Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan TD and Minister of State for Land-Use and Biodiversity Senator Pippa Hackett have announced joint departmental backing for Natural Capital Ireland's national Business and Biodiversity Platform to help the private sector take action to address the biodiversity crisis.
Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the National Parks & Wildlife Service (Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage), Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) will be working alongside the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community Ireland to establish the Irish Business and Biodiversity Platform, drawing on an extensive network of environmental, policy and corporate sustainability expertise to help Irish businesses to recognise the risks posed by biodiversity loss and take measurable, practical actions to halt the growing crisis.
Minister of State for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Malcolm Noonan said he is looking forward to seeing businesses come on board. "I’m delighted that Ireland’s first Business and Biodiversity Platform is taking shape with the support of some leading organisations in natural capital, responsible business and biodiversity engagement and I’m looking forward to seeing the Irish business community engage with the science to drive action on this important agenda.
" We all know that businesses have an impact on nature, but they depend on it too. It’s time that the private sector addressed biodiversity loss as a material risk and took strategic action to protect, conserve and restore nature.”
Minister of State for Biodiversity Senator Pippa Hackett said she is delighted to support the new platform:
"I believe it will be really valuable to businesses because it will build their awareness of both their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. With that awareness, they will then be able to reverse some biodiversity loss, have a positive impact on their local community and employees and also enhance their business reputations.”
With an estimated one million species facing extinction worldwide, Irish habitats in decline and the Covid-19 pandemic casting a spotlight on the health-related implications of habitat destruction, experts warn biodiversity loss poses as much of a threat to our planet as climate change - and with healthy ecosystems and habitats needed for climate regulation and carbon storage, the two issues are closely interlinked.
NCI’s recent survey of Irish businesses found that while many are now seeking to take action on climate change, spurred on by rising consumer awareness on the topic, biodiversity has had a relatively lower profile. Companies are struggling to understand their connection with biodiversity and its relevance to their business. This knowledge gap leaves businesses potentially vulnerable to a range of risks (i.e. strategic, financial, operational and compliance) and unaware of new opportunities presented by the green economy.
NCI director Jane Stout explained: “Biodiversity, the variety of life at various scales (from genes to species to habitats), is our life support system, but it is complex, hard to measure and not so easily translated into metrics. Given the scale and potential business, economic and health risks associated with biodiversity loss, businesses urgently need to start addressing the problem, right through their operations, from raw material sourcing to processing, manufacturing, assembly and sales. All businesses depend on biodiversity to some extent, from sourcing coffee to fuel employees to materials used to construct their offices. I am proud that NCI is leading this innovative platform to help businesses identify their impacts and dependencies, develop strategies and practical actions, and measure progress using tailored best-practice approaches.”
National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Una FitzPatrick leads the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, a nationwide campaign connecting businesses with measures to support pollinating insects. Una said: “Already, over 350 companies have signed up as supporters of the Pollinator Plan and have committed to taking action for biodiversity. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is excited to be part of this innovative new platform to develop biodiversity indicators for businesses.
"It will allow companies to transparently measure the direct impact of their actions; and will better demonstrate the contribution of the sector to helping reverse biodiversity loss.”
Business in the Community brings together a large network of businesses who have signed up to act to help the environment and local community. BITCI Corporate Responsibility Advisor Cillian McMahon commented: “Biodiversity has been a strategic focus for us since 2014. The topic has been embraced by several of our member companies and they have developed highly ambitious biodiversity action plans.
"As the link between climate change and biodiversity loss becomes more apparent, BITCI believe that the Business and Biodiversity Platform will play a key role in helping member companies to apply nature-based solutions as part of their Climate Action Roadmaps.”
Due to launch online early next year, the Business & Biodiversity Platform has Government seed funding for an initial three-year period and fulfils one of the objectives set out in Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021. Open to engaging with businesses of all scales, from small-to-medium enterprises to large multi-nationals, the hub will hopefully develop as a resource that will positively transform the relationship between business and nature in Ireland.
