Taking the Path toward a Nature Positive, Carbon Negative Business – by Tom Butterworth MCIEEM & Margot Greenen

This blog has been written in conjunction with CIEEM’s upcoming conference ‘Delivering a Nature Positive, Carbon Negative Future.

Nature is being degraded faster than at any other time in human history. With over half of the global GDP directly dependent on nature and its services[1],  nature’s loss poses an increasingly significant risk to people, businesses and governments – and conversely, its recovery presents a great opportunity. Not only do organisations have a key role to play in reversing nature loss and doing so in ways that work alongside Net Zero and other Environmental and Social Governance goals; but growing international momentum around COP15 and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will also likely incite new business actions for nature.

In this context, the term nature positive has become increasingly popular. Though a strict definition has yet to be decided, there is a general consensus that nature positive means that an organisation’s impacts is resulting in more measurable and visible nature than there was before its activities started. The Business for Nature coalition has defined the goal to ‘halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, so that there is more nature in 2030 than 2020, and achieve full recovery by 2050 so that thriving ecosystems and nature-based solutions continue to support future generations’[2].

But how can these ambitious ideas and goals be accomplished in practice? The UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF)[3] is developing a Nature Positive Business Pledge that will guide companies towards achieving better outcomes for nature. The purpose of the Pledge is three-fold:

  1. Provide a set of principles that help deliver Nature Positive as a robust approach and achieve real benefits for nature whilst contributing to wider societal and environmental goals;
  2. Establish a clear process for businesses to become Nature Positive using the range of valuable guidance documents, advice and approaches already produced for businesses;
  3. Showcase and celebrate success.

Crucially, the Pledge recognises that Nature Positive will not be exactly the same for each business. Instead of setting a specific approach, it encourages business to commit to evidence-based SMART goals and targets, report and track their progress as it is being made, and progressively update to more ambitious targets through a ratcheted commitment system. The more top-down Nature Positive Business Pledge is complemented by CIEEM’s Action 2030 Pledge[4], which offers a bottom-up approach around commitments that individuals can make to help reduce their impacts on climate and nature and that they can champion to their team, employers, clients and communities. But in both cases the premise remains simple – getting people and businesses to bring back nature, one action at a time.

[1] WEF_New_Nature_Economy_Report_2020.pdf (weforum.org)

[2] https://www.businessfornature.org/

[3] UK Business & Biodiversity Forum (business-biodiversity.co.uk)

[4] Our Member’s Action 2030 Pledges | CIEEM,

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