BSI and Defra launch Nature Investment Standards Programme

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, recently announces the launch of a Nature Investment Standards Programme in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), starting with a discovery phase.

This is one of a suite of interventions the UK government is putting in place as part of its forthcoming Green Finance Strategy and Nature Markets Framework to boost market confidence and increase private sector investment into nature recovery and nature-friendly farming. This will ultimately help to accelerate progress on environmental goals such as reversing biodiversity loss and achieving net zero.

The programme is designed to overcome barriers to investing in nature and the services it provides, including addressing the lack of standardised, transparent data. The programme will drive a consistent approach and provide a benchmark for industry codes to be recognised as sufficiently robust and credible.

Defra and BSI will work closely with the Devolved Administrations and a wide range of stakeholders to create a new, consensus-based, UK-wide standards’ framework that sets out clear principles and robust requirements to drive efficiency, greater clarity and rigour. This will include the identification, prioritization, and development of standards to address key market gaps. 

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • Enable scaling up of high integrity markets that trade in ecosystem services to support the flow of private sector investment into nature
  • Build trust and confidence for all market participants by guarding against greenwashing
  • Drive nature’s recovery and accelerate progress on environmental goals including net zero and reversing biodiversity loss
  • Empower regulators and other expert bodies to engage with and support the development of nature markets that are robust, transparent, and fair

This initiative builds on the progress made internationally and will take account of the forthcoming publications by initiatives, launched under the UK’s COP26 Presidency, that are seeking to establish integrity standards in the voluntary carbon market. Through the BSI initiative, the UK is building on best practice and positioning itself at the forefront internationally in building high integrity nature markets.

Scott Steedman, Director–General, Standards at BSI commented: “Enabling high integrity nature markets can help build confidence, attract investment, and empower land managers and other stakeholders to deliver projects that can achieve meaningful environmental impact. This is important at a time when these markets are emerging, to guard against greenwashing, and has the potential to offer substantial benefits to society.

We’re delighted to be partnering with Defra, the Devolved Administrations and industry to shape a standards framework supporting high integrity nature markets by providing improved rigour, consistency and clarity. Ultimately this can help accelerate progress towards a sustainable world.”

Lord Benyon, Environment and Green Finance Minister, said: “To restore landscapes and help fund the transition to nature friendly farming, we need to mobilise investment into the natural environment and prioritise clean growth.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the BSI to shape UK standards to support investment in long-term, sustainable nature recovery as part of our forthcoming Green Finance Strategy and Nature Markets Framework.

“These standards will provide clarity and structure in nature markets and drive a step-change in the role of private finance in addressing nature’s decline, building on domestic and international practices, initiatives and innovation.”

The initial discovery phase, which will include extensive stakeholder engagement, will take place until the end of May, with the overall programme due to run for three years.

Visit the programme web page to learn more and sign up to get involved.

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