Where is Your Company on the Nature-Positive Journey?

From external regulatory pressures to internal corporate commitments, there is a myriad of reasons why a company may begin thinking about its dependencies and impacts on nature. WHC knows this all too well from 35 years of experience supporting the private sector in biodiversity-related efforts.  

While the reasoning behind a corporate commitment to nature positivity varies from company to company, WHC has identified many commonalities across industries and sectors. With companies increasingly looking to engage in nature-positive actions, WHC aggregated these common findings into a model called the Nature-Positive Journey. 

But what does this journey look like, and how can companies get started? WHC experts addressed these questions and more in a recent webinar focused on the how and why of corporate nature positivity. 

Why get started now? 

In order to set the scene for the Nature-Positive Journey, it’s important to understand why companies should embark on this journey now. The earth is currently experiencing a nature crisis, considered by many to the be planet’s sixth mass extinction event. There has been a documented 69% decrease in monitored global wildlife populations since 1970, and factors like habitat loss, overexploitation of nature, invasive species, disease and climate change are all drivers for biodiversity loss worldwide. These biodiversity losses will not only impact nature, but also the global economy, as over half of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature. 

Because of these impacts, governments, financial institutions and corporations are beginning to take concrete action for nature. Due in part to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which was adopted by 196 countries at COP 15 in December 2022, governments are developing national action plans to reach nature-positive targets, including requirements for businesses. It is clear that, because of the dire state of biodiversity and these growing external pressures, now is the time for companies to act for nature. 

Navigating the ecosystem of nature-related frameworks 

Momentum is quickly gathering across many sectors to focus on nature-positive outcomes, resulting in various initiatives, tools and frameworks related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns. Many companies have relayed to WHC that the complicated landscape of these emerging frameworks can feel daunting, so having a clearer picture of their expectations and interoperability can help companies determine which frameworks best fit their needs. 

A few notable frameworks include the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) and the Science-based Targets for Nature (SBTN). TNFD focuses on nature-related risk management and disclosure, with these disclosures helping companies prepare for Target 15 of the GBF, and SBTN provides guidance for place-based impact management. While both frameworks ultimately develop action plans to meet and report on nature-related targets, TNFD focuses heavily on disclosure, whereas SBTN’s focus is more on acting and tracking measurable targets.  

TNFD and SBTN are just two of the many frameworks, initiatives and regulations that currently exist, with more undoubtedly on the way. As such, it can be difficult to parse the connections between them and understand where each framework fits into an overall nature-related strategy. WHC is working to simplify this, using a sample scenario in the webinar to illustrate how various initiatives, as well as additional actions like WHC Conservation Certification®, each play a role in a company’s nature-related assessments, commitments, disclosures and transformation.  

Watch WHC’s free, on-demand webinar to learn more about the various nature-related frameworks. 

Hearing from companies about their place on the journey 

Considering there are many frameworks and initiatives that support a goal of reaching nature positivity, many companies are wondering how to get started. Every company’s journey will look different, and there is rarely a straight path to nature positivity, as external and internal disruptions will inevitably have an impact. Despite this variability, WHC has identified six general phases on the Nature-Positive Journey. 

A company will typically start in the exploration phase, where it begins to understand its relationship with nature. Once a company has determined that biodiversity is material to its success, an internal commitment to take nature-related action often follows. Further assessments and planning help to identify specific nature-related risks, impacts, dependencies and opportunities across locations, business units and supply chains. Based on these findings, a company develops a nature strategy to address these impacts, which it often pilots and adapts at a subset of locations to collect feedback and adjust before adopting and launching it more broadly. Armed with this nature strategy, a company can go on to continuously innovate in the face of new regulations, competition and increased understanding of nature – becoming an industry leader. 

Attendees on the webinar represented an interesting cross section of the private sector, and they provided useful data about the corporate nature-positive journey in a brief poll. When asked about their company’s current position on the nature-positive journey, most respondents indicated they are in the two earliest stages: Exploration (35%) or Assessment & Planning (27%). The majority of respondents were no further than the Exploration phase in their journey, with only 10% having reached the Adoption & Launch phase. 

When asked about the barriers they see limiting their advancement on the journey, financial resources (35%) and lack of knowing where to start (27%) were the top responses. Specifically, a lack of knowing where to start was indicated as the biggest hurdle for those in the Exploration and Assessment & Planning phases, while a lack of financial resources was the top reason for not advancing in three phases: Commitment, Piloting & Adapting and Strategy Adoption & Launch.

These findings show that guidance and support early in the journey is a top need for many companies. WHC is working to meet this need by developing offerings that can help propel companies to the next step on the journey. From biodiversity fitness screenings to framework readiness assessments to the creation of a corporate nature strategy, WHC has created a menu of options to support companies at all phases of the Nature-Positive Journey.  

Descriptions of these offerings, their placement on the nature-positive journey and real-life examples are available in WHC’s free white paper: The Corporate Nature-Positive Journey| Private Sector Biodiversity Methodologies, From Strategy to Implementation. 

Ready to get started?  

By embarking on the Nature-Positive Journey and implementing a corporate nature strategy, companies benefit in a number of ways. Not only does a nature strategy demonstrate a company’s commitment to both people and planet, but it can also support other corporate-level strategies for climate or sustainability. A nature strategy helps a company align with various regulatory and financial expectations and supports business decision-making by putting a focus on nature-positive actions and lowering nature-related risks. 

As biodiversity becomes more of a hot-button issue, and with the emergence of more voluntary nature and regulatory nature-related disclosures and expectations, it is clear that now is the time for companies to act for nature. Want to learn more? Watch WHC’s free, on-demand webinar for more details on the steps on the corporate Nature-Positive Journey and to learn how, no matter where you are, you can start taking action for nature.

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