About the Nature Benchmark
What is the Nature Benchmark?
- The need for action on nature and biodiversity has never been more urgent. This is why the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) seeks to track over 1000 influential companies in their adoption of a nature-positive strategy that leaves no one behind. It aims to assess companies across topics such as governance and strategy, the state of nature, land and se use change, direct exploitation of resources, pollution, climate chance, invasive alien species and social and community impact, through 25 indicators (in addition to the 18 Core Social Indicators). All indicators are designed to apply to all industries, although it is possible that for a limited set of companies, certain indicators will be non-applicable and therefore not scored.
- As we know impacts on biodiversity often occur in the value chain, companies should not limit their efforts and actions to their own operations and conduct assessments to determine the most material elements of the value chain. Impactful strategies must therefore consider key business partners, including direct and indirect suppliers, franchisees, and subsidiaries, unless it can be demonstrated that the majority of biodiversity impacts takes place within the companies’ own operations.
Why am I selected for the Nature benchmark?
- The selection of the companies has been based on WBA’s methodology for identifying its SDG2000 ‘keystone companies’ across the seven transformations. In addition, WBA has approached the selection process by assessing companies on the impact of their business activities, both positive and negative, on nature and biodiversity. WBA has also sought to include companies it has identified as having a disproportionately positive or negative influence on nature and biodiversity loss specifically in developing countries. For example, within the paper and forests industry, while there are companies which have much larger revenues and scale of operations based in Europe or North America, companies were also selected if they had significant operations or activities based in high-risk regions for biodiversity. The selection process also sought to bring regional balance to the company sample to ensure every region was represented considering the global scale of biodiversity impact and loss. For example, in the utilities segment, consideration was given to the number of people served, or reliant, on the company’s services in high-risk regions, ensuring that companies from countries such as Brazil, India and China were also included.
Will the new Nature Benchmark supersede existing initiatives, such as the Food and Agriculture Benchmark or the Climate and Energy benchmarks?
- No, other benchmarks developed by WBA (including the Food and Agriculture, Climate and Energy, and Digital Benchmarks) will continue to be published. Some spotlights go deeper on industries and issues which are out of scope for the Nature benchmark, and some have a more industry-specific focus. They thereby provide valuable contributions to our methodology, as well as assessing other topics and angles which are not included in the 1000 for the Nature Benchmark. We will try to align timelines, processes and content as much as possible.
The Nature Benchmark’s value chain approach and industry selection
- WBA conducted research and participated in a multi-stakeholder consultative process to ensure that the methodology and the indicators are meaningful across industries and geographies. Every effort has been made to choose measurement areas, indicators, and elements that are as industry-agnostic s possible and apply across all companies. WBA is interested in company actions that go above and beyond regulatory requirements, making it also regulation agnostic.
- For more information about the development of the benchmark and how companies were selected, please refer to the methodology, here.
WBA has integrated social transformation into all other transformations. How is the Core Social Indicators methodology incorporated into the Nature Benchmark?
- WBA has committed to assessing all SDG2000 companies on social criteria by 2023 as part of integrating the social transformation into all other transformations. This means that a series of core social indicators will be applied to all SDG2000 companies, including those in the Nature Benchmark. The core social indicators are embedded in the Nature Benchmark methodology and ranking. Companies’ social benchmark scores will make up 20% of their overall score. Further information can be found in the social transformation framework.
Alignment with other sustainability frameworks
- We understand that our Benchmark is one of many initiatives that currently require engagement from companies, and that this can represent a significant workload. We have aligned as much as possible with already existing initiatives. We will continue working on aligning and joining forces with other initiatives as much as possible to relieve the reporting burden on companies.
About other WBA benchmarks
Can I opt-out from WBA benchmarks?
- No, once a company has been selected, it will be assessed, regardless of whether it actively engages with WBA or not. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage you to participate in the process as it often results in a better overall results due to the better data quality.
What’s the added value of the Nature Benchmark? Many of the framework topics are similar to those listed in other frameworks and initiatives.
