Practical Steps to Develop a Forward-Looking Nature Strategy

Guidance on building a credible nature strategy and contributing to a nature-positive world
Practical Steps to Develop a Forward-Looking Nature Strategy
Publ. date 4 Dec 2023
Organizations not only impact but also rely on nature for resources and ecosystem services. Moreover, research shows that more than half (55%) of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature. The topics of nature and biodiversity have gained public attention in recent years with intergovernmental organizations advocating for ambitious policies, legislation and regulations. Businesses have a key role to play in supporting governments and becoming part of the solution. This article outlines how organizations can start or accelerate their nature-positive journey by applying the four steps from the High-level Business Actions on Nature (ACT-D) framework.

In a significant move, the European Commission and Council have sealed a provisional agreement on the Nature Restauration Law, a groundbreaking initiative with ambitious targets. By 2030, they aim to rejuvenate 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas and 30% of degraded habitats, rising to 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

This development comes almost a year after the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework at the COP15, which aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. This historical agreement includes concrete measures, such as protecting 30% of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans by 2030. Once adopted, the Nature Restoration Law will play a pivotal role in helping EU and its Member States to meet these restoration targets and ultimately restore all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

Research shows that 91% of experts from across academia, NGOs, the private sector, and policymakers view the state of nature and biodiversity as a catastrophic or alarming issue. However, over three-quarters (76%) say that the private sector is currently poor in its action to protect nature and biodiversity, even though there is a clear business case for having a nature strategy. Indeed, companies can benefit from ambitious strategy by boosting their resilience, reducing negative impacts and strengthening sustainability goals.

In that regard, the collaborative campaign ‘It’s Now for Nature’ was recently launched to bring together all businesses to act on nature and contribute towards a nature-positive world by 2030. This initiative steams from Business for Nature, a global coalition of 85+ partner organizations (including WBCSD, Capitals Coalition, TNFD, WEF, and CDP) which aims to scale and speed up business action on nature.

As part of the campaign, the coalition developed a Nature Strategy Handbook which builds on existing frameworks and guidance such as the High-level Business Actions on Nature (ACT-D) and which is summarized in the following four steps. Moreover, a checklist of these practical steps can be found in the download section.

Assess: Through a double materiality assessment and value chain analysis, organizations can evaluate their most significant material impacts and dependencies on nature and the stage(s) in the value chain where these are located. As a result, companies can understand their nature-related risks and opportunities, assess if these are already covered within their Enterprise Risk Management and set Key Performance Indicators. As an example, Vestas, provider of wind turbines, conducts extensive environmental risks assessment when establishing wind plants.

Commit: Organizations need to define their goals and ambitions related to nature as well as create a business case for taking action. Then, nature-positive (SMART) targets should be set to achieve this ambition, using guidance from the Science-Based Targets Network. It is also essential to explain how organizations plan to monitor, evaluate and disclose progress against these targets as well as how the nature and climate targets support each other.

Transform: The next step is to transform ambition in concrete policies and initiatives to avoid and reduce the companies impact on nature and restore and regenerate nature. In particular, it is essential to explain how these actions address the identified impacts, dependencies, risks and opportunities as well as how they support the organization’s climate, social and corporate strategy.

Moreover, it is important to describe the ways in which the company collaborates with stakeholders throughout the value chain to implement these actions. On top of these initiatives, the nature strategy should be embedded within corporate governance by having it approved and overseen at the board and/or executive management level to ensure engagement, accountability, and credibility.

Disclose: The last steps are to seek out independent validation of the nature strategy to enhance credibility of action, align reporting with major voluntary and/or mandatory reporting standards and publicly report on progress. Iberdrola developed an extensive biodiversity plan with three pillars (measure, act and transform) to achieve its goal of having a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2030. Through its website and biodiversity report, the electric utility company outlines its commitments, vision, governance approach, action plans and different initiatives and programs.

With so many standards, frameworks and initiatives related to nature and biodiversity, it is easy for organizations to feel overwhelmed and get lost amongst so much information. It is therefore positive to see a collaborative initiative that considers many existing recommendations and sets a common direction for businesses to start and/or accelerate their nature strategy.

SLR can help you advance your Nature & Biodiversity journey

SLR supports businesses in understanding their interface with nature, developing strategies and actions to drive change and to meet the increasing requirement to report, disclose and demonstrate a positive engagement with nature. This is delivered through the following Nature, Natural Capital & Biodiversity Related Capabilities:

  • Nature-based Disclosure
  • Natural Capital Strategy
  • Natural Capital & Ecosystem Services Valuation
  • Nature-based Solution
  • Nature Positive

If you are looking for support to develop a robust Nature & Biodiversity strategy or to conduct a double materiality assessment, please reach out to Johana Schlotter, at johana@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Image by Damien Manhes, taken close to the community of Gamboa, Peru, in the Amazon rainforest.

About Damien Manhes

Dynamic sustainability professional eager to help companies become a force for positive change.  damien@finchandbeak.com

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