World leaders are gathering to discuss protecting our planet’s biodiversity, the construction sector must be ready to respond
The construction sector has responded gamely to the net zero challenge over the past year in particular. The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last autumn certainly drove this to a degree: this time last year it was hard to miss it, with scores of pledges from world leaders and corporates to cut carbon emissions made in the months leading up to, and during, the summit.
But, while cutting emissions has been generating most of the headlines, the need to protect and restore natural environments may have largely fallen by the wayside.
This, however, is set to change. In a few weeks’ time, COP15, the biodiversity equivalent of COP26, will be taking place in Montreal. World leaders will seek to agree a new set of global goals to protect nature as clear and measurable a set of objectives as those on climate.
In the UK, the construction sector will have seen that domestic regulations designed to protect biodiversity have come under threat as part of a focus on new investment zones. But regardless of whether specific regulations in this country are relaxed or scrapped, the global mood music will be around what companies are doing to protect biodiversity.
Just as COP26 raised the bar on what businesses were doing to meet net zero, COP15 is set to have a similar impact in terms of shining a light on what can be done to safeguard nature. Investors and clients will be watching what companies are doing for biodiversity just as they have done on emissions.
Currently, this issue lags way behind in terms of business priorities. In an assessment of FTSE100 UK companies undertaken by Nature Positive, we found that one in three firms were not taking any steps to address their impact on the natural world.
Meanwhile, a fifth of those companies that did at least recognise biodiversity were arguably guilty of greenwashing – using it as a buzzword with little or no substance behind it.