Bio-Mo-D: No more balance sheet without appreciating nature

22 May is International Day for Biological Diversity. This is when the value of nature and its services once again becomes more prominent in the public consciousness. But how can biodiversity and ecosystem services in general receive more attention - especially in national economic reporting and the balance sheets of companies? The Bio-Mo-D project, coordinated by the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER), is looking for answers to this question.

Without intact ecosystems and the diverse services of nature, social well-being and economic success would be inconceivable. It is therefore all the more fatal that economic reporting in Germany often fails to take biodiversity and ecosystem services into account in two respects. In the reports and balance sheets of the government and companies, environmental damage is usually not included, nor are the diverse services of nature as factors of production.

How can this be changed? How can business reporting be expanded to include ecosystem services and biodiversity indicators? What is needed so that business, political and social leaders can make ecologically sustainable decisions and thus show greater appreciation for nature and biodiversity?

These are the questions that the IOER is investigating together with partners in the Bio-Mo-D project (Appreciating biodiversity - modernising economic accounting in Germany). Bio-Mo-D is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Research Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation (FEdA). The project network includes the Value Balancing Alliance and BASF as practice partners from industry, as well as the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and the IZT - Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment.

Until autumn 2024, the project team is investigating which values and indicators could be included in corporate balance sheets and national economic reporting in the future and how integration can be achieved by default. To this end, it is first necessary to compile various parameters, indicators and data that are suitable to represent the value of nature and thus to be able to balance it in general. The project team will also examine which standards and methods are required to be able to integrate selected parameters into the various economic reports.

“One of the biggest challenges will be to filter out the most meaningful data from the abundance of data. After all, we want to develop key indicators that companies and governments can use as a basis for making better decisions for the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity,” explains Karsten Grunewald from the IOER, who is leading the project. To do this, the researchers have to evaluate changes and their consequences ecologically and monetarily. What does it mean, for example, if areas of semi-natural grassland decrease or ecologically managed arable land increases? What are the consequences for groundwater quality or the nesting and foraging habitats of wild bees? “Just as we can see from the Dax reports how our economy is doing, we also need an ecological profit and loss account, a ‘natural barometer’, in the reporting systems. We are developing the necessary modules in the Bio-Mo-D project,” explains Karsten Grunewald.

These project activities are complemented by a policy field analysis and a stakeholder analysis. The aim is to find out, among other things, which legal frameworks exist in Germany and the EU, which actors are already engaged in integrating natural values into economic reporting and in what way, and where there are interfaces between national and corporate accounting. The project partners are also looking for existing networks and opportunities to create new collaboration and synergies. Last but not least, they want to improve the flow of information between research on biodiversity and ecosystem services and political and economic decision-making processes.

“If we could achieve that in the measurement of economic success and prosperity, not only pure economic growth counts, but instead the value of intact ecosystems gains in importance, then a great deal would be achieved for nature and also our well-being,” says Karsten Grunewald.

More information on Bio-Mo-D project

Scientific contact at the IOER
Dr. Karsten Grunewald, e-Mail:

With the Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports biodiversity research and the development of new, effective species conservation measures.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.