Want a deeper understanding of your business’ impacts and dependencies on nature? Wondering where to start with nature-related disclosures? Lost in a fog of TNFD / GRI / EFRAG / CRSD alphabet soup? Keen to develop a roadmap to Nature Positive for your business but don’t know where to start?

Business For Biodiversity Ireland is participating in the development of a new module with Trinity College Dublin’s Dr Catherine Farrell titled ‘The Business of Nature Positive’ and are inviting businesses who would be interested and willing to:

  • participate in Trinity Business School undergraduate / student-led research to trial the application of nature-related reporting frameworks and tools, and
  • explore ways to develop a roadmap to Nature Positive.

Businesses rely on many aspects of nature and climate to carry out day-to-day business. Recognising these dependencies, as well as the impacts of business on nature, new reporting requirements under the new EU Corporate Social and Responsibility Directive (CSRD), will fast become a reality for Irish businesses.

In response to the need to build capacity for present and future business needs, Trinity Business School is developing this module to be delivered to 4th year undergraduates in the 2024/2025 academic year and facilitate learning in how to apply and communicate relevant nature-related reporting and disclosure frameworks for businesses, helping to identify steps to nature positive and through these processes assist businesses to integrate nature into decision making.

We expect the input from the business to be by a nominated staff member / sustainability business champion working directly with the TCD students. We expect the work to involve at minimum approximately 8-10 hours in total over a period of 4 months (largely between December and mid-April 2025 – download a breakdown of time and commitment expected via the PDF at the end of the article.)

As a participating business, through engagement in this process, you will have opportunities to:

  • Benefit by receiving bespoke support in kickstarting scoping for a materiality assessment for your business
  • Assistance in taking the first steps in identifying data available / potential data needs for nature related reporting
  • Develop a deeper understanding of your business’ impacts and dependencies on nature,
  • Begin the thought process as to how to develop a roadmap for nature positive for your
    business, and
  • Trial approaches / identify opportunities for communicating nature related issues to
    stakeholders (internal and external).

Once we have an overview of interested businesses (small or large, of any sector), the module coordinator will follow up with a questionnaire to determine your suitability in terms of logistics and availability.

NB: Please submit an expression of interest form HERE.

This call for Expressions of Interest will close at the end of June and we will contact you in early July 2024 about participation.

Our Roadmap to Nature Positive will help you set the right foundations for reporting your nature-related impacts and dependencies under new regulations – it’s also useful if you are considering reporting these voluntarily.

Regardless of current legal obligations, there is a responsibility for all organisations, no matter their size, to understand their impacts and dependencies on nature and take measures to halt and reverse these. Business as usual is not an option, given the decline in global biodiversity and the interlinked climate crisis, the effects of which are already being felt on human health and society, as well as economically. 

First off, you need to know your obligations on nature disclosures. Within the Roadmap – available to BFBI members when you sign up and log in to the Members Area of our site – we look at reporting for different business types and scales. We also outline the relationship between EU Taxonomy and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

Goal 3 provides information on your legal obligations, in particular if your business falls under the scope of CSRD; and if/when your business needs to start reporting. There is a different timeline for companies of various scales, starting in 2024 for certain companies. For businesses that do not currently fall under the scope of CSRD, we outline how it may relate to your business down the line.

Considering the value chain

Many businesses that are not within the scope of CSRD are still part of the value chain (aka Scope 3) of larger organisations. These larger organisations may well request Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information from their value chain members – and organisations who are not ready for this may find that they lose out when it comes to larger organisations making supplier choices.

Once you know your obligations under the new regulations, the next step will be to explore the reporting standards to find the best fit for your business. Members can check out our Guidance A3.2 on Standardising Reports. Standardised reporting helps organisations increase transparency and communicate their sustainability initiatives.

We’ll give you an overview of the reporting standards that are internationally recognised and aligned with each other with explainers on how all the emerging different policies, frameworks and standards are linked.

Already feeling the overwhelm? Take a breath and have a look at our easy-to-read member guidance documents to give yourself a basic understanding. You’re not expected to be an expert right away and the Platform is here to help. If you have questions, all members are invited to our quarterly Member’s Forum, and you can upload your questions or comments to the online dashboard so that we can discuss them at our meet-ups.

Register here: https://businessforbiodiversity.ie/register-all/

Business for Biodiversity Ireland offers our members an easy-to-follow Roadmap to Nature Positive –  the Assess Phase covers getting started by making a commitment – and another key step is working out where your business stands within a sectoral and organisational context in order to create a solid biodiversity strategy. To do this, you need to know how to ask the right questions.

BFBI members can access our Business Template which will help map out your business model in terms of inputs, activities and outputs. It has been compiled with our community of practice businesses and cross-referenced with prevailing methodology and standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the TNFD LEAP approach.

The Global Reporting Initiative is an independent, international organisation that provides a global common language to communicate environmental impacts with a suite of standards to help businesses report on various aspects of sustainability across regulatory landscapes.

The BFBI Business Template helps unpack your business model with a series of guiding questions, for example:

– What sector are you active within?
– What type of activities are carried out by your business?
– Where are your activities based geographically?

