The EU integrated the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, including three SDGs that are particularly relevant for the management of aquatic ecosystems as they cover Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Life below water (SDG 14) and Life on Land (SDG 15). The AQUACROSS project aims to support the achievement of these SDGs by providing knowledge and tools regarding the management of aquatic ecosystems.

In this attempt to reach out to the business community, this brief developed by IUCN discusses how businesses working directly and indirectly with marine and freshwater environments can profit from engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Arguably, supporting the achievement of SDGs will reduce specific threats to aquatic ecosystems and ensure the sustenance of services that these provide. This will in turn benefit economic activities that rely on these ecosystem service provisions.

The brief highlights the important role that business plays in the implementation of the SDGs, by providing crucial financing, in addition to contributing to innovation and technical capabilities. In addition, businesses can benefit from engaging with the SDGs, as the engagement will allow the identification of new markets and opportunities for investments and partnerships. Furthermore, by supporting the achievement of SDGs, the environmental performance of businesses can be improved, whereas risks related to biodiversity loss and water scarcity can be reduced. Also, by engaging with SDGs, businesses can improve their communication with consumers and stakeholders, as well as decision makers, to ensure their visibility and the continued access to resources.

Ultimately, research on the sustainable management of aquatic resources is crucial to provide businesses with the information and data necessary to allow for risk monitoring and to support the identification of future trends. Moreover, strong partnerships between the researchers producing the knowledge and the businesses are vital to ensure an efficient transmission of information. AQUACROSS facilitates the engagement of businesses with SDGs through its ongoing research, which include results of assessment of threats to aquatic environments and their ecosystem services, the provision of knowledge on the understanding of the policy landscape and the development of future scenarios.  

The AQUACROSS research outcomes represent an added value, as they support businesses in their decision-making, by providing potential policy direction scenarios and indicators and methods for the assessment of environmental impacts of business activities. Next steps can include the development of new investment forms that benefit both society and the environment, in addition to considering compensation payments to communities and stakeholders that protect ecosystem services. The AQUACROSS research on the interactions between human activities and aquatic ecosystems can support innovative business to identify their environmental impacts and to invest in sustainable solutions.

Read the full 1st Aquacross Business Brief: The business benefits of engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals