GNF - Conservation of Resources

CSR-Task Conservation of Resources in SMEs



To work in harmony with nature is one of the main goals which have to be achieved with the national biodiversity strategy. In commerce, this approach is only gradually trickling down, though enterprises are benefiting from a healthy and intact nature. This is proved by a survey, performed by the University of Applied Sciences Birkenfeld between November 2010 and February 2011, where 91 enterprises (most of them were SMEs) from Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland were asked. Though the majority (63 percent) of the questioned executives admitted to know the term “Biodiversity” for a long time, only few (18 percent) could describe what “Biodiversity” really implies. The conclusion: The issue “Biodiversity” is currently not anchored on the entrepreneurial agenda of SMEs, especially from Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.


Executives who can fill the term “Biodiversity” with content notice chances for further development of their own enterprise sooner. In their direct vicinity, SMEs can make a concrete and easy contribution to nature conservation. This includes e. g. greening of company premises or the deployment of staff for nature conservation activities.


Furthermore, along the supply chain many measures for the conservation of biodiversity can be implemented, which often can be presented promotionally effective and, in certain cases, sales supportive.


The optimization of the use of raw materials is of particular importance. Its decrease is an essential condition to preserve the accessibility of vital resources and to conserve biodiversity globally, not only in Germany. At the same time the protection of biodiversity in a wider understanding of resources is nothing else but a single aspect of resource protection. Both aspects, resource protection and biodiversity, are linked together repeatedly. The project can do justice to the situation by linking these two aspects. The fact that considerable cost-saving can be realized is an advantage for the involved SMEs. The Deutsche Materialeffizienzagentur (Demea 2008) estimates a saving potential of about 100 billion Euros of material costs in the German economy. 


In SMEs, general managers (managing directors, quality assurance representatives, environment issues managers and sustainability officers) and staff get informed about the relevance of biodiversity (nature, species) and resources and their use for the enterprise. By consultancy sessions and concrete, individual resource-biodiversity-checks for the SMEs, entrepreneurial risks and chances of biodiversity and resources are brokered and implemented. With the help of an individually developed CSR-strategy that considers the issues biodiversity and resources, enterprises can get involved in the conservation of resources and nature as an important part of CSR. If necessary, they can influence suppliers and service providers. The results and measures can be transferred to other enterprises and branches, so that a sustainable long-term effect of the project is guaranteed.


The project "Conservation of Resources as a CSR-Task in SMEs" is supported within the framework of the program "CSR - Social Responsibility in SMEs", supported by the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and and the European Social Fund.

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CSR @ KMU - Ökologisches Wirtschaften im Mittelstand (Article in German)

From Sascha Liese and Thomas Schaefer (October 2012)


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Conservation of Resources as a CSR-Task in Medium Sized Enterprises, Germany


March 2012 – February 2014


Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS), adelphi


German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) in the context of the Program "CSR - Social Responsibility in SMEs" and European Social Fund for Germany (ESF)