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The Next Economy
17 Global Companies to Set World’s First Science-Based Targets for Nature This Year

The Science Based Targets Network’s science-based targets for nature are a significant step towards helping companies take integrated action to protect nature — beginning with freshwater and land.

The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) has launched the first science-based targets for nature — aiming to setting the global standard for measurable corporate action to protect nature.

These targets are introduced against the backdrop of scientific consensus that limiting global warming to 1.5°C cannot be achieved without halting and reversing nature loss. Nature absorbs approximately half of the planet’s carbon emissions a year; and with recent research indicating that more than half of global GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature, the business case for taking action to address nature and climate together has never been clearer.

As awareness of the critical role of biodiversity — and the enormous risks to business and the economy of continuing to destroy it — have grown in recent years, a number of tools and technologies have emerged aimed at helping companies understand and address their impacts on the natural world; but there’s yet to be any standardization. SBTN’s new science-based targets for nature build on global momentum on climate — with over 2,600 companies already setting science-based targets for climate through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The much-needed targets on nature — which SBTN began developing in 2020 — complement existing climate targets by allowing companies to take holistic action to address their impacts in the face of mounting environmental and social crises.

To achieve a balance between scientific rigor and feasibility, over 200 organizations have already helped road-test SBTN’s initial methods, tools and guidance including 115 companies; the majority of whom participate in SBTN’s Corporate Engagement Program — representing 20+ sectors in 25 countries with over $4 trillion in market cap.

As SBTN Executive Director Erin Billman explains: “We are in the midst of interconnected crises. We cannot limit global warming to 1.5°C without addressing nature loss; and we cannot halt and reverse nature loss without a stable climate. Crucially, we know we can’t address either without putting people and equity at the center.

“Building science-based targets for nature into business strategies will not only be vital to helping secure a healthy, resilient and equitable world, but to driving long-term resilience for businesses. By understanding and addressing their environmental impacts, companies can help mitigate supply chain disruptions, get ahead of regulatory compliance, and increase business value through access to capital and competitive advantage. We are asking businesses to seize the opportunity now and to start assessing their impact on Earth’s finite resources and prepare to set the first science-based targets for nature.”

The new science-based targets for nature come in the footsteps of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework — what’s being called a ‘Paris Agreement for nature’ — which was finalized and agreed at COP15 in December. The targets provide a key mechanism for companies to operationalize this global deal for nature — including addressing Target 15, which focuses on the role of business in managing and disclosing their impact on nature.

With the launch of the new science-based targets for nature, the SBTN is providing guidance for all companies to holistically assess and prioritize their environmental impacts and to prepare to set science-based targets — beginning with freshwater and land. In doing so, companies will improve the resilience of their business strategies and mitigate risk, while also directly supporting biodiversity — contributing to the preservation and restoration of natural ecosystems.

An initial group of 17 global companies — AB InBev, Alpro (part of Danone), Bel, Carrefour, Corbion, GSK, H&M Group, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Holcim Group, Kering and L’Occitane Group (which in December joined forces to launch a Climate Fund for Nature), LVMH, Nestlé, Neste Corporation, Suntory Holdings Limited, Tesco and UPM — selected for their readiness and applicability, are already preparing to set their first science-based targets for nature this year. An initial pilot will be undertaken with this group of companies, with a full roll-out to all companies in early 2024.

“L’Occitane Group has set itself the ambition to contribute to a nature-positive future. To do so, we must rely on science to ensure that our actions match our impacts and nature’s needs,” says Adrien Geiger, Group Chief Sustainability Officer at L’Occitane Group, which in 2021 set forth a strategy to be nature-positive by 2025. “Joining the SBTN Initial Target Validation Pilot is a new step towards our objective to halt biodiversity loss and understand how to make business compatible with planetary boundaries.”

Drawing on the best available science and global societal goals

The new targets draw on today’s best available science and includes collaboration with the Earth Commission on the upcoming safe and just Earth System Boundaries. They are also aligned with existing global goals on climate, nature and development — including the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Companies now have clear guidance and methodologies to set science-based targets for climate and nature,” says Johan Rockström, Co-chair of the Earth Commission. “The first science-based targets for nature align with the new science assessment The Earth Commission is about to publish on defining a safe and just space for humanity. I applaud the courage of the 17 pilot companies who are setting the first targets — because just like climate, it won’t be easy. We can all learn from their experiences, and we must. The future of business depends on it.”

A multi-year plan to establish holistic targets for nature

This first release forms part of a multi-year plan to provide companies of all sizes and sectors with comprehensive science-based targets for nature, which will increase in scope — including expanded freshwater and land targets, further coverage of biodiversity, and ocean targets. In later releases, SBTN will also issue guidance to companies on target implementation and tracking progress. The first target validation for companies outside of the pilot is aimed to begin in early 2024.

“Corporate climate-action initiatives must collaborate to provide companies with clear, best practice guidance from end to end — emissions to nature, national regulation to local engagement and everything in between — so businesses can take an integrated and thorough approach to tackling the biggest threat humanity has ever faced,” says SBTi CEO Luiz Amaral. “I am thrilled that — alongside science-based emission-reduction targets — companies can now have additional, complementary and fully aligned guidance on nature. I look forward to continue working to bring the ecosystem together.”