The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) has released the first official science-based targets for nature, which provide guidance for companies to take action on both climate and nature goals.
This new guidance helps companies assess their environmental impact and set targets to address any issues with researched, science-based strategies. But unlike sustainability targets based only on climate goals, SBTN’s advice also recognizes the connection between climate change and ecosystem depletion, both driven by exploitation of Earth’s natural resources. The science-based targets have been tested by over 115 companies in 25 countries, representing over $4 trillion in market capitalization.
A pilot group of 17 companies, chosen for their readiness and for having supply chains known to highly affect nature, will set their first targets this year. The guidance is meant to build on companies’ pre-existing sustainability procedures while following existing standards in place from the Science Based Targets Initiative and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures risk management and disclosure beta framework. The targets also include collaboration with Earth Commission’s global team of scientists working to define a safe and just corridor for people and the planet.
Reaching Net-Zero Requires Nature Preservation
SBTN recognizes that climate change is a key focus for many companies’ sustainability goals, but scientific evidence does not yet prove that net zero is possible without nature. Preserving climate includes protecting freshwater resources, regenerating land, securing a healthy ocean, and protecting biodiversity. The targets help companies towards these efforts with a comprehensive, five-step process, then can measure corporations’ contributions to a nature-positive economy once changes are made.
SBTN defines science-based targets as “measurable, actionable, and time-bound objectives, based on the best available science, that allow actors to align with Earth’s limits and societal sustainability goals.” Such targets allow companies to align their sustainability actions by balancing Earth’s limits with sustainable, equitable human development.
In 2020, SBTN’s Initial Guidance for Business was published in response to a question that many corporations face: what can a company do to work towards a net-zero, “nature-positive” future? Now, SBTN’s science-based targets for nature further respond to this aim, providing companies with “scientific guardrails” in taking measurable action to preserve nature.