Published on
February 2, 2023

To Stay in Business, Companies Must Account for Their Impacts on Nature

The shift in narrative from wishful thinking to policy directives and UN-supported goals and targets, means that large and transnational companies need to understand their impacts on nature.

 min read
To Stay in Business, Companies Must Account for Their Impacts on Nature

COP 15 culminated in the creation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a historic and unprecedented agreement that will guide global action on nature through to 2050. This was reaffirmed by the recent conclusion at Davos that biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are among the greatest risks to humanity over the next decade, having an impact across global economies. Critical mass has certainly arrived in terms of making the restoration and protection of nature and biodiversity an imperative.

The shift in narrative from wishful thinking to policy directives and UN-supported goals and targets, means that large and transnational companies need to understand their impacts on nature. Simply because having full accountability around nature and a net positive approach to it have become a licence to do business. Now, more than ever, businesses need support to understand, measure, redress and disclose their impacts on nature.

The outcome of COP 15 — the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, or GBF — is positive. Points within the framework include addressing biodiversity preservation, restoring ecosystems and protecting indigenous rights. It also includes clear-cut targets to stop and reverse biodiversity loss. A key target is the aptly named ‘30 by 30’, which sets out to ensure that by 2030, parties place 30% of degraded inland water, terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems under effective restoration in order to protect biodiversity. Additionally, by 2023, at least 30% of ecosystems considered to be highly important to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services must be properly conserved and managed. So we are seeing concrete goals and targets and a call for accountability and action, particularly to those in the corporate and finance sectors.

More recently, the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos meeting concluded. Here too, there was widespread recognition that climate and biodiversity are key to our continued survival. The summit saw a surge in 2050 commitments from industry heavyweights and banks. That nature and its preservation was such a talking point at the meeting affirms the narrative built through science-based evidence and the likes of the 2021 Dasgupta Review.

Why now?

Global warming and the climate have been hot topics for a number of years, but it’s only recently that biodiversity and its protection are receiving the same attention. What has changed?

From an environmental point of view, the reason is simple — we’re reaching a biodiversity loss tipping point. Species decline is rapid. The world’s biodiversity intactness is estimated to be around 75% overall, which is much lower than the 90% threshold scientists consider safe. Not only is the now-likely loss of countless species devastating, but this loss is also wreaking havoc on the natural world, and we will soon learn how that affects humanity.

Biodiversity is fundamental to our survival and crucial to the health of Earth’s many ecosystems. So many of the processes that keep the planet ticking cannot function without numerous organisms doing their bit at various intersections. Each organism has a role to play; the organisms are the processes. Bees and birds are pollinators, responsible for an estimated third of the world’s crop production. Without them we’d have no almonds, blueberries, cherries, apples — the list goes on. Agriculture also relies heavily on invertebrates, who help maintain crop soil health. Crop soil is teeming with microbes that are invaluable in freeing up the nutrients that the plants we eat need to grow. Bushes, wetlands, trees and wild grasslands slow down water flow, allowing soil to absorb rainfall. Their removal or degradation can increase flooding. Those same trees clean our air and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In our waters, coral reefs and mangrove forests function as natural defences against waves and storms in coastal areas.

There’s a double materiality at play here: our industries have an enormous impact on nature and are consistently degrading it, yet we cannot survive without it. 50% of our economy depends on nature, and the more of nature that disappears, the more we’ll start to notice gaps in that economy.

The GBF is therefore of paramount importance to how we protect our planet and restore what we can before it’s too late. And key to the framework are the obligations now placed on businesses and the finance sector to curb their impact and restore nature. We must transform to a nature positive economy.

That nature is key to our survival and our economy is not news, but it is clear that the urgency of the problem has stepped up. This is evidenced by increasing demands for nature positive outcomes, and an increasing pressure on businesses and investors to meet them. Being nature positive is slowly becoming a licence to operate. In the same way businesses are required to file their taxes properly, ensure data compliance and disclose earnings, they will soon be required to disclose and where needed, redress their impact on nature.

But that’s easier said than done — the quality and quantity of nature data are definitely improving but many of us don’t know how to find it, what to do with it, or how to act on it.

Nature Strategy Consultancy

To take steps towards becoming nature positive, organisations need to close the gap between promises, compliance and delivery of nature-focused objectives. They do that by harnessing the power of accurate, reliable and real-time nature performance data to make decisions that benefit nature. They account to be accountable. To nature, their stakeholders, the law, their lenders and employees.

That’s why NatureMetrics is launching its new Nature Strategy consultancy service. Aside from already providing democratised access to nature performance data, our goal with our new consultancy service is to empower businesses to understand their risks, develop strategies, figure out a road map, help communicate those strategies and do far more with the data they can obtain.

Responding to the growing (legal) requirements for nature positive outcomes is challenging, especially if a given business model is largely based on natural resources. Contributing to nature positive should be possible for all, though, and while understanding how to get there can be challenging, our goal is to help anyone we work with meet their targets.

The service is aimed at two kinds of businesses. First, our goal is to support those businesses that have an existing interest in biodiversity and nature positive outcomes. These are the businesses that have commitments, a roadmap, may have run pilots, but now need support to optimise their efforts, respond to the changing demands and deliver a cohesive strategy. Then, we’re also supporting the businesses that are just embarking on their biodiversity journey — the businesses that are concerned they may be blindsided by requirements they may not yet understand how to handle.

Our Nature Strategy Service is designed to help businesses develop a master plan to understand, measure, redress and disclose their impacts on the natural world. We do this by first identifying the scope, applications, needs and positioning. After that, we will help companies navigate the calls from regulators and civil society to deliver nature positive objectives through strategy services, leading to nature accounting and the need for ongoing reporting and disclosures of nature metrics and indicators.

Get in touch

There’s no way around it — as a society, we need to come together to do everything we can to preserve our invaluable biodiversity. We’ve set ourselves the goal of helping any business or organisation do that. If you’d like to know more about how we can do that for you, please get in touch via our Nature Strategy Service page.

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