Natural Capital Ireland is hiring a Platform Manager for the new Business & Biodiversity hub, visit the job description for more information.
Email email@example.com for more information.
See www.naturalcapitalireland.com for updates.
Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) is seeking to hire a Platform Manager to oversee the development of our online hub to support Irish businesses to carry out actions to improve the outlook for biodiversity. Read the full details below and apply by October 7th.
A Business and Biodiversity Platform for Ireland
Natural Capital Ireland is leading the development of a Business and Biodiversity Platform for Ireland in cooperation with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Business Partnership is driving the creation of national Business and Biodiversity Platforms to facilitate the development of measurable, certifiable actions on biodiversity. In response, Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017–2021 commits Ireland to establishing a Business and Biodiversity Platform as a key element of biodiversity protection and restoration.
The Platform will enable businesses to assess their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and to fulfil future biodiversity reporting obligations. The overall development process will focus on the four key themes of Awareness; Actions & Impact; Networking & Mentoring and Policy.
The multi-stakeholder Platform will be established using seed funding over a three-year period. During this time, a viable business model for the Platform must be developed to sustain the initiative in the long-term.
Business and Biodiversity Platform Manager Role
NCI are currently seeking a Platform Manager to oversee the development of the Business and Biodiversity Platform for Ireland. The Platform Manager will be an independent contractor who will oversee the daily management of the project and work as part of the Project Implementation Team in close cooperation with the Platform Secretariat and NCI contractors.
The Platform Manager will be supported by a Project Leaders Group and an Advisory Group, which this role can leverage. The main focus of the role is to develop a viable business model for the Platform and its members, while the Platform Implementation Team will also create a Biodiversity Pledge, case studies and other member resources.
The work will include:
Developing terms of reference for Platform membership
Developing a value proposition for the Platform
Developing a viable business model for the Platform
Exploration of platform technology options and overseeing website development
Overseeing webinar and workshop organisation
Liaising with Contracting Authority staff
Ensuring leadership are apprised of progress and any issues via regular reporting
Oversight of Platform Implementation Team, including oversight of tasks and deliverable quality
Experience in product, service or business development, with a good understanding of business/ revenue modelling
Broad knowledge of existing and emerging policies relating to biodiversity-related corporate reporting obligations, preferably with experience in CSR/ RSB or Sustainable Finance
Experience in impact tracking and measurement of Key Performance Indicators
Experience developing digital platforms
Experience in multi-stakeholder project management
Experience in people management or supervision
Excellent communication and presentation skills
An awareness and interest in biodiversity conservation and the Natural Capital approach
Details of time commitment, self-employment and fees
This is a self-employed role with the daily rate set at 250 euro per day. The total annual renumeration is 52,890 euro inclusive of VAT, based on 192 billable days per calendar year. Funding is secured for three years. This is a one-year contract with an option to extend annually for up to three years. This is a remote work position. The successful applicant will be responsible for their own office, IT, travel, phone, taxation compliance and other working expenses.
How to apply
About Natural Capital Ireland
As a dynamic, collaborative not-for-profit organisation, NCI brings together organisations and individuals interested in applying a natural capital approach to the development of public policy and corporate strategy in Ireland. NCI is structured as a Company Limited by Guarantee, governed by a Board, led by a Steering Committee and administered by a Secretariat. As of 2021, we have 1,000 members.
Natural capital refers to natural assets such as forests, soil and water bodies from which humans derive a range of ecosystem services vital for healthy living, such as climate regulation, flood defence and well being. The natural capital approach facilitates engagement between economists, businesses, politicians and environmentalists to ensure the protection and restoration of our natural assets and ecosystem services. NCI delivers its work through independent contractors in cooperation with the Secretariat, Steering Committee and Board.
