COP26 saw the first-ever day focussed on nature. The CBI, in partnership with Accenture, hosted its Nature and Biodiversity Husting, to discuss the critical alignment of the climate and nature crises to support coordinated international action to protect, conserve and restore the planet.
Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at CBI
Camilla Drejer, Director of Citizenship, Sustainability and Responsible Business at Accenture
Chris Dodwell, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Impax Asset Management
Angela Francis, Chief Advisor, Economics and Economic Department, WWF-UK
Karen Ross, Secretary of the CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture)
Anna Turrell, Head of Environment, Tesco plc
Moderator: Roger Harrabin, BBC
The interplay between climate and nature challenges has featured throughout COP26, as well as the role of nature in achieving net zero. Businesses will be at the heart of much of this change, from identifying their impact across their supply chains to protecting natural habitats in areas where they operate.
Nature is part of the path to net zero
To solve the environmental crisis, we can't ignore biodiversity and focus on carbon emissions solely, this is a twin emergency we need to look at these two issues together. Speakers from across business, government and civil society demonstrated that climate and nature are not separate, and nature is part of the path to net zero.
What we don't have is the time it took to establish the case for climate. We need to act now for nature, said Camilla Drejer of Accenture.
To encourage action at the pace needed, we need to build the narrative that nature is part of that path to net zero. WWF-UK’s Angela Francis explained that nature (and a just transition), is sometimes viewed as something that will slow down our path to net zero, when in reality it will help us get there quicker.
Business momentum, action and investment
One of the big announcements at COP26 was the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, where countries committed to working collectively to half and reverse loss and land degradation by 2030.
Chris Dodwell of Impax reflected on the importance of this commitment, recognising that although this isn’t the first time, we have seen this sort of pledge, what is different this time is that we also have companies and financial institutions as part of this, as well as 130 countries.
The commitment to act for nature is coming from across all sectors, and there are leading businesses looking at how to make nature positive the new zero, as we have seen with the Get Nature Positive campaign.
What we are seeing is that leading businesses are moving at a much quicker pace than governments. For business to push this forward what we need is effective regulation, legislation and government support, as Anna Turrell of Tesco stated.
What is needed is investment in nature. We know that nature-based solutions can be core business assets, investment in them is vital to make the transition to a green economy.
Collaboration across business, government and communities is essential
The challenge with nature and biodiversity is that governments and business haven't know how to tackle the problem. Nature is largely impacted by globally complex supply chains, and that means assessing the impact and finding the solutions is more difficult.
Agriculture is cited as one of the most challenging sectors to deal with. This is due to the number of actors involved. However, as Karen Ross’ shared experiences in California show, there is a real opportunity to bring together all the right actors together to make progress. In California, examples showed that it does take the full supply chain. Business and government are coming to the recognition that it does start at the farm level for food and land use and having farmers at the table are vital.
To solve the nature challenges, business should recognise the reality that we don't have all answers across industry. However, by working together and collaborating we can work to find solutions for these challenges.