The network is accepting applications from companies to review their nature-based targets as part of V1 launch of its new framework.
The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) – a collaboration of more than 60 global non-profits and mission-driven organisations – is due to release its science-based targets for nature V1 framework in March 2023.
The new framework looks to provide technical guidance for companies to set science-based targets (SBTs) for nature, with a focus on assisting companies in assessing and prioritising their environmental impacts, followed by target setting to address them.
“Our ambition is to see the adoption of science-based targets for nature by companies and cities lead to tangible outcomes in environmental progress […] and for them to spark transformational change in order to shift the global economy out of business as usual pathways,” Erin Billman, Executive Director at SBTN, told ESG Investor.
”Companies will begin by setting targets for freshwater use and pollution, as well as land use change (conversion and deforestation), land use (occupation), and ecological integrity and intactness, with V1 of the framework including detailed methodologies for companies to holistically assess and prioritise their impacts on nature,” said Billman.
The SBTN will simultaneously launch the underlying process for companies to submit their targets for review and approval, with the target validation process itself initially only be available to a limited group of companies in order to gain experience and optimise accordingly, ahead of a full target validation process roll out scheduled for later this year.
This will be followed with the setting of targets for areas including oceans and biodiversity, said Billman.
V2 of the framework is due to release in 2024, which will also provide detailed guidance for companies on how to measure, report and verify progress against the achievement of targets, she said, noting that species-specific indicators will be provided in subsequent framework versions, either in distinct biodiversity targets or integrated as safeguards within other targets, including those for freshwater, land and ocean.
Measuring biodiversity ambitions
The SBTN describes SBTs as “measurable, actionable, and time-bound objectives” that are based on the best available science to allow companies to align their ambitions with “Earth’s limits and societal sustainability goals”.
According to the network, the new framework will help corporates in get ahead of regulation and policy changes, strengthen reputation with consumers and employees, increase investor confidence, and improve medium-to-long-term profitability.
Prior to COP15 and the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), SBTN’s Technical Director Varsha Vijay spoke on the potential impacts of the GBF on companies, with her hopeful that the agreement would set the direction for both business ambition and action safeguard nature.
Now that the GBF has been adopted, Target 15 commits governments to ensure large businesses and financial institutions assess and disclose impacts on nature across their value chains and portfolios, said Billman.
“This will drive utility and uptake of SBTN’s guidance and tools in order to operationalise this target,” she added.
Companies setting SBTs for nature will also be encouraged to set SBTs for climate (through SBTi) if GHG emissions are material.
Billman said the development of science-based targets for nature V1 involved an “extensive multi-year, multi-stakeholder consultation process to ensure both its scientific robustness and corporate applicability”. SBTN already has over 110 companies with over US$4 trillion in market cap preparing to set science-based targets for nature, she said.
The key benefits of having standardised information through the SBTN’s framework are comparability, performance standards and ease of monitoring over time, said Billman.
For investors that are concerned about the risks of nature loss and want to understand what their investee companies could and should be doing to address this, SBTN’s existing Initial Guidance for Business sets out what credible action on nature looks like, she added.