Restoring nature has never been more urgent. The business sector, recognising its share of responsibility and the urgent need to act, has called on EU policymakers to adopt an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Law that provides an enabling legal framework for nature restoration in which businesses can engage.
To highlight the critical role of businesses in nature restoration and how an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Law can mobilise and scale up action by the corporate sector, IEEP produced a briefing with the Corporate Leaders Group of companies and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership titled ‘From Risk to Resilience: The Business Imperative of Nature Restoration’.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 and the proposed Nature Restoration Law are the EU’s response to the biodiversity crisis. Economic activities contribute to the degradation of ecosystems, but businesses also play a pivotal role in restoring nature and setting the EU’s biodiversity on the path to recovery. Supported by case studies from companies in the Corporate Leaders Group, the briefing highlights the increased appetite of the sector to engage in ecosystem restoration and showcases the compelling economic and social benefits of restoring nature.
No long-term operation of any business will be possible without healthy ecosystems. The briefing points out that with no improvement to the current policy framework on nature and no scaling up of existing restoration efforts, Europe’s biodiversity will decline further and its ability to provide ecosystem services will significantly worsen. On the other hand, restored nature provides enormous benefits such as addressing the climate change as well as adapting to the changes already underway, and it is a key ally in tackling the food security issue. Nature restoration also brings social benefits for physical and mental health, well-being and overall quality of life.
During the discussions with industry for this briefing, one of the most frequently mentioned barriers was the lack of a comprehensive EU legal framework driving large-scale nature restoration. The absence of legal targets to restore nature means there are no national strategies and no spatial planning in place, or they are weak, making it more difficult to find investment opportunities. The industry sector has been vocal about the need to create this robust legal framework for nature restoration on both the global and EU levels. Throughout the Nature Restoration Law negotiations process, many businesses publicly expressed their support for a strong nature restoration legislation and stressed its importance for climate and economic resilience.
As shown by the case studies from the members of the Corporate Leaders Group, businesses are already engaged in restoring agricultural land, rivers, forests, and other ecosystems. The law will create opportunities for businesses to engage in public-private partnerships and mobilise more funding and investment in blended finance models that leverage private financing with public funds.
The business sector can play a significant role in shaping the National Restoration Plans that the law will require from governments by engaging in the planning process. The briefing recommends that businesses get actively involved in the process, for example by bringing their expertise in nature restoration into the planning of restoration measures in their sector.
The Corporate Leaders Europe companies call on EU policymakers to not delay in agreeing and implementing an effective and robust Nature Restoration Law. IEEP also encourages businesses to take inspiration from the proactive companies already engaged in restoration and recognise that inaction presents increasing material, regulatory, reputational and market risks to business.
Article wrtitten by :
Zuzana Lukacova, Gabrielle Aubert
IEEP - Institute for European Environmental Policy