Where is nature in your business strategy?

In the first of a series of articles to help businesses better understand why a naturepositive approach is crucial for sustainable success, we look at the roots of a nature strategy and why now is the time for all businesses to develop one. 

Nature loss is a risk that businesses can no longer afford to ignore. Every business, in some way, depends on nature.  A single cup of coffee for example relies on healthy ecosystems for everything from pollination to water filtration.  

Yet, we are extracting natural resources at unprecedented levels – around 1.75 times faster than they can be replenished. At this stage, the global economy is now operating outside six of the nine planetary boundaries, impacting food security, contributing to water stress and impeding our ability to deal with the effects of climate change. We need to halt and reverse nature loss; and urgent action is required now to get us on track.  

However, according to the World Benchmarking Alliance, just 1% of businesses understand how much their operations depend on resources from the natural world. We’re simply not valuing nature like we should; we’re not including it in corporate decision-making, or on balance sheets and in profit and loss accounts. 

The emerging crisis in our natural ecosystems poses direct, near-term risks to the majority of businesses. Not only can nature loss lead to extra operational costs for businesses, it also presents many other consequences such as investor disinvestment, consumer boycotts and even the loss of talented employees, unhappy with the course a business is taking. 

At the same time, the world is shifting towards a future that rewards companies that perform better on environmental and social impacts, which is why it is so important to look at the flip side, too.  

By protecting, restoring and sustainably using nature (for example through coastal reforestation, circular business models and green infrastructure), businesses can take advantage of new commercial opportunities and markets that want products and services that have been developed and created responsibly. 

Setting a credible nature strategy, and acting ambitiously, can also strengthen returns and create long-term value, while more and more investors are looking to put their money into organizations that support a nature-positive future. 

Other benefits include reducing negative impacts, delivering on sustainability and climate goals and improving the overall resilience of the business.  

It’s for these reasons that the time for all companies to develop a nature strategy has arrived.

A nature strategy is a roadmap for how a business will contribute to a nature-positive world. Developing a nature strategy drives companies to measure impacts and dependencies, assess risks and opportunities, and look at ways in which restoring and protecting nature can become central to business.  

The Nature Strategy Handbook is a step-by-step guide on how to write a nature strategy, developed by the Business for Nature coalition in collaboration with PwC UK, and central to It’s Now for Nature, a global campaign to rally businesses to act on nature. 

The handbook takes companies through the stages needed to develop and publish a credible plan for nature, and explains how to deliver and refine it.  

But this is no niche policy, or approach that is the preserve of companies with big sustainability teams and even bigger budgets, because all businesses, regardless of size, sector or location, depend on nature and its services. 

While creating a nature strategy needs to become a business imperative, completing one isn’t something that can happen overnight. One step that will speed up its introduction is gaining executive buy-in that goes beyond sustainability and compliance teams and involves finance, procurement, operations, innovation and many others to ensure nature has the same prominence that climate now has in the boardroom.  

By making nature a c-suite issue, a business will more likely deliver the actions needed to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. 

In the next article, we will take a deeper look at the benefits of setting a nature strategy.