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The Nature Recovery Network and businesses – planting the seeds of partnership

Sweco author: Jon Moore, Principal Consultant, Environment & Sustainability (on secondment to IEMA)

I’m now over halfway through my first six-month term at IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment) in an exciting role as Business & Nature Recovery Lead.

In my last blog, I gave an overview of what the Nature Recovery Network (NRN) is, its objectives and why it is so important. In this article, I’d like to explore why collaboration with businesses is key to the ultimate success of the NRN and how I am helping Natural England build momentum.

Collaboration is critical if the objectives of the NRN are to be met, and it’s vital to promote (and enable) partnership working across a broad range of organisations and sectors. Defra has asked Natural England to set up the NRN Delivery Partnership to support joined-up working, and we’re making good progress that will hopefully prove to be a catalyst for action.

In my first few months at IEMA, I’ve been able to help develop a series of business engagement events running throughout spring and summer 2022 – with support from Natural England, KPMG and the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF).

This business engagement will help to further promote the Nature Recovery Network (NRN) to businesses across England as we begin to develop an attractive return offering, for the benefit of both nature and business.

Private sector partnership will allow us to:

  1. Make the NRN a national movement

A national NRN is highly ambitious and is at an unprecedented scale. No single organisation or sector can do it alone. It needs a coordinated, cross-sectoral approach, fostering the principle of ‘shared endeavour’. The private sector can offer resource, expertise, the ability to innovate and, increasingly, the desire to drive a greener economy that helps to tackle the climate crisis and reverse the decline in biodiversity.

  1. Pool our collective skills

Businesses are at different stages of their sustainability ‘journey’ and many are just beginning to identify their impacts, risks and dependencies on nature. The NRN Delivery Partnership aims to share skills, knowledge and resources across all sectors to provide the tools to make pledges, take action and deliver on targets.

  1. Close the funding gap

It is vital to close the funding gap – it is estimated that billions of pounds are needed to meet the ambitions of the 25 Year Environment Plan, in addition to current public sector and philanthropic contributions. Defra has a target to raise at least £500 million in private finance for nature’s recovery every year by 2027, increasing to more than £1 billion a year by 2030.

Businesses and financial institutions have the power to unlock this investment and provide a range of other pledges for the NRN.

As well as needing the private sector to support the NRN, delivery of the national network is critical to businesses themselves.

A healthy natural environment, which addresses the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, provides the private sector with its best chance of achieving long term security. It is estimated that $44 trillion of global value (more than half of the world’s GDP) is generated in industries that highly or moderately depend on nature and its services.

As the Dasgupta Review makes explicit, long term economic prosperity is dependent on a healthy natural environment. There is also clear evidence that driving down carbon emissions, such as through making internal efficiencies and delivery of nature-based solutions on projects, not only helps to meet an organisations’ sustainability commitments, but also saves them money.

The private sector will play a pivotal role in helping us to reverse species declines and recover nature at scale across England.

Through Jon’s work, it has been inspiring to see the steps that many organisations are already taking, not only in reducing impacts on the environment but acting to restore nature, and the desire to do more. Our ambition is to encourage, support and enable all businesses to take action for nature and to be able to contribute meaningfully into a joined-up network of thriving, wildlife-rich places that benefits us all.

Chris Davis Natural England NRN Delivery Partnership Manager

And finally, one small ask…

If you are a business, I am seeking your views to help shape the future business engagement strategy on the NRN to best support its delivery. I would be extremely grateful if you would complete the NRN Business Survey at this link. Thank you in advance for participating.

Jon will be continuing to help Sweco and IEMA lead the conversation on business and biodiversity over the coming months – keep an eye out for his guides, blogs and sustainability commentary articles on our Insights hub.

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