Since then, the voluntary carbon market has seen strong demand for carbon credits, with some predicting that the growth will need to increase by a factor of up to 100 by 2050 to keep up with demand.
There is no doubt that this is positive progress, yet a tunnel vision on carbon is missing one key element: nature. Nature loss is worsening climate change, and vice versa. It is impossible to tackle climate change without addressing biodiversity loss.
Reversing nature loss will take more than a “do no harm” approach – it means taking active steps to recover nature. This “nature-positive” approach has the benefit of delivering on climate and even broader CSR goals:
- Climate: nature-based solutions – including reforestation – can deliver about one third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
- Food security: three quarters of crops globally are partially dependent on pollinators such as bees. Reversing the decline in pollinators can positively impact crop yields and food security.
- Poverty: deforestation means millions of tons of soil are washed away each year, leaving thousands of small farming families already living in extreme poverty struggling to feed their families. Reforestation can reduce soil erosion and regulate water availability, building more resilient communities.
Protection and restoration of forests and forest landscapes should form a key part of “nature-positive” strategies. After oceans, forests are the world’s largest storehouses of carbon, and they are home to more than half of the world’s land-based species of animals, plants and insects. They play an essential role in the stable provision of clean, fresh water and many other water-related ecosystem services, such as flood and erosion protection, and climate regulation. Building a forest and landscape restoration strategy into CSR programmes will help sequester more carbon and build resilience to nature and climate-related risk.
While COP27 did little for advancing climate action, all eyes are on COP15. Leading companies are taking centre stage to call for action on nature; their businesses depend on it. More than 1,100 companies with revenues of more than US$5 trillion are calling on governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss by 2030. Voluntary corporate action is inevitable as pressure mounts from consumers and investors, and has paved the way for new initiatives like the Science Based Targets for Nature and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures. Stand by for a new avalanche of corporate commitments in 2023 – this time for nature.