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2 minute read
Featured Insight

What challenges do organisations face as they try to become ‘nature-positive’?

Learn how we are supporting leading organisations to optimise their relationship with nature.

Milica Apostolovic

With the release of version 1.0 of the framework of the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) in September 2023, a growing interest in the integration of nature-based solutions (NbS) into infrastructure development, and the introduction of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements in the UK, it has never been more critical for organisations to understand, disclose and improve their relationship with nature.

Under the umbrella of our Infrastructure Decarbonisation Forum (InDeFor), we organised a workshop in late November 2023 to help us understand some of the main challenges different organisations face when trying to align their reporting to TNFD, integrate nature-based solutions into their project design and deliver on the BNG requirements; as well as promote the exchange of best practice and notable successes.

Over 15 organisations comprising some of the largest public sector agencies and utilities in the UK and Ireland joined the workshop, sharing key lessons they’ve learned over the past few years.

Among the common obstacles they highlighted was a lack of a universal definition of nature and inconsistent terminology across various reporting standards. One particular challenge surrounds the concept of ‘natural capital’, which remains insufficiently well understood. This is potentially slowing down the progress in properly accounting and valuing the many benefits – both financial and non-financial – of natural assets and ecosystem services.

Related to that, there are methodological challenges surrounding the quantification of some ecosystem services, which is one of the main barriers to scaling up the uptake of nature-based solutions. Skills shortage is also a practical issue many organisations flagged, as they struggle to keep pace with the growing requirements that need dedicated technical skillsets.

The participants also highlighted the possibility of nature and biodiversity being understood and acted upon under the general umbrella of sustainability, rather than as complex and multifaceted topics in their own right. Additionally, it was observed that understanding impacts of an infrastructure project on nature as a whole, is far more complex than understanding the impact of infrastructure development on local habitats and biodiversity.

On a positive note, the participants cited several examples of emerging best practice. These include bringing together multiple organisations that hold significant amounts of land to maximise habitat connectivity benefits from multiple interventions across sites.

Embedding biodiversity requirements in procurement contracts – in a similar way to other sustainability requirements – is regarded as another promising way of moving towards a ‘nature-positive’ agenda. Plus, community involvement is rightly seen as a pivotal part of effective nature restoration, and there are some great examples of this being implemented across the UK.

While nature-related targets still lag behind compared to those related to carbon, we are seeing some encouraging progress and a general move in the right direction. Partnerships and innovation will be key to future progress, as we successfully demonstrated through our work on the flagship Natural Capital Laboratory, which brings together the private sector, not-for-profit, academia and private landowners in Scotland to deliver nature restoration at scale.

Going forward, we will continue to support our clients on their nature-positive journey through a series of thematic workshops in early 2024 that will focus on:

  • Requirements under the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).
  • Options for integrating nature-based solutions (NbS) into project design and optioneering, as well as accounting of natural capital on site.
  • Requirements around Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) and best practice for implementation.
Discover more

Contact us if you are interested in joining the Infrastructure Decarbonisation Forum or are in interested in learning more about how we could support your nature-positive journey.