Biodiversity and geodiversity: the race is on
The importance of ecosystems
Much like the air we breathe, we don’t sometimes notice the biodiversity in the background and the crucial role that it plays in our lives, but if it is threatened then we could all suffer. The UN have shown for example that over 80 percent of the human diet is provided by plants, with as many as 80 percent of people living in rural areas in developing countries relying on traditional plant‐ based medicines for basic healthcare1. There is also significant economic value in the form of such ecosystem services as food provisioning, carbon storage, and water and air filtration, which are worth more than $150 trillion annually - about twice the world’s GDP2. Threaten that ecosystem and you could have an existential problem. And that ecosystem is threatened.
The UN Climate Change Conference, COP 27, is running for twelve days between November 6th and November 18th in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Today is focused on biodiversity. Separately, the UN will be holding a biodiversity conference in December – COP 15. Here, “the UN Biodiversity Conference will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process.3” There is increasing awareness of the challenges facing biodiversity and a greater expectation for companies to understand and manage their impact.
Although biological diversity – or biodiversity is rising up our stakeholders’ agendas, we at Nokia are also looking more broadly at our dependence on natural resources, including the climate, biodiversity as well as geological diversity (geodiversity). By geodiversity, we mean the earth's minerals, rocks, fossils, soils, sediments, landforms, topography and hydrological features such as rivers and lakes.
Although the ICT industry is not considered to be one of the high-impacting sectors related to biodiversity, the story can be different for geodiversity. From a geodiversity perspective, the production of ICT hardware requires various metals, minerals, plastics, chemicals, energy and water in a multi-tier supply chain. This global supply chain also requires transportation, packaging and warehousing. The majority of the carbon footprint of network products is currently created during their use because of the power consumption needed to make them work. During the lifecycle of these products there are consequences also for biodiversity, geodiversity and climate across the value chain.
Nokia is a producer of communications networks products, hardware, software and related services. We have set science-based climate targets in 2017 and have now started to work to understand the impacts affecting natural capital (including biodiversity and geodiversity) across the value chain. These areas include mining raw materials and component production, final assembly production, logistics and fleet, installation and use and maintenance of sold products, and product end-of-life activities.
We have a two-pronged approach to sustainability, first we maximize our positive impact - our handprint - on the world. Our products and solutions represent the biggest impact we have as a company. Connectivity and digitalization are key to addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges and can be used for example in monitoring the state of the environment. At the same time, we need to continually minimize our negative impact - our footprint on the world. Here we seek to minimize the environmental impact of designing, producing and delivering our products and services. We believe that every action counts and we need to continuously look for opportunities to disconnect economic growth from the use of natural capital. This means concrete actions to meet our existing climate targets and to increase circularity to retain geodiversity and biodiversity. You can find out more about our approach to these topics in our annual public sustainability report, People and Planet.
It is up to us how quickly we travel
We are still at the beginning of a long journey, but it is up to us how quickly we travel. Biodiversity and geodiversity are critical elements of our planets health and we at Nokia are looking to understand our effect and our role in both. Impact assessment is needed not only to understand the footprint consequences, but also to realize the ICT sector’s handprint opportunities. Here we look to reduce the impact that our industry has on the planet and increase the use of digital technologies in the fight against climate change and in efficient use of our natural capital.