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- European Policy Office
Five Ways Business can Help Reverse Nature Loss
Our natural world is the foundation for our economies, societies and communities. But now, nature is in crisis.
The climate emergency is just one component of this crisis. Humanity has triggered the sixth mass extinction event, with biodiversity loss accelerating fast. Plastic has even entered the food chain – the average person eats a credit card’s worth of plastic every week.
But, we can make a different future possible – one where people thrive in harmony with nature. That’s what Earth Hour is all about. 2020 is a critical year internationally, with the world's governments meeting to negotiate new biodiversity goals. However, this isn’t a crisis we can just leave to governments to solve. We can all play our part, and businesses have access to some powerful tools.
Here are five ways your business can help.
1) Work out what your biggest impact areas are
The best way to start your business’ Earth Hour journey is to work out where your biggest social and environmental impacts are. This is crucial, because it lets you determine the most important areas for you to focus on – so you can have the most positive impact with your first sustainability actions.
One recommended tool for this is what’s called a materiality assessment. KPMG have a useful materiality assessments guide here.
When businesses skip this stage, and jump straight to actions, they face big risks. They can backfire, or have unexpected social costs, or they have a negligible environmental benefit and prompt accusations of greenwashing.
2) Set ambitious, achievable, and knowledge-based targets
Once you’ve worked out the key ecological issues for your business to focus on, the next step is to quantify your footprint, wherever possible, and set targets to reduce them.
Different kinds of target work for different environmental issues. The Business for Nature coalition has a good list of different commitments you can explore.
It’s very likely the climate crisis will be a material issue for your business. The gold standard for business climate targets is set by the Science Based Targets Initiative, a partnership between WWF, WRI, CDP, and the UN Global Compact in partnership with We Mean Business. Setting a Science Based Target allows you to prove your business is doing its bit to cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming below 1.5C, or at least well below 2C.
3) Join relevant, meaningful coalitions
There are a plethora of networks and coalitions to help businesses transform their relationship with nature – and help tell their sustainability story. We’d encourage you to join the Sustainable Business Network and Sustainable Business Council, or even become the first New Zealand business to join Business for Nature.
These coalitions can have powerful public impact. The New Zealand Climate Leaders Coalition has helped to transform business and public discourse around the climate crisis in Aotearoa, and encourage non-state actors across different sectors to take huge steps to up their climate action.
4) Work with your supply chain
The ban on plastic bags is great – but here’s the thing: consumers never see the majority of plastic packaging. That’s why working across your business’s value chain is critical. There’s little point focusing all your action on lowering your business’s direct environmental impact if its really only a tiny sliver of the actual impact of the products or services you sell.
The good news is you have the power to influence your supply chain. By changing what products you buy and setting ecological standards, you can help transform other businesses, too. The Climate Leaders Coalition have committed to working with their supply chains, and we’re already seeing the positive benefits.
5) Participate in Earth Hour 2020
Last but not least, join Earth Hour: Saturday, 28 of March 2020 from 8:30-9:30 pm. Starting as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has become a large global grassroots event. Businesses, organisations, governments, and hundreds of millions of people from over 180 countries and territories take part, to speak up for a sustainable future. Together their voices for a sustainable future are making a difference.
Taking part is a great opportunity to begin the conversation with your customers and stakeholders about protecting people and nature, your leadership inspiring commitment from others.
Join businesses across New Zealand taking part in Earth Hour 2020!