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Playing Solvay’s part in reversing nature loss

In December 2022, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) ended in Montreal with an historical agreement: 196 countries committed to taking action on nature by 2030 and beyond. “The resulting ‘Global Biodiversity Framework’ (GBF) is the equivalent for biodiversity of the Paris Agreement for climate,” sums up Marie-Hélène Enrici, Head of Solvay’s Better Life & Sustainable Development Network, who participated in COP15. “This conference was crucial for the business world: It was the first time the industry had a place at a COP for biodiversity, because everyone by now has realized that this issue concerns everyone.”

Among the agreed upon goals, the conservation of at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine areas; moving towards a “nature positive world” where negative impact is replaced by regeneration; reducing harmful subsidies and increasing biodiversity finance; and reporting on impact, dependencies and strategies on biodiversity by multinational companies. 

“COP15 reinforces the European Union’s Green Deal commitments and brings them to a global scale,” continues Marie-Hélène. “For Solvay, it creates a new impulse that reinforces our own commitments as well.”



Priority sites for biodiversity regeneration

In our One Planet roadmap in 2020, the Group had defined biodiversity goals, namely reducing its impact across the value chain by 30% by 2030. “We’re on track to meet that target, but we’re now adding a local dimension in our journey to contribute to the GBF’s objectives,” explains Marie-Hélène. How? The first step was to use international databases to characterize the biodiversity around the Group’s 185 sites – including office buildings and research labs.

Among these, 30 priority sites were identified to build biodiversity roadmaps and start implementing them as quickly as possible, looking closely at local biodiversity impacts and dependencies, and contributing to conservation and regenerative projects. “Faced with the urgency of the crisis of a ‘6th mass extinction’, it’s crucial that we measure our biodiversity impacts: we have to work much more concretely, with the objective of putting ourselves on a neutral impact trajectory,” continues Marie-Hélène.

“We are therefore going to help each one of our sites assess and implement the most efficient and relevant actions, identifying the stakeholders and the scientific partnerships to support them.” These projects can range from reducing emissions and water withdrawals to restoring nearby wetlands and disused quarries, installing nesting houses, fostering pollination and increasing ground permeability in and around facilities.




We rely on biodiversity for all our activities, and we know that the cost of inaction is five times higher than the cost of restoring biodiversity.

Marie-Hélène Enrici, Head of Better Life & Sustainable Development Network, Solvay

Looking after the health of entire ecosystems

For the first time in the field of biodiversity protection, quantified objectives have been set on a global scale, comparable to CO2 emission reductions following the 2015 Paris Agreement. But assessing the impact of human activities on biodiversity is much more complex than monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Not to mention the results are difficult to measure, as they are related to the overall health and functioning of entire ecosystems.

Nevertheless, the work has begun. Pioneer Solvay sites such as Paulinia in Brazil, which has been certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council, or Rosignano (Italy), where actions have been carried out to improve water management, restore several quarries and protect nature, are good examples that now have to be replicated around the world.



“We have to accelerate in order to be able to report our local impacts and dependencies as of 2024,” explains Marie-Hélène. “We have been measuring the impact of our products on biodiversity through the value chain for four years, and have already been able to decrease it by more than 25%. We are also willing to work with our customers to better identify biodiversity impacts when our products are used.”

And this urgency is a good thing: the impact of biodiversity decrease is already measurable in terms of direct financial loss in many sectors. “We rely on biodiversity for all our activities, whether for water, energy or raw materials, and studies show that the cost of inaction is five times higher than the cost of restoring biodiversity.”