New tool launched to help business diagnose hurdles to implementing nature-based solutions

 A new diagnostic tool from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has been launched to offer practical guidance for adoption of nature-based solutions (NbS).

The open access tool has been designed after consultation with more than 35 leading companies, including ASDA, Coca-Cola, Iceland, Mars, Nestle, Pepsico, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Unilever.

Decision-making in a nature positive world aims to help companies understand what NbS are and how to use them to address and solve strategic business and environmental challenges. This includes carbon emissions, climate change resilience, and the loss and degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity that provide crucial environmental services.

Dr Gemma Cranston, Director, Business and Nature Team, CISL said: “Human activity is taking the natural environment to the brink of ecosystem collapse and the continuing pressures on biodiversity from food, land and oceans use can only be significantly alleviated by a change in how we do business.

“Nature-based solutions are key to both the climate and nature crises but their potential has yet to be unleased. Working with leading businesses, CISL’s new tool will help companies begin and accelerate the incorporation of nature-based solutions into their work.”

By March of last year, 21% of the 2,000 largest publicly traded companies had made some kind of net zero commitment. Post-COP26 and the Glasgow Pact, the ‘why’ of the economic climate conversation has given way to the ‘how’ and the emphasis now is on the delivery phase of decarbonisation. To achieve net zero and wider environmental and social sustainability aims, many businesses are turning to NbS for their ability to address a more holistic group of objectives in relation to stabilising the planet.

The companies involved in the new report shared observations. learnings and recommendations based on their experience of adopting nature-based solutions and aim for this report to act as a foundation for others to build on.

Author of the report Tom Divney said: “This is a valuable tool to help companies in their nature-based solutions (NbS) journey. It offers companies practical solutions for identifying and overcoming challenges that impede internal decisions about NbS, paving the way for a nature-positive future.”

The diagnostic tool is made up of four areas of focus based on the key challenges reported by companies, alongside wider data:

  • Dealing with the unknowns that delay or obfuscate NbS decision-making processes;
  • Making the financial case for NbS benefits, especially when compared to a company’s traditional solutions;
  • Navigating external and reputational pressures such as external stakeholders, regulatory compliance, supply and value chain actors, and possible NbS partners;
  • Engaging and influencing colleagues to convince them of the benefits of NbS and convert them from undecided to NbS supporters.

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