Nature protocol launched
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The natural capital protocol could herald a ew era' for the environment and business, according to commentators.
The protocol aims to standardise how businesses measure and value impacts and dependencies on natural assets, such as freshwater and raw materials. Until now these have mainly been excluded from business decisions or been largely inconsistent, open to interpretation or limited to moral arguments, the protocol’s creators said. The new tool will harmonise existing approaches to natural capital and could revolutionise how businesses evaluate their operations, they said.
The protocol has been developed by a coalition of organisations from science, business, finance, reporting, standard setting, government and conservation. More than 450 organisations provided input, and the tool has been piloted by more than 50 firms, including Dow, Shell and Nestlé.
Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which led the work, said: ‘The days of defining business success by financial metrics alone are over.’
Karen Ellis, chief adviser on economics and development at WWF, which is part of the Natural Capital Coalition, the body behind the protocol, said it would help companies to manage their risks as well as highlight possible new revenue streams.
Robert Spencer, director of sustainability at consultancy AECOM, said that the protocol brought much-needed consistency. However, he warned that success would hinge on the ability of sustainability professionals to integrate it across a business by fostering collaboration between departments. ‘Progress is dependent on achieving buy-in from more commercially-focused departments, such as finance and procurement,’ he said.
Meanwhile, a report from environmental data analysts Trucost showcases firms that have benefited from measuring natural capital. It considers how they have addressed issues such as the impact of environmental constraints on material price volatility.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.