Wilderlands Program Manager Nick Lewis shares his perspective on why Wilderlands might be the perfect solution for businesses looking to make a Nature Positive contribution.
Wilderlands Biological Diversity Unit (BDU) provides permanent, statutory protection of high conservation land that is supported by management actions to reduce threats and improve habitat condition, providing a way to make a scalable, trackable, and monitored contribution towards the 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework Targets.
Biological diversity and functioning ecosystems are of both intrinsic and functional importance to support life and wellbeing: food, medicines, fresh air, clean water, shelter and amenity. Our modern, economic system has evolved with a strong dependency on nature – valued at over $44 trillion or over half the world’s GDP – much of which has been derived through unsustainable extractive and consumptive processes.
“Biodiversity” or “Nature” loss has been identified amongst the greatest threats to humanity – both by scientists and economists:
- Species are becoming extinct at a rate that has not been seen since the last global mass extinction event: it is currently some 100 – 1000 times higher than what is considered a natural rate of extinction. Biodiversity loss can also have pervasive effects on how the earth system functions, and its interaction with other planetary boundaries such as increasing the vulnerability of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to changes in climate and ocean acidity.
- The World Economic Forum has identified that climate and environmental risks are the core focus of global risks perceptions over the next decade – and are the risks for which we are seen to be the least prepared. It recognises that nature loss and climate change are intrinsically interlinked – a failure in one sphere will cascade into the other. Without significant policy change or investment, the interplay between climate change impacts, biodiversity loss, food security and natural resource consumption will accelerate ecosystem collapse, threaten food supplies and livelihoods in climate-vulnerable economies, amplify the impacts of natural disasters, and limit further progress on climate mitigation.
In recognition of the urgent need to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) following a four-year consultation and negotiation process. The Framework sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. Among the Framework’s key elements are 4 goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030, headlined by targets that seek to halt nature loss and extinctions, increase protection to 30% of lands and waters, and restore 30% of existing degraded areas – all with an important emphasis on respecting the rights of, and sharing benefits with, indigenous peoples and local communities.
For businesses, the market led Taskforce on Nature-based Financial Disclosures (TNFD)is developing a risk management and disclosure framework to identify, assess, manage and disclose nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities, and in-turn encourage a shift in global financial flows away from nature-negative outcomes and toward nature-positive outcomes.
Relevant to businesses of all sizes and sectors, those applying the framework may identify they are:
- Directly exposed to risks emanating from a decline in the condition or extent of natural systems – these can manifest in many forms, such as changes to the supply of natural resources (e.g. clean water, timber, plants, minerals); increased exposure to natural hazards (e.g. floods, landslides, drought); changes in global regulating and maintenance services (e.g. carbon sequestration, water flows, waste treatment, pollination) or changes in the amenity and recreational value of an area.
- Indirectly exposed to transitional or systemic nature related risks, such as regulatory or policy changes that restrict Business as Usual operating conditions; imposition of additional costs (such as levies, taxes or tariffs); shifting customer/investor values or preferences toward products and/or services that are nature-positive/have lower impacts on nature and/or declines in reputation or brand value for a failure to make a positive nature contribution.
Some of these direct dependencies or risks can (and must) be mitigated or managed locally and within the business’s sphere of direct influence (such as transitioning to more efficient and circular production systems and supply chains, or geographic, product or market diversification), however, many identified risks and dependencies will require collective, coordinated and comprehensive change at regional and global scales. While some present day, direct business risks from, and impacts to, nature can be more easily quantified (such as direct habitat removal, water use, Greenhouse Gas emissions) and either reduced through the adoption of alternative approaches and processes, or ‘compensation’ made for residual impacts in the form of an offset, there is a need for broader and collective investment into nature positive initiatives to mitigate systemic nature loss risks – that is, initiatives that protect, restore and/or regenerate nature.
In parallel with the TNFD, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) is a collaboration of leading global non-profits and mission driven organizations working together to equip companies as well as cities with the guidance to set science-based targets for all of Earth’s systems. This will help them define a clear pathway to ensure they are doing enough across their value chain to address their impacts and dependencies on nature.
The current land science target frameworks include no conversion of natural ecosystems, land footprint reductions and engaging with multi-stakeholder landscape initiatives for conservation, restoration, and sustainable land use in line with locally determined goals. The SBTN recognises that this first launch of the science-based targets for nature framework does not comprehensively address all important pressures on biodiversity, such as invasive species and species overexploitation, nor the interactions between pressures and targets and their impacts on biodiversity. They are committed to more complete biodiversity coverage in the next release of target-setting methods.
While the SBTN promotes identifying actions that companies can undertake on their own – as these are considered easier for companies to get started on today – as noted above, many of the nature threats we face are system-wide, intertwined, and connected to a broad array of actors demanding exploration of system level collaboration and transformation, as the many interrelated impacts and dependencies that companies share are often overlooked.
For businesses looking to make a Nature Positive contribution, Wilderlands Biological Diversity Unit (BDU) provides permanent, statutory protection of high conservation land that is supported by management actions to reduce threats and improve habitat condition, providing a way to make a scalable, trackable, and monitored contribution towards the 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework Targets.