Biodiversity means the variety of life on our planet, and covers the variety of species, the genetic differences within species and the diversity of ecosystems. We rely on it as the basis for our continued existence: healthy food, clean water, fertile soils and a balanced climate. Protecting biological diversity is one of the greatest societal challenges of our time. The United Nations has therefore declared the current decade to be the “UN Decade on Biodiversity”.

Volkswagen has been committed to protecting biodiversity since 2007 and is a founder member of the Biodiversity in Good Company e.V. initiative. In our mission statement, we have committed to supporting the protection of species at all locations. We primarily contribute to achieving the targets of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and employing materials and resources as efficiently as possible. As a consequence of the diesel issue, we are putting our membership of the Biodiversity in Good Company e.V. initiative on hold for the time being.

Biodiversity is a component of our environmental management. We have, among other things, appointed a biodiversity officer and had external expert assessments drawn up on the risks for water, the soil and biodiversity for 32 locations of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Porsche and MAN brands.

One of the projects we jointly implemented with Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU) was a moor conservation project in Germany. NABU additionally established an International Moor Conservation Fund in 2015 with a donation from Volkswagen Financial Services AG. Volkswagen and NABU also worked together as partners on their joint “Willkommen Wolf!” wolf conservation initiative in 2015. Our longstanding cooperation agreement with NABU expired as of December 31, 2015. Following suspension of the negotiations to extend this agreement as a consequence of the diesel issue, we are working hard on achieving the requirements for continuing this strategic partnership.

At our international sites, we support the protection of nature and biodiversity with various partners. At the Urumqi location in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, we support biodiversity research. Since 2011, we have also been supporting the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in South Africa. Together with the Trust, we have been involved in the protection of penguins, dolphins, whales, seabirds and sharks, and also conduct research, education and training programs to strengthen environmental awareness. In the reporting period, the Trust opened a sanctuary for seabirds there.