November Monthly Briefing: Natural Capital

With COP28 fast approaching as I write this, all eyes are on climate. So you might wonder why this month we’re focusing on nature. No surprise, really, as in Actions for Business, we try to think a few steps ahead – read on to learn more – but in any event, climate change and biodiversity are intrinsically connected. 

Sustainability practitioners in business are pretty familiar now with the whole architecture around net zero, with its targets, timetables and seemingly new language, or at least new acronyms – TCFD, SBTI, CSRD and the rest. 

Fast approaching, in fact already firmly here, is a new set of tongue-twisters – TNFD, NBS, GBF, FLAG, to cite a few. It’s time to buckle up and get ready to ride the next wave of initiatives that are addressing arguably the more pressing crisis we face, on biodiversity. Underpinning all of this is the stark reality that more than half the world’s GDP is directly dependent on nature, according to the World Economic Forum. If climate still feels like a theoretical or long-term threat for some, dependence on agricultural raw materials is a present-day reality.

Our expert writers this time take us on a deep dive into what it all means, journeying from Plato and Bronze Age societies through today’s extended global supply chains to the likely state of Europe’s farmlands in 2050. Not an easy read; but more pressing, I’d argue, because the existential question of how to feed the population has always exercised our rulers, whether they be monarchs or modern politicians, and the stress on nature, exacerbated by climate changes, is already having an impact. Governmental interventions and public policy lurches become all the more likely. 

For business, aside from the expanded lexicon that boards need to get familiar with, it’s actually a familiar story – assessing the implications across the value chain, seeing risks and opportunities through a wider lens, re-examining business models, building action plans, tracking progress and engaging with stakeholders. 

If there is a (perverse) upside in all this for me, it’s that people – the social or societal aspects of sustainability – are more obviously centre stage here, thinking about direct behaviour-changing impacts, from farmers to end-consumers, than with the sometimes dry accounting for carbon and the making of net-zero projections. Small mercies. 

Visit the November Monthly Briefing here.

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