BioScope tool helps companies understand biodiversity impact of value chains

10 February 2017 3 min. read

The planet's rich biodiversity faces considerable burdens from human economic activity, from habitat destruction to climate change. While a host of companies are looking to clean up their acts, their often overlooked and opaque supply and value chains continue to pollute biodiversity at scale. In a bid to help companies better understand the ecological footprint of their operations, Arcadis, PRé Consultants and CODE have developed the 'BioScope' tool.

The planet’s rich biodiversity is under threat from a host of man-made externalities, largely from the effects of habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, human over-population and over-harvesting. Estimates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature suggest that of the 79,800 species on The IUCN Red List, more than 23,000 are threatened with extinction.

Many of the destructive practices affecting global biodiversity are the consequences of commercial intent, from cost cutting to unsustainable production expansion. In many cases the effects happen as part of the wider supply or value chain of companies, that themselves claim to be responsible stewards of the environment due to their own limited impact.

BioScope tool helps companies understand biodiversity impact of value chains

As the reality of negative effects of a range of pollutants, from greenhouse gasses to persistent chemicals, and unsustainable practices, from habitat destruction to farming methods, on the world’s climate, habitats and ecology becomes apparent to world leaders, moves are being taken to safeguard the planet’s biodiversity, and human habitability, for posterity.

One of the latest initiatives originated in the Netherlands. Platform Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Economy (Platform BEE), which is a Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs funded cooperation between the Dutch employers’ organisation (VNO-NCW) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature The Netherlands (IUCN NL), recently commissioned a consortium of firms to develop BioScope. The new tool, developed by Arcadis, PRé Consultants and CODE, supports businesses assess the negative effects their respective supply and value chains have on the environment.

BioScope leverages data from the Exiobase database, which contains trade flows and the related environmental emissions and stressors from 170 sectors in 43 countries, covering the much of the world’s measured economic activity. The stressors are modelled in terms of their impacts on biodiversity using the ReCiPe characterisation method.

The tool includes a range of key drivers, including climate change, terrestrial acidification, freshwater eutrophication, terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecotoxicity, agricultural land occupation and water scarcity. Data can be modelled for businesses based on a variety of needs, which includes an indicative overview of the impacted countries or regions, plotted on a world map.