There is a growing momentum around managing biodiversity impacts and understanding natural capital dependencies. There are an increasing number of initiatives to support environmental professionals to measure, monitor and report biodiversity and natural capital from the Defra Metric to the Task Force for Nature Related Disclosure (TNFD).

As managing biodiversity becomes more commonplace, new language comes into being, old language might change its meaning, and standard definitions become unclear or are misused.

IEMA has produced a new document – the Biodiversity and Natural Capital Buzzword Guide – as an easy and quick tool to help practitioners understand some of the most commonly used words and phrases. The Buzzword Guide is focused firstly on collating the most authoritative (e.g. internationally or nationally agreed) definitions of key overarching terms such as Biodiversity, Biodiversity Net Gain, Natural Capital, Ecosystem Services, Nature Positive, Natural Capital Approach, and signposting to more detailed resources. The idea here is to get to the authoritative source of each term as the first step for IEMA members with diverse backgrounds and interests to have a common reference point.

The document also tries to put the words and phrases into a framework of stocks, flows, value, targets, and working with nature, to show how actions fit together.

The intention of the guide is not to create a dictionary definition or a finite set of definitions but a shared understanding of what we mean by words and phrases that can be updated when required. The guide supports the IEMA Lexicon that appears on the Green Careers Hub by using both definitions from here, and from other recognised definitions, to create a go-to document for keywords and phrases.

The UN’s Biodiversity Conference starts tomorrow. If you’re interested in finding out more about COP 15 and what’s happening 7-19th December in Montreal, check out our publication and online webinar: ‘Will this Year’s UN Biodiversity Conference be the Paris Agreement for Nature?’ which explains what COP is, why it’s important, and why it has potential to change the face of nature.

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Photo of Lesley
Lesley Wilson

Policy and Engagement Lead

Lesley is Policy and Engagement Lead at IEMA with a focus on biodiversity and natural capital. Lesley also supports IEMA’s role as Secretariat to the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum, working with businesses to raise the profile of, mainstream, and share good practice in, biodiversity. Lesley joined IEMA in December 2021 after 11 years delivering projects, programmes and solutions for business in the field of environmental sustainability for the British Standards Institution (BSI), including ground breaking standards in biodiversity net gain and natural capital. Lesley has a qualification in business management (MBA) and climate change management, and mentors environmental students at the University of Westminster.


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