Published on 1 December 2022
The majority of UK businesses have plans to address their impact on biodiversity and nature loss, but a lack of guidance and sharing of best practices are barriers to progress, a new report reveals.
The Nature of Business report, published by CBI Economics in collaboration with the University of Exeter, presents the findings of a survey of 345 UK businesses with the aim of exploring their level of understanding and action on biodiversity and nature loss.
The report looks to help businesses and other stakeholders identify new solutions to environmental problems and enable new business opportunities to be found. Half of business leaders (52%) saw reputational benefits for their firms as a significant opportunity arising from action to support biodiversity, as well as resource efficiency (40%) and the potential for new products or services (35%) as other important business opportunities.
The most significant barriers to developing biodiversity plans, according to around a third of business leaders, were the complexity of the issues (35%) and a lack of understanding (34%), with around the same number also claiming a lack of guidance or best practice sharing (29%) inhibited the creation of plans.
The absence of economic incentives (27%) and government regulation around reporting (24%) were also seen as significant barriers to developing strategies to support biodiversity, with two out of five business leaders saying financial support from government would be a key means to help businesses increase activities that support nature (42%).
A similar share of business leaders (41%) believed government could support firms by providing more business guidance and best practice sharing.
CBI Chief Economist, Rain Newton-Smith, said: “Biodiversity is already firmly on the agenda in boardrooms across the country and will only attract greater attention in the years ahead. Firms are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting nature – both to achieve net zero goals and preserve and restore the variety of animal and plant species across our planet.
“While COP15 should help spur further business engagement on these issues, there is still a gap to be bridged between boardroom awareness and tangible action. That’s largely due to the complexities of firms’ interactions with nature, both locally and globally, through their supply chains.
“As ever more companies seek to understand their impact and dependency on nature, as well as learning how to better manage these risks, there will be huge opportunities for UK business to develop new products and services. This is especially true for consulting, technical services, engineering and resource management, or through developing new processes in agriculture and the circular economy.”
The University of Exeter’s ‘Renewing biodiversity through a people-in-nature approach’ (RENEW) project with the National Trust and CBI will look to develop solutions for the renewal of biodiversity, which will include developing new tools and standards for embedding biodiversity renewal in finance and business activities.
The five-year programme, which has received £10 million in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), will work to re-shape understanding and action on biodiversity renewal, creating knowledge, and influencing national institutions, communities and individuals while engaging with businesses to enable better biodiversity decision-making.
Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “We have pledged to commit our resources – intellectual, physical and human – to increase skills and do what it takes to make the UK an international hub for net zero, clean growth and nature recovery.
“This report will inform the University of Exeter’s work to find solutions that will support businesses to reduce their own impact on nature. Along with our RENEW biodiversity renewal project, it is a crucial step in acknowledging the leading role businesses can play in biodiversity and nature restoration.”
View and download The Nature of Business report below, and for more information about RENEW contact email@example.com or visit .
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