Why companies should become ‘nature positive’
© WeForest
Experts say Earth is experiencing the biggest loss of life since the dinosaurs. Over 1 million species are at risk of extinction, with biodiversity loss accelerating at an unprecedented rate. It is imperative that we take urgent steps to halt this threat and work to restore ecosystems before they collapse.

Yet restoring nature is about far more than protecting endangered species. Nature is the foundation of life on which we all depend. Our health relies on nature to provide a steady supply of nutritious food, clean air and water, as well as spiritual and cultural enrichment that boost our mental well-being.  

At the end of 2022, ahead of the Global Conference on Biodiversity, COP15 – the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris agreement for climate – more than 330 businesses and financial institutions sent a letter to governments calling for them to adopt mandatory requirements on nature. They recognised the silent but powerful influence on business, and the material risks that nature loss will have – as well as the need for companies to play their part. 

It worked. 196 countries voted to ‘halt and reverse nature loss by 2030’.

This popularised the term ‘nature positive’ and has led to lots of businesses beginning to set out their own nature positive strategies and goals. 

What does ‘nature positive’ mean?

The term “Nature Positive” is used to describe a world where nature – species and ecosystems – is being restored and is regenerating rather than declining. 

A major coalition of organisations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) argues for a ‘global goal for nature’, aiming to bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve a full recovery of nature by 2050.

Why are companies becoming Nature Positive?

Every business relies on nature for resources and ecosystem services such as water, food, fibre, minerals, pollination of crops, water filtration and climate regulation. It isn’t only companies that produce food; it’s all businesses, both in their own operations and supply chains, and for their employees and customers. 

Some areas are already under great stress, with deforestation leading to reduced water quality and availability, as well as more severe and frequent droughts. With three-quarters of the world’s crops dependent on pollination, the loss of trees and the resulting decline in pollinators is putting food security at risk. Security of supply and access to materials are becoming a major risk for companies.

With increasing customer and investor awareness and expectations, action for nature will not relate to security of supply, but will soon become the foundation of a social licence to operate and will be increasingly attractive for investors.

Why should more companies do it?

Nature is becoming the new carbon. The Science Based Targets for nature, now piloting its assessment and reporting framework, is widely expected to play as influential a role in guiding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) actions as the climate-focused SBTi.

Yet nature is not an isolated strategy. It underpins multiple goals and therefore offers the opportunity to have a comprehensive approach to corporate commitments. 

    • Nature and climate action are deeply interconnected. Nature-based solutions like forest protection and restoration can deliver up to one third of the progress needed to reach the 1.5 degree Paris target – larger than any other single action.

    • Restoring nature can support poverty alleviation (SDG 1) by supporting improved nutrition and food security.
        • Growing agroforestry systems – integrating trees on farms – is one of the most sustainable and profitable ways for smallholder farmers to grow cash crops for food security, nutrition and consistent income while natural resources such as soil and water are improved by the presence of the trees, which also sequester carbon as they grow.   

        • Trees can also have incredible relationships with our food. In Zambia, our trees have symbiotic relationships with mushrooms that are an important local food source. The tree-mushroom relationship is species-specific – one type of mushroom on one species of tree!  

    • Water stewardship: protecting and restoring forest ecosystems in upper river catchments (where rainfall collects) can reduce the risk of floods and landslides, prevent soil erosion, and improve water quality. 

    How does your business become Nature Positive?

    • Set an ambitious vision; nature can underpin multiple ESG goals.

    • Understand your relationship with biodiversity across your entire value chain e.g. through biodiversity footprint assessments. 

    • Develop a nature and biodiversity strategy with meaningful goals to:
        • Avoid negative impact

        • Minimise negative impact

        • Restore and regenerate nature – to deliver positive impacts 

Restoring and regenerating nature with WeForest 

Waiting until the perfect framework is ready isn’t a solution. We must start now. Restoring degraded forests properly takes 15 to 20 years – so taking action now will mean you can show a measurable impact from 2030 onwards. 

A Forest and Nature partnership developed around your corporate goals and the Global Biodiversity Framework targets provide measurable data for transparent and credible reporting (hectares of degraded land under restoration; diversity of species regenerating). 

    • GBF Target: ‘Conservation of areas of high biodiversity importance’
        • With WeForest: Fund forest restoration in Brazil, Argentina and Ethiopia, all within the Atlantic Forest and Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity hotspots. 

    • GBF Target: ‘30% of degraded ecosystems are being effectively conserved and managed or under restoration by 2030’
        • Create hundreds of thousands of microbasins to collect water and support growing seedlings take root, stabilising soil and halting the encroachment of the desert.

        • Fund an entire degraded forest reserve to be effectively managed and restored.

    • GBF Target: ‘Take urgent action to halt extinction of threatened species and to maintain and restore genetic diversity’
        • Plant forest corridors in Brazil, creating habitats for the endangered jaguar and Black Lion Tamarin; protect the Mulanje cedar and chameleon in Malawi, neither of which are found anywhere else in the world.  

    • GBF Target: ‘Ensure that the management and use of wild species are sustainable, thereby providing social, economic and environmental benefits for people, especially those in vulnerable situations and those most dependent on biodiversity’
        • Support improved forest management to ensure sustainable production and harvest of nutritious food (caterpillars, mushrooms etc) for thousands of families dependent on forests.

    • GBF Target: ‘Ensure that areas under agriculture… and forestry are managed sustainably, …including through a substantial increase of the application of biodiversity friendly practices’
        • Support restoration projects in Zambia that aim to transform the current agricultural model and put communities at the helm of managing their forests.