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Businesses can be driving force behind nature restoration

Systemic changes are needed to restore nature and businesses have a crucial role to play in driving transformative change. That was the key message from our latest Vital Topics lecture which discussed how to move towards a ‘nature positive view’ of the economy.

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB, said biodiversity loss was now classed as a top global risk, while according to the nature intactness index the UK was now in the bottom 10% in the world. “Over the last 50 years there have been some terrifying declines in biodiversity and one in six species is at risk of extinction in the UK. The decline is very real and it has happened in my lifetime. This is about ecosystems that sustain us and sustain the world, and we are trashing our life support.”

Odd bedfellows

She said there was now a need to lift the lid on business. “A lot of the answer lies with the business world, but the majority of businesses don’t take nature into account. But we know that businesses can be a driving force behind nature restoration and we need to move to a nature positive view of the economy. Systemic changes are needed to restore nature and in recent years we have seen a step change in behaviour.

“Nature and business might seem like odd bedfellows but as a charity we already work closely with business. But we have got to go further and faster. This is the time for radical collaboration.”

Paolo Quattrone, Professor of Accounting, Governance and Society at AMBS, discussed how it was time to recognise nature as an active shareholder and promoted the development of value-added income statement for nature.

He added: “Nature must be considered as an active stakeholder because companies are currently not held accountable for the true cost to nature of their activities, not accountable for the true cost of the production and distribution of their goods and services.”

Nature as a director

Simeon Rose, Brand Director at Faith in Nature, also spoke about how the eco-beauty products company was the very first to appoint ‘nature’ to its board of directors. As he asked: “How might business change if nature had a voice and a vote, and what if nature really was the boss? At the moment nature has no rights, so who speaks for nature? We are just at the beginning of this journey.”

After the three presentations the debate then featured a panel discussion hosted by Jennifer Rose, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at AMBS. Joining the panel was also Dougie Peedle, Head of Nature Positive Economy at RSPB.