Discover more from Following the Footprints
🌱 Having Faith in Nature: How one brand gave 'Nature' a voice and a vote, and our introduction to biodiversity credits.
Featuring Sapling Spirits, Abel & Cole, PANGAIA and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: Biodiversity credits: the what, the whys, the (maybe) why nots.
Brand Spotlight: Can ‘Nature’ really be the boss? Faith in Nature are figuring out how.
In case you missed it: 🌱 COP15: How Does Your Business Impact Biodiversity? Kering Are Leading The Way.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Sapling Spirits launched their new refill pouch, reducing carbon emissions by 25% when you by a pouch to refill your bottle at home. The pouch can then we returned free of charge by post to be recycled.
🎯 Abel & Cole introduced eco-labelling to their fruit and vegetables that map the carbon and nature impact of produce across their entire supply chain. Graded from A+ to G and based on carbon emissions, water usage, pollution and biodiversity loss, in partnership with Oxford University.
⭐️ PANGAIA in collaboration with Evrnu launched the Renu jacket, the first demin jacket made entirely from Evrnu’s signature lyocell fibre created from pre- and post- consumer cotton waste, Nucycl.
⭐️ Ikea expanded their renewables programme to 10 more countries, supporting direct suppliers with renewable energy after an increase in clean energy procurement helped deliver a 5% reduction in the company’s climate footprint last year.
⭐️ Kellogg’s announced the reduction of 1,600 metric tonnes of GHGs through their InGrained rice partnership with farmers in the Lower Mississippi River Basin region. The programme works towards reducing the negative impact of rice farming which accounts for 1.5% of the world’s GHG emissions.
⭐️ H&M Group announced the completion of two UK solar projects in Leicestershire to directly power H&M stores, offices and other UK facilities. Under a multi-year power purchase agreement (PPA) the Group will source 50MWp renewable electricity, the equivalent of enough to power 15,000 homes.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
Biodiversity credits: the what, the whys, the (maybe) why nots.
Biodiversity loss is increasingly recognised not only as a contributory factor to the climate crisis, but a crisis in and of itself. Globally, 1.2 million species are currently under threat of extinction and in the UK, we’ve lost 50% of our biodiversity since the industrial revolution.
Global governmental and economic forces are waking up to this, and it could mean big changes for the way businesses interact with nature. COP15 focussed on how to fill the $384 billion/year funding gap for protecting nature by 2025. And the crux of it? Biodiversity Credits.
What are biodiversity credits?
Broadly, biodiversity credits are a market-based mechanism for conserving biodiversity. Whilst it’s easy to liken biodiversity credits to carbon credits, where each credit equates to X CO2e ‘saved’, ecological systems are far more complicated; What even is a ‘unit’ of nature?
For some areas, this might be preserving habitat, whereas others require a gain in ecological richness for a scheme to be worthwhile. For example, not-for-profit research analysts Wallacea, consider a ‘credit’ to be a 1% increase in species ‘richness’ per hectare. See RePlanet or Malua BioBank for early-adopter examples.
It’s also important to distinguish between offsets (payments made to compensate for location-specific ecological damage) and credits (designed to provide a ‘higher order contribution’ by funding projects with net positive biodiversity gains).
What are the risks?
While biodiversity credits can’t be equated with carbon credits, they are (and should be) subject to a high level of regulation. To avoid a similarly headline-grabbing statistic that up to 90% of carbon credits in some schemes are ‘worthless’, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks:
Incentivise unsustainable practices: Credits are not offsets, and for the concept to work, they need to have system-level integrity; not used at the expense of mitigating environmental damage in the first place.
Market failure: Whether through a lack of demand or of integrity, the biodiversity credit market could lead to a bubble-burst situation (similarly argued to be the case with carbon credits). If that happens, it’s naturally a financial and reputational risk too.
So are they a viable option for businesses?
For biodiversity credits to be worth these risks, there’s one major criterion to meet: they must protect nature. According to the IIED and UNDP, they could be part of a funding gap solution, providing a robust set of standards is applied and upheld.
There are early signs that organisations are pre-empting these risks by implementing frameworks from the get-go:
The World Economic Forum has established the global Financing For Nature initiative, exploring the potential for financial systems to facilitate nature-positive business.
Is there a verdict on biodiversity credits?
The jury, for now, remains out. On one hand “there are still a lot of unanswered questions and it’s almost too early to know where this is heading”, but on the other, given the overwhelming need and diminishing opportunity to protect the world’s biodiversity, any potential solution should be considered. One thing is certain - if businesses of all sizes have an impact on biodiversity, businesses of all sizes can play a role in restoring it.
Have an opinion? We’d love to hear it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Brand Spotlight
Can ‘Nature’ really be the boss? Faith in Nature are figuring out how.
Keeping on the topic of nature, this week we’re digging into Faith in Nature, the beauty and cleaning brand harnessing the power of nature to reconnect people with the world around them. Founded in 1974 in the UK by US native Rivka Rose, Faith in Nature is a cruelty free and vegan brand, championing 100% recycled and recyclable bottles and refill schemes too. Now stocked in over 40 countries, and receiving awards like the No.1 Natural Haircare Brand - today we’re focusing on their boldest step yet. In 2022, they became the first company to give nature a voice and a vote by making it (yes, nature) a director of the company.
Let’s take a closer look at this big move…
As the need for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity increases (detailed in the latest IPBES report here), the critical role of businesses increases too (see our above Quick Take for one perspective). Faith in Nature’s core mission - to make nature the real boss - leads the way on what this may look like in practice. They want to change the current economic model, and give Nature the voice it deserves on the decisions that ultimately affect it.
That was why, in August 2022, Faith in Nature decided to recognise the legal rights of, and seek counsel from, ‘Nature’ within their business model. The goal? To help them make more responsible decisions and truly rebalance the business’ relationship with the natural world.
How is this even possible?
Making nature a stakeholder became a reality through a partnership with Lawyers for Nature and the Earth Law Center. To put this into practice, they created the open source legal guardianship model, where ‘Nature’ is represented by proxy role involving the following two step approach:
Step 1: Adding to the ‘objects’ clause allows the company to have specific regard to Nature in their general purpose of promoting the success of the company.
Step 2: Appointing a non-executive director to speak on behalf of Nature and a corporate director to allow for the rotation and consultation behind the scenes.
As a result, they’re prompted to ask ‘Hey, what would nature say?’ - helping them tune into the truths they likely already know, on the path to making greener decisions. ‘Nature’ has only been on the board for six months, and so this is still a relatively new concept. To stay accountable, the brand will publish an annual report outlining all they have done for Nature - as a team, we’re certainly excited to read it.
This approach is one that almost all companies can utilise, to some extent. In fact, it’s part of Faith in Nature’s mission, and a key reason why they’ve open sourced their model too. Hoping that other businesses will follow in their footprints, Faith in Nature is challenging other businesses to put their words into action by putting Nature on the board.