The template goes on to cover your raw materials, your procurement, your land footprint, your water footprint – with recommended tools to calculate these – as well as, you guessed it, your carbon footprint.

Creating a value-chain map

Then you’ll look through your business and value-chain relationships, with more guiding questions, giving you an opportunity to create a value-chain map. Every business has a value chain – you need to also consider what types of activities are undertaken by those with which you have business relationships?

Think about your sector and theirs – what are the nature challenges at local, regional, and global levels related both to your sector and to that of organisations in your value chain: e.g. deforestation, climate change, water stress, pollution, land use, invasive species, natural resource use?

What are the responsibilities with regards to compliance and regulation? These steps on the Roadmap will allow you to create high-level overviews to identify topics material to your business when it comes to new and existing reporting regulations.

This process must be revisited regularly and in consultation with stakeholders and industry experts. The policy landscape is evolving, reflecting the urgency to take action to mitigate risk from the connected biodiversity loss and climate change crises. It is therefore important to be aware of any policy changes that relate to your business, sector and value chain.

The BFBI platform will be on hand with updates – become a member here to access our full Roadmap to Nature Positive.

Next up: Nature Disclosures – knowing your reporting obligations & choosing the right framework

Image credit: Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy | Nature

 

Our platform lead Lucy Gaffney has written a blog in conjunction with her upcoming presentation at the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management’s upcoming Irish conference: Delivering a Nature Positive Ireland, first published on the CIEEM website.

We are on the brink of the next revolution, the “real” Green Revolution and its emergence signals the end of the ecocidal industrial revolution of the 1800s. For the first time in human history, we are waking up to the notion that healthy ecosystems are the foundation on which we have built our civilisations.

Nature is the great provider. People have become wealthier, we’re living longer and we have the best standard of living that has ever been. But while that curve is on the upswing, there is another curve that is plummeting at an alarming rate – the richness and health of the planet.

We are here because we have burned through the planet’s natural resources with reckless abandon, without assuring that these resources were replenished, without stewardship, without regard to other living beings and indigenous peoples.

But the tide is turning. The business world is waking up to the reality that without investment and stewardship of the natural world, their business is at risk, the economy is at risk and society, as we know it, is at risk.

First Steps
So how can businesses realistically start mobilising for nature? The truth is, that nature is the bigger picture. Our destruction of the natural world undermines the planet’s ability to process excess carbon and greenhouse gases, and our excessive greenhouse gas emissions which cause planetary warming and ocean acidification, perpetuates the loss of biodiversity and interrupts natural cycles.

The first step is really understanding that climate change and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin and absolutely need to be tackled together.

Climate or Biodiversity?
The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has identified five key industrial drivers of biodiversity loss.

– Pollution; solid, liquid and gaseous waste
– Invasive Species; non-native plant and animal species
– Ecosystem conversion; changing how we use our land and seas
– Climate Change; planetary warming, forest fires, ocean acidification
– Exploitation of natural resources


Many businesses are already planning or implementing sustainability projects and many of those projects are less to do with climate change and more to do with nature. Take single use plastics for example, yes they are made from petrochemicals, but the main reason we are ditching single-use plastics is to reduce pollution, a driver of biodiversity loss. There are of course cross-cutting benefits to eliminating single-use plastic, but pollution reduction is the most impactful.

Water stewardship is another corporate initiative that has a greater positive impact on biodiversity than climate change. Conserving water in areas that experience water stress has a high impact, not just on local flora and fauna but also on communities. As the summer temperatures rise, water stress is becoming a bigger issue, even in countries like Ireland. How many companies or services would grind to a halt if there was a prolonged drought?

Reframing our sustainability portfolio through the biodiversity lens might uncover that we are doing more for biodiversity than we first imagined.

Impacts and Dependencies
Every business depends on nature, whether directly or through its value chain. Understanding these dependencies on nature has the potential to expose hidden risks to your business and its future continuity.

Similarly, every organisation has an ecological impact. Whether it be through pollution, greenhouse gas emissions or buying palm oil for your products, some part of the natural world is being degraded. In order to develop a meaningful biodiversity strategy, businesses must understand these impacts and dependencies. There is no point in planting trees or wildflowers to tick the biodiversity action box, if a core activity in your business is responsible for deforestation somewhere else. That’s not nature positive.

There is a multitude of tools and frameworks available to help businesses, particularly corporates, understand their impacts but they can be quite technical and overwhelming for a lay person to navigate. In simple terms, a business could list core activities and explore how those activities might put pressure on those previously mentioned “drivers of biodiversity loss”. How can your business reduce that pressure? Through better recycling policies? By understanding where your raw materials come from? It doesn’t have to be complicated, any positive action is better than inaction, but it should be evidence-based.

The Role of the Consumer
It has long been my view that businesses need guidance and regulation to get to grips with these issues. But in parallel, there needs to be a shift in consumer sentiment and purchasing behaviour. We need to act quickly to avoid going over 1.5C in planetary warming and to halt nature loss, and the key to quick action is a change in consumer demand. It is happening, but there is still a lack of understanding of the issues in the mainstream. Do the public understand that buying products with palm oil, palm fat, palm kernels is causing deforestation in a tropical rainforest? Palm fat is in chocolate, peanut butter, stock cubes, most processed food, toothpaste, makeup.. the list goes on!

