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Business and Biodiversity in South Africa

2018 National Biodiversity and Business Indaba

Theme: Biodiversity Offsetting for the Benefit of Biodiversity and Business

30 – 31 October 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 National Biodiversity and Business Indaba will be taking place in Johannesburg from 30 - 31 October. Centred on the theme of Biodiversity Offsetting for the Benefit of Biodiversity and Business, the Indaba will focus on case studies, as well as biodiversity offset design and implementation.

Proceedings will be guided by experts in the field of biodiversity offsets, namely Susie Brownlie (deVilliers Brownlie Associates), Amrei von Hase (Forest Trends) and Dave Cox (Institute for Natural Resources). The Indaba will involve short formal training sessions as well as interactive sessions that draw on case studies and the experience of participants to facilitate learning. Day 1 will provide delegates with an opportunity to build their capacity on the theory of biodiversity offsetting, whilst on Day 2 delegates will be presented with the opportunity to delve deeper into the key practical issues.

The programme for the event will be circulated in the coming weeks.

This event is proudly brought to you by the NBBN and co-sponsored by the Department of Environmental Affairs Contact: Megan Murison, EWT for more information:

Introduction and Background

We live in an age where environmental and sustainability issues are more visible than ever before, but we are also faced with an ongoing and difficult recovery from the financial crisis and consequent economic uncertainty. While environmental and economic concerns may appear to be very different issues, and in fact at odds with each other, they are actually deeply intertwined. Government and businesses are realizing that the economic and social development of the country is dependent on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity.

The South African National Development Plan: Vision 2030 confirms that national economic growth is dependent on the environmental sustainability of our proposed development path. In order to make the necessary shift, the political importance of biodiversity needs to be understood at the highest levels. Government policies and business practices need to adopt more innovative approaches that recognize the value of biodiversity for economic and social prosperity.

The protection and enhancement of environmental assets and natural resources is one of twelve key outcomes for South Africa’s government action adopted by the Presidency in 2009. In addition to its own intrinsic value, South Africa’s biodiversity provides an important basis for economic growth and development. Equally important is the need to keep biodiversity and ecosystem functions intact to ensure the ongoing provision of ecosystem services on which socio-economic development is based. The wide range of legislation dealing with various aspects of natural resource management, together with the three-sphere system of government, has resulted in a large number of government departments and agencies being responsible for biodiversity and protected area management in the country.

Our natural resources, including water, wildlife, soil and flora, are essential for the country’s development and businesses are, as a consequence, also inextricably linked to the wellbeing and sustainable use of these resources. Businesses are very often at the “sharp end” of biodiversity impacts, as they consume ecosystem goods and services and they contribute to ecosystem change. Therefore, Private sector or Business engagement is a key strategic interest for the government of South Africa. Business engagement is key to unlocking the benefits of biodiversity and promoting the biodiversity Economy which has been earmarked as a Presidential priority.

A recent estimate of the value of ecosystem goods and services to South Africa’s economy places this at R73 billion per annum, equivalent to 7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems provide us with essential services – pollination of crops, a regular supply of clean water, and prevention of flooding and soil erosion. Biodiversity is also important as a safety net in rural areas, where communities often depend directly on biodiversity for survival – hunting, fishing and harvesting for food, medicine and shelter. South Africa’s landscape approach to managing biodiversity involves state and civil society role-players working in partnerships across land- and seascapes to conserve, restore and use biodiversity sustainably in order to promote the resilience of ecosystems and enhance livelihoods.

Biodiversity Mainstreaming


Mainstreaming commonly refers to the integration or inclusion of actions related to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in government policies and strategies relating to business sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism and mining. Mainstreaming might also refer to the inclusion of biodiversity considerations in poverty reduction plans and national sustainable development plans.

South Africa ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1997, endorsing the objectives of the Convention, including the mainstreaming of biodiversity in all governmental policies, plans and programmes. The White Paper on Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity, developed in 1997, set out a number of goals, strategies and priorities for conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing.

Article 6b of the CBD prescribes that the Parties have an obligation to: “Integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.” The Hague Ministerial Declaration from COP 6 in 2002 stated: “The most important lesson of the last ten years is that the objectives of the Convention will be impossible to meet until consideration of biodiversity is fully integrated into other sectors. The need to mainstream the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources across all sectors of the national economy, society and the policy-making framework is a complex challenge at the heart of the Convention.”

The rationale is that through mainstreaming, biodiversity concerns will be integrated into the way economic sectors, development models, policies and programmes operate. Taking biodiversity concerns into account at all these levels can have immediate benefits in improving environmental quality and productivity.

South Africa recognizes mainstreaming as one of the key mechanisms to enhance the profile and value proposition of biodiversity and ecosystem services across sectors. However more than awareness raising and profile enhancement, mainstreaming has the potential of significantly improving the implementation of biodiversity imperatives as reflected in the CBD strategic plan, and the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets, without potentially compromising the identity of the sector which it arduously built since the establishment of the three Rio Conventions in 1992. Having made significant progress on mainstreaming as reported in the 5th national report, national development plan and the recently adopted SDGs, South Africa considers mainstreaming as a strategic priority to effect changes at the policy and intuitional levels to fast track progress towards achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

South Africa has endorsed the adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), whichthe universal goals that UN Member states committed to over the next 15 years. The SDGs demonstrate the interconnectedness of global challenges and were developed in recognition of the vital role of natural capital management in broader prosperity and stability of socio-economic issues. Elements of biodiversity are interwoven in over half of the SDGs. Examples of such include managing water quality and soil health; protecting biodiversity and natural heritage; mobilising finances for sustainable management of ecosystems; and integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into planning, development and poverty reduction plans. The integration of Biodiversity into the SDGs is seen as a success of the mechanism of mainstreaming. Specifically, South Africa recognises that mainstreaming into the production sectors such as the agriculture, fisheries and forestry are priorities but the energy sector has to be included as well.

A Preliminary Baseline Assessment was undertaken by the South African National Business and Biodiversity Network to assess current approaches and practices of South African businesses to mainstream biodiversity. The Assessment entitled Overview of current approaches and practices of South African businesses to the mainstreaming of biodiversity - A Preliminary Baseline Assessment’ was published and launched by DEA in November 2015 at the Biodiversity Economy Indaba Event held in KwaZulu Natal. Companies from different sectors, including the insurance, tobacco, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, transport, logistics, energy, engineering, beverage, communication, retail, agricultural supply chain, mining and construction sectors, were selected to assess potential trends across sectors. Based on the findings of this preliminary baseline assessment, some observations and recommendations made were that:

  • Current practices in the assessment; management and reporting of biodiversity within business are very ad-hoc. Businesses need to take a more strategic and comprehensive approach in this area.
  • Financial, sustainability and integrated reporting on biodiversity-related matters need to be consolidated and rationalised.
  • Businesses need to improve their understanding of their dependencies on biodiversity and should conduct focused assessments in this context.
  • Businesses need to improve their assessment of business risks and opportunities related to biodiversity. This could be achieved by conducting dedicated biodiversity risk and opportunity assessments.
  • Further information sharing and capacity building is needed to inform and train businesses on the various tools available to support biodiversity mainstreaming. Case studies of biodiversity mainstreaming are needed as practical examples.


Sector specific mainstreaming


The tourism sector is one of the major sectors in the global economy. It accounts for 9 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product, 6 per cent of exports and contributes (directly or indirectly) to one in eleven jobs.

The role played by biodiversity and nature in the South African tourism value chain is of strategic importance to the sector.  Nature-based tourism relies on biodiversity and diverse ecosystems to attract visitors. Opportunities to view biodiversity and ecosystems are a major asset for the tourism sector and visits to natural areas are estimated to account for about 50% of all global leisure travel.  This is however a fine balancing act as poorly planned tourism activities and development can negatively impact on the environment and natural resource base.

Tourism can contribute directly to the conservation of sensitive areas and habitats through a variety of activities such as park-entrance fees and by raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity. However, tourism can also negatively impact biodiversity if land and resources are strained by excessive use. While no Aichi Biodiversity Target directly addresses tourism, Aichi Biodiversity Target 4, which calls for steps to achieve plans for sustainable production and consumption to be taken, is relevant.

South Africa’s biodiversity, scenic beauty, mild climate and cultural diversity have made it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations. The tourism industry has exceeded the growth of virtually all other sectors in the economy in the post-apartheid era, and is an important employer in both the public and private sectors, accounting for approximately 7% of employment in South Africa, and contributing approximately 8.5% to GDP.

The government is committed to expanding national parks and provincial nature reserves, broadening tourism opportunities to include historically disadvantaged communities and using wise land-use planning to maintain scenic beauty in production landscapes. There are a total of 19 national parks in the country out of which 7 are coastal national parks.

Tourist traffic, particularly in vulnerable habitats, can result in habitat degradation as well as pollution and waste. Further, the construction of additional infrastructure to cater to the needs of tourist, such as roads and lodging, can result in habitat loss and fragmentation. Conversely, nature-based tourism can help to generate awareness which is necessary to bring about the societal changes required to meaningfully address biodiversity. Similarly, revenue generated by biodiversity related tourism can also help to fund biodiversity conservation.

A range of tools already exists to help manage the impacts of tourism on biodiversity. Tools range from policies, programmes and regulations to industry or voluntary standards developed by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Tourism Organization, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature among others.


Forests offer a diverse set of habitats for plants, animals and micro-organisms. Forests also provide food, carbon storage and other goods and services that are crucial to the survival and well-being of all humanity. These benefits are underpinned by biodiversity. However, these biologically rich systems are threatened, largely as a result of human activity. Aichi Biodiversity Target 5 calls for the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, to be at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced. Aichi Biodiversity Target 7 calls for areas under forestry to be managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

In South Africa, about 90% of commercial forestry plantations occur within the Grasslands Biome, mostly in catchments with high rainfall and runoff. Areas under plantation forests account for 18% of commercially cropped or planted land within the biome. The sector is well organised under the industry association, Forestry South Africa (which includes small, medium and large growers), and makes a significant contribution to the national economy.

Since 1994, the government of South Africa has introduced changes to the management of plantation forests in order to achieve goals including:

  •  the privatisation of publicly owned commercial forestry operations
  • providing increased support for out-grower schemes, allowing smallholders to grow trees with support from companies who commit to buying their produce for pulp
  • introducing changes in the forestry licensing system.


Because of their heavy consumption of scarce water resources, commercial plantations became a declared stream flow reduction activity in terms of the National Water Act of 1998, which meant that no new plantations could be established without the granting of a water license. This has significantly reduced the rate of expansion of commercial plantations, although there is currently demand for growth in the small-grower part of the industry.

The plantation forestry sector has also recognized the need to use planning tools to ensure that new plantings are located away from areas of highest biodiversity importance, wherever possible. The Eastern Cape chapter of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA), Forestry South Africa and the National Grasslands Programme have partnered on the development of a biodiversity screening tool to avoid areas of biodiversity importance in future expansion of plantations. This has helped to streamline and increase the efficiency of the forestry authorization process, and has been very well received by the forestry sector. The Forestry Biodiversity Prioritization Tool has been developed using the principles and methods of systematic biodiversity planning, and helps to align forestry planning tools with the national biodiversity monitoring and reporting framework. Ultimately, biodiversity needs to be recognized as a fundamental element of healthy and productive forests.

Fisheries and aquaculture

Marine, coastal and inland ecosystems host a variety of aquatic biological diversity that greatly contributes to the economic, social and cultural aspects of communities around the world. Fisheries and aquaculture are dependent on this biodiversity. Biodiversity is not only the source of wild caught fish but also sustains the habitats which serve as feeding, spawning and nursery sites which are essential for wild fish recruitment. However, there are currently a number of fisheries that are not sustainably managed and aquaculture operations and practices with significant negative impacts on biodiversity and habitats. Aichi Biodiversity Target 6, which calls for all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants to be managed and harvested sustainably, is directly relevant to this sector.

South Africa’s marine ecosystems are extremely diverse and play a critically important role in sustaining livelihoods, through both commercial and subsistence fisheries. As in many other parts of the world, South Africa’s marine ecosystems are seriously threatened, and there is growing concern about the depletion of marine fish stocks. Although stocks of some fish species are in a healthy state and are well managed, others – particularly line-fish species – are currently over-exploited. The commercial fisheries operating along the coast are managed by stringent regulations, but enforcement along a 3,000 km coastline presents many challenges. Demand for fish and seafood has increased, and technological advances in the fishing industry have made it easier to find and catch fish. In addition, some fishing methods impact negatively on the health of marine ecosystems and populations of threatened species. This situation has been compounded by a lack of awareness within the industry and amongst wholesalers, retailers and consumers of the conservation status of marine species being traded or offered at restaurants.

Finding and applying management approaches that avoid unsustainable fishing practices and that enable stocks to recover are essential elements in a strategy to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. Building on a long history of research into marine ecosystems, South Africa has adopted an Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries (EAF) that seeks to protect and enhance the health of marine ecosystems, in balance with the diverse needs and values of present and future generations. The Responsible Fisheries Programme, an initiative led by WWF-SA, is dedicated to the successful implementation of an EAF in South Africa and Namibia, and attempts to influence the way fish are caught.

Food and agriculture

Ending hunger, achieving food security and improving human nutrition are global development objectives. A major challenge over the coming years will be increasing agricultural production to adequately feed the growing world population. Aichi Biodiversity Target 7 calls for areas under agriculture to be managed sustainably, and Aichi Biodiversity Target 13 calls for the maintenance of the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives.

Biodiversity is the basis of agriculture. It is at the origin of all crops and domesticated livestock and the variety within them, and is the foundation of ecosystem services essential to sustain food production, nutrition and human well-being. When managed sustainably, agriculture can contribute to developing and maintaining crops and livestock genetic diversity as well as wider ecosystem functions such as the maintenance of water quality, soil moisture retention, carbon sequestration and pollination. While agriculture can contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, it is also a major driver of biodiversity loss.

With the increasing population, the production sectors are under increasing pressure to intensify their outputs to meet rising food, product and development demands in domestic and global markets. This, and the need to sustain profitability, has led, in some instances, to the use of unsustainable production practices that impact negatively on biodiversity and ecosystems. To this end, government has placed a great emphasis to mainstreaming biodiversity in the agricultural sector.

South Africa’s agricultural sector is characterized by a dual economy with a well-developed commercial sector and a predominantly subsistence-orientated sector in communal areas. Water availability, climatic factors and soil quality limit agricultural expansion, and although nearly 86% of the land is zoned for agricultural use, only 13% of total land area is arable and suitable for commercial crop production (SA Yearbook, 2008/9). The bulk of agricultural land in South Africa is used as rangeland for grazing cattle, sheep, goats and game. Socially, agriculture is important as it has traditionally been the primary source of employment in rural areas.

The conservation and restoration of biodiversity (including pollinator and pest-control species, as well as soil biodiversity) in agricultural landscapes can help to ensure the sustainability and productivity of agriculture and improve the nutritional value of food. Enhancing the ecosystem services (such as erosion control) can simultaneously improve resource use efficiency and provide off-farm benefits. Such actions will also reduce the need for agricultural inputs, such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

[DEA also recognizes the importance of research to tackles biodiversity issues and has entered into partnership agreements with multiple academia, in order to conduct research on (inter aliaI) biodiversity economy issues. One such study is the Scientific Assessment of the Nature and Extent of the Problem and Existing Knowledge on the Issue of Predation of Small Livestock by Jackal and Caracal in South Africa which was launched at the 87th Annual Woolgrowers Association Congress held on the 1 & 2 June 2016 in Port Elizabeth.

Policy enabling mechanisms


Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa

Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) was initiated as a regional policy framework in May 2012 to take action toward sustainability in three major areas namely

(i) incorporating the value of natural capital in public and private policies and decision-making;

(ii) pursuing inclusive sustainable production in agriculture, fisheries, and extractive industries while maintaining natural capital; and

(iii) generating data and building capacity to support policy networks. The Declaration is a vehicle for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, transitioning towards a green economy, addressing climate change, and establishing the conditions necessary for long-term, sustainable prosperity. Thus countries declared to start accounting for natural resources.

Natural Capital Accounting

Nature is foundational to the prosperity and security of people and economies, but the value of natural capital and the impacts of its loss are not being captured in the System of National Accounts.

Natural Capital Accounting is the measurement of natural resource stocks (both renewable and non-renewable) and the flows of benefits they provide. It is a broad term used to describe accounting efforts in both the public and private sectors for nature. Natural capital, which includes all of nature’s assets – geology, soil, air, water, and all living things – provides a wide range of services to people and is estimated to contribute to 36% of the total wealth of developing countries worldwide. Thus NCA seeks to capture and integrate the contribution of nature into the system that the private and public sectors use to make decisions

During the COP10 (Nagoya 2010), Parties drafted a business decision calling on Governments and Business to engage on mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into the private sector. Parties reaffirmed and strengthened this decision at COP11 (Hyderabad, 2012).

The Biodiversity Economy

“The biodiversity economy of South Africa encompasses the business and economic activities that either directly depend on biodiversity for their core business or that contribute to conservation of biodiversity through their activities.”

