance transparency, and achieve meaningful, positive impacts on the environment and society. This collective approach is critical in preserving biodiversity for current and future generations.

Reporting the Impact on Biodiversity

Companies must measure and report their impact on biodiversity as part of their governance and environmental responsibility. As businesses become more aware of their role in preserving biodiversity it becomes essential to quantify how their activities affect ecosystems. This accountability and transparency are necessary for making decisions. To effectively address biodiversity conservation, it is important to measure and transparently report impacts. By incorporating metrics and reporting frameworks for biodiversity into ESG reporting companies can improve accountability. Enable comparisons between organizations. Publicly disclosing data related to biodiversity such as conservation targets progress reports and spending on conservation efforts builds trust with stakeholders. Demonstrates a commitment to preserving biodiversity.

The connection between businesses and the natural environment requires corporations to take an approach towards biodiversity conservation. Companies can play a role in preserving ecosystems by contributing to global sustainability efforts. Biodiversity conservation is not a responsibility but also a strategic necessity for corporations looking towards long-term success while contributing to a sustainable future for both humanity and the planet. By collaborating with stakeholders and integrating considerations of biodiversity into ESG strategies, decision-makers (Directors) can have an impact on safeguarding ecosystems promoting resilience, and leaving behind a legacy, for future generations.


Research and Advocacy Department, IoD Nigeria

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