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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

OpenNESS at the third EU business and biodiversity annual meeting

Businesses are making big steps in integrating biodiversity considerations into their strategies. Or better: integrating natural capital. This was the general feeling at the well-attended annual meeting of the EU B@B platform in The Hague.

The event took stock of actions and outcomes of three years of work in the platform and looked forward to next steps. In his opening speech, Willem Henk Streepstra of the Dutch association of entrepreneurs (VNO-NCW, host of the event) was quite honest about business working from a spirit of self-interest. The challenge therefore is to ensure that biodiversity or natural capital is integrated into this thinking. It was recognized that the private sector has an essential role to play in conserving biodiversity but for this to happen biodiversity needs to fit the type of accounting that is commonplace in business and finance institutions. As Richard Kooloos of ABN-Amro bank said it ‘Money is the language of the banks, talk that language if you want to be taken serious’. European Commission DG Environment Director Humberto Delgado Rosa challenged this statement by pointing at the need to also integrate people’s values and emotions into business thinking. Nevertheless, it was clear that natural capital accounting and the many developments in this field is very relevant to the business and finance community. Sharing experiences and practice was seen as a good way forward to encourage more businesses to join in this move. To support this need the event launched the EU community of practice on finance and biodiversity, to be run under the EU B@B platform.

The OpenNESS work on natural capital and ecosystem services, and the many experiences from our case studies were welcomed by those participants visiting the OpenNESS poster at the event. Especially the role of Oppla in sharing best practices and offering an existing community and marketplace received much attention. As Tiago Freitas of the EC DG Research & Innovation said in his speech: ‘Oppla is a readily available tool that can support SMEs and other businesses in engaging in further innovation through nature-based solutions’.

The event was organised in The Hague, the Netherlands on 23 November 2016 and was attended by some 150 representatives from business, finance institutions, government, NGOs and European Commission. ECNC’s Ben Delbaere presented an OpenNESS poster showcasing the link with SMEs, the value of the OpenNESS case studies, and the services offered by Oppla.

Photo: EC DG Research & Innovation Tiago Freitas recommends Oppla to 150 business representatives, © Ben Delbaere