A goal that invites us to consider all impacts on the nature system, not just climate.

4 minutes

Very often, we take for granted the goods and services that nature provides us; we forget that our health, well-being and economy depend heavily on it and that, at the same time, we impact the environment in which we live. 

We are exceeding the limits of our planet

Earth’s natural systems can absorb human activities without losing their integrity only within certain limits, defined by the scientific community as planetary boundaries. These boundaries represent thresholds that demarcate a safe space where humanity can thrive.

Planetary boundaries identify nine fundamental processes in the Earth system, including climate change, biodiversity loss, changing biogeochemical cycles (such as nitrogen and phosphorus cycles), land use, ocean acidification, freshwater use, chemical pollution, atmospheric aerosol pollution, and stratospheric ozone depletion. Crossing these boundaries could lead to irreversible and damaging environmental changes to the Earth’s ecosystem.

Our current development path is on a collision course with the stability of the global natural system: we have already crossed six of nine planetary boundaries.

Why a Nature Positive approach is needed

Climate change is only one of nine causes of the ecological crisis affecting Earth’s ecosystems.

To date, we have compromised the biosphere and the integrity of the planet’s biodiversity, crossing the threshold of what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction; we have poisoned water and soils with excess nutrients and pollutants; we have exploited natural resources to the point of depletion; we have introduced new materials such as concrete and plastics into the environment; and we are living the effects of a climate crisis that is becoming increasingly impactful and extreme on our skin.

We need to recognize that Earth’s systems are interconnected and that each, in turn, influences and depends on the others. That is why we need an integrated approach, a Nature Positive approach, that considers all pressures and causes of nature loss and is committed to avoiding, minimising, restoring, and compensating for impacts related to emissions, biodiversity, and water.  

What is meant by Nature Positive

Nature Positive means putting nature at the centre of decision-making, measuring and managing risks from nature, and quantifying pressures on nature. This means understanding and prioritizing all impacts and dependencies on nature, such as water consumption, land use, biodiversity, or waste management. 

Just as the Paris Agreement stands for the Net Zero goal, the Global Goal for Nature stands for the Nature Positive goal. The Global Goal for Nature reflects the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) mission, signed by 196 countries at COP15 in 2022. Specifically, it calls for:

  • Reverse measured nature loss from 2020 by increasing the health, diversity and resilience of species and ecosystems,
  • Achieve positive net impacts by 2030, 
  • Achieve full nature recovery by 2050 so ecosystems can continue supporting future generations. 

Differences between Nature Positive and Net Zero

Meanwhile, with the Net Zero goal, only climate impacts are considered to offset greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, with the Nature Positive goal, all effects on the global natural system are considered. 

It is now well known that our lifestyles are irreversibly changing the ecological state of the Planet, so it becomes necessary to set a goal that includes restoring nature along with keeping global warming below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. 

The role of companies

Nature Positive is the next step toward sustainability for companies and financial institutions. It means putting nature at the centre of decision-making, measuring, and managing nature-related risks and opportunities in direct operations and the supply chain. 

For many organisations that have begun their sustainability journey with a climate commitment, this means understanding and prioritising other impacts and dependencies on nature, engaging with an integrated approach that contributes to a Nature Positive future.

How we can help you 

At Etifor, we have developed the LUCAS (Look, Understand, Commit, Act, Share) approach to help companies engage and contribute to a Nature Positive future. A path that includes assessing nature-related risks and opportunities and engaging internal and external stakeholders (Look), quantifying nature-related impacts and dependencies (Understand), setting goals aimed at avoiding, minimizing, restoring, and offsetting impacts related to emissions, biodiversity, and water impacts (Act), and communicating and sharing results according to best practices and standards (Share).