ICMM & IUCN: Biodiversity offsets report

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) jointly commissioned TBC to write an independent report on biodiversity offsets. This report presents the clearest advice available to date, based on practical experience of guiding offset strategies and implementation. It defines practical steps which practitioners in industry and the conservation sector can take to put offsets to work for conservation and to reduce risk for business. Key areas covered include principles and methods, application to the mining sector, best-practice case studies, ecosystem services, and regulatory versus voluntary regimes. Biodiversity offsets are compared to other forms of environmental stewardship.

 This report seeks to inform the mining industry and the conservation sector of the offsets discussion, providing an overview of the current and key issues regarding biodiversity offsets. It sets out some pragmatic ways forward, covering the business case for offsets, principles and methods, application to the mining sector, best-practice case studies, relationship to ecosystem services and the remaining challenges. It can be read as a summary for executives and managers or as a detailed scoping report for environmental specialists with some familiarity with biodiversity offsets. It also functions as a sourcebook of key references for technicians and consultants in mining and conservation.

The report explores industry’s experience that, rather than a lack of theory, it is practical issues of implementation and adaptive management (combined with external risks such as differing government expectations) that can cause offsets to fall short of their goals. It is the absence of a solid track record that causes the business community to remain hesitant to invest in offsets due to uncertainty of outcomes. Nonetheless, some best-practice offset designs have recently emerged that demonstrate solutions based on practical experience.