We need better labelling on products so that we, as consumers, can make more informed decisions and catalyse change from the ground up.

Into the future
In the next decade, “the competitive edge” will be redefined. The next great green revolution is coming and if business doesn’t evolve, then extinction is on the cards.

Lucy will be speaking at the upcoming CIEEM Irish Conference: Delivering a Nature Positive Ireland in Athlone, April 25. Book HERE.

In the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) E4 standard specifically addresses corporate sustainability relating to biodiversity and ecosystems.

The aim of ESRS E4 is to help businesses understand how they affect nature, positively and negatively, actually and potentially and how to interpret the results of corporate biodiversity action. Lucy Gaffney explains more…

Key questions for your business

  • How does the business contribute to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)?
  • Can the business evolve its operations so that it no longer contributes to ecological damage?
  • Does the business understand the operational risks posed by deteriorating ecosystems and the potential opportunities that could be associated with the protection and conservation of nature?
  • How is the business managing those risks?

ESRS E4 specifies the information that must be disclosed about biodiversity and ecosystems across all sectors. Specific sectoral disclosure will be defined by ESRS SEC 1 Sector Classification and the CSRD requirements are expected to be in place for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2024 by large publicly traded entities that have more than 500 employees at the same time (i.e. entities already subject to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive) and by 2025 for other large companies. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will also be subject to a reporting obligation starting in 2027.

Disclosure Requirements

  1. ESRS E4 requires that a business disclose its strategic plan to ensure that their business model will become compatible with the transition to achieve no net loss of biodiversity by 2030, net gain from 2030 and full recovery by 2050. This disclosure will need to include plans to address nature loss within the value chain as well as confirmation that the strategy has been approved by the relevant management boards. 
  2. Each business will be required to disclose all policies relating to biodiversity and ecosystems. This is to ensure that businesses actually have policies to protect nature and how these policies are monitored and managed.
  3. Businesses will have to disclose plans and methodology that will support their biodiversity policies.
  4. A disclosure on the social consequences of nature loss will also be required. This includes, for example, information related to fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
  5. Disclosures will have to include information on how business policies are connected and aligned with global goals and agreements, such as the SDGs, the GBF and the European Green Deal.
  6. Targets will form part of the disclosure mandate. Businesses will be required to disclose the biodiversity and ecosystem-related targets that it has adopted, including timelines, milestones, respect to ecological thresholds and planetary boundaries. In addition, these targets must be supported by the business management board and in alignment with and informed by guidelines set out by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
  7. Businesses must be transparent and disclose all biodiversity actions, action plans and allocation of resources that will enable the organisation to meet its policy objectives. 
  8. The standard requires the disclosure of pressure metrics. Does the business understand how its activities put additional pressure on the drivers of biodiversity loss? These include, but are not limited to pollution, invasive species, land use, climate change and exploitation of natural resources.
  9. Businesses must also disclose impact metrics related to geography or raw materials. This may include impacts on species and their extinction risk or impacts on ecosystems, reporting on extent, condition and function.
  10. Businesses will be required to disclose response metrics to understand how the business has tried to minimise, rehabilitate or restore nature in areas where it has had a significant negative impact.
  11. There is an optional disclosure on biodiversity-friendly consumption and production metrics which will provide insights into its consumption and production which may be considered biodiversity-friendly.
  12. The Taxonomy Regulation requires businesses to disclose information on the proportion of turnover, capital expenditure and operating expenditure that qualify as environmentally sustainable.
  13. Another voluntary disclosure is around biodiversity offsets, where the business may disclose actions, development and financing of biodiversity projects. 
  14. A disclosure on potential financial effects of nature-related risks and opportunities will be required.

This is an evolving space and many businesses will need to implement this as a first step. If a business cannot make these disclosures because strategies have not been developed or adopted, they will need to provide timeframes around when an appropriate strategy will be developed and adopted.

One of the chief aims of BFBI is to guide our businesses through upcoming policy changes around nature-related disclosures.

This article was also published in investESG Insight.

We were delighted to announce the launch our first community of practice (CoP) in January 2023. This CoP will meet regularly throughout the year and focus on a few key outputs.

Our first CoP is small and multi-sector, comprising a mixture of Irish semi-state, private and academic organisations. The CoP participants share a common interest in learning more about transitioning to a nature-positive mode of operation. They are facing the same challenges and striving to reach similar goals.

Our CoP members are poised to share, contribute and help each other as we navigate this relatively uncharted territory.

The CoP objectives are clear. We aim to:

  • Increase education and awareness of businesses impacts and dependencies on nature within the group
  • Support each other and collaborate effectively
  • Encourage through discussion and sharing
  • Integrate learnings into business strategy and operations

We want to guide each member organisation through the process of assessment, goal setting and business model evolution.

We are looking forward to delving into the different frameworks that will help our members assess their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity.