Coinciding with the start of National Biodiversity week the workshop was one of was one of several fact-finding events organised by the project co-ordinators
Industry practitioners, policy makers, and academics and researchers from South East Technological University (SETU) and Queen’s University Belfast came together last Friday 19 May in an important workshop to explore how sustainable finance solutions can address biodiversity loss on the island of Ireland.
Threat to humanity
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth critically important for the provision of food, health, medicines, recreation and wellbeing. Together with nature biodiversity makes life possible with nature accounting for more than half of global GDP (European Commission 2020). The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2022 ranked biodiversity loss the third most severe threat to humanity in the next decade. As such, the provision of finance is crucial in achieving the ambitious goals set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Diversity Framework and the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy in helping to reset our relationship with nature.
South East Technological University and Queen's University Belfast Management School
Funded under the Irish Research Council (IRC)’s New Foundations Programme, the workshop ‘Addressing Biodiversity with Sustainable Finance Solutions’ was one of several fact-finding events organised by the project co-ordinators, Prof Sheila O Donohoe, SETU’s School of Business, and Dr Lisa Sheenan, Queen’s University Belfast Management School.
The impressive lineup of keynote speakers for the day included Senior Ecologist Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Nature and Biodiversity Lead at KPMG, Orlaith Delargy, and SETU graduate and now Head of Client Coverage and Lending in the UK for Rabobank, Paul Doheny.
Business wants to be part of the solution
Dr Fitzpatrick provided unique insights into the work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the stark reality of the biodiversity crisis along with examples of interactions by business with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. She concluded with a key message of “how business wants to be part of the solution and lots of small actions taken together can begin to solve big problems.”
Orlaith Delargy also highlighted the importance of the ever-increasing disclosure requirements for businesses ranging from the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the EU’s Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRE E4 Biodiversity and Ecosystem), along with the reality of the global biodiversity finance gap and options to close this with specific instruments currently in use.
While Paul Dohney illustrated the evolution of Rabobank from its humble origins as a small agricultural cooperative bank first founded by Dutch farmers and horticulturists in the late nineteenth century to now a multinational bank and a leader in the food and agriculture sectors with a mission of growing a better world together. In particular the bank’s Biodiversity Monitor is used to support regenerative agriculture for dairy farmers in the Netherlands which sees all key stakeholders rewarded.
The workshop concluded with an Appreciative Inquiry exercise to capture the insights of the audience led by Dr Lisa Sheenan. Working in small groups this form of action research drew out the key themes from the workshop and devised a set of propositions which form important outputs from the event.
“Coinciding with the start of National Biodiversity week we are delighted with the insights gleaned at this workshop, thanks to our speakers who contributed enormously to this along with attendees for the stimulating discussion. Special thanks to fellow coordinator Lisa for her work and for leading the Appreciative Inquiry in a thought provoking and engaging manner,” said Prof Sheila O Donohoe.
Next policy workshop 23 June
The next policy workshop will be held in Chartered Accountants House Dublin on 23 June, entry is free. Any practitioners, policy makers, academics and research students who want to contribute to the debate on biodiversity loss and sustainable finance are invited to attend.
Photo Caption: (L-R) Dr Thomas O Toole, Head of School (Dean) of Business, SETU; Dr Lisa Sheenan, Assistant Finance Professor, Queen’s University Belfast Management School; Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Senior Ecologist; Orlaith Delargy, Nature and Biodiversity Lead at KPMG; Paul Doheny, Head of Client Coverage and Lending in the UK for Rabobank; and Prof Sheila O Donohoe, Professor of Finance, SETU School of Business
Photo Credit: Patrick Browne, Brownes Photography