Biodiversity and Ethical Business

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Proposal for an INSEAD MBA student project

In cooperation with the INSEAD Social Innovation Center, a group of four or five INSEAD MBA students helps developing a business communications and fundraising campaign for the Global Taxonomy Partnership (GTP) initiative.

Supervisors: Luk Van Wassenhove (INSEAD), Marc Le Menestrel (UPF, INSEAD)

Coordinator: Julian Rode

External advisors: Richard Smith (Director, BioNET), Blanca Fullana (General Manager, Edelman Spain)

The objective of the GTP initiative is to raise public awareness about the importance of biodiversity and interest in discovery and conservation of the natural environment, and to raise funds to support biodiversity-related (in particular taxonomic) research.

Taking into account the main pillars of the concept and the given timeline until the announcement of the Partnership at UN COP 10 in October 2010, this campaign should lay out a basic strategy as well as an action plan with the objective to motivate companies to contribute to this initiative and/or to the fund as corporate sponsors. Possible targets could be companies that benefit from taxonomic work, directly or indirectly, companies with a “negative footprint” on biodiversity, but also companies that have generally shown interest in supporting biodiversity issues in the past. Recently, several initiatives have raised the topic of “business and biodiversity” (see references below), these should provide the students with good background information.

Possible tasks for this projec include

- benchmarking with other fundraising initiatives
- an analysis of the "biodiversity and business landscape" (past contributors, etc.)
- an analysis of what the GTP can provide that is of value to businesses

Useful questions:

I. How could companies benefit from the GTP?

a. Additional useful taxonomic knowledge

b. Social responsibility (by supporting a cause that is beneficial to sustainable development and to halting biodiversity loss)

c. Prestigious visibility (by being part or contributing to a community of high level institutions and with strong public involvement)

d. Others?

II. Which companies could be interested?
- “Business & biodiversity landscape”: Research and classify potential sponsors in accordance to appropriate criteria, e.g.,

a. Companies that have already shown an interest in biodiversity (by contributing to reports, sponsoring conferences, joining initiatives etc.)

b. Direct users of biodiversity or of biodiversity research (in particular taxonomy)

c. Companies with a negative impact on biodiversity

d. Potential in-kind contributors (e.g., ebay for auctions)

e. Companies with a general interest in “riding the wave of a global campaign”

f. Others?

III. What should the campaign focus on (for the respective companies)?
- Identify how important are any of the above benefits for companies?
- Analyse the current discourse on biodiversity within business circles?
- Find out the conditions under which companies would be more likely to contribute (e.g. influence on use of funds, web advertisement to a global community, etc.).

A survey among identified canditates seems a good idea to answer these questions.

IV. Based on the above, what seems a good overall strategy and time line?