Accelerating business along the road to a nature-positive future

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08 December, 2022


WBCSD insights



Diane Holdorf, WBCSD, Jenny Davis-Peccoud, Bain & Company

  • The food, land and ocean use system (impacting 72% of species under threat*), contributes to deforestation, freshwater exhaustion, water and soil pollution, and habitat destruction through both agriculture and forestry.
  • In the infrastructure and built environment system (29% of species threatened), activities drive degradation of land and sea beds, increased flood risk, and water and soil pollution.
  • Lastly, in the extractives and energy system (18% of species threatened), mining and oil and gas activities contribute to habitat destruction, landscape alterations, freshwater exhaustion, and pollution.
  • First, companies are unaware of their impact and exposure; around 60% of companies claim to have no impact on nature and biodiversity, and more than 50% of companies do not perceive biodiversity loss as a significant business threat.
  • Second, companies find it challenging to derive concrete value from nature and biodiversity efforts. For example, only around a quarter of companies say they are aware of biodiversity-related business opportunities.
  • Third, companies are slowed down by the immaturity of nature and biodiversity as an issue area, with no consistent definitions, reporting standards and metrics to guide progress.

Nonetheless, frontrunners have shown that businesses which do take action can successfully reverse their negative impact on nature and generate business benefits: the potential financial upside for business is currently estimated at USD $10 trillion annually by 2030.

Finding solutions

To catalyze deep value chain transformation, WBCSD is developing roadmaps to nature positive across the three critical systems with a robust approach to guide planning and change.    

This structured approach is designed to help businesses define the role of nature and biodiversity in the corporate agenda and initiate actions for material issues. Four steps – assess, commit, transform, and disclose – allow businesses to progress along a maturity curve, with data sources, indicators, tools and resources. Value chain specific guidance will be developed to support implementation based on industry, business and geography, including identification of material impacts and dependencies, to form the basis of commitments and action and related disclosures.     

And, there are existing solution sets for outsized progress on nature which also support business success as well as other priorities like the climate transition. Bain has highlighted five in separate research:

  1. Regenerative agriculture: transforming agricultural practices to improve both yield and ecosystem benefits;
  2. Nature-compatible products: designing products and services to avoid nature-damaging ingredients and materials and limit overconsumption;
  3. Nature-positive systems design: incorporating nature considerations into infrastructure and installations to preserve ecosystems;
  4. Circular material flows and business models: reducing the impact of extraction by addressing quantity of new resources required to satisfy growth;
  5. High-quality nature-based solutions: restoring and conserving ecosystems to preserve nature and biodiversity, while addressing emissions.

The extent to which a certain business can adopt each of these solutions depends on the socio-economic system and industry in which the business is active: