#MakeItMandatory: Why corporate accountability is imperative for the success of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Despite intergovernmental commitments made in the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are occurring at a rate unparalleled, and it has never been more urgent for society and the economy to adopt a nature-positive approach. According to the World Economic Forum, as much as half of global gross domestic product (USD).

This December, after years of negotiation and several delays due to the pandemic, the world will come together in Montreal to agree on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP15. This Framework will set a global agenda for the protection and restoration of nature, a unique opportunity to put biodiversity on a path to recovery and achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2050 Vision to live in harmony with nature.

Why #MakeitMandatory is key

As acknowledged in the current draft of the Post-2020 GBF, business has a critical role to play to ensure our relationship with nature and biodiversity becomes sustainable in the long term, while respecting the rights of people and communities. Specifically, Target 15 will confirm the expectation of business and finance globally in its contributions to a nature positive future, and of governments to support this through effective policies.

Within the Make it Mandatory campaign, led by Business for Nature, Capitals Coalition and the CDP, more than 330 businesses have called on Heads of State to mandate the assessment and disclosure of business’ impacts and dependencies on nature at COP15. Here at WBA, we wholeheartedly support this campaign as it is critical to move beyond voluntary actions to ensure businesses are required to take responsibility for the impact they have on nature. The Framework needs to be crystal clear about what it expects from companies and under what conditions they are expected to deliver these expectations. Requiring businesses to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity by 2030 is an essential step to do so.

Next to assessment and disclosure as essential steps in the process of impact management, the GBF should also require concrete actions to be taken to reduce negative impacts and increase positive impacts of business on biodiversity, throughout their operations, suppliers and value chains, while respecting the rights of people and communities. If included in the Framework, this would be a meaningful starting point for business leadership to commit to and implement throughout their operations and value chains.

Holding companies accountable for their impacts on nature

Here at WBA, we are very hopeful that the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will lead the world towards a different relationship between nature, people and the economy. Success, however, will depend on the Framework’s robust implementation and monitoring mechanisms, not just for governments, but for all stakeholders, including business. This was a clear shortcoming of the Aichi Targets, the Framework’s predecessor.

With the urgency to address the biodiversity crisis having only increased since this agenda, it is essential that such mechanisms are established right from the start. It is the only way to ensure that the current momentum around the role of business and finance in creating a nature-positive future will translate into meaningful change.

WBA’s Nature Benchmark

WBA aims to contribute to such mechanisms by delivering a first iteration of its Nature Benchmark at COP15, which assesses 400 of the most influential companies on their contributions to a nature-positive future. By 2023, WBA will assess 1000 companies, across more than 20 sectors, which together earn over 20 trillion USD in annual global revenue.

Collectively, these companies employ over 54.3 million people directly with millions more throughout their supply chains, and represent the world’s main commodity value chains, from extraction to end-of-life. The Nature Benchmark will provide unique insights into corporate contributions to a nature-positive future and empower all stakeholders, including governments, civil society and business themselves, to recognise leadership and to hold laggards to account.

The Nature Benchmark Methodology was developed through an extensive multistakeholder consultation. It is built on existing standards and best practices while recognising developing concepts, such as The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and Science Based Targets for Network (SBTN). The methodology also corresponds with the various targets of the draft Framework, translating its targets into a roadmap for business that specifies societal expectations as put forward by the Framework. As such, the Nature Benchmark can contribute to the monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the GBF. The benchmark will be published biennially, providing a feedback loop for policy makers through the ability to assess progress in business performance over time.

To close the corporate accountability gap on nature, we must ensure that monitoring and accountability mechanisms are created from the get-go, to ensure we can review actual progress at COP16, and act accordingly.

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