As governments in two of the world’s largest economies lay out their agendas on nature, it is clear that companies need to move quickly to incorporate science-based action for nature into their business plans.
The Biden administration in the United States has already demonstrated higher ambition on environmental action with its January release of Executive Orders. These included directing agencies to “make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data”. The orders specified new measures to strengthen environmental justice monitoring and enforcement along with a national-level goal of conserving at least 30% of the country’s land and ocean space by 2030 — an objective which will have implications for US companies and international companies operating in the US.
Across the pond in the EU, sustainable corporate governance is also receiving much needed attention. The European Parliament finalized a resolution in December 2020 which included advice that sustainability strategies should include science-based targets and transition plans. It also said corporate plans should align with the EU’s international commitments on the environment and climate change, not just the Paris Agreement, but also the Convention on Biological Diversity and international agreements addressing deforestation.
And future EU environmental legislation is set to cover “all listed and non-listed large undertakings established in EU territory”. It stresses that in order to provide a level playing field, this legislation should also apply to non-EU companies operating in the EU market. It invited the European Commission to identify high-risk sectors of economic activity with a significant impact on sustainability matters that could justify applying it to SMEs in those sectors.
Interestingly, the resolution included a link between executives’ remuneration and targets. This is one of the suggestions in our list of potential transformation actions our team has identified in our initial guidance for business.
For business, these messages from the US and EU are likely to signal a rise in legislation relating to nature, given the rapid decline of natural resources and ecosystems.
Additionally, the recent Dasgupta Review commissioned by the UK Treasury that recommends a fundamental shift in how we value nature is also gaining a lot of interest and may have future implications for policy developments.
Through the Science Based Targets Network, building on the work of the climate science-based targets already available, business can get started now on also tackling nature loss across their value chains.
The first step is to assess their impacts and dependencies to identify areas requiring the most urgent attention both for stopping negative pressure on nature and making positive contributions to restoring nature.
Nature science-based targets offer a clear framework for action, aligned with international frameworks, for companies to get started on their journey to becoming nature-positive and getting ahead of the regulation that is on its way.