The news about nature and the climate is pretty scary, and it doesn’t help sales! Making yourself heard in this context is easier when you are not alone in delivering the message. Let’s see how businesses are coming together to become a positive force in nature conservation.
Who can recall what happened on 10 July 2018? Many will remember that on that day France won the semi-final of the ⚽ World Cup against Belgium. But on that same day, a coalition of French companies called act4nature was also launched. A coalition that brought together companies that voluntarily committed to improving their footprint on nature. Was there a link between both events? Indeed, there was: French President Emmanuel Macron, who preferred to attend the final game in Russia rather than stay in Paris to be present at the act4nature press conference. That was his choice and… understandably so. The French Republic instructed its Minister of Ecology, Nicolas Hulot, to greet the who’s who of the French business world (BNP Paribas, Axa, Michelin…) and salute its good efforts. Interesting, isn’t it? Old enemies become friends.
I digress, you say? Yes and no, because this is a very instructive case. Businesses are ready to engage, but they value the media coverage. And which better instance than the political world to provide it? In addition, this kind of intentional commitment cannot be ignored by often critical green NGOs. Indeed, the issue of how these commitments were to be monitored was not settled in 2018. Since then, specific approaches have emerged which allow the biodiversity performance of companies to be assessed (🤔 a subject that I will come back to later on, I promise). Be reassured, these methodologies were developed in collaboration with scientists and NGOs.
Demonstrating goodwill, collectively, is something that companies can do. A parallel road to take is to advocate with regulators for creating incentives rather than taxes or restrictions. Such is the path taken by the “Business for nature” coalition of companies, which over the course of this year has developed policy objectives (in other words, recommendations for regulators) in areas such as: providing ambitious targets to reverse nature loss, eliminating subsidies that are harmful to nature, aligning green policies with those related to other issues affecting people, developing business disclosure on nature impacts and, last but not least, financing the green instead of greening the finance. These requests mirror very closely those of civil society 😂. interesting, isn’t it? Yet, it’s precisely this proximity of interests which opens the door to collaborations.
These are nice but fledgling initiatives. Their added value will be demonstrated by the effectiveness of the measures undertaken by their members. The race for these companies to implement monitoring and reporting tools is on. The recent climate protests have proven that tomorrow’s consumers demand fast and visible changes.
Be that as it may, nature conservation offers huge possibilities for new products and services. The World Economic Forum published on July 15, 2020 an estimate of these new prospects: 400 million jobs by 2030 🤑, to be compared with the 25 million jobs destroyed by COVID-19 or the 3.3 trillion existing jobs in the world.
Therefore, it is more than likely that the private sector will do its part in helping the bees to continue flying over meadows, the forests to remain a home for monkeys and the fish to swim in the rivers, for the sake of our bodies and minds. For this, cooperation will be necessary so that the right actions take place in an area where state agencies and NGOs are already active. As with the climate, it will require a level playing field new set of rules at the global level, where the appropriate framework is still needed. In my next article, I will examine the means that various governments plan to put in place to support these next nature positive companies.