ESG Viewpoint: Nature Positive commitments: separating the green from greenwash
Insights

ESG Viewpoint: Nature Positive commitments: separating the green from greenwash

At a glance

  • Over 1,400 companies are calling on governments to adopt policies to reach Nature Positive by 2030.
  • Nature Positive means halting and reversing nature loss by 2030 and achieving full recovery by 2050.
  • More and more companies are committing to the initiative, but the approaches being adopted vary greatly in quality.
  • We outline six attributes that make a good Nature Positive commitment and assess how a range of companies are stacking up.
Over 1,400 companies are calling on governments to adopt policies to reach Nature Positive by 2030. 95 British businesses have signed up to a collective goal to be Nature Positive by 2030, and a third of the global mining industry has committed to reach Nature Positive by 2030 through the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)123. Nature Positive is the net zero equivalent for nature – it entails halting and reversing nature loss by 2030 and achieving full recovery by 2050. This objective was formalised by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in 2022 which functions as the Paris Agreement for nature. Nature Positive commitments are rapidly proliferating in the corporate world – but like the early days of corporate climate commitments we are seeing a variety of quality. This ESG Viewpoint will explore the murky world of nature positive commitments, and how the Responsible Investment team at Columbia Threadneedle Investments are scrutinising the approaches that our investee companies are taking to reduce their exposure to nature-related risks and separate the green from the greenwash.

We’re engaging with companies on the steps they are taking to reduce exposure to nature-related risks

Why are corporates making nature positive commitments?

For many sectors the measurement and management of operational impacts on nature is nothing new. In many jurisdictions environmental impact assessments, habitat and species protections and water use licensing have been part of operational management for decades.

However, a growing recognition of the financial risks and opportunities posed to businesses by nature loss and increased stakeholder scrutiny is causing nature oversight to move from site managers to the C-suite. This is coupled with a tightening regulatory landscape, in particular in Europe with regulations such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in the coming years4 . Corporates that wish to take leadership positions on nature will need to go further and faster than these regulations, and committing to being ‘Nature Positive’ has proven a popular way for businesses to signal this enhanced level of ambition.
There is also an increasing recognition that for organisations outside the extractive and infrastructure sectors, operational impacts tend to be dwarfed by impacts embedded in supply chains and production systems5 . It is also easier and cheaper than ever for corporates to gather nature-related data – the advent of technologies like eDNA, bioacoustics, remote sensing and global modelling approaches have revolutionised the ability of businesses to gather frequent, extensive and cost-effective nature data. Finally, the approval of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at Biodiversity COP16 in 2022 has formalised a global target to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 – and specifically covers the private sector in target 156 . Several organisations are developing approaches to downscale this global ambition to the corporate scale to enable corporates to set targets that are aligned with the GBF.

Corporates can follow the series of sequential steps outlined by the mitigation hierarchy approach to achieve nature positive outcomes (Figure 1). This best practice approach encourages corporates to begin by avoiding and minimising any negative impacts on nature, then restoring ecosystems that are unavoidably impacted, before looking to offset residual impacts. Nature Positive approaches include additional efforts to drive systemic and transformational change throughout sectors and landscapes.

There is increasing recognition around nature impacts embedded in supply chains and production systems

Figure 1: The mitigation hierarchy – comparing Not Net Loss (NNL), Net Positive Impact, and Nature Positive
The mitigation hierarchy table

Source: The Biodiversity Consultancy, June 2024

What does a good nature-positive commitment look like?

Drawing on academic research we have identified six attributes that define a robust Nature Positive commitment.

Figure 2: A summary of core principles for nature positive commitments, following Booth et al 2024, Milner-Gulland, 2022, and zu Ermgassen et al, 2022.
Nature positive principles - ambitious - wider scope - integrated - mainstreamed - implemented - evidenced

1. Ambitious

 

Historically, many nature targets have been measured against dynamic baselines, which reward corporates for degrading nature at a slower rate than otherwise is projected to have occurred. Any targets under a Nature Positive commitment should be measured against quantified, static baselines to deliver absolute rather than relative gains for nature. Approaches should also align with societal goals such as GBF or domestic targets such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

2. Wider scope

The ambition should extend beyond a focus on operational impact to encompass a vertical scope (material up- and downstream value chain impacts) and a horizontal scope (efforts to drive systemic and transformational change throughout sectors and landscapes). Nature positive commitments should cover new and existing impacts, and restoration and offsetting actions should be timed to avoid substantial gaps between the loss of nature and subsequent recovery7.

