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HEC community calls on decision-makers to protect biodiversity

The HEC Paris Alumni Association has presented the conclusions of its White Paper on Biodiversity in which it calls on the combined efforts of private enterprise and investors, the public authorities and civil society. The report has been officially presented to the French Ambassador for the Environment, Sylvie Lemmet, and will soon be submitted to negotiators ahead of COP15.

The HEC community, which boasts 68,000 alumni, has decided to voice its opinion for the first time on an issue that is seldom discussed in economic circles, but which affects the world of business and our planet as a whole: biodiversity. In fact, biodiversity loss is closely entwined with global warming, and many economic sectors (agro-food, textiles, tourism, construction, etc.) have a direct impact on it.

A White Paper on Biodiversity has been written by a team from HEC whose members attest to the generational collaboration that is vital for devising solutions to help tackle the crisis. The team brings together students and recent HEC graduates, namely Julie Christiaen, Théo Maret, Adam Melki and Eliette Verdier. The authors were supervised by Christine Rodwell, an expert in the social and environmental impact of business and a member of the HEC Alumni Committee; and David Vaillant, global head of finance, strategy and investment in the financial sector and an affiliate professor at HEC Paris.

This White Paper signals the tough stance taken by HEC Alumni on a problem that stands at the intersection of major economic issues, environmental concerns and profound changes in society. The document was drawn up on the basis of interviews held with around 50 corporate and NGO leaders, investors, experts and researchers.

Thanks to this White Paper, the HEC community is contributing to the dialogue between research, the private sector, public authorities and civil society. The report recommends a pragmatic approach to preserving and restoring biodiversity while highlighting the difficulties involved and best practices.

Accordingly, the White Paper suggests to:

  • Stabilize research funding;
  • Strengthen biodiversity protection standards;
  • Extend nature awareness in primary and secondary schools and introduce dedicated lessons in higher education together with vocational training not just for corporate executives, but also for local and national public policy-makers;
  • Analyze the impact of economic activity on biodiversity at every level of the value chain;
  • Provide a structure for dialogue within industries as well as local coordination;
  • Put biodiversity on the boardroom agenda;
  • Harness innovations in technology and economic models to measure and limit impact;
  • Support the transition of the agri-food industry to tackle waste and advance new production and consumption methods;
  • Develop and deploy a strategy for protecting biodiversity in the relevant key business sectors;
  • Encourage the mainstreaming of biodiversity in the financial sector by developing data and metrics and integrating them into the decision-making process.

These discussions confirmed the leading role that France can play in terms of biodiversity due to the wealth of our ecosystems, the quality of our research and the commitment of our companies and civil society”, explain Christine Rodwell and David Vaillant.

Our approach has been unhesitatingly pragmatic because we have been keen to highlight the limits we see today, and especially because we wanted to share a number of solutions and good practices to encourage people to take action. Many of our recommendations are within easy reach and can be implemented without delay”.

Access the White Paper here.