Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Nature based solutions make good business models


Elizabeth Shirt is the President of GLOBE Series, an organization that brings together innovators and change agents who are driving the green economy forward. Elizabeth has spent her career working with industry, innovators, investors, governments, and environmental organizations to find solutions that will lead to a cleaner, more sustainable future. She has experience in sustainability, innovation, energy, and clean technology.

Nature-based solutions have been embraced by governments, investors, and corporate leaders as a critical component of meeting carbon targets and achieving net zero emissions. There's a good reason for this.

“Nature-based solutions make good business and economic sense,” says Elizabeth. “They encourage corporations to take into account how they are impacting the land and what that means for finite resources. That’s going to allow us to have more profitable businesses in the long term.”

This is one of the key threads running through the GLOBE Series events, which bring together and empower leaders and innovators from business, government, and civil society to share knowledge and find solutions for a more sustainable, prosperous, and socially just future.
Today's market participants are increasingly focused on green and blue infrastructure, net zero energy, and the role of investments in accelerating the clean economy.

According to Elizabeth, the key is to recognize that achieving a more sustainable future necessitates a multifaceted approach that includes not only reducing emissions, but also leveraging nature-based solutions to capture and store carbon.

“We cannot lose sight of sustainability priorities that we need to advance in tandem with achieving net zero,” she says. “It’s not net zero in isolation. It’s not biodiversity in isolation. It’s not nature conservation or adaptation to climate change in isolation. All of these issues and opportunities are intrinsically linked.”

Nature-based solutions, such as the creation and use of natural carbon sinks, such as wetlands, can be incorporated into net zero strategies. According to Elizabeth, these solutions are especially important to Canadian sustainability efforts because the country's economy has traditionally relied on natural resource extraction, agriculture, and forestry. These industries have enormous potential to directly harness nature in order to achieve overlapping sustainability goals.

“To me, that’s one of the cool things about nature. Nature is a key piece of the puzzle to finding a solution if we can find ways to work with it and harness that power,” says Elizabeth.

Businesses are also becoming more aware of how investing in nature-based solutions can benefit their bottom line. Finally, nature-based solutions generate more long-term sustainable business opportunities that align with current global market trends. They also provide opportunities for businesses and corporations to demonstrate leadership and innovation.

According to Elizabeth, one challenge that many companies and investors face is fully understanding how to measure the environmental and economic opportunities offered by nature-based solutions. Business leaders want to be connected with nature-based programs that will help them meet their specific needs. However, they may not be aware of how to obtain those solutions.

“How can they know if the companies or the solutions that they’re investing in represent the right net-zero opportunities?” she says. “You need to know what the metrics are. What reporting is required to really be clear on the net-zero opportunity?”

Policy outcomes from international forums such as the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), according to Elizabeth, are critical to the investment landscape. The TNFD has released a voluntary framework to help businesses incorporate nature-related risks and opportunities into their strategic planning, risk management, and asset allocation decisions. The goal is to encourage an economic shift towards nature-friendly outcomes while providing investors with clarity on how to value nature-based opportunities and risks.

“Those global initiatives represent a number of corporations and governments coming together to agree on a standard approach. This is so key for driving action. Policy outcomes from the TNFD are critical to the investment landscape because investors are looking for certainty and to mitigate their risk,” says Elizabeth.

“We saw the same thing from the Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosure. It set the global precedent. That trickles down to what corporations are doing in terms of their reporting to investors who are looking to say, ‘Yes, this is a net-zero opportunity.’”

Even when metrics and data are not readily available, Elizabeth advises that businesses should not become paralyzed while waiting for guidance. Setting goals, making commitments, and taking action are essential for progress. Businesses can also demonstrate leadership by being early adopters and setting examples before formal frameworks or regulations are in place.

 “We can’t wait for the perfect reporting frameworks or the perfect metrics, because of the need to act today,” she says. “Taking action and being part of the conversation is a win-win.”