Engaging constructively with stakeholders is vital to managing Biodiversity and Ecosytem Services (BES) risks successfully. Understanding and engaging with stakeholders is relevant at both corporate and operational levels and is necessary throughout the project life cycle. We have identified a wide range of potential stakeholders who have BES interests and how these interests can provide opportunities for risk management at a corporate or asset level.
Stakeholder engagement, especially regarding relationships with local communities around assets, is often a key part of a company's activities to manage social risk, but has been underlooked as part of managing environmental riks.
Stakeholders with an interest in BES are both internal and external to the company, and exist at a global, national and local level. They can be from groups ranging from company staff, or local communities near an asset, to scientists and non-governmental organisations national and internationally. Engaging with different stakeholder groups can help:
comply with regulators, meet the expectations of lenders, and thus enable financing;
enhance transparency and improve reputation, and thus the social licence to operate;
identify important biodiversity features (for example during an impact assessment screening process);
understand the status of important biodiversty features, how relevant stakeholders value them (for example as part of baseline studies);
help determine Priority ES that could be impacted by the project, that are important components of livelihood and that are irreplaceable (for example as part of an ecosystem services review), and thus avoid social conflict, and potential project delays;
identify actions to mitigate impacts on BES;
build partnerships with parties who will implement long-term elements of the mitigation hierarchy (for example for restoration programs and biodiversity offsets).
Many of the issues which may arise regarding stakeholder expectations on BES are partly or predominantly cultural, socio-economic or political, rather than ecological. It is crucial therefore to coordinate the different components of engagement (environmental, social and public relations) and that the relevant company/project teams collaborate so that they understand how stakeholders value and use BES and their expectations concerning BES management.