- The Nature Benchmark represents an opportunity for companies to shine a light on their contributions to the nature-positive transition and to measure itself against its peers, through the methodology, but also through an overview of current best practices, in order to understand and improve on their own shortcomings.
- Many investors and other stakeholders have confirmed the need for a cross-industry and full value chain approach, which is where the Nature Benchmark differs from existing initiatives which focus on specific industries or issues. The WBA goes for scale, whereas others go for depth. Where WBA also differs from some of these and other initiatives is that our work, from methodologies to benchmarks, are free and publicly available to any stakeholder which wishes to use the data.
- Furthermore, the Nature Benchmark includes indicators where stakeholders’ expectations are high, alongside more novel topics, which are currently being discussed by several other frameworks – like SBNT and TNFD – and will attempt to shine a light on topics such as resource decoupling, circular economy and mitigation hierarchy’s principles.
For those companies included in a number of other external (non-WBA) benchmarks and initiatives, what can be done to reduce the reporting burden for them?
- We are having extensive discussions with existing initiatives to try and align indicators around our key topics wherever possible, as well as working closely with many of these initiatives (some of which also sit within our Alliance or Expert Review Committee). Our long-term aim is to align company disclosure processes, and this will evolve and become smarter over time. Overall, we want to make the benchmarking process as efficient and productive as possible for companies.
What is to be expected of companies identified to participate in more than one WBA benchmark, across the different system transformations?
- We will align our work and timelines across different WBA benchmarks to the best of our ability. For instance, most of the companies already assessed within the Food & Agriculture Benchmark will only be benchmarked in 2023 as to align the timelines of both the Nature and Food & Agriculture Benchmarks and to lessen the reporting burden.
Who can use WBA data?
- The data are free and publicly available to use. We aim for them to be used by a range of different stakeholders, namely the companies themselves, financial institutions, governments, civil society and consumers.
Does WBA make recommendations based on the results?
- The results from our benchmark can provide companies with insight into the areas where they can improve their sustainability performance. We will not issue company-specific or case-by-case recommendations, but companies can use or assessment and methodology as a guide to improve. The results of the benchmark will be publicly available, and we hope these will help guide companies to improve and enhance their sustainability strategies.
The benchmarking process
Nature Benchmark Timeline
- Prior to the opening of the data collection platform and the invite for companies to input data, our research team has conducted pre-assessment by uploading and scoring relevant data from your company’s publicly-available data (annual/sustainability reports and corporate website). Companies have the opportunity check, modify and expand on the prepopulated data to ensure that it is accurate, complete and up to date, and provide us with supporting sources. Please note for the purposes of pre-population we have only considered information that was publicly available and published in the English language. If your company has disclosed relevant information in a non-English language, we would encourage you to translate relevant sections and input into the survey where appropriate.
Sector and industry applicability
- Our methodology has been developed with the wide range of sectors and industries in the benchmark in mind. As such, the indicators have been tailored to the different industries within our scope. Some indicators may not be relevant for a particular industry and might become not applicable in the future. If this is the case, the company will not be assessed on this indicator. At this time, all indicators are applicable to all companies.
What we are looking for regarding commitments and policies?
- We will consider documents and statements that have been approved by the highest governance body/board of the company. These documents should be up to date and global in scope. Where companies have separate documents for their own operations and supply chain, please provide both.
What it means to only accept publicly available information?
- We only accept information that is currently in the public domain and/or any other information or document that is not currently in the public domain but that the company is happy to make public through our benchmark. The reason for this is that WBA benchmarks aim to encourage transparency in sustainability disclosure and thus increase accountability around the role of companies in achieving the SDGs.
- Is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) available for information shared via the survey?
- WBA will not be able to accept information that is protected by an NDA. Increasing transparency and corporate disclosure is one of the aims of the benchmark. As such, the benchmark only considers publicly available information, or information that companies are willing to make public through the benchmark
What does it mean “to make public through our benchmark”?
- The documents shared with WBA will not be published by WBA, however, we might publicly reference or cite information contained in said documents in the published benchmark results. Information in these documents will thus not be treated as confidential.
If you’re a company in scope for the Nature Benchmark, you will receive a link from WBA to access the Survey Tool User Manual