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The Project Profession and Biodiversity. We need to mind our impacts.

For many years I have been getting on soapboxes at conferences and in keynotes stating that “the project profession” is waking up to sustainability but is not paying enough attention to bio-diversity.  If we could put in place regenerative practices, we could address many issues, including the climate crisis.

Biodiversity loss is one of humanity’s most pressing environmental issues.

The main threats to biodiversity include habitat destruction, over-harvesting, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. Habitat destruction caused by human activities such as logging, mining, and unsustainable agricultural practices has been the leading cause of biodiversity degradation. As land is cleared for these activities and topsoil is infused with deadly chemicals (cough cough Monsanto), species are forced out of their homes as their habitats are destroyed, and they can no longer survive in their natural environments. This has devastatingly affected species’ populations worldwide and is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in the next ten years.

Also, the overharvesting of animals for food or other purposes is a major driver of biodiversity loss. When more animals are taken from their environment than can be replaced through reproduction, this leads to a decline in population size, damaging ecosystems as entire species become threatened with extinction or go extinct altogether. In addition, overfishing of aquatic ecosystems poses an additional threat to biodiversity since it removes essential nutrients from water bodies that help sustain other forms of life.  In 2022 alone, 7 animals went extinct.  Check out the list here.

We can no longer behave as though we rule nature.

 

We must accept that we are all interconnected and function as a steward for preservation. Our continued release of pollutants into air and water systems impacts local wildlife populations by reducing oxygen levels or contaminating food sources which can have devastating effects on entire ecosystems.Given this complex situation it’s important that we come up with ways to combat these threats if we want future generations to enjoy our planet’s abundance.

What do we focus on climate change or biodiversity loss? The answer is both.  

Biodiversity loss and climate change are inextricably linked, with each exacerbating the other. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming and climate change while deforestation and everything else I shared earlier is caused by human actions and directly reduces biodiversity, has a significant impact on our climate.

By disturbing natural habitats we reduce their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and therefore increase its concentration. Conversely, climate change leads to more extreme weather events such as heatwaves, drought or floods which further threaten biodiversity due to their ability to disrupt or damage ecosystems. We must strive for effective conservation strategies and sustainable human activities if we are to preserve both biodiversity and our planet’s future.  It is much easier most people wrap our collective heads around direct impacts to bio-diversity than to understand how our work impacts climate change because we can see the effects immediately.

Question for you the reader: have heard of the COP System and know where one of the last one was held?  If I said Montreal was the last one you might scratch your head and say “huh?”  There is more than one COP and the climate conference gets all the attention.  That is part of the problem. The climate COP has become the equivalency of Davos.  Meanwhile the Biodiversity COP gets no love, which is unfortunate.

 

Take a look at the Nine Planetary Boundaries.

The nine planetary boundaries are: climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, land-use and freshwater use changes, nitrogen and phosphorous inputs to the biosphere and oceans, biogeochemical flows (such as phosphorus and nitrogen cycles), novel entities (including chemical pollution and microplastics), aerosol loading and biodiversity loss. These boundaries were identified by a team of international scientists in 2009 as essential for humanity’s survival on Earth. Crossing any of these boundaries could lead to serious long-term consequences and so scientists recommend avoiding reaching them at all costs. The green circle in the middle of the picture below is acceptable boundaries.  Climate Change is one boundary that we have gone beyond acceptable limits on.  Biosphere integrity however…. We have gone way beyond acceptable limits.  For more visit  the Stockholm Resilience Center.

 

Ok, now what? Projects Projects Projects!

Projects present us with an opportunity when it comes to finding solutions for global biodiversity problems since they provide a framework for action while also offering opportunities for innovation and helping build capacity in local communities so everyone can benefit from successful initiatives like protected areas programs or sustainable agriculture practices. Here are three simple reasons why projects are so important when it comes to solving global problems surrounding endangered wildlife and habitats:

Projects provide a framework for taking action on specific issues related to conservation effort.

Increasing numbers of endangered species or restoring vital habitats like coral reefs while also bringing together stakeholders from different backgrounds who may not ordinarily interact with each other allowing us to explore new ideas and approaches that may not have been considered before . By creating a roadmap outlining clear goals that all participants must agree upon we know everyone is working towards same outcome giving us greater chance at achieving success .

Projects encourage innovation.

Leveraging diverse groups of people from different sectors allow us to examine complex ecological issues from different angle coming up with creative solutions that would otherwise be overlooked . For example bringing together business owners , policy makers , researchers , locals community members etc will enable us apply different skillsets resulting in more effective strategies being implemented .

Projects help build capacity for local communities.

Provide opportunities to develop sustainable methods to manage resources while also increasing economic benefits through launching eco-tourism schemes or sustainable agricultural practices These types initiatives allow locals gain livelihood directly related protecting wildlife ensuring sustainability long term goal ultimately benefit everybody involved.

Taking steps towards preserving our planet’s precious biodiversity doesn’t have be daunting task thanks tools available, such as our P5 Standard, P5 Impact Analysis, and Sustainability Management Plan).

What specific practices do we at GPM recommend? Here a sneak peak to some of the guidance in the new P5 Standard 3.0 for Biodiversity.

Projects should:

  • Work to achieve a net positive impact (NPI) by ensuring that any negative impacts from the project are outweighed by biodiversity gains.
  • Incorporating data-driven strategies for monitoring resource usage and predicting sustainable trends in natural ecosystems.
  • Establish living systems and regenerative land management practices to promote sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, and support the diversity of species.
  • Utilize integrated pest management techniques that prioritize natural predators over chemical pesticides to protect beneficial species, biodiversity, and human health.
  • Develop strategies for preserving habitat and species through specific protection measures, such as national parks, reserves, corridors, and conservation easements.
  • Take action to mitigate climate change by transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and restoring natural ecosystems for carbon sequestration purposes.
  • Implement collaborative approaches between local communities, corporations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders with a focus on advancing regenerative development goals for sustainable development initiatives & biodiversity conservation efforts.

Protection of biological diversity helps to achieve the following sustainable project outcomes:

  • Healthy ecosystems that protect food, fiber, medicines, and other potential resources.
  • Future access to land and other natural resources.
  • Improved reputation among regulators and within the communities that the project affects.
  • Continued availability of ecosystem services such as atmospheric regulation, nutrient cycling, and pollination.

We can do more.

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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