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These 8 business leaders are championing a nature-positive economy – Here’s why

We know, now more than ever, that our fate as a species is deeply connected with the fate of our natural environment. Nature loss has tangible business and economic impacts. Over half the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and is therefore at risk. We now also know that protecting and restoring natural ecosystems is crucial in combatting climate change.

The COVID-19 crisis provides an unprecedented opportunity to reset humanity’s relationship with nature. The decisions that we make in the near future will shape the world for decades to come, and these decisions must be discussed during upcoming milestone international summits – including the UN General Assembly, the UN Food Systems Summit, and the climate and biodiversity COPs.

A recent CEO briefing document released by the World Economic Forum, WBCSD, Business for Nature and We Mean Business outlines why businesses need to act on nature and the steps they need to take. Many businesses are showing us what is already possible and are proving that safeguarding nature will lead to a thriving economy and resilient jobs.

To provide inspiration for the important year ahead, 8 members of the Champions for Nature community shared why they are working towards a nature-positive, net-zero and socially equitable future.

To build resilience ‘to future economic and environmental shocks’
Claudia Azevedo, CEO, Sonae

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our current economy and many of our livelihoods. A nature-positive economy will challenge businesses to shift towards jobs that are more resilient to future economic and environmental shocks.

At Sonae, we are highly committed to a long-term vision and recognise the need of integrating natural capital in the equation, so our nature-positive journey began many years ago, embedding it in Sonae’s business strategy.

Given the magnitude of current challenges, we encourage all companies to raise their ambitions around nature and climate and to join this effort. Nature loss will significantly impact all business in all countries. We have to be quick and effective in our actions.

Unlocking the opportunties of a nature-positive recovery by investing in three building blocks for economic recovery and implementing six cross-cutting policy levers

How we can achieve a nature-positive economic recovery Image: World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Nature and Business Policy Companion’

To benefit biodiversity and business
Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO, Gucci

The twin crises of nature loss and climate change are interconnected and great benefits for business and society can be achieved if they are tackled together. As businesses, we must all respond to these crises as a matter of urgency and play our part to transition to a net-zero, nature-positive economy.

At Gucci, we have integrated climate solutions across our sustainability strategy to promote biodiversity conservation while we focus on emissions reduction. We have been carbon neutral in our direct operations and across our supply chain since 2018. Under our ‘Natural Climate Solutions Portfolio’, we are investing in regenerative agriculture, and protecting and restoring important ecosystems that mitigate climate change, which will provide lasting biodiversity and climate benefits for years to come.

To ‘restore critical water sources and ensure quality water for human consumption’
Bertrand Camus, CEO, Suez

Water is one of the key resources linking us to natural systems. One in four cities – representing over $4 trillion in economic activity – are already water stressed.

SUEZ is demonstrating how innovation and nature-based solutions can be used to restore critical water sources and ensure quality water for human consumption. A nature-positive economy is the only way to protect our water supplies and allow natural processes to continue to sustain life on earth as we know it.

At SUEZ, we aim to step up our role in protecting the environment and restoring our natural assets by taking action for the protection and rehabilitation of terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity. To do this, the Group is accelerating its development of “100% sustainable” solutions characterised by their positive impact on the environment be it on air, water or soil.

To ‘improve farmer livelihoods and ensure a sustainable food system’
Liam Condon, President, Bayer Crop Science Division

At Bayer, we work with farmers every day to make agriculture a part of the solution to climate change and help lead us towards a nature-positive economy.

A great example is our Bayer Carbon Initiative. We promote climate-smart farming practices through a combination of product innovations, digital solutions and new outcome-based models that reward farmers who contribute to carbon sequestration. As more farmers embrace this novel approach, they realize the benefit through improved soil health for better harvests while contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, we are committed to be carbon-neutral in our own operations by 2030 through use of renewable energy sources, efficiency measures and acquiring high-quality carbon credits for remaining emissions.

Since the agriculture landscape is highly diverse across the globe, we tailor-fit our innovations and efforts based on these varying dynamics with the end goal to improve farmer livelihoods and ensure a sustainable food system that can nourish the world.

To ‘protect the earth for future generations’
Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO, Nespresso US, Nestlé USA Inc.

Now is the time for urgency. We’re entering the decisive decade – it’s not just necessary to take actions to protect the earth for future generations, but also for the future of humanity.

I believe the private sector can be a powerful catalyst for change. Companies like Nespresso are in a privileged spot – we can accelerate transformative actions throughout our value chains, such as regenerative agriculture, eco-design, recycling and building a low-carbon nature-positive and inclusive economy. I have seen first-hand how coffee can be a force for good. Our ambition is to build on a 20-year legacy and accelerate our efforts. The clock is ticking.

Threats prioritized for business action all relate to three socio-economic systems

Threats prioritized for business action all relate to three socio-economic systems – and climate cuts across all three. Image: World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Nature and Business’

To ‘tackle the climate crisis’ and add ‘business value of over $10 trillion’
Roberto Marques, Group CEO, Natura

The interconnections between nature and humanity must not be underestimated. The natural world is on the verge of its tipping point, and we must act now.

The business community has a huge role to play. Transitioning to a nature-positive economy by 2030 could provide both an effective way to tackle the climate crisis and an annual business value of over $10 trillion. As businesses, we must begin to think longer term and consider investments in nature which will pay off in the future.

Natura &Co has been operating in the Amazon for over 20 years, respecting the forest. We will continue our endeavour to work with our partners, overcoming competition in favour of collaboration, to help build an agreement for nature, designed to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.

To provide ‘for livelihoods and development’ and restore ‘nature and landscapes’
Anderson Tanoto, Managing Director, RGE

Nature is the biggest ally in the fight against climate change. Natural climate solutions aim to utilise the power of nature to lessen climate change impacts, while halting the destruction of ecosystems.

At RGE, we embrace the production-protection model, where working forests ring-fence and buffer natural forests against encroachment and other illegal activities. This is a practical approach that not only provides for livelihoods and development but also restores nature and landscapes – allowing biodiversity and people to thrive for the long term.

To ‘protect nature while feeding the world’
Svein Tore Holsether, CEO, Yara

At Yara, we feel it is our responsibility to work with farmers to protect nature while feeding the world. The agricultural sector employs 65% of the world’s working poor and, in the Global South, forests are the source of livelihoods for over 1.6 billion people.

For us, the solution is quite literally in the soil. Done right, we can turn farmland back into nature and create natural carbon sinks. We need businesses to come together and take a stand, respecting the planetary boundaries.

For too long we have tried to control nature. Now we need to control ourselves.
Source: World Economic Forum

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