I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the book and less than 30 pages in I had already come across useful information, research results and even a feature on biodiversity. Further on I even found that biodiversity and conservation were on the list of the results from the surveys, although their ratings were low.
I was delighted that the handbook didn’t only contain graphs and endless tables with foreign symbols, acronyms and numbers, but articles, case studies and features. There were some organisations that appeared noticeable often, but in fairness the most notable ones were the same organisations that co-operated to create the handbook. So other than a little project pushing and brand punting, overall the handbook is a highly useful source of information in an easy to read conversational tone.
Leonia Joubert, a science writer known for Scorched; South Africa’s changing Climate Change, wrote a feature article on nature capital which caught my eye. She used an example of the cost of a fizzy drink to simply describe how the cost of including nature capital costs could influence pricing. Ecosystems and nature resources have for far too long been banked as freebies. By using projects and company case studies Joubert demonstrates how increasing necessary action are needed to achieve Millennium Development Goals.
In chapter three; Corporate Environmental Practice, the Environmental Handbook conducts surveys with 100 major companies and reports their findings. It was a bit disappointing to see that out of the average score up to 5, biodiversity and resource only received 2.9, whereas energy got 4.7, waste 4, and water 4. Products and services stood at 3.4 and land stewardship at 2.9. What was even more of concerning was that even taking into consideration that metals, paper and wood all have a direct impact on biodiversity, 17% of the companies said that biodiversity was not ‘applicable’ to their businesses.
The survey highlighted that the biggest critical challenge of biodiversity issues was simply a lack of awareness (18%) and although 98% said they all complied with biodiversity legislation, 11% said the critical challenge was lack of awareness in legislation. Another 11% said it was not a priority for management and a further 11% said it was a daunting task. The remaining 7% said the challenge was it was too costly to the company.
The handbook covered a lot of environmental issues and contained a good foundation and scope of how companies are tackling sustainability. They covered legislations ranging from biodiversity strategy through to the new waste management paper as well as case studies on how companies are counteracting and handling environmental issues both internally and externally. The handbook is a great resource for any business or individual looking for information and useful tactics in the environmental field.