Biodiversity is in crisis. The degradation and loss of nature and species’ extinction are immense and have serious impacts on our lives. This is no longer just a warning from environmentalists, but a stark warning from the scientists who report to the United Nations. No net loss of biodiversity is positioned by some as a solution to the biodiversity crisis.

No net loss relies on offsetting mechanisms- if a corporation, for example, destroys a specific ecosystem to dig a mine, build a dam or a road, it can offset or compensate for this destruction by protecting or restoring another ecosystem. According to this corporate logic, the losses in the destruction are negated by the protection or restoration of nature elsewhere, resulting in no net loss.

This is a form of greenwashing, allowing corporations to continue their economic activities which destroy biodiversity. What we need to do is stop biodiversity destruction in its tracks, not ‘compensate’ to allow it to continue.

The very principle of no net loss is erroneous, because it is impossible to quantitatively or qualitatively compare any two ecosystems, since each has its own unique qualities, not least its spiritual and cultural meaning. Attempts to quantify biodiversity and its functions in economic terms will not resolve the environmental crisis, they only reveal the levels to which the those in power will go to defend business and profits over peoples and the environment. No net loss artificially divides people from nature and perpetuates land grabbing and other destructive forces.

This publication analyses the workings and impacts of the no net loss, for use in national and international advocacy work.

To truly stop the loss, erosion and extinction of biodiversity we need real solutions. No net loss cannot be part of the Global Framework for Biodiversity if it is to pave the way for the system change we so desperately need.