New guidelines help companies set science-based targets for nature and climate 

25/05/2023

In a world racing against the clock to save our planet’s biodiversity, businesses hold the key to a sustainable future. 

But taking ambitious and measurable action on both climate and nature has often posed challenges. 

This is where science-based targets come into play. Metabolic has collaborated with the Science Based Target Network (SBTN) to develop comprehensive guidelines aimed at assisting businesses in making a positive impact on ecosystems and biodiversity. 

“We understand the urgency of the situation,” said Daniela Palma Munguia, a sustainability consultant in Metabolic’s Agrifood and Biodiversity team. “Companies are no exception. They know that in order for their business to continue, they need to make drastic changes in how they interact with nature. One major challenge has been knowing how to take action and to what goal.” 

Science-based targets refer to measurable and actionable pathways for companies to address their impact on nature. 

Since its inception, the SBTN has worked to help businesses understand their relationship with nature. Metabolic’s extensive background in creating science-based targets for nature made collaborating with the SBTN a natural fit for us. Notably, we have helped both Alpro and Bel Group in piloting SBTs. 

We helped plant-based food and drink producer Alpro develop science-based targets for its almond and soya supply chain. In this pilot project, we provided recommendations on how Alpro could keep within the planetary boundaries framework – and how other companies could do the same.

“Setting science-based targets is one way to confidently set a goal and build a plan around getting to that finish line,” says Palma Munguia. “It also gives companies the ability to monitor and report on their progress over time to show how their business is doing.” 

By joining forces to embrace nature-positive solutions, we not only safeguard the future of our planet but also unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation that benefit people, profit, and the planet.

The SBTN Guidance

In 2020, SBTN first introduced what science-based targets for nature are, why they are important, and how they would work. That initial guidance helped the business world become familiar with these concepts. 

Now SBTN is building on this work. The new robust methodology offers both guidance and tools to enable the first companies to set validatable targets. While other sustainability frameworks exist, the SBTN’s approach is more comprehensive, offering step-by-step guidance at each stage of the process. 

We helped Bel Group develop an action plan to address biodiversity loss and soil/water usage while preserving species and ecosystems. We analyzed the operations of just one of Bel’s dairy basins in the Netherlands, but the findings can be applied across all its agricultural landscapes in Europe.

“The purpose of our guidance is to empower companies to deploy a clear, analytical approach for assessing and addressing their environmental impacts which has been tested and vetted by scientific experts,” the SBTN has said. 

To create these guidelines, Metabolic joined SBTN and organizations including Capitals Coalition, UNEP WCMC, Conservation International, WWF, CDP, TNFD, The Biodiversity Consultancy, and WRI

We led the technical development for the first two steps in the guidelines — Step 1: Assess and Step 2: Prioritize. The latest addition in the framework is Step 3: Measure, Set, Disclose.

“With the release of SBTN’s Step 3 guidance, companies now have a robust method for setting targets based on the best available science and techniques,” explains Palma Munguia. “Additionally, the guidance allows companies to establish SBTs that support both nature and climate in their overall sustainability strategy.”

The SBTN is refining its five-step road map for science-based targets for nature. It has now released Steps 1, 2, and 3.

Together, we have crafted guidelines that enable businesses to apply the most effective methods and tools to evaluate their impact on the planet across all their activities and operations. 

Individual actions alone cannot solve the nature crisis, but collective alignment can lead to significant positive impacts. 

By releasing this report and tools, the SBTN aims to encourage the implementation of nature-focused initiatives within the business community.

We said it before and we’ll say it again: the best time to act on these issues was 50 years ago, but the next best option is to act now.

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Any questions?

Reach out to our 

Sustainability Consultant,
Daniela Palma Munguia

Learn more about our work in the Agri-Food sector

Our mission is to transition the economy to a fundamentally sustainable state.

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