The Department has placed a priority in business and biodiversity with many initiatives aimed at advancing the biodiversity economy in a sustainable manner. As such, the Department gazetted the Biodiversity Economy Strategy (BES). The Vision of BES is to optimize the total economic benefits of the wildlife and bioprospecting industries through its sustainable use, in line with the Vision of the Department of Environmental Affairs. The purpose of BES is to provide a 14 year national coordination, leadership and guidance to the development and growth of the biodiversity economy.

The BES has set an industry growth goal stating that by 2030, the South African biodiversity economy will achieve an average annualised GDP growth rate of 10% per annum. This envisioned growth curve extends into the year 2030 and is aligned to the efforts of the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030. This growth would be achieved through cooperation between the private sector, government and communities; through realizing opportunities in various market segments; through addressing development and growth constraints; and through managing both the wildlife and bioprospecting industries in an environmentally sustainable manner. This growth would not only support returns on investment for existing investors but would also enable new investments in support of South Africa’s economic transformation.

The BES seeks to contribute to the transformation of the biodiversity economy in South Africa through inclusive economic opportunities, reflected by a sector which is equitable (equitable access to resources, equitable and fair processes and procedures and equitable in distribution of resources in the market).

The Global Platform for Business and Biodiversity

The GPBB can be access on this link:

There are many things that companies can do, and are doing, to address and mitigate their current and future impacts and dependencies on the environment. TheGlobal Platform for Business and Biodiversity (GPBB) was designed to support the business engagement activities of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) including the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity. It contains a host case studies and best practices from companies that have taken an active approach to biodiversity and ecosystem management.

The Global Partnership allows for the sharing of information and best practices amongst the various member initiatives as well as their constituent organizations. In addition, the Partnership is involved in several COP mandated projects including on reporting and making the business case for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The CBD Secretariat is pursuing a comprehensive strategy designed to more deeply engage the business community with the Convention, as well as to fulfill the COP10 and 11 decisions. The Global Partnership also has several working groups looking at different issues including capacity building, communications, mainstreaming, and financial resources.

The Secretariat of the CBD, together with the Government of Mexico, is inviting businesses and financial institutions to become a signatory to the Business and Biodiversity Pledge. The pledge provides an opportunity for business leaders to call attention to the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for businesses and to reaffirm their commitment to take positive action in support of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and in taking actions that contribute to the achievement of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This will be the first time that such a business pledge has been issued at a CBD Conference of the Parties. Pledge is now open for signature open: Interested businesses and financial institutions can submit the signed pledge to, together with a logo of their organization. For those businesses participating in the 2016 Business and Biodiversity Forum, there will be a formal signing ceremony at the COP13.

National Business and Biodiversity Network (NBBN)

The Global platform is implemented through multiple national and regional initiatives. South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), is a signatory party to the CBD and GPBB. As such, there is a national agenda to mainstream biodiversity into businesses. The national initiative implementing business and biodiversity is South Africa is the National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN). The NBBN was launched on the 15th May 2013 by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Nedbank Limited, Hatch Goba, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties and Pick n Pay and currently also has16 supporting partners. The NBBN is primarily business focused, and as such is primarily aimed at, and managed by, the business community.

The National Biodiversity and Business Network was established in response to this new business imperative, in alignment with government's objective to build strategic partnerships in order to achieve an environmentally friendly developmental path.

Aim, objectives and roles of NBBN

The aim of the Network is to assist businesses from various sectors to integrate and mainstream biodiversity issues into their strategies and operations. It is designed to be an open and inclusive association of likeminded organisations that have recognized the need to raise awareness of, and stimulate conversation about, biodiversity issues amongst the business community.The Network will assist companies in understanding and mainstreaming the goals of the CBD, other key environmental conventions, the Aichi Targets and the relevant policy and legal framework in terms of biodiversity. It is a multi-sectorial network but information is focused upon common issues concerning biodiversity.

The NBBN objectives are to: 

  • Provide a national platform to facilitate strategic discussions about biodiversity and business.
  • Create national momentum about mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into businesses.
  • Facilitate the development of a national agenda in terms of biodiversity and business.
  • Facilitate cohesion and integration in the discussion and agenda about biodiversity and business.
  • Facilitate focused, pragmatic and useful interventions to support businesses in the mainstreaming process.

