PwC tool helps measure biodiversity impact of business operations

13 October 2022 3 min. read
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More and more companies want to map and improve their impact on biodiversity – but doing so is proving a challenge. A new 'Biodiversity Impact Screening Tool’ from PwC helps companies determine the right strategies for action.

Amid the push toward a more sustainable economy, it has become increasingly clear that just downsizing emissions at this point will not be enough to prevent the gravest impacts of global warming.

To help rebalance the planet, securing biodiversity is a crucial part of the fight. Earth’s finely tuned ecosystems help preserve the delicate balance that has enabled humanity to thrive in the recent historical epoch – and without them, the environment’s deterioration is likely accelerate.

Categories Cause Pressures

However, measuring carbon footprints and different scopes of emissions is already proving more than challenging enough for the majority of companies. Even if monitoring the impacts business activity has on biodiversity weren’t equally as difficult, it is apparent most businesses do not know where to start.

To help companies answer the biodiversity side of the sustainability equation, PwC has launched a new tool to help organisations build a road-map to becoming biodiversity-friendly. The tool helps organisations with practical guidance on where and how to actually get started, by visualising which aspects of a business have what kinds of impact on the environment.

“Biodiversity is a relatively new topic in the business world. A lot of organisations often find it difficult to get started, partly due to a lack of data, insights, or uniform standards,” said Jacques de Swart, a mathematician and partner in PwC’s Advisory practice. “But reporting on biodiversity really is possible.”

The tool takes the financials of organisations as a starting point. Financial data is converted to biodiversity impact using values from databases such as Exiobase and the ReCiPe method.

Nynke Vries, a biodiversity specialist at PwC, explained: “Exiobase is a global, multi-regional input-output database that allows you to identify the footprint of individual products quantitatively. ReCiPe uses a life cycle analysis to determine the environmental impact of millions of products – from extraction of the necessary raw materials to waste disposal.”

PwC’s tool then converts the impact into figures per pressure factor and KPIs. “With this insight, organisations can define the best interventions to improve their impact on biodiversity,” said De Swart.

Client case

PwC has already put its new tool to work. For the catering department of a large organisation, the firm helped with reducing its negative impact on sustainability and biodiversity. This led to the insight, among others, that providing avocados has a more negative impact on pressure factors than providing clients with tomatoes.

The catering team is using dozens of such insights to put together an optimum menu – balancing customer tastes with the impact on sustainability and biodiversity.

The Big Four is also providing its biodiversity expertise to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Earlier in 2022, DEFRA selected PwC as the fund manager for its £100 million ‘Biodiverse Landscape Fund’ – helping administer delivery partner competitions, manage and monitor grants, co-ordinate fund-wide learning, and provide associated services.

In order to fulfil its role effectively, PwC needs to be able to monitor and evaluate the impacts of business operations on biodiversity – with insights from its new tool adding value to its work.

Practice what you preach

“Those insights are important,” noted Wineke Haagsma, Chief Sustainability Officer at PwC in the Netherlands. “We use the tool ourselves for our own organisation so as to get a better grip on the impact of the firm’s choices on biodiversity. Those insights allow us to make more sustainable choices, not only as regards to the climate but also nature.”