User Register / Login

Reflecting on the European Business Nature Summit, by Tim Polaszek

October 30, 2023 |

Ⓒ EUBB Platform, Flickr

In 2022, leaders from across the world came together to secure a global agreement for nature, signed by nearly 200 countries, committing to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. As we approach a year since this historic moment, much of the focus in 2023 has been on private sector contributions to reversing biodiversity loss. 

In September, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) published a framework to help organizations report and act on evolving nature-related issues. Alongside this, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is being implemented across Europe, requiring large EU companies to report on their impacts both on nature and on people, and disclose how social and environmental issues create financial risks and opportunities. 

With the latest science telling us we are accelerating towards critical tipping points for our planet, the demand and pressure on businesses to act and report on how they impact and depend on nature has never been so high. 

This year’s European Business Nature Summit 2023 gathered European business leaders, policymakers and civil society for a two-day conference to empower companies to take transformative action and put nature at the heart of their sustainable business models. 

I attended the Summit to support those in the Coalition’s community who are championing the capitals approach by embedding the value of nature, people and society into their decision-making and challenging existing economic structures. 

Here are my key takeaways from the Summit: 

Not only businesses are ready, open and willing, but financial institutions too: 

The number of business leaders passionate about moving towards nature inclusive economies is growing. At EBNS 2023, the voice of finance, both in the public and private sector, shone through and acknowledged that there is enough data available now, and a clear mandate, for them to move in the right direction. Nature-related financial risks are increasingly coming to the forefront, with frameworks such as the TNFD and networks such as NGFS, actively supporting financial institutions on this journey.  

The Coalition recently concluded an in-depth capacity building program with a large UK bank to explore the specifics of their impacts and dependencies on nature, people, and society. Our hope is by supporting financial institutions to develop their knowledge, they can embed sustainable decision-making practices within their organizations to include the value of natural capital, but also social and human capital too.  

Collaboration is key – the power of working together: 

Challenges across climate, nature, and social inequity are complex and we need long term, trusting relationships built on collaboration, to address shared challenges. This is especially true at the intersection of nature and business, where new ground needs to be made, demanding diverse perspectives, balanced arguments, remediating risks and taking well-substantiated ones too. 

The Coalition is built on the foundations of community. We bring together actors from across the economy to support systemic change to address the global societal challenges we face today. 

As a long-term partner of EBNS, we support the collaborative nature of the Summit. This year, we worked closely with Etifor to deliver a masterclass for attendees of EBNS 2023. The masterclass offered a chance for participants to learn more about the capitals approach and provide space to connect with peers to discuss concrete actions for businesses. 

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good: 

Expectations that businesses act for the planet are rising, with increasing pressure to address their impacts on the environment and society. Businesses should not hesitate, there are enough tools and materials available now to start them on their transformation journey. 

At EBNS, we spotlighted case studies from the energy and pharmaceutical sectors to showcase their current biodiversity strategies and the tools and frameworks they are using to measure their impacts and dependencies on natural capital. We hope by highlighting action being taken now, we will inspire others to do the same.  

The Coalition and our global network have many tools to support organizations on their transformation journey: online e-learning courses as an introductory resource, Protocols to provide step-by-step guidance and roadmaps for specific sectors to contribute to a nature-positive world.  

There is increasing awareness of connected issues: 

Complex systems like economies and ecosystems do not behave in linear ways and demand out-of-the box approaches to addressing problems. These approaches must cut across the silos that have existed up until now on climate, nature, and social challenges. Although there is awareness and an ability to discuss this, we are not yet demonstrating effective ways of dealing with this complexity.  

Awareness of the interconnectedness across systems was discussed as EBNS, and we must continue these conversations to collaborate across these siloed disciplines. After all nature, climate, and people do not exist in silos. They depend on one another to function, and solutions to tackle our collective challenges require the same thinking. 

Looking ahead 

We need to recognize that inaction is not an option. Contributions to halt and reverse nature loss must be made by all actors in the economic system – it is their responsibility to employees, value chain organizations, communities, and shareholders. 

EBNS was held in Milan this year, home to the magnificent Milan Cathedral, which took over six centuries to complete. I hope we can move faster in terms of building the economic and financial infrastructure that is needed to address our global challenges. I hope that we collectively and collaboratively build economic infrastructure that preserves the value from nature, people and our societies and can sustainably contribute to humanity for generations to come. 

Tim Polaszek is Director of Engagement and Education at the Coalition. Tim helps to draw on the expertise and experience of the Coalition organizations to support a capitals approach and holistic decision-making. Get in touch

Benefit from the Coalition’s unique overview of the capitals approach and community, gain insights into the latest thinking and developments and receive newsletters and project updates.