3. Integrated

There is an increasing awareness that a myopic focus on individual facets of nature can promote suboptimal outcomes and unintended trade-offs. For example, the promotion of biofuels to avoid carbon emissions can result in negative impacts on biodiversity. Nature positive ambitions should adopt integrated approaches that address impacts coherently without exacerbating other environmental or social risks. To operationalise this, we would expect corporates to track a considered portfolio of environmental and social metrics under their nature positive ambition.

4. Mainstreamed

Historically, nature targets have been operational targets that have been managed by site personnel and sustainability managers. Nature positive ambitions should be incorporated in the core business strategy with clear board and executive oversight.

5. Implemented

Nature positive ambitions should be supported by SMART targets for a comprehensive portfolio of metrics covering material impacts on and risks from nature loss. Corporates should identify the primary levers they will use to meet their targets, build a pipeline of projects under each lever, and allocate sufficient capital and resource to deliver on their strategy.

6. Evidenced

Corporates provide clear disclosures on their progress against the underlying KPIs for delivery of their nature positive target, including disclosure of data collection approaches. We would also expect a disclosure of how actions will add up to nature positive by delivering effective, additional outcomes.

How do existing nature positive commitments stack up against these principles?

Several corporates are starting to align their nature approaches with international goals. Over 180 companies disclose to CDP that they are aligning their nature commitments with the GBF and over 1,200 claim to be aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals8 . Corporates are also increasingly moving from setting dynamic nature baselines to static baselines. Through ICMM’s nature position statement miners have committed to achieve no net loss or net gain of nature by 2030 against a pre-2020 baseline for all existing operations. This is a step forward from previous mining commitments that assessed projects against dynamic baseline that projected that existing rates of nature loss would continue without the project, such as Rio Tinto’s net positive impact commitment for its ilmenite mine in Madagascar9 .

We see a more positive story on corporate progress against the “Integrated” principle. We increasingly see corporates with Nature Positive commitments tracking a balanced portfolio of KPIs that span multiple elements of nature. For example, UPM Kymmene is tracking eight biodiversity indicators to measure its progress and Nestle has established a varied portfolio of nature targets. In general, we see more scope for corporates to track social metrics within their nature strategies to embed just transition concepts from the outset, and there is a still a need for many companies to expand their nature-related targets to cover additional material components (see Figure 2).

Nature is increasingly percolating through to the executive and board-level. 31% of companies disclosing to CDP in 2023 report that they have both board-level oversight and executive management-level responsibility for nature topics. The challenge may not be getting nature to the upper echelons of corporate management, but rather ensuring that there is sufficient expertise at these levels to oversee nature strategies and that nature is approached as a core business issue rather than a CSR topic. This is also key to ensuring that corporate Nature Positive ambitions do not get stuck at the commitment level, but are allocated sufficient resource, capital, and strategic support to be implemented. We are starting to see corporates making explicit financing pledges for nature – AstraZeneca has pledged to invest $5 million annually to fund nature restoration in the vicinity of its sites16.

Extractive companies commitments bake in a considerable loss of nature and rely entirely on unreliable restoration activities after asset closure that are often already mandated by regulators

Figure 3: Share of Fortune Global 500 companies with nature-related targets or acknowledgments (%), McKinsey 2023
Share of Fortune Global 500 companies with nature-related targets or acknowledgments

Source: McKinsey & Company, December 2023

Evidencing the progress against Nature Positive commitments will be important moving forward, and we are seeing a welcome standardisation of nature reporting with the advent of the CSRD in Europe, particularly elements E2, E3 and E417, the release of GRI 101 for Biodiversity18, and the focus by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) on nature for the next two years19.