While each business sector is different in its needs and approaches, the multi-sector approach allows common elements of concern to be raised and best practices, with respect to biodiversity mainstreaming, across the various sectors to be shared. There should also be some efforts made to address larger sustainability issues and determine how biodiversity fits in with climate change, water and land management, pollution etc.

NBBN Partners and Members

Organisations and companies can support the NBBN by becoming Partners, Supporting Partner or Member. Partners and members benefits in a number of ways including access to information regarding business and biodiversity, being informed about events nationally and internationally organised around this theme, have access to training sessions, have an opportunity to shape the debate and meet the challenges around biodiversity and business in the South African context, be able to liaise with government and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the policy directions in terms of biodiversity and business, entitlement to branding rights, have an association with media events and interventions related to the Network  and to all on the NBBN manager for input or support on biodiversity and business related matters; amongst other benefits.

For more information on the NBBN and becoming a partner or member please visit the website on:

Since its launch in 2013, the Department of Environmental Affairs as one of the founding partners of NBBN has been an executive member of the steering committee represented by the director of the Science Policy Interface.Furthermore, the Department was actively involved in the preparations for the annual Business and Biodiversity Indaba, which the Director General has participated in.

The NBBN is a useful mechanism/tool to mainstream the environment/biodiversity into the private sector. There are several co-benefits for Biodiversity from other Departmental initiatives such as the working for programmes. With the rollout of the Biodiversity Economy Strategy and the outcomes of recent events like the Oceans Phakisa, the outcomes of the recently held Wildlife Economy Lab and the Rhino lab, this initiative is expected to grow.

Highlights and events

Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services in SA

In 2012, the ecosystem accounting under the methodological framework of the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) was recognised as an important tool for evidence-based policy-making that takes into account the effects of economic activities on the environment. This project aims at assisting South Africa to advance the knowledge based on environmental and ecosystem account.

Stats SA in collaboration with other entities will host a stakeholder consultation meeting in Pretoria on 20th and 21st September 2017. The meeting serves as a kick-off event to launch the project and to reach out to the national and local authorities in launching the Natural Capital Accountancy and Valuation of Ecosystem Services project in South Africa.

Natural Capital and Tourism

The tourism sector is recognised as one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in South Africa that attracts significant investment. In this regard, the NDP vision 2030 identifies the vision as a sector where South Africa already has endowments and comparative advantage to contribute to achieving the 2030 vision of economic growth.

The South African government aims to increase tourism contribution to the economy by 2030, this will be achieved by means of strengthening the relationship between the tourism sector and natural capital.

In this regard, a working group that brings together industry stakeholders, decision makers and research institutions to actively engage around the issues of tourism, natural capital and global change in South Africa is needed. It is our pleasure to announce the hosting of the workshop to discuss the setting-up of South African 2030 tourism and natural capital working group. This is aimed to explore the potential for creating a 2030 tourism and natural capital working group.

For further information contact Lauren Canham at:

Biodiversity for better business



In this day and age, we are acutely aware that biodiversity is the life supporting system for our planet, which underpins our livelihoods. We live in an age where environmental and sustainability issues are more visible than ever before, and we are also faced with an ongoing and difficult recovery from the financial crisis and consequent economic uncertainty. Sustainability and the protection of biodiversity has become a huge business opportunity, consumers are becoming more aware of environmental issues and are increasingly looking for “green” products. In this regard, companies/businesses are increasingly being obliged to consider these issues in their business models, sourcing and production methods. In South Africa, biodiversity is also increasingly being considered by government, with the consequence that there is an increasing level of regulation in a number of fields.

The South African government through the national Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) recognises and welcomes the role being played by businesses in response to the impact that development is having on this country’s great biodiversity assets. DEA views the mainstreaming of biodiversity into business imperatives as a strategic intervention in order to mobilise the private sector to implement laws and regulations whilst promoting and enhancing the biodiversity economy. To strengthen this idea a South African delegation also attended the Business and Biodiversity Global Partnership meeting in Paris and the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh.

DEA has shown the support to mainstreaming biodiversity through co-sponsoring the hosting of the Annual National Business and Biodiversity Network (NBBN) Indaba that is being administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The aim is to present fresh perspectives to address biodiversity conservation from the private sector perspective, including the economic analysis required for business decision making, investment opportunities and financing conditions, as well as mainstreaming biodiversity in specific sectors.


The National Business and Biodiversity Network Indaba

Figure 1: Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General: The Department of Environmental Affairs.

