Why it’s time to make your business nature positive
Directly or indirectly, around half the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is highly to moderately dependent on nature.
Protection and restoration of nature must be integrated into business practices to safeguard future economies.
Look around you — everything depends on nature. Not just the planet, but also the well-being of industry, business, people and society.
That includes businesses like yours. Whether directly or indirectly, around half the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is highly to moderately dependent on nature, such as the food and clean water we need to keep us healthy and productive. Without nature, the other half of GDP, all that we produce and consume, would not be sustainable.
Climate action is now broadly accepted as a foundational component of good governance. It’s time to use this momentum to bring the same sentiment to integrating nature into business practices.
What is nature positive and how can it benefit your business?
Simply put, nature positive is when nature is restored rather than degraded. It is anticipated that, just like net-zero targets, setting ‘nature-positive’ ambitions will become a core business benchmark in the immediate future. It’s up to chairs, like you, to pioneer and develop this concept within your organization and beyond.
As shareholders and broader stakeholders become aware of the risks, the expectation for your business to have a nature-positive action plan to address these risks will increase. Businesses, for example, will need to integrate nature into strategy, embed more risk management and oversight processes and develop a comprehensive approach to disclosures and communication.
What does this mean for a board chair?
Your future business operations rely on organizations protecting and regenerating nature. Failure to act could lead to extensive, and possibly irreversible, nature loss. This kind of loss could result in widespread systemic risks and shocks to the economy. For businesses, lasting consequences could include resource shortages, rising commodity prices, job losses and political instability.
No business is immune to these disruptions. We all have a critical role to play in protecting more than our bottom lines. As a chair, you have a responsibility to help your business navigate these risks.
By putting nature on your agenda, you put your business at the forefront of change. Promoting not only a net-zero future, but a nature-positive future.
By recognizing the incredible and essential value of nature as a core part of your business and implementing strong governance to support this purpose, you can reinforce the physical and commercial resilience of your company, while creating greater value for all stakeholders.
Nature’s degradation is a vast and rapidly evolving issue. While we don’t have perfect information, you must make a start or risk being too late. Businesses aren’t expected to have all the answers, but you are expected to have a plan. There are two levels of action your business and board can begin taking.
How your business can act
To accelerate recovery, businesses must invest in activities that protect, rather than destroy, nature. They must:
Avoid and reduce the business impact on nature by applying regenerative practices or improving resource efficiency, such as reducing water usage through targets or diversifying the use of materials. This includes reducing pollution, reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, reducing wastes, improving the sustainability of a product’s lifecycle and setting no-deforestation policies within value chains. This can be done both within the direct operational sphere of the business or indirectly through the value chain.
Restore and regenerate nature by investing in restoration and regeneration programmes and collaborating to develop nature-based solutions. This includes investing in natural infrastructure wherever possible, such as constructed wetlands for water treatment, conserving and enhancing forested areas for flood prevention and restoring mangrove ecosystems for coastal stability. This should be done with appropriate engagement with local communities and indigenous people, using a context-sensitive approach, to protect their rights and optimise positive impacts.
How your board can act
Oversee and take ownership of a structured process to strongly position your business to meet nature-related goals by:
• Reflecting on nature’s importance to the business.
• Taking stock of existing initiatives and assessments across your value chain.
• Locating your organization’s interface with nature and identifying exposure to nature-related risks, impacts and opportunities.
• Developing a plan for how you will further assess and act to address risks and opportunities.
• Engaging with your stakeholders.
The Chairperson’s Guide to Valuing Nature takes board chairs through why and how being nature positive matters to every business, while helping chairs navigate this transformation. Image: World Economic Forum in collaboration with Deloitte
A nature-positive future holds unlimited opportunities for businesses to both mitigate risk and explore new products, markets or business models.