Summary - Towards an IUCN nature-positive approach: a working paper

  • To deliver a nature-positive future the world needs to be able to measure progress towards global goals, but currently lacks the tools to do so.
  • IUCN is developing a quantitative methodology to measure and track contributions towards protecting and restoring nature.
  • The methodology will help companies, governments and civil society assess opportunities and risks, set targets, measure progress, deliver nature-positive impacts, as well as assess investment portfolios and value-chain impacts. 
  • IUCN’s approach applies existing global standards and data, complements other approaches, and guarantees contributions will be evidence-based.
  • IUCN’s approach is rights-based, and focused on delivering social equity.
  • The Working Paper on IUCN’s Nature-Positive Approach that sets the direction and the methodology behind it is ready for an extensive consultation, and will incorporate inputs from all relevant stakeholder groups.

The need for a science-based system to enable a nature-positive future

Momentum is building around a Global Biodiversity Framework to halt biodiversity loss by 2030; soon attention will turn to implementing the targets. Collectively, we must rethink and rebuild our societies and economies to put nature on the path to recovery; we must become ‘nature-positive’.

Many private and public sector leaders have expressed this ambition. To turn ambition into reality, we need to be able to measure and track progress in a verifiable and consistent manner; yet the world still lacks the tools to do that. The IUCN Leaders Forum in Jeju, Republic of Korea, will help shape the emerging system to track contributions towards a nature-positive global economy.

Defining nature-positive

A nature-positive future is an essential goal, but as yet an undefined one. To avoid greenwashing and help align nature-positive ambitions and actions, the paper presents this working definition:

A nature-positive future means that we, as a global society, halt and reverse the loss of nature measured from its current status, reducing future negative impacts alongside restoring and renewing nature, to put both living and non-living nature measurably on the path to recovery. 

IUCN will seek input from a broad range of stakeholders on refining the methodology via the consultation process.

From ambition to impact

Quantifying contributions to societal conservation goals

In the upcoming working paper titled Towards an IUCN Nature-Positive Approach, IUCN is developing a methodology to measure and track contributions towards a nature-positive future.

The methodology will enable private and public sector organisations to

  • assess where they are on the path to making nature-positive contributions
  • set targets and quantify their contributions.


content image

The system will provide verifiable, comparable scores which institutions can report consistently, and which will provide reliable information to investors, governments and civil society.

  • Business (and their investors) and civil society can use IUCN’s Nature-Positive approach to contribute meaningfully to global goals for nature, and assess contributions by others.
    • The methodology can also help companies make nature-positive choices related to their supply chains.
    • The methodology provides a means for companies to assess their progress towards nature-positive contributions
    • Investors and fund-managers can see where their investee companies are on this pathway
  • Governments can use the approach to monitor the impact of their own investments, set national and sub-national biodiversity targets, and determine the contributions different sectors can make to achieving the targets they set.
  • Civil society will be key to supporting and validating contributions, and ensuring they are rights-based and deliver social equity.

As organisations make commitments and implement actions, they move along the pathway, progressing towards becoming nature-positive. The combined contributions of many companies, civil society and governments can be measured to show progress towards nature-positive alignment on a global scale.

The IUCN approach is complementary to other nature-positive approaches in that it

  • focuses on living nature, or biodiversity rather than non-living nature such as water, air and soil
  • quantifies negative and positive contributions, allowing assessments of potential and delivered impacts across the globe, and for contributions to be compared and aggregated
  • Allows progress towards delivery of contributions to be measured

The IUCN approach is quantitative but practical, with emphasis on incentivising early action.

In time, IUCN will seek to integrate nature-positive and climate commitments, accounting for the numerous links between them. In doing so, it will enable progress towards global biodiversity and climate goals to be coordinated.

Built on science

IUCN is uniquely placed to enable the delivery of a nature-positive future.

The Union harnesses the knowledge, resources and reach of our more than 1,400 Member organisations and 15,000 experts. It is this diversity of expertise that makes our Union the global authority on the status of nature and the measures needed to safeguard it.

Our Nature-Positive approach focuses on two key elements

  • Stemming biodiversity loss through reducing species extinction risk
  • Biodiversity recovery through ecosystem conservation and restoration

The approach leverages our expertise by applying our long-established global standards and data, such as the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM and, in due course, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. These metrics already contribute significantly to conservation globally, and guarantee assessments of nature-positive will be evidence-based.

Defined by society

IUCN’s working paper is currently a work in progress, and will now be subject to a full consultation process. There will be opportunities to further engage in the process both during and after the IUCN Leaders Forum.

Ultimately, this approach will be a catalyst for the delivery of the global biodiversity framework through the collective efforts of all sectors of society.

Related resources