The WWF’s recently published Living Planet Report 2010, Biodiversity, biocapacity and development, reported that this is “The year in which 34 per cent of Asia-Pacific CEOs and 53 per cent of Latin American CEOs expressed concern about the impacts of biodiversity loss on their business growth prospects, compared to just 18 per cent of Western European CEOs (PwC, 2010)”
I find it extremely disturbing that Western European CEOs care less about this critical environmental issue than their Latin American and Asian counterparts. I assumed, perhaps like many others, that the West is more progressive on environmental issues particularly in Sweden where I live, a country often at the forefront in these matters. Biodiversity might not be considered as a significant issue in Europe compared to the mighty jungles of Asia and Latin America. Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe have thick forests, certainly, but the plant and animal diversity cannot compare to the incredible richness of the remaining jungles of Asia and Latin America. Perhaps when seen in this way, the difference of opinion between the CEOS in the regions is not that surprising. All that lush diversity isn’t in our backyard, after all.
Even so, the lack of concern among Western European CEOs is distressing. Beyond all of the conservationist, nice-to-have arguments, healthy ecosystems regulate the climate. Loss of biodiversity is going to affect our daily existence; what happens in the rainforests of Brazil or Thailand affects life all over the globe. Clearly, there is room for improvement, for re-thinking the benefits of biodiversity for large corporations such as pharmaceutical companies, perhaps the most obvious beneficiaries of biodiversity. We rely on plants from the jungles to relieve us of coughing and sneezing and as yet undiscovered remedies. The cure for cancer? Arthritis? Aging? Think of the financial potential that exists. (Consider this.)
Every company will be affected by biodiversity loss. We all get sick and the more we are sick, the less we are able to work. Even that detested big city pest, the cockroach, may help us fight nasty bacteria, as our current remedies become less effective. The good news is that cockroaches, at least, can be found in our backyards and cupboards!