The EWT hosted its 3rd Indaba with the theme Biodiversity for better business, the Indaba was a two day symposium. There were attendees from business institutions, academics, government officials and researchers. The aim was to influence mainstreaming biodiversity into the planning and operation of the productive sectors.  This implies integrating conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in business plans, beyond corporate social responsibility strategies. On the first day of the indaba the Director-General (DG) of DEA delivered the key opening note, and most importantly she highlighted the significance of South Africa’s involvement in the Intergovernmental Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

On the second day of the Indaba the Deputy Director General (DDG) of Biodiversity and conservation Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi gave a presentation and stressed a need to develop tools that support decision-making in relation to conservation of biodiversity and economic activity.

Biodiversity may seem to have little relevance to business and the area of supply chain management, but biodiversity has quite a simple context and connection with business and our work. Therefore, from a business point of view mainstreaming biodiversity is quite critical because our actions have an impact on the amount of “variety” that the world has.

So for many managers, there are activities we can do to ensure that we conserve more biodiversity through our actions, and the message is that biodiversity is important for business. Without considering biodiversity, our supply chains will become increasingly unsustainable. Mainstreaming biodiversity in business can be a complex process, the indaba identified opportunities and the significant roles businesses can play in achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Business opportunities in biodiversity

Almost all companies affect ecosystems and are dependent on the functioning of ecosystems to remain in business. It’s quite clear that over the next few decades, ecosystems will be altered faster and more extensively than ever before posing significant business risks as well as opportunities for new eco-efficient goods, services and technologies. Policymakers and business managers cannot keep doing things the same way and expect different results for biodiversity, and business can no longer ignore its biodiversity impacts and dependence.

In this regard, governments are starting to seek business input to their public policy forums to increase business engagement especially in the redrafting of national biodiversity strategies and action plans. The business sector is reacting positively towards working with national governments, ready to translate this aspiration into effective dialogue and real action.

Figure 2: Business opportunities in biodiversity


IPBES 6 took place from 18 - 24 March 2018.  All outcomes will be available once the embargo from the IPBES secretariat has been lifted.


2nd Annual Biodiversity Research and Evidence Indaba

Biodiversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga
The importance of SDG 17 in addressing SA’s biodiversity challenges CSIR
Innovations in support of the green economic development  
Innovation for Inclusive Development and SDGs Science and Technology
Wetland restoration: maximizing the returns on investments in ecological infrastructure Dr.Farai Tererai
Monitoring Framework for Genetically Modified (GM) crops released into the environment of South Africa SANBI
Investing in ecological infrastructure to improve water security: The integrated catchment management perspective uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP)
The role of plantation forestry for promoting sustainability in South Africa Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS)
The (South) African Soil Microbiology project Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics (University of Pretoria)
What is the evidence on the links between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in Africa? A demand-led evidence map Dr Yvonne Erasmus - University of Johannesburg
The role of different types of evidence synthesis in providing users in the science-policy interface with the information they need Natalie Tannous -University of Johannesburg
Green Skills Research for Conservation WWF-SA
An initial assessment of biodiversity-related employment in South Africa SANBI
Green Economy Learning Assessment for South Africa Prof Eureta Rosenberg
The Limpopo Socio-Economic and Environmental Development Initiative (the Initiative) AngloAmerican
Enhancing the livelihoods of rural Free State communities through natural resource restoration Environmental Programmes (DEA)
Using technology for innovation and contribution to the economy; from South Africa medicinal plants Prof. Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria)

We are pleased to inform you about the success of the 2nd Annual Biodiversity Research and Evidence Indaba. The Event was a two day synopsis held at Birchwood Hotel on the 17th and 18th August 2017, the overall attendance averaged 120 with representatives from institutions including the National Government, Provincial & Local Government, Academia and Researchers.

The Indaba focused on reporting back on the progress made in researches, identifying gaps in researches and updating the Implementation plan. The event was composed of parallel sessions where various themes were discussed, below are the presentations from the 2nd Annual Biodiversity Research and Evidence Indaba. Further information regarding the outcomes the 2nd Annual Biodiversity Research and Evidence Indaba will be communicated through this platform.

Should you have any questions regarding the 2nd Annual Biodiversity Research and Evidence Indaba contact Kiruben Naicker at: or 012 3999622

Upcoming events

It has been confirmed that Egypt will be the host country for the 14th Biodiversity COP, hashtag #COP14, in 2018. The focal interest of the event is on learning about biodiversity, for more details on this upcoming event visit


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