The UK Business and Biodiversity Forum and the Nature Positive Business Pledge

The new UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF) helps British firms to integrate biodiversity into their business models.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The new UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF) helps British firms to integrate biodiversity into their business models. Image: UKBBF

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The UK business and biodiversity forum and the nature positive business pledge

The new UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF) helps British firms to integrate biodiversity into their business models.

The forum (UKBBF) began its life three years ago, immediately before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, and has gathered momentum over the past year. Now a Community Interest Company (CIC), it is backed by the United Kingdom International Chamber of Commerce (UK ICC) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), as it looks to build on its 40-plus member companies and sponsors.

The forum is governed by a board of directors and coordinated by a steering group drawn from the members, which determines what the priorities are. So it is deliberately member-led. Currently, it is mainly focussed on information-sharing, both members sharing with members in a non-competitive way as well as developing a collective voice to inform the government.UKBBF aims to attract the full range of UK businesses across all sectors, SMEs, and corporates. 

Current members include a range of corporate household names as well as small and micro businesses like Keith’s Anne Veck Limited. 

The UKBBF is not a lobby group but rather a coordinated point of contact for the private sector to communicate with bodies such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Natural England, which together form much of the nature policy in the country.

UKBBF director Keith Mellen expects 2023 will be a pivotal year for the organisation as it works to grow membership and sponsorships whilst focussing on supporting businesses to navigate the new environment of global nature disclosure rules (TNFD), “nature positive”,  biodiversity net gain and nature credits. 

ukbbf logo large The UK Business and Biodiversity Forum and the Nature Positive Business Pledge

Next steps

Keith explained, “As much as we want to be about sharing information, we don’t want to dictate what our members do. The forum is about ensuring an open platform provides information to help companies make informed decisions along the way.”

The three priority subjects which companies have repeatedly raised so far and which will likely dominate the work of the UKBBF in the near term are the upcoming legislation for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), the burgeoning biodiversity crediting market and the Nature- related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) which will be launched on 18 September for corporates. The meaning for UK firms of the business-focused Target 15 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework  (GBF).

There is an active programme of workshops and webinars addressing each of these pressing topics, with the involvement of both government and NGOs. On credits specifically, the forum aims to demystify the subject for companies, given the expected emergence of various standards and methodologies later in the year and the likelihood of the market initially being quite a confusing and fragmented environment. 

Biodiversity credits have piqued people’s interest, but it is now about wanting to understand more about what they actually are and how they might be relevant to companies. The way forward with compulsory credits, e.g.  Biodiversity Net Gain, is relatively clear, but the market is near maturity in voluntary credits. In fact, the big question is, “Who will be the buyers?” It will be essential to avoid the wild west scene, which operates in the carbon emissions market. 

UKBBF thinks fresh announcements on biodiversity crediting may emerge during New York Climate Week in September, around COP28 in Dubai in November and December, and in Davos early next year during the World Economic Forum’s annual get-together. 

The UKBBF has also launched the Nature Positive Business Pledge in partnership with RSPB, ICC (UK), IEMA and the Aldersgate Group. This invites businesses to sign up and commit to taking action to halt and reverse their direct and indirect impacts on nature. Companies will be asked to report annually on their progress. Take the pledge here.

UKBBF introduced membership subscriptions in June, with tiered levels for different-sized businesses to ensure affordability for all. Businesses can join via the forum’s website. New members from the all-important financial sector would be particularly welcome!

Progress is underway to recruit a dedicated secretariat, part-time to begin with, given that the current board works on the project on a part-time, voluntary basis, with administrative support from IEMA. Hopefully, there will be positive news about this in time for the 2nd  annual conference and AGM in September. (Taking place at Camley Street Natural Park, London, 28th September, sponsored by Lavalin Atkins).

UKBBF focuses on Britain-headquartered companies and supports the UK government’s ambition to position itself as one of the leading nations among rich countries to act on biodiversity, nature policy, and finance. Biodiversity does not recognise national boundaries, so it is essential that businesses work across borders, and of course, this ability is a core business strength. Notwithstanding Brexit,  the EU Business & Biodiversity Platform offers a similar service for firms based within the EU and is a supporter of the UKBBF.

If we achieve global climate and biodiversity objectives by 2030 and 2050, businesses will have to do much of the heavy lifting. UKBBF aims to play its part in making sure this happens.

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