Story | 15 Jun, 2020

IUCN calls on business to put nature at the heart of economic recovery plans

Today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)  joined 30 global NGOs and business organisations in calling on corporate chief executives to support ambitious policies to reverse nature loss as part of the governments’ economic recovery plans.

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Photo: IUCN-Imene Meliana

In an open letter, IUCN and the heads of these organisations, including Business for Nature, International Chamber of Commerce, UN Global Compact, We Mean Business and WWF, asked CEOs to scale up their voluntary measures to safeguard nature and urge political leaders to implement ambitious, transformative government policy to help society thrive within nature’s limits.

“Both business and governments must put nature at the heart of their post-COVID recovery plans,” said Dr Grethel Aguilar, IUCN Acting Director General. “Global corporations know now that success is impossible without a healthy environment, and they are calling for forward-looking policies that lay the foundation for a more sustainable and resilient world.”

IUCN and the other organisations urge CEOs to acknowledge that nature must be the foundation to build back better. The letter states:  “Before Coronavirus, the need to create more resilient economies and societies was clear, now it is inescapable. Healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature.”

According to the World Economic Forum, over half the world's GDP, equivalent to US$ 44 trillion, is moderately or highly exposed to risks from nature loss. The letter calls on CEOs to recognise natural resources and ecosystems that power their business, and underpin economies and communities, are “under huge strain”. Furthermore, scientific studies show that nature-based solutions can provide up to an estimated 37% of mitigation needed by 2030 to hold global warming below 2°C.

During a virtual event exploring Building Business Resilience, hosted by Paul Polman, co-founder of IMAGINE, and news anchor Tien Wei, participants heard from keynote speakers Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. Both confirmed that business leadership is critical to address the dual biodiversity and climate crises.

Business leaders speaking at the event also urged their peers to support the Call to Action reversing nature loss, which is being spearheaded by Business for Nature to help make the case for government action in the lead-up to international negotiations on biodiversity and climate change, now postponed until 2021.

Several CEOs voiced their support for the Call to Action, including Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone; Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever; Thomas Burbel, CEO of AXA; Roberto Marques, CEO of Natura &Co; Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun International; and Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, CEO of Sintesa Group. Additional companies are invited to endorse the Call to Action between now and the end of July.

For more information, visit the IUCN Business and Biodiversity Events page or learn more on the Business for Nature website.