Road to COP 15: aligning business action with the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and 2030 Action Targets

Growing awareness and collaboration for a nature-positive world has contributed to building business confidence to halt and reverse nature loss, delivering tools and guidance to help on implementation and action within operations and across value chains.

Published: 29 Jun 2022
Author: Maria Ana Campos
Type: Insight

Over the last two years we have seen significant engagement from 1,100 companies who are advocating for a nature-positive world, and hundreds of leading companies making commitments and applying available tools and data to help implement and deliver the relevant targets included in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). One piece of good news is there are more targeted resources on the way to support business implementation, such as the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). While the Paris-equivalent global policy process for nature has been delayed, there is a clear direction of travel for the Post-2020 GBF. 

Last week, policymakers met in Nairobi, Kenya, to continue the negotiations as part of the Open-Ended Working Group 4 (OEWG-4) on the Post-2020 GBF. There continues to be frustration at the slow pace of negotiations, with five months remaining until COP 15, there are many issues to be resolved and much work to be done in finalizing the 22 targets of the GBF (an additional target on gender inclusion was added in Nairobi). High-level political engagement is required in the run-up to and at COP15 if an ambitious agreement is to be adopted by member states. 

COP 15 is now set to take place at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) in Montreal, Canada from 5 to 17 December 2022. As COP 15 President, China will continue to preside over the Meetings, with the logo and the theme of COP 15 maintained. China will also convene the High-Level Segment and lead the facilitation of negotiations. Read more about this announcement

Member states will adopt the Post-2020 (GBF) at COP 15, which will hopefully provide a clear direction and strong signal on the need to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, in line with the Global Goal for Nature. While this Global Goal sets the trajectory at a systems level, work still needs to be done to unpack how the goal translates for business. In March this year, during another round of CBD negotiations (OEWG-3) in Geneva, WBCSD and Business for Nature, hosted a multi-stakeholder roundtable focused on the business implementation of the Post-2020 GBF [1]. Here we set out how business can play a role in delivering some of the key targets in the framework. 

Target 1 – Spatial planning: Delivering on global goals on climate and nature is ultimately a case of resolving competing interests for land. Spatial intelligence can play a critical role in supporting national spatial planning processes. It can help businesses assess their existing footprint, commit to robust ‘nature-positive’ targets and transform their value chains to deliver on their commitments. This SPACES discussion, jointly facilitated by UNEP-WCMC and Systemiq ignited the development of a whitepaper (forthcoming) highlighting the principles, barriers that hinder and actions that can drive the use of spatial intelligence. 

Target 7 – Pollution: The GBF targets 3 main sources of pollution, including plastics, pesticides and herbicides [2]. Plastic pollution is one of the drivers of nature loss. Every year 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced, with only 9% of today’s plastic waste being recycled. Of these, 11 million tons end up in the ocean annually, and plastic leakage into ocean is expected to triple by 2040. WBCSD  is engaged and contributes to the UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution process by emphasizing the need to develop a global plastic disclosure and reporting framework, increasing the understanding of sustainability (incl. circularity) based on the SPHERE framework and showcasing business solutions to this particular challenge. 

Target 8 – Nature-climate nexus: Nature plays an important role in the carbon cycle by removing and storing carbon; subsequently restoring a nature positive environment will also play a critical role in addressing the climate crisis.  Put simply, without achieving a nature-positive world by 2030 we also cannot achieve net zero by 2050 and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Businesses can benefit from guidance on the role that Natural Climate Solutions can play, and in particular how the use of NCS in value chain decarbonization and as voluntary carbon credits can greatly enhance their support to reduce the climate as well as biodiversity crises. It covers issues related to, core benefits beyond carbon and standards for NCS credits (this work is part of the Nature & Nature-based Solutions project and the NCS Alliance both at WBCSD). 

Target 15 – Role of business: There was significant momentum in favor of mandatory requirements for businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature. Countries also agreed to “take legal, administrative or policy measures” for business and financial institutions to act. The need for business and financial institutions to reduce their negative impacts on nature by at least half and increase positive impacts was also supported by many countries during the negotiations but will need further discussion in Montreal. Following work in 2021 on breaking down what nature-positive means for business, WBCSD is developing sectoral roadmaps (forestry, agriculture, built environment, energy) to help companies understand what nature positive means for their sector and break down key actions across the "high-level actions" businesses need to consider to address nature loss. These Roadmaps include  guidance on assessing dependencies, measuring impacts and tracking efforts to halt and reverse nature loss across the value chain. 

Target 18 – Subsidies: Recent estimates show that environmentally harmful subsidies represent at least USD$1.8 trillion annually. To reform, redirect or eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies, the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) will look at unlocking subsidies in the context of agricultural value chains. This project will identify and share credible examples of how harmful subsidies can be repurposed.

Leading businesses are not waiting for absolute certainty. They recognize that action on nature is needed now. The SBTN has set out interim targets that will ensure business are on the right path to set science-based targets for nature when available. Businesses can  pilot the beta version of TNFD’s Nature-Related Risk & Opportunity Management and Disclosure Framework to start understanding how to assess, manage and disclose their nature-related risks and opportunities. WBCSD is working with SBTN, TNFD and other leading players to ensure that the frameworks in development are ambitious and practical. As such, it is intended that more companies will start and accelerate their nature journey and contribute  to a net-zero, nature-positive and equitable future.

To learn more about how to align business action with the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, please contact Maria Ana Campos

[1] Stakeholders discussed some of the critical, business-relevant aspects of the framework – such as spatial planning, pollution, the nature-climate nexus, reporting and data requirements. These discussions focused on how business can contribute to attaining these targets. These discussions surfaced work that can help deliver on these targets, challenges, and important ongoing work that provides guidance to business when it comes to implementing the Post-2020 GBF.[2] WBCSD’s pathway on food & agriculture is putting in place mechanisms to understand and address pesticides and herbicides linked to fertilizers.

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