The challenge may not be getting nature to the upper echelons of corporate management, but rather ensuring that there is sufficient expertise at these levels to oversee nature strategies

Next steps at Columbia Threadneedle

At Columbia Threadneedle, our Responsible Investment team looks to carefully appraise the Nature Positive commitments that our investee companies make to separate the green from the greenwash. We have published a detailed set of good practice expectations on corporate nature management and have integrated nature into our voting process for the last three years20. We have an extensive nature engagement programme – in 2023 our Responsible Investment team conducted 363 nature engagements with 260 issuers and logged 27 milestones. We are also a founding investor of Nature Action 100, and we sit on the steering group and the technical advisory group of this initiative. Nature experts within the Responsible Investment team are working to develop a proprietary quantitative model to appraise corporate management of nature and are working with several external data providers to identify investment relevant nature data to integrate into our investment processes where suitable. Nature is a theme of growing importance for several of our clients, and where relevant, we look forward to continuing to work with interested clients to deepen our approach in the coming months.
4 Juli 2024
Joe Horrocks-Taylor
Joe Horrocks-Taylor
Senior Associate, Analyst, Responsible Investment
Share article
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Hauptthemen
Verwandte Themen
Listen on Stitcher badge
Share article
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Hauptthemen
Verwandte Themen

PDF

ESG Viewpoint: Nature Positive commitments: separating the green from greenwash
1 https://www.businessfornature.org/call-to-action
2 https://www.ground-control.co.uk/insights/news/leading-the-way-in-pledge-to-get-nature-positive-by-2030/
3 https://www.icmm.com/en-gb/our-work/environmental-resilience/nature
4 https://www.columbiathreadneedle.co.uk/en/inst/insights/chopping-and-changes-what-are-the-implications-of-the-eus-deforestation-regulation/
5 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01034-1
6 https://www.cbd.int/gbf/targets/15
7 https://www.businessfornature.org/news/nature-positive-discussion-paper
8 https://www.cdp.net/en
9 https://www.forest-trends.org/wp-content/uploads/bbop/2012_qmm_npi_forecast_final-pdf.pdf
10 https://annual-report.puma.com/2022/en/sustainability/biodiversity/index.html
11 https://www.kering.com/api/download-file/?path=Kering_Sustainability_Strategie_Biodiversite_2023_a57da2f106_V2_1a8d1320ed.pdf
12 https://www.se.com/ww/en/assets/564/document/466154/2023-natural-resources-report.pdf
13 https://osf.io/preprints/osf/vk2hq
14 https://www.tescoplc.com/tesco-launches-nature-programme-with-step-up-in-support-for-water-commitment/
15 https://www.sse.com/media/0hknmulo/sse-plc-biodiversity-report-2022.pdf
16 https://www.astrazeneca.com/content/dam/az/Sustainability/2023/pdf/AZ-Biodiversity-Statement.pdf
17 https://denkstatt.eu/esrs-standards-explained/#:~:text=The%20five%20environmental%20standards%20cover,circular%20economy%20(ESRS%20E5).
18 https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/standards-development/topic-standard-project-for-biodiversity/
19 https://tnfd.global/tnfd-welcomes-the-issbs-decision-to-commence-work-on-nature-related-issues/
20 https://docs.columbiathreadneedle.com/documents/ESG%20Viewpoint%20-%20Biodiversity%20Best%20Practice%20and%20Engagement%20Approach.pdf?inline=true

Important information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial
advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

This document may be made available to you by an affiliated company which is part of the Columbia Threadneedle Investments group of companies: Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited in the UK; Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

Verwandte Beiträge

16 Juli 2024

Harry Waight

Portfolio Manager

On your bike - Shimano and cycling

From gearing up Tour de France contenders to a growing e-bike market, Shimano looks well placed.
Read time - 3 min
19 Juni 2024

Sally Springer

Senior Thematic Research Analyst, Global Research

Human capital – supply: the impact of demographic transition on investments

Working populations are in decline, with the demographic dividend that has supported economic growth in many developed markets under threat. This will have a direct impact on the firms in which we invest.
Read time - 8 min
14 Juni 2024

Natalia Luna

Senior Thematic Investment Analyst, Global Research

US elections: the Inflation Reduction Act and the risk of repeal

A full reversal is considered unlikely, but we believe the possibility of a partial repeal, which could see tax credits and funding programmes weakened, is underappreciated. Here is how Columbia Threadneedle will assess this risk and the potential implications for the most exposed sectors.
Read time - 3 min
17 Juli 2024

Joanna Tano

Head of Research, Europe, Real Estate (EMEA)

UK Real Estate: Talking points July 2024

Political stability, rebased pricing, falling inflation and the expectation of rate cutting are collectively expected to provide a more supportive environment for UK real estate.
Read time 2 min
17 Juli 2024

Fixed Income Desk

In Credit - Weekly Snapshot

In Credit Weekly Snapshot – July 2024

Our fixed income team provide their weekly snapshot of market events.
Read time - 5 min
16 Juli 2024

Harry Waight

Portfolio Manager

On your bike - Shimano and cycling

From gearing up Tour de France contenders to a growing e-bike market, Shimano looks well placed.
Read time - 3 min
true
true

Important information

For use by professional clients and/or equivalent investor types in your jurisdiction (not to be used with or passed on to retail clients). For marketing purposes.

