Tackling the nature and climate crises is the biggest business opportunity this century, say industry leaders
- 19 April 2023
Business leaders including Deborah Meaden and leaders from NatWest, John Lewis Partnership and the Financial Conduct Authority, are joining the UK’s three leading nature charities WWF, RSPB and National Trust to urge all businesses to act now to tackle the nature and climate crises.
Nature is the foundation of the systems that allow businesses to function, yet the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. Nature loss and climate change are resulting in ecological breakdown at an unprecedented level, creating risks to businesses from supply chain disruption, asset losses, and fundamental shifts in how businesses operate.
Despite this, only 3% of UK businesses currently monitor nature and biodiversity risks. According to the Treasury’s report on the economics of biodiversity – the Dasgupta Review, between 1992 and 2014, productivity doubled, but the stock of natural capital per person declined by nearly 40%.
As part of their Save the Wild Isles campaign, the three charities are calling on businesses to put nature at the heart of every boardroom decision as businesses have a major impact on the natural world, both in the UK and globally, through their value chains.
To help restore nature and protect the long-term future of their businesses, the charities are also calling for large companies to commit to nature-positive net-zero transition plans.
As part of their campaign, the charities outline key actions for businesses, which need to:
- Ensure nature is the heart of business decision-making
- Assess their relationship with nature - their dependencies and impacts to include in transition plans
- Set targets that are science based, measurable and time-bound
- Take action for nature - stop destroying nature and reduce the impact of production and consumption, and
- Use the power of their business to advocate for change across industries, suppliers, government, colleagues, relevant industry bodies and peers to protect and restore nature
The charities are launching four new films - covering business, food & farming, finance and marine - produced by Silverback Films, makers of the BBC’s Wild Isles TV series. The films highlight the need for businesses to act with urgency to tackle the nature and climate crises together, which is described as the biggest business opportunity since the industrial revolution. They also highlight the risks to businesses that fail to account for their reliance on nature.
Deborah Meaden, business leader and investor, said: “I am confident that we can tackle the nature and climate crises – humans are very good at solving problems. What I am worried about is whether we can do it in time, and this is where businesses can play a major role - in accelerating action, driving innovation and seizing the many business opportunities that the inevitable changes to the global economy will bring.”
Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, said: “The global financial system is more than $400 trillion of capital, many times more than the amount required to meaningfully address both the climate and nature crises. The influence it can have in leading a meaningful transition is huge. By aligning financial incentives properly, governments can ensure investment capital flows more effectively towards activities which support that transition. Doing so should not be seen as a cost, however; it is prudent risk management and a significant investment opportunity.”
The UK public are also demanding change. The recent - created by people from across the UK with 30,000 contributions – demonstrates that the public wants businesses to take action for nature and will support businesses who put nature at the heart of decision making.
Hilary McGrady, Director-General at National Trust, Beccy Speight, CEO of RSPB and Tanya Steele, CEO at WWF said: “We need all hands on deck to tackle the nature and climate crisis and we won’t get the speed of change necessary without the support of businesses and their leaders. Nature underpins everything – it is our life support system and the foundation of our health, our jobs and our nation’s wealth. Businesses must publish nature-positive transition plans that leave no room for greenwash.”
The films feature over 20 business leaders already taking action including Deborah Meaden, Henry Dimbleby, the CEOs of NatWest, Tesco, and Triodos UK, the chair of the John Lewis Partnership, Aviva’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer, and other leading figures.
The charities stress that it is not the role of businesses alone. Governments need to step up and support businesses, farmers, and the fishing industry to transition to nature-positive net-zero businesses. The UK Government must require all large companies to incorporate nature into their climate transition plans and start on a journey to a net-zero and nature-positive future.
The films will be available from the 20th of April 2023 on YouTube and the Save Our Wild Isles Website at https://www.saveourwildisles.org.uk/