Business activities

CfR.1/2016/3 How can environmental regulators support businesses to improve the outcomes of their operations for biodiversity, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises in the food and beverage sector in Europe?

Requesters: Louise Bond (until November 2018), Nicola Melville, Scot Mathieson (from
December 2018) – Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Date request received: 28/10/2016
Call for Knowledge: March-April 2017
Call for Experts: September-October 2017
Date of first meeting with requesters and EKLIPSE KCB and methods experts: 02/02/2017
Expected deadline for deliverables: 30/10/2018, postponed to June 2019

Biodiversity loss induced by human activity and a rapid related decline in essential resources for human nutrition and well-being is one of the largest challenges facing us today. While businesses are increasingly aware of their dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystem services, practical approaches allowing companies to understand and manage their impacts on natural capital across their supply chains are lacking.
This request will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, as these have been identified as potentially benefitting most from support in understanding, selecting, and implementing mandatory and voluntary approaches to enhance environmental sustainability, as these have not been sufficiently addressed thus far.

Figure 1 : The food and beverage supply chain
Source : Trucost. 2016. Environmentally extended input-output (EEI-O) model; Natural Capital Coalition. 2016. « Natural Capital Protocol – Food and Beverage Sector Guide ». 

Business Expert Working Group
The Expert Working Group (EWG) gathers 7 European experts with a broad range of expertise and EU-wide geographical representation.
The co-chairs of this group are:

  • Delphine Gibassier (Associate Professor, Toulouse Business School)
  • Janina Grabs (Research Associate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) 

The other members of the expert working group are:

  • Vincenza Ferrara (Farmer, Azienza Agricola “DORA” di Vincenza Ferrara)
  • Stefan Hörmann (Head of Unit, Global Natura Fund)
  • Stefano Targetti (INRA Ecodevelopment, France)
  • Lisa Biber-Freudenberger (Center for Development Research, Bonn University)
  • Jane Glover, University of Birmingham

More information about the business EWG can be found here.

Current status of the request 
The expert working group is currently finalizing the draft report to be opened for public consultation the first week of April 2019.
Process documentation of the request
The whole process of the request is documented in the Document of Work.
Review of the method protocol of EKLIPSE expert working group
In June 2018 the expert working group finalized the draft of the methods protocol. This draft protocol was public and broadly disseminated to a range of stakeholders using the following engagement process:
  • External expert review of the report – approximately five external reviewers were invited by EKLIPSE to review the draft protocol report on its content and structure. Reviewers represented different backgrounds (academia, policy, and practice).
  • The draft protocol report was distributed among the participants of the Expert Survey, who were asked for their feedback and input on the content and conclusions.
  • Public consultation on the draft protocol report – the draft protocol report was placed on the EKLIPSE website allowing members of the public to comment on it over a onemonth period.
After this process comments and suggestion were considered and formally responded by the members of the EKLIPSE EWG.
Following this methods protocol, this EKLIPSE Expert Working Group is currently finalizing their work.
Summary of the method protocol
First, the expert working group undertook a quick scoping review of the literature and comparative analysis to assess the approaches that regulators can potentially use. Next, expert consultations will be held using the Delphi process and a Bayesian Network Workshop to narrow down most important conditions and policy tools to support businesses. To achieve these aims, the following methods were used to achieve the tasks set out in the Document of Work:
Task 1: Define a rough framework of approaches and their effectiveness
  • What approaches can improve biodiversity outcomes of businesses?
  • How do we know these approaches work/are effective in improving biodiversity outcomes and over what timeframe, i.e., regarding accounting for biodiversity impacts, identifying the most relevant parts of the value chain, and keeping track of interactions across complex value chains?
Method used: Non-systematic Literature Review (or Quick Scoping Review), supported by a part-time research assistant.
Task 2 & 3: Identify the most promising approaches to be used by regulators, and analyze under which conditions the chosen approaches work well
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of existing (and potential) approaches?
  • Which of the approaches identified in task 1 are most promising to be used by regulators?
  • Which of these approaches work well under which conditions?
Methods used:
1. Building on the Quick Scoping Review, the EWG jointly undertook a Qualitative Comparative Analysis
2. Expert Survey as well as the participatory elicitation of the likely effectiveness of policy options under varying conditions using a Bayesian Decision Network
3. Qualitative Comparative Analysis, enhanced by stakeholder responses elicited through the Expert Survey and the probabilistic model elaborated in the Bayesian Decision Network
4. Peer-review of the final outcome.
Figure: Conceptual overview of methods and their use in addressing the three requested tasks 
Past activities
This request was initially put to EKLIPSE by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in October 2016 and entitled: “What are the advantages and disadvantages of existing approaches that environmental regulators can use to enhance environmental sustainability and improve outcomes for biodiversity of small and medium-sized enterprises in the food and drink sector of Europe?”.
In order to refine the request, the following scoping activities were carried out: 
a. Literature scoping in order to identify already existing publications/projects/reports relevant to the request, with a special focus on existing synthesis
b. Call for Knowledge in order to identify already existing work on the request and
c. Evaluation of the policy and stakeholder relevance via bilateral telephone interviews, personal meetings and email requests to ensure the policy relevance of the request detailed below and to refine the request.
The Document of Work (DoW) describes the results of the scoping activities as well as further background information about the request, and was the basis for the Call for Experts (CfE.4/2017) which was opened in September 2017.
During the scoping process, the EKLIPSE Methods Expert Group and the KCB Business group discussed potential methods of knowledge synthesis which can be applied for this request. Building on the discussions and material prepared by the EKLIPSE Methods Expert Group, the following methods were suggested for the different steps of the request:
- Quick Scoping Review
- Solutions Scanning
- Delphi Process
- Non-systematic Literature Review
- Multi-Criteria Analysis
See the DoW for more details about the proposed methods and the stages at which they are to be applied.
The first working group meeting took place in Brussels on December 11th, 2017. During this kick-off meeting, the group was formally established and ensured a common understanding of the request and started to develop the future working plan among the experts. The Expert Working Group has developed the Document of Work (DoW) into a Protocol, which, following a period of extended peer-review and open consultation, serves as the basis for their synthesis work and will support the drafting of a final report/product.