Since the entered into force in 1993, the concept of biodiversity has included diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Opened for signature at the in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, this treaty has the following three main goals: conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
The loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Ecosystems provide us with services and resources such as sufficient quantities of good-quality water that are absolutely essential to our business operations worldwide. We therefore consider it extremely important to protect biodiversity and have put numerous environmental protection measures in place, all of which work indirectly to safeguard biodiversity. For instance, we have implemented measures to assess and reduce pharmaceutical residues in wastewater.
Our production sites are located in established industrial and commercial zones; they are located neither inside of nor within 10 kilometers of IUCN Category I or Category II protected areas, which are set aside to safeguard biodiversity. Category I includes strict nature reserves and wilderness areas in which human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited, while Category II includes national parks. In order to prevent substances that could negatively impact biodiversity from leaking into the environment, we design and operate our facilities according to strict Group-wide safety and environmental requirements. For instance, in our Group-wide standards we have defined measures for processing waste and production wastewater (see ). We have furthermore implemented a Group-wide program called EDISON in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We improve the habitats for plants and animals at our sites, for instance by increasing the amount of unsealed surface area. This is, however, not always possible since we seal certain surfaces to protect them from any leakage that may occur. In 1995, we developed a green open space concept for our Darmstadt site, and around 30% of the premises have now been greened. The green areas are designed to improve the functionality of the production areas without degrading the ecological value of existing open areas. In 2008, we signed an agreement with the city of Darmstadt that established the framework to increase the role of nature conservation in the industrial use of our site, as well as better integrate the site into its urban surroundings. The stipulated planning guidelines require, for example, an increase in the percentage of native plants on the site.
When planning new sites and facilities, we consider environmental aspects such as aeration, land-use structures that contribute to a favorable microclimate, and energy-efficient construction concepts. For instance, we conducted a biodiversity study when planning the expansion of our site in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. To protect the bordering alpine meadows, we developed a landscape plan in which the meadows are tended to by a local farmer.
When we acquire new sites, we investigate their environmental situation, taking into consideration information from public sources such as neighbors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). We assume responsibility for pollution we have caused and investigate our sites before selling them.