Akhila is a Justmeans staff writer for CSR and ethical consumption. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she i...
CSR and Biodiversity: Latest in Conservation Efforts
Finally! A solid initiative to boost biodiversity protection within the context of CSR. Recently the UNESCO has designated some areas in the Bahamian National Park to join the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) as international protected areas and sites of excellence for education and training. The Bahamas sites will be added to the current 564 sites in 109 countries.
These reserves will include all ecospheres including reef zones, inner reef colonies, mangroves, and hard land features called blue holes, which are solution holes that have inter-tidal flows. All of these environmental features are needed for optimal health of the ocean and are subject to protection under the Bahamian Land Acts. With the new UNESCO status, they will be offered further international protection.
On January 10, a UNESCO panel met with the Bahamian Ministry of the Environment to discuss a systems theory approach to conservation, development, and logistic support for appropriate zoning schemes, as well as practices and policies based on research and monitoring. The new partnership is said to boost sustainable development as well as provide CSR opprtunites by means of direct foreign investment and other enterprises.
UNESCO consultant Joanne Rolle-Robinson has said that, "Biosphere reserves are more than a conservation tool. It is a regional development tool, so if you have physical planning or land-use planning, then it's how you incorporate this type of strategy into your land-use planning."
Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and must meet UNESCO's criteria before admission to the World Network is approved. First the country's National Trust must send in the nomination package. This must then be authorized by the national agency. Then this is sent to UNESCO's headquarters in Paris to the the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme office for final approval and awards for the biosphere reserve designation.
The MAB is an inter-governmental program that sets a scientific basis for the global improvement of the relationship between people and the environment. Local activists are encouraged to participate in conflict resolution dialogue concerning natural resources use. This also includes companies operating out of various areas either through an NGO liaison or on their own as part of their CSR.
Many companies can do tremendous work towards preservation of CSR by taking advantage of such initiatives. Apart from back-end support, such collaborations will also ensure that supply chains get more sustainable. The recent REDD program in Indonesia is hoping to boost CSR efforts by ensuring a cleaner supply of palm oil. Whilst there are many companies focusing on biodiversity protection, there aren't enough to really make an impact.
Initiatives like these will ensure that more companies are aware of existing options to reduce the threat to biodiversity. It is no longer prudent to think of the natural world as an 'externality'.
Photo Credit: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©