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Business must work in partnership to protect natural resources

Defra : 28 March, 2006  (Company News)
The UK and Brazilian governments joined together this morning to strongly encourage businesses to engage in biodiversity issues.
Co-hosting a business and biodiversity breakfast in Curitiba earlier today, UK Biodiversity Minister, Jim Knight, said it is essential that there is more engagement with business at both international and national levels, aiming to reduce business impacts on the natural environment.

'Our biodiversity and natural resources are the world┤s greatest asset and they are declining rapidly. Business must play a part in helping us reach the 2010 target for halting the loss of biodiversity, we cannot hope to achieve our aims otherwise.

'I believe that we achieve more collectively than individually and I don┤t think that unity across government is enough. We need unity of purpose across all sectors, public, voluntary and private.'

Speaking to government and business representatives, Mr Knight said:

'There is a growing commitment by governments around the world in encouraging companies to adopt best practice on the management of biodiversity.

'I have found an increasing number of business people willing to sit down and talk about the importance of biodiversity, and to turn that talk into action.

'The potential impact of business on biodiversity is huge, as a user of vital ecosystem services but also as a contributor to ecosystem change. It follows that business has an important role to play in addressing the challenge of biodiversity loss.

'Governments must provide encouragement for companies to engage on these issues. We need to put ourselves in the minds of the profit making sector. This is about asking not what business can do for biodiversity but what biodiversity can do for business.

'By understanding supply chains, by understanding how brands like Fair Trade have added value for producers, by understanding the commercial drivers, we can develop some currency in then asking business to do more for biodiversity.'

Mr Knight said that many people still see business's main role as providing additional funding for biodiversity projects.

'We need to change this view and highlight the mutual benefits which can be realised by better business management of biodiversity in their operations and products.

'I believe there is a growing recognition by companies of the business case for managing their impacts on biodiversity as part of their approach to managing business risks in general, but particularly their performance and reputation.

'The efforts that many companies are making to improve their performance on biodiversity is welcome, but we need to draw others into the circle. I strongly encourage business to get the message across to colleagues in other companies.'

Mr Knight applauded the efforts and involvement shown by the business community so far.

'It is our job to spread this message to colleagues around the world to ensure the widest possible audience for our important message. It is our job to ensure our natural environment is protected and sustainably used for future generations.'
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