15/09/2022 News Blog, Environment, News

Who, what and why? Q&A on science-based targets for nature

As the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) rolls out its latest corporate guidance for public comment, Executive Director Erin Billman provides some context, including SBTN’s mission, why and how companies should take action, and what’s next.

Who is the Science Based Targets Network?

In a nutshell, SBTN is a collaboration of over 60 leading global non-profits and mission-driven organizations equipping companies with the guidance they need to take science-based action toward an environmentally safe and socially just future. Expanding on the foundation of the Science Based Targets initiative, which equips companies to set science-based targets for climate, we are equipping companies to set science-based targets for nature, both including and building upon climate targets.

What are SBTs for nature and why should companies set them?

We define science-based targets, or SBTs, as measurable, actionable, and time-bound objectives, based on the best available science, that allow actors such as companies to align with Earth’s limits and societal sustainability goals. The corporate SBTs we are developing will take direct aim at the drivers and pressures fueling the loss of nature and will address freshwater, land, ocean, and biodiversity. They are being designed so companies can take enough of the right actions, in the right places, at the right time, to do their part for an equitable, net zero, nature positive future. 

In terms of why companies should set SBTs, aside from the moral imperative, it’s crucial to understand that the environmental and social crises facing the world pose major risks to companies but can also present major opportunities to those that tackle these crises simultaneously.

Erin Billman

Research by the World Economic Forum shows that there is $10.1 trillion of business opportunity for companies to tap into with nature-positive solutions. So if implemented correctly by companies, SBTs for nature can be good for business and economic resilience.

How can companies prepare to set SBTs for nature? 

The first SBTs for nature will be available for companies in early 2023. In the meantime, we recommend companies – as well as consultants, industry coalitions, or other organizations looking for guidance on the target-setting journey – begin with SBTN’s no regrets actions. These include assessing their impacts on nature using SBTN’s Initial Guidance published in 2020 and, if interested, joining SBTN’s Corporate Engagement Program to road-test our guidance before we release it to the broader community.

What draft guidance is currently out for public comment?

While our Initial Guidance published in 2020 provides companies with a 5-step framework for action, we’re now releasing more detailed technical guidance for public comment. This guidance will provide companies with detailed methodologies to assess and prioritize their impacts on nature, and enable them to progress to setting targets first on freshwater. It is based on extensive technical input from our partners as well as feedback from our Corporate Engagement Program members, which include 90+ companies, around 60 consultants, and 13 industry coalitions. 

So when will the guidance from the public consultation be finalized?

This public consultation will inform the first set of SBTs for nature to be released in early 2023, which will include initial target-setting resources not just on freshwater, but also on land. Subsequent SBT releases in the following years will increase the scope of issues that SBTN is able to cover and will encompass the full spectrum of the 5-step framework, including measurement of companies’ progress toward targets.


For more information:

Public consultation on corporate technical guidance

Piloting freshwater SBTs for nature – corporate case-studies

SBTN frequently asked questions

SBTN’s Initial Guidance (2020) – executive summary

Erin Billman - Executive Director - SBTN