The IUCN-Holcim Panel proposes the adoption of a Biodiversity Management System

19 November 2009 | News story

The IUCN-Holcim Panel, composed by 5 high international experts in biodiversity conservation, has completed the visits to Holcim’s country operations. Seven countries and more than 25 quarries were visited between June 2008 and October 2009.

The purpose of the visits was to gain a direct experience about Holcim’s national operations, their national and local management structures, operational processes and activities on individual sites. The objective of the visit was not to conduct a review or environmental assessment of the visited sites or the company’s planning and site management procedures.

Based on the insight acquired during these visits, and the initial approach that was agreed in 2008 (see The rational way forward), the IUCN-Holcim Panel has proposed to Holcim the concept of a Biodiversity Management System (BMS). By adopting a systematic approach, Holcim will be able to integrate biodiversity conservation considerations during all the steps in a quarry life cycle, from the opportunity phase, to the feasibility, the impact assessment, and the rehabilitation and closure. A key element of the Panel suggestion is to ensure that the steps of the BMS are a mirror of the existing business cycle governing the development of a quarry.

The Panel is now working closely with Holcim to design the Biodiversity Management System that will be at one side scientifically credible and on the other practical and implementable. The proposed system will be delivered to Holcim in 2010. Holcim will then review it and explore how to best integrate the panel’s recommendation in their current systems.

In addition to the advances made by the Panel, the relationship has also made progress in fostering a number of country based relationships. Currently there are country based relationships in Vietnam, SriLanka, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Spain; few more are in negotiation.

Holcim and IUCN have also worked together to develop a concept focusing on Biodiversity-based microenterprise development (B2MD). The main objective of the concept is to assist and guide multinational companies in collaboration with other entities in planning and managing micro- and small enterprise development projects that create sustainable livelihoods in the community and support biodiversity conservation.

Is the IUCN-Holcim relationship delivering on its commitments? The aim set at the beginning of the IUCN-Holcim relationship, in early 2007, was to develop “robust ecosystem conservation standards for the Holcim Group, contributing to sector-wide improvements in the cement and related sectors.” The progress made by the Panel, which is the key pillar of the IUCN-Holcim relationship, is certainly a major step forward in achieving this aim. A final review of the IUCN-Holcim relationship, which will end in December 2010, will provide a thorough overview of the achievements made by IUCN and Holcim.