IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity programme focuses on working with sector leaders to incorporate biodiversity considerations into their business planning, and to develop standards and best practice that work towards achieving net positive impact in business operations. With the dynamic economic growth being experienced in the Asia region the imperative to engage with business is in some ways even greater than in other parts of the world. Some examples of partnerships we are engaged in include:

Protecting critical watersheds

IUCN and Danone Waters China (DWC) have launched a partnership which aims to restore critical drinking water sources in the Upper Dongjiang River Basin in Guangzhou, focusing on the Jiaquan Watershed.

The Dongjiang River Basin is a critical resource. It provides water to more than 400 million people and six major Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The Jiaquan watershed, upstream from the Dongjiang, is ecologically significant given the water resources it provides for people living locally and downstream.

Recent high levels of economic growth have brought major environmental challenges to the Dongjiang basin over the past 10 years. Significant pollution and degraded ecosystems are posing considerable risks to drinking water supplies. IUCN is confident that nature-based approaches, including empowering local stakeholders to manage natural resources sustainably, can provide effective solutions to the protection of critical watersheds.

Working with media to raise environmental awareness

An ongoing collaboration between Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) and IUCN aims to raise public awareness on environmental issues and enhance environmental reporting on conservation-related matters in Asia.

As one of the region’s most trusted news providers, Thai PBS has helped to ensure a wide audience for IUCN content, such as an in-depth documentary on the Mekong produced in 2013. The broadcaster has also supported IUCN by training project staff in creative writing. IUCN, in return, has acted as a technical advisor for a television series on climate change and to a community-based Citizen Journalism project run by Thai PBS.

Mainstreaming sustainable business practices

As part of Marriott’s global commitment to sustainability, the hotel group has entered into a partnership with IUCN in Thailand to support local communities through mangrove reforestation, the use of sustainable seafood sources and local procurement practices. Marriott has been actively supporting mangrove planting initiatives, involving both their associates and guests throughout Thailand, but the partnership is actually much deeper. Under IUCN’s Mangroves and Markets project, Marriott is integrating mangrove protection into their business process by supporting sustainable aquaculture in mangrove ecosystems.

In line with the project, Marriott has started purchasing seafood (such as shrimp and crab) locally from sustainable sources, and encourages best practice in sustainable aquaculture. In the end, communities reap the most benefit: small-scale fish farmers are able to move to more environmentally friendly practices that promote increased biodiversity, reduce chemical use and keep natural ecosystems in place. The project is a clear example of how private sector can contribute to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity while at the same time mainstreaming sustainable business practices.

Paving the way for sustainable aquaculture 

Extensive shrimp farming has had major negative impacts on many coastal areas in Asia, with farmers converting large areas of intact mangrove forest to shrimp ponds. While the business can be lucrative, when prices fall or disease hits entire harvests may be wiped out. Even worse, the integrity of coastal ecosystems suffers, leaving local communities more vulnerable to natural disasters. 

IUCN and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) are working with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Nhung Mien Forest Management Board and Minh Phu, one of the world’s largest seafood exporters, to support farmer participation in an organic shrimp certification program. The program  links a  price premium to the maintenance of 50% mangrove cover in shrimp farms, in a form of ‘payment for environmental services’ or PES, with farmers as the sellers and consumers in the US, EU, and Japan as the buyers of the environmental services that healthy mangrove forests provides. Over 700 farmers are currently enrolled in the program and have received Naturland organic certification, allowing them to take advantage of higher prices and lower risk while also making a contribution to the integrity of the local environment.

Helping transform industry and policy

IUCN has been at the forefront of facilitating dialogue with extractive industries in order to mainstream biodiversity conservation into their operations. An ongoing partnership with TATA Steel Limited in India is transforming the mining industry through the establishment of biodiversity management systems.

The overall aim of the partnership is to integrate biodiversity concerns into policy, strategic planning and environmental management at all operational levels of TATA Steel. This includes assessing surrounding ecosystems in mine sites, reviewing existing policies and strategic planning, as well as conducting trainings and workshops within the company and with stakeholders. The final component is promoting best practice to the wider industry and conservation communities through dialogue, which will in turn provide input to the development of minerals policies and laws. 

At present, the partnership is successfully guiding extractive industries and related government policies in India and beyond to be strategically guided by a vision of biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, and valuing ecosystem services.  

For more information please contact:

Jane Lawton
Head, Asia Communications and Private Sector Engagement
Jane.lawton@iucn.org