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Nairobi, Kenya

Malaysia Pledges to Adopt Mandatory Requirements on Biodiversity Assessment in Business During UN CBD Meeting

Malaysia Platform for Business and Biodiversity (MPBB) has pledged to adopt mandatory requirements for all businesses to disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity during the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) here today. 

Its interim chair, Syed Mohazri Syed Hazari said more than 90% of the businesses, including multinationals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), had supported the mandatory requirements through a recent consultation by Business for Nature, a global coalition that brings together business and conservation organizations and companies.

Business and biodiversity assessment is a process of assessing the impact of business on biodiversity and on people, as well as identifying criteria and indicators to be integrated into other aspects of sustainability. 

Syed Mohazri, also DHI Water and Environment deputy head of Ecology and Environment Department, said this is the fastest way to level the playing field and create fair competition so that environmental performance is recognized, valued and accounted for in the same way as financial performance. 

“Let’s learn from the climate agenda. We cannot afford to waste another 10 years because we don’t have all the answers about baselines or definitions today. Delaying action will only make it more likely we reach irreversible tipping points. This will affect us and future generations, as well as put people’s livelihoods under even more pressure,” he said.

“Hundreds of companies globally are already taking voluntary action, but it is not enough. We need to urgently scale and speed up the action,” said Mohazri during his opening statement at the plenary session of the Post-2020 GBF in Nairobi.

About 1000 participants from 196 countries, including Malaysia, gathered during the co-working group to discuss the best plans and a post-2020 framework to save the shrinking biodiversity on the planet, from June 21-26.

The GBF currently contains four goals and 21 targets and is meant to address the biodiversity crisis and realize the new framework or the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity. 

The draft framework includes some targets aiming for a  “whole governance approach” where all government ministries must account for the impact of their actions on biodiversity. 

Syed Mohazri calls on parties to transform the rules of the economic game by reforming, redirecting or eliminating subsidies harmful to biodiversity and increasing positive incentives.  

“We call on you to adopt a Global Goal for Nature, a clear mission for everyone to align on a mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 to reach a nature-positive world.”

“Leading businesses stand ready to support the implementation of the framework, but we cannot rely on voluntary actions alone anymore. It is time you compel businesses to act,” he said. 

Speaking to Bernama after the plenary sessions, Syed Mohazri said sustainability reporting has been mandatory for all public listed companies (PLCs) by Bursa Malaysia in 2016 since the launch of its framework in 2015.

He said the exchange group issued a consultation paper on March 23 this year to enhance the Sustainability Reporting Framework, which has included biodiversity and conservation in its 'Proposed Sector-Specific Sustainability Matters and Indicators' section.

"This requires PLCs in five industries, namely utilities, constructions, energy, plantations and properties to disclose their impacts on biodiversity," he said. 

However, according to the latest consultation paper issued by Bursa Malaysia, it was open for comments until May 18 and no finalization has been made until now.

Meanwhile, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) director for Programme Development, Clarissa Arida, said the pledge from Malaysia during this GBF negotiations would help to convince the business communities in ASEAN to enhance the biodiversity reporting in their assessments. 

"ACB has been really serious to cope with this in ASEAN reporting business and we are glad to have a representative here to lead the conversation for a better business reporting process, especially in sustainability and biodiversity conservation in the region," Arida said. 

This story was produced as part of a reporting fellowship to the 2022 UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 4th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, led by Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was originally published in Bernama on 25 June 2022 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Banner image: About 1,000 participants from 196 countries, including Malaysia, gathered during the co-working group session in Nairobi, Kenya / Credit: Michael Salzwedel.