Natural Capital Ireland delivered a series of Nature-based Solutions workshops to the Atlantic Seaboard North (ASBN) local authorities on behalf of the ASBN Climate Adaptation Regional Office (CARO) in April, May and June of 2021. Here Dr Emer Ní Dhúill, who hosted the project workshops, takes us through their key messages:
The aim of our Nature-based Solutions (NbS) workshops was to support the ASBN local authorities in delivering on their Climate Adaptation Strategy goals and developing their Implementation Plans which form part of their statutory obligation on national and international legislation and commitments. As part of the project, Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) delivered the following:
An introductory workshop on NbS that was attended by all five ASBN local authorities (Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Mayo and Sligo);
Individual workshops tailored to the specific needs of each ASBN local authority in relation to their Climate Adaptation Strategies and NbS;
An NbS webinar aimed at all staff members of the ASBN local authorities which provided a summary of the workshop series.
This workshop series provided an introduction to Nature-based Solutions, a practical guide to their implementation and a platform for discussion. Following an introduction to the concept, practical examples were given, followed by the discussion and an NbS Implementation Plan template.
Guest speakers from a wide variety of sectors contributed to the workshops, such as academia, community groups, NGOs, consultancies and other government agencies. Overall, 18 guest speakers presented their work, covering a wide range of topics such as coastal erosion, natural flood management, peatland restoration, constructed wetlands, water quality, community engagement, green infrastructure, health and well-being and NbS in cities and many more.
Engagement was excellent throughout the workshops with great discussion between local authority staff and guest speakers on NbS and its relevance to their Climate Adaptation Strategy actions.
The solution must support biodiversity and ecosystem services - otherwise it is not a Nature-based Solution.
Nature-based Solutions (NbS)
As per the European Commission, NbS are solutions that are ‘inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions’.
Examples of Nature-based Solutions
During the workshop series, many examples of NbS and their benefits were given by our guest speakers, some of which included:
Restoring and protecting ecosystems such as peatlands, hedgerows, woodlands, wetlands in catchments
Restoring and protecting coastal habitats
Natural flood management
Constructed wetlands and reed beds
Bringing nature into our cities and providing green spaces
Urban NbS examples given included building resilient cities through living green walls and roofs and creating new green spaces within cities. The co-benefits for health due to improved air quality were highlighted. The topic of mental health and well-being was also discussed, reinforcing the psychological importance of being connected with nature.
Nature-based Solutions Implementation Plan
NCI developed an Implementation Plan template to be used by the ASBN local authorities as a guidance document that will need to be tailored for specific Nature-based Solution projects as each approach to NbS should be place-based and place-specific.
"NbS already exist! We must protect, maintain and restore ecosystems so that they function better as NbS."
Key take-home messages
NCI collected some key take-home messages for each local authority from the workshops in relation to climate adaptation and NbS. One of the key messages highlighted by our guest speakers throughout the workshop series was that, in many instances, NbS already exist.
It is important that the term ‘Nature-based Solutions’ is mainstreamed and considered as a first solution in many instances for climate adaptation actions.
Another key message was the need for community engagement and empowerment:
Communities are part of the solution and can be the key drivers for many NbS projects
Local solutions and local knowledge are paramount
Local authorities need to support community groups
Local authorities need to engage with the farming community
It is important for local authorities to:
Build on the existing knowledge base
Collaborate with other local authorities and agencies
Start with NbS pilot projects where possible
Share the knowledge
Training and upskilling is essential
Identify funding streams
Share the success and challenges of NbS project implementation
Engage with local schools and colleges
It is vital that the importance of NbS is understood by those who make the decisions and who are in charge of finance. Investment in nature and Nature-based Solutions is essential for climate mitigation and adaptation and for building resilience. The cost of implementing NbS is a fraction of the cost of dealing with the aftermath of extreme weather events due to climate change. It is of paramount importance that our natural capital is valued and its ability to provide Nature-based Solutions is factored into decision-making and financial investment.
Nature provides the solutions - and we must work with nature in order to build resilience and adapt to climate change.
Natural Capital Ireland can provide this type of workshop to other local authorities and any other interested groups, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.