• The latest round of negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework was recently concluded in Geneva.
  • For the first time at a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting, leading businesses turned out in force in support of more ambition.
  • Leading businesses must step up and speak up to ensure a meaningful global agreement on nature is reached.

It has been a tough start to 2022. The war in Ukraine has shaken global geopolitical order and brought immense grief while disrupting supply chains and global economic stability. At the same time, the IPCC has issued dire warnings outlining the devasting consequences of climate change - including on business - if we don’t take urgent action and that the window for action is fast closing.

As the world struggles with political upheaval, we must also hold the long-term view in mind: that peace, a stable climate, and healthy ecosystems are the foundations of thriving and resilient societies and economies.

The Paris Agreement on climate change was a rallying point for businesses on global warming. Another United Nations initiative that could have the same impact on biodiversity recently concluded its latest round of talks in Geneva. Leading businesses such as Unilever, Citi, Natura &Co, H&M Group, Holcim, GSK, Walmart, IKEA, Nestlé and L’Occitane joined Business for Nature and its partners Capitals Coalition, WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), CEBDS and the International Chamber of Commerce, on the ground - the first time so many progressive businesses have turned up at a nature negotiation pushing for greater ambition.

The progressive voice of business is welcome

Parties welcomed the presence of leading businesses and the fact they were bringing transformative proposals into the discussions. Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity commented: “We should give credit to the businesses already taking voluntary action. We need businesses to be an agent for change.”

This reflects the rapidly increasing momentum from businesses advocating for nature. More than 1,100 companies with revenues of more than $5 trillion have signed the Nature Is Everyone’s Business Call to Action, urging governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss by 2030 – recognition of the growing risks climate action failure, extreme weather events and biodiversity loss pose to business.

“Environmentally harmful subsidies in business stand in the way of every effort to tackle climate change and protect our planet’s fragile ecosystems. We must develop a deeper understanding of their devastating impacts and redirect our resources to the policies that help create a more sustainable future for all.” Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group; Co-founder, The B Team

Businesses called for numerous elements of the draft Global Biodiversity Framework to be strengthened, including:

  • Urging governments to encourage, incentivise or compel business to act to protect, restore and conserve nature through mandatory requirements to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature; setting an ambitious target to reduce their negative impacts by 50%, and addressing these impacts across their operations and value chains. During the negotiations, The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) launched the first beta version of its nature-related risk-management and disclosure framework. Alongside the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN), TNFD will also help with the implementation of an ambitious target on the role of business.
  • Asking for a stronger target on subsidies and for governments to commit to redirecting, repurposing, or eliminating all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030. This follows a recent study in collaboration with The B Team, which found that the world is spending at least $1.8 trillion on subsidies that harm the environment.
  • Stressing the need to adopt a clear and simple mission to “halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.” This was encouragingly supported by more than 300 organizations who called for governments to adopt this mission to secure the future of both people and the planet. The concept of ‘Nature-Positive’ was introduced and discussed as a rallying cry for society in general. Just ahead of the negotiations, 14 of the world’s largest NGO’s, including The Nature Conservancy, WWF and business leaders including Paul Polman,published a new paper, which set out how the world can track progress toward achieving a nature-positive world, through measurements designed to quantify the maintenance and improvement of natural processes, ecosystems and species.

“The need to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 must become clear in everybody’s mind. The faster that happens, the more action we will see. It’s not just great for the planet and people, but great for business too.” Anirban Ghosh, CSO, Mahindra Group

Overall, while leading businesses showed up in force urging governments to go further, limited progress and consensus were achieved on these points.

Businesses must step up, speak up and scale-up

As was the case for the Paris Agreement on climate change, an ambitious, clear and implementable international agreement on COP15 would help set the direction for corporate action, unlock new business opportunities and create a level playing field and stable operating environment for businesses around the world.

The voice of business, therefore, continues to be crucial in the months ahead, and Business for Nature will continue to work with leading organisations to push for greater ambition.

What is needed now is strong political leadership ahead of the final UN CBD COP15 negotiations – the date of which is still yet to be set - if we’re to get on the right track and deliver a meaningful outcome in Kunming, China. A recent report shows world leaders have so far collectively failed to translate many ambitious commitments for nature into action that will set nature on the road to recovery.

In this final push, we must keep up the active collaboration between business and governments. This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity and we must find solutions and deliver an enabling environment that will transform our regulatory and financial systems to recognise our shared accountability and responsibility to achieve a nature-positive world.

Quite simply, our future depends on it.