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COP10: Could biodiversity offsets be the answer?

By Keith Bowers, President, Biohabitats

Opening Plenary of the COP.

Can biodiversity offsets help fund conservation and restoration around the word? The Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program thinks so. The BBOP, a committee to the Convention on Biological Diversity, (http://www.cbd.int/) is preparing guidelines by which companies, on a voluntary basis, would compensate for biodiversity lost through development by investing in the protection and restoration of different areas. Not too unlike mitigation programs in the US.

Japan’s Minister of the Environment discusses the role of RAMSAR.

The question is: will businesses go for it? Many international industries are on the committee, which can be both good and bad. While these companies can help set an example for the rest of the worlds’ industries to follow, you also have to wonder if the emerging guidelines have been compromised to a great degree. Granted, you need all of the stakeholders at the table, but time is running out for many species across our planet. What do you think?

Scene of the Working Group 1
Session Progress toward the 2010
biodiversity target.
My Seat at COP10

Photos by Sasha Alexander, SER International.


  1. C Browne, Biohabitats says:

    Why just companies? Why not cities and governments? "Living Building" program came up with a fairly straightforward idea "Habitat Exchange — For each hectare of development, an equal amoutn of land must be set aside in perpetuity as part of a habitat exchange." Like wetland mitigation, however, it will be important to recognize "in basin" and "in kind" habitat.

  2. T Brown says:

    Great question. My gut is that we have to pursue a variety of approaches to make a dent in our restoration and conservation needs, and offsets should be on the table. Like many things, the devil is in the detail, and the stakes are high here. So some thought has to be given to the accounting system, the monitoring, and the adaptive management of an offset program. I think it can be done successfully, and there are some examples of successful offset programs out there I suspect. Regulations can't do it alone as there tend to be too many loopholes, too much corruption, and inadequate resources to enforce and oversee. Biohabitats has the capability to develop offset frameworks for a range of ecosystems and parameters that could serve as great models for communities to adopt.

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