 

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered representative of any particular investment. This should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments, or to provide investment advice or services. Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. Market risk may affect a single issuer, sector of the economy, industry or the market as a whole. The value of investments is not guaranteed, and therefore an investor may not get back the amount invested. International investing involves certain risks and volatility due to potential political, economic or currency fluctuations and different financial and accounting standards. The securities included herein are for illustrative purposes only, subject to change and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Securities discussed may or may not prove profitable. The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change and may differ from views expressed by other Columbia Threadneedle Investments (Columbia Threadneedle) associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Columbia Threadneedle and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, may not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not take into consideration individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset classes described may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results, and no forecast should be considered a guarantee either. Information and opinions provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This document and its contents have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority.

 

In Australia: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited [“TIS”], ARBN 600 027 414. TIS is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and relies on Class Order 03/1102 in respect of the financial services it provides to wholesale clients in Australia. This document should only be distributed in Australia to “wholesale clients” as defined in Section 761G of the Corporations Act. TIS is regulated in Singapore (Registration number: 201101559W) by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289), which differ from Australian laws.

 

In Singapore: Issued by Threadneedle Investments Singapore (Pte.) Limited, 3 Killiney Road, #07-07, Winsland House 1, Singapore 239519, which is regulated in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289). Registration number: 201101559W. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

 

In Hong Kong: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services Hong Kong Limited 天利投資管理香港有限公司. Unit 3004, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong, which is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) to conduct Type 1 regulated activities (CE:AQA779). Registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622), No. 1173058.

 

In Japan: Issued by Columbia Threadneedle Investments Japan Co., Ltd. Financial Instruments Business Operator, The Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No.3281, and a member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

 

In the UK: Issued by Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, No. 573204 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, No. 517895, both registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

In the EEA: Issued by Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A., registered with the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (Luxembourg), No. B 110242 and/or Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

In Switzerland: Issued by Threadneedle Portfolio Services AG, an unregulated Swiss firm or Columbia Threadneedle Management (Swiss) GmbH, acting as representative office of Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited, authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

 

In the Middle East: This document is distributed by Columbia Threadneedle Investments (ME) Limited, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). For Distributors: This document is intended to provide distributors with information about Group products and services and is not for further distribution. For Institutional Clients: The information in this document is not intended as financial
advice and is only intended for persons with appropriate investment knowledge and who meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as a Professional Client or Market Counterparties and no other Person should act upon it.

 

This document may be made available to you by an affiliated company which is part of the Columbia Threadneedle Investments group of companies: Columbia Threadneedle Management Limited in the UK; Columbia Threadneedle Netherlands B.V., regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), registered No. 08068841.

 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments is the global brand name of the Columbia and Threadneedle group of companies.

Das könnte Ihnen auch gefallen

Investmentansatz

Teamwork bildet eine wichtige Grundlage unseres Anlageprozesses, der so strukturiert ist, dass er die Ausarbeitung, Bewertung und Umsetzung fundierter und vielversprechender Anlageideen für unsere Portfolios erleichtert.

Fonds

Columbia Threadneedle Investments bietet eine umfangreiche Palette von Investmentfonds an, die eine Vielzahl von Anlagezielen abdeckt.

Anlagekapazitäten

Wir bieten eine breite Palette aktiv verwalteter Anlagestrategien und -lösungen für globale, regionale und inländische Märkte und Anlageklassen.

Bitte bestätigen Sie einige Angaben zu Ihrer Person, um Ihr Präferenzzentrum zu besuchen

*Pflichtfelder

Etwas ist schief gelaufen. Bitte versuche es erneut

Vielen Dank. Sie können jetzt Ihr Präferenzzentrum besuchen, um auszuwählen, welche Einblicke Sie per E-Mail erhalten möchten.

Um zu sehen und zu aktualisieren, welche Erkenntnisse Sie von uns per E-Mail erhalten, besuchen Sie bitte Ihr Preference Center.