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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

20 April 2020 - The European Commission is soon to publish the EU’s new Biodiversity Strategy, one of the key elements of the flagship ‘European Green Deal’ (EGD) package of economic and environmental policies.

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Briefing on EU biodiversity strategyThe Strategy comes at an unprecedented disruptive moment, as we face not only a public health crisis, but also an economic crisis and a political crisis.  Its content, however, is critical. Pressures resulting from the current coronavirus crisis could pull the EU away from the direction set in December 2019 in the headlines of the EGD: on one hand, there is the challenge of rebooting the economy at the same time as pursuing an ambitious environmental agenda while, on the other, the increased relevance of the interconnection between nature and human health has been hammered home by the emergence of Covid-19.

Further, the EU must establish its position in the context of attempts to agree a new international framework on tackling nature loss and back that up with a credible plan to tackle Europe’s biodiversity decline. While the critical international biodiversity summit in Kunming planned for October 2020 has now been delayed, the opportunity for EU leadership on the issue remains open.

In this briefing, CISL emphasises the importance of biodiversity for human, as well as economic, health and suggests European businesses are looking for clear policy direction.


CISL recently published a report describing the Biodiversity Impact Metric, developed by the Institute’s Natural Capital Impact Group. This metric is a practical risk-screening tool for supply chain businesses that source agricultural commodities. The approach allows businesses to proactively manage risks relating to the degradation of biodiversity and its wider societal impacts and thus provides a first step for businesses to manage their supply chain risks associated with nature.

CLG Europe is an influential and diverse group of European businesses driving leadership on measures to deliver climate neutrality, members include Unilever, Coca-Cola European Partners, EDF, DSM, ACCIONA, Iberdrola, Signify, and affiliates include, Anglian Water, IKEA, Sky and Tesco. CLG Europe is a founder member of the We Mean Business coalition.

CISL has also published Developing a Corporate Biodiversity Strategy. This report lays out a practical pathway for companies to establish a strategy to address their impacts on nature. This a transparent and understandable framework with a common language that facilitates discussion and supports decision making.   

The Natural Capital Impact Group, convened by CISL, brings together companies to work collaboratively to determine how businesses can maintain and restore nature through their strategies and operating practices. Members of the group range from utilities to international companies with global supply chains. More information is available here.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.


Published April 2020