The Environment Strategy for Scotland: Driving the Transition to a Nature Positive Economy - A Synthesis of Policy Levers for Governments

This report supports the research project ‘Delivering the Environment Strategy Outcome on Scotland’s Economy: Evidence base and Policy levers’. It focuses on the transition to a nature positive economy, summarises key evidence, and presents a synthesis of potential actions.

6. Nature positive economies

The loss of nature is recognised as a risk to the functioning of economies and societies. Recent global assessments have called for a systematic transformation of economies through implementing initiatives that fulfil the objectives proposed in the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to commit the global community to halt and reverse biodiversity loss (“Global Risks Report 2022,” 2022; World Economic Forum, 2020; Boehnert, 2018; Dasgupta, 2021; Mace et al., 2018; Power et al., 2022; SEI, 2022; Economics for nature 2022; UNEP, 2021). The arguments for such transformations recognise the limited achievement of the global Aichi targets of biodiversity despite international agreement aiming to halt biodiversity loss (CBD, 2020). The emphasis has moved to one of evolving nature positive economies (zu Ermgassen et al., 2022), a concept which has stimulated significant levels of interest from the private sector with associated guidance and proposals for best practice, such as Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and the Conservation Hierarchy (Milner-Gulland et al., 2021).

Nature positive economies represent a new concept the specifics of which may change over time as it is operationalised. In its current guise, it can be considered to be “a wider system that recognises different nature goals (e.g. climate and biodiversity), and delivers outcomes consistent with wider social goals and targets” (Locke et al., 2021; zu Ermgassen et al., 2022).

A consensus on what nature positive means is not established, although it is clear that it represents a shift from no net loss to net positive impact (zu Ermgassen et al., 2022). Some of the definitions proposed in the literature refer only to one of the elements necessary to describe the concept, or the target to achieve and the process to be followed.

UNEP considers a nature positive economy as one “that is regenerative, collaborative and where growth is only valued where it contributes to social progress and environmental protection” (UNEP, 2021). Natural England and the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee consider this approach as a way to reverse “the current decline in biodiversity so that species and ecosystems begin to recover” (JNCC, 2021). The UK Council for Sustainable Business (CSB) considers a nature positive economy to be “a proactive and restorative approach focused on conservation, regeneration, and growth” (CSB, 2022). From the perspective of the target, it can be considered a strategy to achieve net positive by 2030, and a full recovery by 2050 (Locke et al., 2021).

Other authors argue the importance of achieving nature positive rather than defining it, such as Business for Nature which considers this concept to be a process to “assess, commit, act, advocate” (Business for Nature, 2021). A process-based description is also provided by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, that defines the steps necessary to achieve nature positive as “assess and prioritise, commit, measure and value, act, transform, disclose and report” (WBCSD, 2021).



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