COP15 reflections: how is business stepping up to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)

Published: 20 Dec 2022
Author: Diane Holdorf, Executive Vice President, WBCSD
Type: Insight

Yesterday, we read the news, from the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), announcing that governments agreed on the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The framework sets out a plan to implement action to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 and ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of ‘living in harmony with nature’ is fulfilled.

While a numeric target for impacts is not included, the framework clearly sets the direction for all players in society. During the two weeks at COP15, there was an unprecedented participation from business and the finance community signaling their readiness to implement a strong agreement through actions, to mainstream the protection and restoration of nature across their operations and supply chains and support implementation of relevant targets and milestones to address material drivers of nature loss.   

Overall, the agreement on the GBF contains crucial decisions that mark the turning point for nature protection, conservation and restoration. At the same time, some critical ambition targets were not fully achieved. So, the real work starts now. Governments, businesses, financial institutions, and civil society must share the burden to deliver on the agreement. This will be required to assess what is material, set targets and disclose risks and impacts on nature resulting in stronger accountability and more informed decisions by relevant stakeholders.

The application of lessons learned from the climate journey is remarkable. At COP27, WBCSD engaged leading member companies in developing a business implementation agenda, The Business of Climate Recovery: Accelerating Accountability, Ambition and Action. This agenda sets out interventions for accelerating the global decarbonization of business and supports business leaders, in close collaboration with governments, to sharpen accountability, raise ambition, and deliver action at speed and scale. We are moving forward nature accountability in a similar way to our approach to climate accountability to establish a global corporate accountability system for nature.

The pieces are in place to move quickly on three pillars:

  • Accountability, to develop trust with key stakeholders through accurate and transparent accounting for nature-related impacts and dependencies as well as adoption of the recommendations of TNFD.
  • Ambition, to support the adoption of Science Based Targets for Nature that drive business strategy to align with the GBF.
  • Action, to put in place nature-positive transition plans that allocate capital to the most significant areas of risk and opportunity within and beyond value chains.

WBCSD is committed to working with its member companies and partners to help them recognize nature as a material issue and fully understand the scope and scale of their impact and dependencies on nature.

Enhancing accountability of commitments and progress

The disclosure of information that substantiates the ambition of commitments and progress of action is critical in providing key stakeholders with visibility to companies’ nature-positive journey. Through our pilot of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures framework with 23 of our member companies, we will feed into the TNFD development process to ensure a robust and business-applicable set of recommendations is released in September 2023. We will also explore the challenges of Scope 3 emissions (emissions across value chains) data for nature and look to expand the scope of the Partnership for Carbon Transparency to include other environmental data beyond greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Aligning business ambition with the Global Biodiversity Framework

Business alignment with the GBF will be driven by the adoption of science-based targets (SBTs) for nature. Through our partnership with Science-based Targets for Nature (SBTN), we will work with our member companies and beyond to prepare them for SBTs for nature adoption and distill and synthesize lessons learned as part of our roadmaps to nature-positive.

Investing in actions within and beyond value-chains for nature-positive and net-zero impact

The transition to nature-positive requires investment in the transition guided by the identification of material risks and opportunities within and beyond value chains. During COP15, to complement the suite of sector-specific roadmaps, WBCSD released a draft for consultation of guidance developed with 60 leading companies and partners, Roadmaps to nature positive: Guidelines to accelerate business accountability, ambition and action for a nature-positive future”.  This will help companies to assess, commit, transform and disclose their relationship with nature. We will also identify sector-wide priorities for actions that support nature-positive outcomes and explore the role of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in meeting biodiversity, climate and social goals through the development of our NbS blueprint, which will build on the lessons learned for Natural Climate Solutions (NCS).

As a first step, 15 leading companies from the Forest Solutions Group (FSG) released Phase I of the Forest Sector Nature-Positive Roadmap during COP27 to support business in scaling up actions to halt and reverse nature loss, setting science-based nature-related goals and targets, and disclosing progress using quantifiable metrics. At COP15, the case studies by Stora Enso, Mondi and Sappi put the spotlight on business action for nature-positive.

To help answer the need for harmonization in the ecosystem restoration field by aligning and amplifying action for maximized impact at scale, the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) coalition created the framework for Restoration Actions. This work is an example of ongoing OP2B contribution to support the framework’s mission of halting and reversing of nature and biodiversity loss by 2030 and complementary to OP2B’s framework for Regenerative Agriculture which completes the guidance for companies on restoration and regeneration.

Integrated nature and climate action

There are no net zero emissions without nature positive and the business approach to the climate emergency and nature loss must be integrated. Central to this is the scaling of NCS within and beyond value chains. The carbon market provides a mechanism to channel private finance to net zero and nature positive projects, and through the work of the NCS Alliance, WBCSD is providing guidance with an emphasis on high-quality carbon credits. For the private sector, in addition to reducing negative impacts, a five-fold increase in investments for nature is required with co-benefits for climate. Enabling private finance to invest in intact nature is a key means to serve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the GBF.

We support our member companies in implementing business solutions toward net zero, nature positive and equity targets in their own operations as well as their value chains. By working with experts and members from across the world, we help businesses to collaborate across sectors and value chains to scale NCS and nature-based solutions in response to our planetary emergency – to protect and restore the natural systems on which we all depend.

The decade ahead must be nature-positive and through this support to members and partners, WBCSD is helping ensure that business contribution is high on ambition, collective in its actions and accountable to the shared goal of nature positive by 2030 followed by full recovery by 2050.

For more information on how you can get involved, please see our nature action work here.

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