Trees and greenery surround the Town Square at Meta's campus in Menlo Park, California. (Image credit: Christophe Wu/Meta)
As companies look to act on climate change, many overlook a crucial and impactful area of focus: preserving biodiversity. Protecting and restoring habitats is vital for restricting emissions and driving climate adaptation. Biodiversity also has a direct impact on most business activities, yet only 31 percent of global companies have made a public biodiversity commitment, according to CDP.
The relationship between business and biodiversity is not one to put aside. Businesses rely on the environment for resources. And the way corporate leaders choose to extract, treat and use those resources has a significant impact not only on people and ecosystems, but also on corporate brand value and resilience for the future.
"Biodiversity is critical to humanity,” said Lauren Swezey, sustainability and landscape project lead for the tech giant Meta. “It supports the health of the planet, and the loss of biodiversity impacts everyone — it impacts our food chains and our health systems.”
For Meta, biodiversity is one of five core sustainability pillars, and completing green projects has been a point of focus. More specifically, Meta is focused on managing the impacts from its data centers and facilities and pursuing opportunities to protect and promote biodiversity in the surrounding ecosystems, according to the company’s most recent sustainability report.
“Everybody should be concerned about biodiversity, and we want to make sure Meta is not impacting [local habitats] through our operations,” Swezey said.
Meta has completed multiple biodiversity projects where its facilities and operations are located, with the aim of protecting pollinator habitats and the other vital ecosystems. In 2021, for example, the company installed beehives in its Seattle, Dublin and New York offices and provided roughly 30 acres of pollinator habitat at its data center site in Gallatin, Tennessee. It has also implemented a beekeeping program at its data center in Meath, Ireland.
“About a third of our food is pollinated by honeybees,” Swezey said. “We’re talking about fruit trees, nut trees, squash, strawberries, things we see in the market every day. If we didn't have pollinators pollinating those, we would lose much of our food.”
In addition to protecting pollinators, Meta is focused on ecological diversity. When the company first acquired the property for its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the grounds were severely polluted and uninhabitable. Meta transformed the property for occupancy and diverse ecological spaces.
Meta’s Menlo Park headquarters now hosts a 12.5-acre green roof, which provides for different habitats such as grasslands, oak savannas and meadows. The green roof is home to 5,300 birds across 50 avian species, according to surveys from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. “We've enjoyed watching butterflies and beneficial insects come to the roof, and we even have a great fox population that found its way on the roof. They're indigenous to the local environment," Swezey explained.
Meta also partners with local nonprofits to protect and promote biodiversity in Menlo Park. The company’s partners include Save The Bay, a nonprofit that restores and protects wetlands in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, which conserves birds and their habitats. “It’s really important for us to support these environmental organizations that are helping to improve the current conditions of the area and support wildlife,” Swezey said.
Beyond restoration efforts, business leaders who aim to truly promote biodiversity are challenged to identify and address every touchpoint in which their companies’ operations may harm ecosystems. For tech companies like Meta, that increasingly includes user behavior on their platforms.
For example, to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking, Meta has developed policies and standards to prohibit selling live animals on its platforms or publishing content that facilitates poaching and selling endangered animals.
Further, restoring habitats is no easy task. Biodiversity is a complicated subject as it encompasses many different facets, from animals to land use to water. Due to the vast array of considerations, many different groups in an organization have to monitor and facilitate biodiversity priorities.
“It’s not something you can accomplish in a year, in a couple of years,” Swezey said. “It’s something that is ongoing. We’ll continue to develop and we’ll continue to expand our partnerships, including biodiversity projects and water stewardship projects, and those collaborations will increase our opportunities.”
This article series is sponsored by Meta and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Rasha is a freelance journalist with experience in external communications and publicity. She is a Ryerson School of Journalism graduate and has worked on various media and communication campaigns in film, home development and the nonprofit sector. Rasha is passionate about storytelling for impact, whether she focuses on social enterprise, transforming our food system or making the business world more inclusive.