Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: Luis del Río/Pexels
The UK has lost almost half its wildlife and plant species since the Industrial Revolution. The new campaign, from the Council for Sustainable Business,
specifically addresses nature-focused challenges and solutions for businesses.
Coming out of COP26, the pressure is on
to pick up the pace on climate commitments so that meaningful and measurable
carbon reductions are made across all sectors and all industries around the
globe. What often gets lost in the climate conversation, however, is the
importance of protecting and restoring the natural world, as well. In the
United Kingdom, which has lost almost half its wildlife and plant species
since the Industrial Revolution, one
of the initiatives intended to move the needle on this front is the "Get Nature
Positive" campaign, which specifically
addresses nature-focused challenges and solutions.
“There’s been a lot of talk and work around carbon targets. But, beyond forest
we hear much less about the impacts of business on nature and the importance of
restoring it,” says Justin Francis, co-founder and CEO of Responsible
Travel and biodiversity lead for the
Council for Sustainable Business
“To tackle climate heating, we need to reduce carbon and restore healthy
It can’t be one or the other.”
Get Nature Positive was developed by the CSB — a group of business leaders
appointed by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(DEFRA), who are committed to developing successful businesses while also
enhancing nature. The CSB was established in 2018 to help the government deliver
on its commitment to achieve nature positivity by 2030 as part of its 25-year
environmental plan. The campaign currently consists of an online
case studies across sectors on how businesses are becoming nature
as well as climate actions and solutions currently in place across Great
“We are determined to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and
biodiversity loss, and our landmark Environment Bill is putting the
environment at the heart of all government
for generations to come. But to achieve our goals, we need to work hand-in-hand
with business; and this brilliant handbook provides the tools it needs to go
nature positive,” noted Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for the Pacific and the
Environment; and Minister Rebecca Pow, Domestic Environment and Nature
Recovery Minister, in a press release about the handbook.
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So far, more than 70 high-profile companies — including GSK, Landsec,
and Sainsbury’s — have signed on to support Get Nature Positive. The
campaign is not a legally binding commitment, but it is a public declaration.
“As a business as well as individuals, we work to create awareness of looking
after our beautiful world, nature, the environment and the planet as a whole,”
said Karen Simmonds, founder of another signatory, Travel
Matters. “We look to work with and support
initiatives and campaigns working with professionals, consultants and businesses
who teach and educate us on how we can make a positive difference to the planet
In a world awash with climate and sustainability commitments, pledges and
declarations, it is worth asking if another one adds to the noise or actually
adds value. In addition to the initiative’s focus on nature, Francis argues it’s
the cross-industry emphasis that sets Get Nature Positive apart.
“No business is an island; and no industry is, either. We’re all connected — and
our impacts, too,” he said. “So, while I understand the drive for
sector-specific commitments, cross-industry knowledge and coordination, I think,
is vital to success.”
The handbook currently has information related to the water, tourism, fashion,
buildings and infrastructure, food retail, and finance sectors; and the CSB is
in the process of compiling and developing information on agriculture,
environmental services and renewable energy. Each section of the handbook
details the specific challenges related to each sector, actions being used to
address those challenges (and steps for replication), and case studies of these
actions in progress — offering valuable insight for both UK-based businesses and
those seeking nature-based solutions beyond the borders.
Though the Get Nature Positive initiative has this information compiled for each
sector, the handbook doesn’t clearly link actions across sectors, which would
more clearly emphasize the importance of cross-industry awareness, alignment and
collaboration. For example, the section on food retail offers insight on how to
in partnership with suppliers, which would also be helpful for those working in
The tourism section details information on how to change food sourcing and
reduce food waste, but it doesn’t link to or make use of the guidance compiled
on supplier partnerships.
This is a lost opportunity with the current iteration of the handbook, yet
founding signatories indicate this is only a starting point on nature-related
issues that must be addressed immediately.
“We do not claim that the impacts or solutions we’ve presented — with help from
a wide range of experts from NGOs, academia, government and business — are
exhaustive or perfect, or that we have all the definitions and ‘nature positive’
metrics that we need,” noted Liv Garfield, CEO of the CSB and CEO of Severn
Trent, in the press release for the handbook.
For a country ranked in the bottom 10 percent for
biodiversity, waiting for perfection
is not an option: “The campaign doesn’t have all the answers, but it’s saying,
‘here’s what we know now and what we can do now,’” Francis said. “We need to get
moving, pool our knowledge, and improve as we go. What we can’t do is carry on
as we are.”
Published Dec 20, 2021 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
JoAnna Haugen is a writer, speaker and solutions advocate who has worked in the travel and tourism industry for her entire career. She is also the founder of Rooted — a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, social impact and storytelling. A returned US Peace Corps volunteer, international election observer and intrepid traveler, JoAnna helps tourism professionals decolonize travel and support sustainability using strategic communication skills.