Submitting your targets for validation

In May 2024, SBTN announced the appointment of the Accountability Accelerator to host validation of its corporate science-based targets for nature. In the second half of 2024, companies will be invited to submit targets for validation. If your company is interested in submitting targets in 2024, please complete the form available on this page. This open call comes as SBTN’s corporate pilot for setting the first targets for nature and piloting the target validation process comes to a close.

To set and implement science-based targets requires companies to have these first reviewed and validated by SBTN. This is an independent process involving expert review to validate the integrity of the target(s) ensuring they meet the required criteria and methods of science-based targets.  

Alongside setting the first science-based targets for nature, released in May 2023, an initial group of pre-selected companies are wrapping up their piloting of the underlying target validation process. These companies were selected for their readiness and applicability of the methods to their organizations; representing sectors and supply chains with a high impact on nature.

We are piloting the target validation process to ensure the validation criteria for companies to set targets is robust, feasible and clear and that we have the ability to make any necessary optimizations before opening the validation process to all interested companies. We also want to gain an understanding of anticipated process times for companies and required resources to scale and respond to demand. The pilot will also further inform SBTN’s investigation of alternative validation models that best fit the methods. 

2023-24 validation pilot objectives and deliverables

  1. Test validation requirements: for clarity, feasibility, robustness, ambition
  2. Test validation process and resources: coordination with method developers, interaction with companies, submission forms and templates, validation reports, claims guidance, etc.
  3. Inform the investigation of alternative validation models: validation governance and company’s target-setting journey
  4. Learn about the effort, resources and skills needed: for companies, for the validation team and for supporting groups
  5. Inform the learning objectives of the methods themselves: for future development

Expected deliverables are: 

  • SBTN’s Target Validation Criteria document; a useful summary for sustainability managers preparing their submissions for target validation
  • SBTN’s Validation roll-out plan (after distilling lessons learnt from the pilot) 
  • SBTN’s Claims Guidance Version 1; to be used by piloting companies for their approved targets and by other companies in the future

An independent validation team within SBTN is responsible for validating the targets of the initial group of companies by June 2024. This team is considered independent as none of them have been part of SBTN’s method development process and will remain separate from any method development activities.

The team is also designing validation materials and processes, and documenting learnings throughout the pilot. 

The validation pilot is helping to inform best practices for target assurance, for example, on standardization of validations, development of guidelines to ensure rigour and impartiality, creation of policies for documentation, etc. SBTN is committed to follow relevant guidance, such as ISEAL’s guidance for sustainability systems and assurance providers, and explore governance and management structures that could support an alternative validation model for companies submitting targets later in 2024.

SBTN publicly invited companies to apply to be part of this group from January 6 – February 3, 2023 and received applications from 55 companies across 26 countries. There were three main criteria for selection: 

  1. Readiness – degree to which company has appropriate data as specified in the methods, technical capacity, understanding of the methods, and C-Suite and internal business support.
  2. Representativeness – in terms of sector, geography of target-setting, value chain position.
  3. Impact on nature.

After a thorough review process, the following companies were selected: AB InBev, Alpro (part of Danone), Bel, Carrefour, Corbion, GSK, H&M Group, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Holcim Group, Kering, L’OCCITANE Group, LVMH, Nestlé, Neste Corporation, Suntory Holdings Limited, Tesco and UPM.

  1. Assess and prioritize their impacts on nature (Steps 1 & 2) and set targets on freshwater and/or land (Step 3) including submitting targets for official validation to the SBTN; helping the SBTN pilot its target submission and validation process. 
  2. Use SBTN’s claims guidance for communicating validated targets and disclosure guidance, and commit to reporting progress on an annual basis. SBTN will publicly disclose progress with respect to target boundary coverage and characterization (e.g. “water quality target in water basin X”) for each company. This is part of Step 2: Prioritize, which allows companies to map their target-setting journey over time, starting setting targets for locations where nature action is urgently needed, until covering all material impacts with targets as determined in Step 1: Assess. 
  3. Begin creating action plans for achieving targets for all targets set. 
  4. Support SBTN with distilling lessons learned from the initial validation phase, which will become an anonymized public report.

This is part of what SBTN is looking to answer with its 2023-24 validation pilot.  

No company has formally set targets using our guidance so we don’t have a clear picture of how much time and resources this could take, although we do have some indication from companies within the Corporate Engagement Program who have been road-testing SBTN’s guidance. For more advanced companies who have already gathered the necessary data, it has taken around 1-2 months to complete Steps 1 and 2. These companies usually work with external consultants to complete these steps – if you are interested in exploring that route, you can find a list of trusted experts here.  We encourage companies to look at the data requirements in Steps 1, 2 and 3 for Freshwater and Land to see how much more work your company will have to do in order to get the targets completed.  

In general, costs and time-line will vary, depending on: size and complexity of the company; the data on material impacts and dependencies the company currently has on hand and needs to collect; the extent and rigor of action companies have previously taken or are currently undertaking; and the availability of data for a given impact area and/or location. As many companies using SBTN’s guidance are working with external consultancies, costs can also vary. Cost estimates for the validation of SBTs for nature will not be available until later in 2024.

SBTN expects companies to eventually set targets to cover the full target boundary. However, this is not the expectation for the methods used in the first release given the limited timeframe for completion.  Part of what is being tested with the initial target validation group is how far these companies can get in target boundary coverage – SBTN will then use these learnings to issue requirements on how much of a company’s target boundary should be set and by when. For companies not in the initial piloting group, we encourage you to start with priority sites, then continue working towards full target boundary coverage.