The business benefits of setting a nature strategy

In the second of a series of articles, we look at some of the benefits a nature strategy can bring to business, from building consumer confidence to boosting investor trust.

The World Economic Forum has estimated that by shifting to nature-positive models, businesses could create opportunities worth $10 trillion a year by 2050. And companies that address their nature-related dependencies, impacts and risks will be best placed to take advantage of these and other benefits.

Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the constantly changing regulatory landscape, and few, if any, of the companies currently developing nature strategies will have done so without future regulation in mind. “They feel confident their strategy will help them navigate these requirements” says Eva Zabey, CEO of Business for Nature. “It helps businesses to anticipate what’s ahead and gives them back control rather than simply reacting to changing laws and legislation.”

“The fact that they are better prepared will also result in a competitive advantage and greater business resilience,” she adds.

Last year, the Business for Nature coalition launched It’s Now for Nature, central to which is the Nature Strategy Handbook (which was developed in collaboration with PwC UK). The Handbook is a simple step-by-step guide on how to develop a nature strategy. It demonstrates how creating a strategy that addresses impacts on nature is a positive undertaking, showing how a business is looking at the bigger picture, and thinking about the future. And that’s an appealing proposition to a range of different stakeholders.

For some companies, consumers will be first and foremost among these. Publishing a nature strategy is a clear indication that a brand is looking to make a positive impact, a move that gives consumers confidence and can boost brands’ reputation.

Consumer preferences are changing, with six in ten consumers stating they would be less willing to buy a company’s product if it performed poorly on environmental sustainability. By protecting, restoring and sustainably using nature, businesses can take advantage of markets that want responsible and sustainable products and services.

“Many of the more forward-thinking and prepared companies can unlock new opportunities by ensuring that their products are tailored to changing consumer preferences,” says Ben Matthews, a Senior Manager in PwC UK’s Sustainability team.

“It’s also important that businesses communicate their nature strategy to their customers, showing they’re aware of their impacts on nature, and demonstrating how they’re transforming the business to have a more positive impact on nature.” By setting targets, continues Matthews, businesses can also build investor trust and start to unlock investment opportunities that weren’t there before.

Businesses are already acting on nature-related opportunities. Unilever, for instance, has estimated that moving into plant-based foods could net the business €1.2 billion by 2025. The international insurance company Axa, has committed $350 million through its Impact Investment Fund Climate & Biodiversity to activities that create nature-positive outcomes. This investor appetite for sustainability is further demonstrated by record sales of green bonds in 2023, with a total of $575 billion worth of green bonds sold last year.

A nature-positive approach will also appeal to employees, and people in the talent pool who are looking for a career with an organization that matches their views and outlook. Many will be from Generation Z – born between 1997 and 2009 – who are expected to make up about 27% of the workforce by 2025. In addition, nearly half of employees in the US and UK say they would consider resigning from their job if the values of the company did not align with their own values.

“Attracting and retaining talent is going to be increasingly a competitive edge and we know the company purpose is critical for this,” says Zabey. “Many employees want to work for companies who share their values and who are stepping up on the biggest issues facing humanity, not least addressing climate change, nature loss and economic inequality.”

In an upcoming article, we will look at how developing a strategy for nature can also boost a company’s net zero ambitions.