Biodiversity protection should be a priority for all businesses

A horse takes a swim at the Banado La Estrella, in Formosa, Argentina April 20, 2023.

A horse takes a swim at the Banado La Estrella, in Formosa, Argentina April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

World Biodiversity Day should be a wake-up call for businesses to embrace nature protection – for their own self interest

Eva Zabey is the CEO of Business for Nature, a global coalition driving credible business action and policy ambition to achieve a nature-positive economy for all by 2030.

As we mark World Biodiversity Day, it is essential to remember that all businesses depend on nature, and the services and resources it provides.

While some sectors are particularly dependent on nature – such as agribusinesses relying on healthy soils, pollination, and natural pest control – all companies rely on a healthy planet.

The interconnected challenges we face, such as the energy and cost of living crises, climate change and pandemics – are also related to the planet’s fragile state. Business cannot function without a thriving natural world.

Yet our lack of action to protect that world mean we are hurtling towards irreversible tipping points and accelerating the threats to our economies and livelihoods.

The business case for nature

With growing understanding of the key role of nature for our health, happiness, wellbeing and economies, both social norms and regulations are changing. Companies that fail to act on nature are increasingly exposed to a variety of risks.

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Companies should anticipate that the negative impacts of some of their activities, such as polluting pristine ecosystems, will eventually become illegal.

For example, the EU parliament recently supported the inclusion of the most serious environmental crimes to be condemned under EU law. Companies can get ahead of the curve by preparing for a policy and regulatory environment that values nature and people as well as financial performance.

There are also strong commercial arguments for companies to engage on biodiversity. The World Economic Forum estimates that business models that reverse nature loss could offer opportunities for new products and services worth $10 trillion a year to businesses.

Many businesses understand this and have started embedding nature in their decision making to tackle nature loss in their operations and supply chains. Companies like Natura & Co, GSK, Nestlé, Unilever, Aviva, and H&M are prioritising sustainable procurement and investing in nature-based solutions.

A new deal for nature

Such actions are currently voluntary and fragmented, but that is about to change as a result of the recently agreed Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

This historic deal, signed by 196 countries at the United Nations COP15 conference in Montreal in December, set an overarching goal of halting and reversing nature and biodiversity loss by 2030.

This “nature-positive” ambition is underpinned by 23 specific targets, such as the “30x30” objective of protecting 30% of the earth’s land and sea territories by 2030.

Companies have a role to play in achieving all the targets, but the most relevant is Target 15, which obliges governments to require all large companies and financial institutions to assess and disclose their risks, dependencies, and impacts related to nature by 2030 at the latest.

Getting ready for mandatory assessment and disclosure

This is a wake-up call for businesses to act on nature and is potentially the most transformative target of the GBF, with the power to reshape our socio-economic system.

Nature assessments and disclosures will provide governments, consumers, and investors with the information they need to fully understand how a company's operations, supply and value chains, impact nature.

Governments need this to have a full understanding of their country's natural assets, while investors and customers will use it to make informed purchasing and investment decisions.

The business sector supported the adoption of this target, with more than 400 companies and financial institutions backing our “Make it Mandatory” campaign as it ensures a level playing field between companies.

With Target 15 set to transform the rules of the economic game, frameworks are being developed to cut through the complexity.

This includes the Science Based Targets Network to help companies set science-based targets for nature, and the upcoming framework from the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures which will enable companies to integrate nature into their decision making and ensure that they are disclosing the right information to financial institutions and regulators.

Nature is everyone’s business

By 2030, we need to have brought back more nature than we had in 2020. The GBF paves the way for bold, cross-sector collaboration and calls for evert part of society to rethink and reset its relationship with nature.

No individual government, organization or business can solve the biodiversity crisis in isolation. Complex challenges like this need more, not less, cooperation.

While no business can address the crisis alone, every company has its part to play by transforming its operations, shaping nature-positive value chains, and advocating for meaningful policy change.

Either we all reach a nature-positive world by 2030, or none of us will. It is the ultimate joint effort for nature and humanity.

Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Context or the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


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