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Sustainability policy

DIVERSITAS' sustainability (environmental and social) strategy, commitments, and actions

© shutterstock Wong Sze Yuen

Our objectives and commitments

As an organisation committed to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as a sustainable way to improve human well-being, DIVERSITAS is conscious that our day to day activities contribute to global environmental changes, and is committed to reduce its footprint as much as possible.

DIVERSITAS is committed to work towards an environmental offset on the model of carbon offset to limit not only the impact of its travels but also to have a more environmental friendly consumption pattern and to support carbon offset projects, which are also engaged in biodiversity conservation and local populations development.

 

From carbon offset to environmental offset

DIVERSITAS' secretariat activities request numerous international travels, in particular air transportation, which releases CO2 in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Therefore, DIVERSITAS has been repaying its CO2 emission for several years through carbon offsetting programmes.

However, most of the programmes offered by carbon offsetting providers generally fall into two general categories, avoiding emissions and sequestration. The first category involves finding ways to accomplish tasks by using less fossil fuel, making fossil fuel less carbon intensive and switching to renewable fuels. The second category, sequestration offsets, involves capturing an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it for a specified period. You will find more information in the document developed by the DIVERSITAS joint project, Global Carbon Project, "Carbon Reduction and Offsets".

DIVERSITAS uses these two offsetting means: 1) use public transportation (metro, city buses, train) everytime it is possible, and 2) repay its carbon emissions from plane travels through sequestration projects.

For this second category, DIVERSITAS is carefully choosing its investment projects not only on their sequestration capacity but on other aspects related to global environmental changes i.e. switching to "environmental offsetting" by taking into account in the calculation, upstream, not only the transportation CO2 emission but also the energetic cost of the buildings, food, water, various suppliers, etc., and downstream, by adding two major focuses in the choice of the project(s) to be considered when offsetting its carbon releases:

  • Conservation of biodiversity; and
  • Contribution to the sustainable economical and social development of local communities.

In accordance with these criteria, DIVERSITAS tries, as much as possible, to choose certified projects, such as VCF or CDM-GS.

However, when a project matches DIVERSITAS priorities without being certified, DIVERSITAS favours those having criteria of transparency and efficiency such as:

  • Criteria for transparency :
    • Project descriptions: Does the provider give basic information on the projects that they support? The minimum includes a description and location for each project.
    • Project operators*: Does the provider list the operators of their projects, i.e. the local organisations who are responsible for carrying them out on the ground?
    • % going to projects: Does the provider state how much of the money paid for offsets goes towards funding the projects? Care should be taken when comparing this figure between providers, since the basis of the calculation may be different.
    • Financial reports: Does the provider offer full financial reports on their website, including a breakdown of annual revenues and expenses?
    • Management team: Does the provider's website give details of the people who are running it?
  • Criteria for projects:
    • Multiple projects: Does the provider support more than one project? Supporting a range of projects offers protection against the possible failure of an individual project.
    • Carbon quantified*: Does the provider give information on the quantity of CO2e offset by each project? This helps buyers understand if the project is large or small, and builds confidence that its emission reductions have been properly calculated.
    • CDM/GS certification*: Are the projects certified under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism or the Gold Standard? These independent bodies give projects an extra stamp of approval.
    • On-grid power*: Do most of the carbon credits come from reduced demand on the electricity grid? Renewable electricity generation is the key long-term challenge in wealthy countries.
    • Non-reforestation*: Does the provider focus on non-reforestation projects? Reforestation is a controversial source of carbon credits, since it depends on trees standing far into the future. Depending if reforestation is done with exotic or native species; and if it is a mono-culture or a diverse forest, is also controversial.

* An asterisk indicates that the criterion relates to individual projects, rather than the provider as a whole. The provider receives the checkmark if most of its projects fulfill the criterion.

DIVERSITAS' carbon offsetting calculation is made according to the well-recognised calculator: myclimate.org.

List of the projects in which DIVERSITAS has invested its carbon offset:

 

Good environmental practices

In addition to its environment offset programme, DIVERSITAS commits to a number of good environmental practices in its offices on a daily basis:

  • Stationery: recycled letterhead paper, printing paper and envelops, recyclable or refillable ink pens and eco-certified small stationnery;
  • Printing: as little printing as possible, printing on both sides of paper, drafts printed on already used paper, recycling toner cartridges;
  • Selective rubbish sorting and recycling (paper, batteries, etc.);
  • Cleaning supplies: eco-certified products such as washing liquid, toilet products, hand soap, floor cleaning products, etc…; recycled toilet and hand drying paper;
  • Power saving: Computers, screens, printers, and all small electrical appliances turned off as soon as not used and when employees leave the office.

 

Good social practices

The goal of ensuring a neutral impact of its activities on environment and working towards a substainable development for everyone also leaded DIVERSITAS to several good practices on a social point of view:

  • Preferring local small suppliers when possible, in order to sustain local economy and reduce carbon emissions due to long transportations.
  • Encouraging DIVERSITAS' partners to use organic and local products.

 

Greener conferences

DIVERSITAS has organised several large-scale conferences like Open-Science Conference 2 (OSC2) in 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, and Planet Under Pressure (PUP) in 2012, in London, UK.

For these conferences, specific sustainability and carbon offsetting policies have been put in place to make these events "Greener conferences".

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