Insider Perspective: Global Commons Alliance Nature Target Prototyping

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28 February, 2020


WBCSD insights



Alain Vidal

WBCSD’s contribution to a future Science-based Target for Nature

Geneva, 28 February 2020: The GCA is a platform that incorporates the environment and the economy to transform economic systems for the benefit of society and to sustain the natural systems of the planet. One of GCA’s key components, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN), is a group of issue experts from some of the world’s most prominent environmental NGOs, working to establish targets for nature which can be used by companies and cities to ensure they continue operating within planetary limits. The work of the SBTN and GCA is strongly supported by the Earth Commission (EC). The EC — composed of the world’s leading earth system scientists — provides critical scientific inputs to the SBT process, by synthesizing the latest research, anticipating tipping points and assessing the limits of the entire Earth system.

WBCSD is one of the 24 partners of the SBTN and participated in this exercise to represent business in the prototyping work. We were represented by Alain Vidal, Science and Partnerships Director, Diane Holdorf, Managing Director Food & Nature, Florence Jeantet, Managing Director of the WBCSD-hosted OP2B Coalition as well as representatives from WBCSD membership, including Mondi and Arcadis.

In the first session of the SBT prototyping workshop, Marco Lambertini, CEO of WWF, and Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-chair of the Earth Commission, suggested a focus on a ‘no net loss of nature’ apex goal, similar to the first ‘apex goal’ put forward in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) “Zero Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”. This recommendation was based on work by an informal group of leading conservation, science and business organizations, co-convened by WWF and WBCSD, which, after this workshop, proposed the following apex goal for nature: “Zero net loss of nature from 2020, net positive by 2030, and full recovery by 2050”.

An apex goal provides an overarching 2030 target representing a societal and political ‘North Star’/’Southern Cross’ embraced at the highest level to drive ambition in governments, business and society, to inspire the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 framework process, as well as create the opportunity for links between biodiversity and other conventions/agreements such as climate, ocean and land degradation. “Net loss” and “recovery” are defined according to an agreed baseline year. Currently, the minimum suggested baseline year is 2020.

The work of the GCA prototyping team throughout that week focused on a method to translate that global ambition into action at different scales and throughout the different regions of the world.

The six-day exercise ultimately produced a prototype model of “Science-Based Targets (SBTs) for nature”, a framework for companies and cities to address nature loss and degradation through their actions, in line with the CBD’s post-2020 apex goals. The SBT for nature can encompass all aspects of nature, from people to endangered species, to soil health and water quality. The framework contains four key components:

  1. Avoid: zero loss of biodiversity in areas of key biodiversity value;
  2. Reduce: reduce an actor’s impacts in line with science in key impact-sheds;
  3. Restore/regenerate: compensate at least for residual impacts through regenerative actions (that rebuild function and services) and restoration (that rebuilds ecosystems/species populations);
  4. Transform: align business model/city plan with transformative change (on an equitable basis).

In determining the method for setting SBTs, this prototyping exercise also explored several potential approaches for translating targets to companies and cities in terms of the amount of impact reduction and restoration or regeneration required within the above framework. All allocation models share the common element of first mapping the company/city impact. After mapping impact, SBT end-users (i.e. companies and cities) must account for how much negative impact must be reduced, and how much positive impact ought to be encouraged, based on science. This process of determining end-users’ positive and negative contributions to nature, in accordance with scientific data, is what the SBTN refers to as allocation. The SBTN is still in the process of testing allocation approaches which will determine how responsibility over impacts is allocated within a given scope or site of operation. To date, these include a company footprinting approach, a place-based approach and a safe operating space and sector-based model. Each approach has implications for stakeholder outreach, selection of baselines, and the extent of end-user impact included in the assessment. Allocation can occur within terrestrial, marine and freshwater biomes.

Proxy guidance will be developed by mid-year (2020) for the framework, providing tangible steps for corporates to prepare for setting SBTs. Preliminary guidance on the four pillars of SBTs for nature — avoid, reduce, restore/regenerate and transform — will also be included. For example, guidance on transformation will consider change within companies and cities and the ways that each can stimulate greater change through activities such as education, culture, political engagement/lobbying etc.

The role of the private sector

As WBCSD launches its Nature Action project, we are building on our long history of leadership from the co-development of the Natural Capital Protocol to ongoing training for how to Value Nature in business operations. WBCSD welcomes the progress generated by the SBTN prototyping exercise, contributing to consistent targets towards which we can all align and work. This was a crucial opportunity to show that business is ready to work together with partners to embark on halting loss, restoring and regenerating nature. The mobilization of our members with other companies around the Business for Nature coalition’s recent launch of five priority policy enablers is another strong example of businesses demonstrating readiness for collective action.

“It was an honor to shape the future with many passionate experts on biodiversity and nature. I think that it is very important to ensure contribution from responsible businesses at the very early stage. The prototyped science-based targets are what we do urgently need at this stage to underpin our progress achieved so far and to set up new tangible goals for people and nature.” Denis Popov, Group Natural Resources Manager, Mondi

The prototyping exercise was an opportunity to speak about the projects WBCSD and our members are working on in our Food & Nature Program, including the FReSH work on a Protein Revolution from Fork to FarmOne Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B)Scaling Positive Agriculture, the Forest Products Sector Guide for the Natural Capital Protocol and the role of Natural Climate Solutions.

The road to the Kunming UN Convention on Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP 15)

In October this year, the 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15) will take place in Kunming, China. This will be a pivotal moment in time where the new Post-2020 Framework for biodiversity will be adopted, including a refresh of the Aichi biodiversity targets. WBCSD will ensure effective contribution of the private sector to the CBD COP 15 process through representation by Business for Nature, the WBCSD Food & Nature Policy & Advocacy project and OP2B.

Ahead of the CBD COP 15, WBCSD will carry the voice of business for nature through  participation in other milestone events during 2020, such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the United Nations General Assembly and the Open-ended Working Groups  organized by the CBD Secretariat to negotiate the draft text to be adopted at the CBD COP 15. We hope that by demonstrating business ambition and action, we create comfort and confidence in policymakers to deliver an ambitious new deal for people and nature.

There are two videos of the prototyping exercise available. You can find them via these links: