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Global awareness of the potential negative impacts of business activities on biodiversity is growing, and consumers are calling for more transparency and accountability from the private sector. Companies that fail to show their commitment to responsible development may lose investor support, or have difficulty gaining access to land, natural resources, skilled labour, capital and markets. Ultimately, they may also face higher costs and liability.
To improve their environmental performance, many leading businesses, industry associations, regulatory agencies and finance institutions are taking a proactive approach by incorporating biodiversity assessments into investment safeguard policies, operational and sourcing practices, and sector certification systems. But there is a lack of consistency in available biodiversity information, leading to confusion among companies about how to interpret it.
The Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) is designed specifically to provide businesses with a coherent, consistent picture of important biodiversity data in a single online portal.
Developed through a partnership among four highly-respected environmental organizations, IBAT compiles relevant biodiversity data in an easy-to-use online decision-support and mapping tool. Companies can identify risks based on a consistent view of biodiversity, with data from the best available global data sets – including Key Biodiversity Areas and legally protected areas. Exportable reports make it easy to share biodiversity assessment results, and businesses can use downloadable data to conduct in-house analyses.
IBAT helps businesses incorporate biodiversity considerations into key project planning and management decisions, including:
· screening potential investments
· siting an operation in a given region
· developing action plans to manage for biodiversity impacts
· assessing risks associated with potential sourcing regions
· reporting on corporate biodiversity performance.
By helping to streamline the project screening process, IBAT makes it easier to consider alternatives early on, before changes become costly. Later in the project life cycle, IBAT can also inform the research and baseline studies needed to avoid, minimize and offset potential negative impacts. By using IBAT, companies also contribute significantly to the maintenance of data that are critical to global conservation efforts.
At UNEP-WCMC, IBAT is coordinated through the Business, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services programme, working with the IBAT Alliance partners and Programme Manager. Our team draws on UNEP-WCMC’s expertise in managing conservation data, such as the World Database on Protected Areas. We also work with partners who are experts in the other data sets used in IBAT.
The IBAT Alliance is a partnership of three leading non-profit conservation organizations: BirdLife International, Conservation International, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, working in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC.