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On this page:

  • Why we need a nature positive economy
  • The role of the finance function in helping their organization to deliver nature positive outcomes
  • The role of capital markets in creating a nature positive economy



Nature's lack of visibility in our financial system means that it is being destroyed at an alarming rate. The resulting collapse in ecosystems and biodiversity presents an existential risk to the economy without urgent action.

There is a pressing need for organizations to identify their nature-related impacts, dependencies, risks and opportunities, embed them into their decision-making processes, and disclose and report on their progress. Finance leaders can play a crucial part in this work and the move towards a nature positive global economy.

A4S's work in this space includes guidance, thought-pieces and updates to help equip finance professionals with the appropriate skills, tools and knowledge to help their organization move towards nature positive actions.

Four actions you can take now

We have put together four key actions that finance teams can take now to contribute to a nature positive economy. There is a maturity map which accompanies the actions so that you can assess your maturity and identify the next steps to take.

Why do we need a nature positive economy?

The scientific consensus is that we need to halt the loss of nature by 2030, and aim for its full recovery by 2050, to avoid catastrophic consequences. Businesses, the finance sector and regulators therefore need to move to a nature positive economy at speed.

We are destroying the world's habitats extremely quickly, with most of the loss occurring within the last 50 years. We have already lost 85% of the world's wetlands and one-third of its forests. This destruction has a catastrophic impact on biodiversity. Global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, on average, have plummeted by more than two-thirds since 1970.

From an economic perspective, it is estimated that nearly US$10 trillion in global GDP could be lost by 2050 if ecosystem services continue to decline. The international and regulatory community are therefore increasingly focused on the importance of nature. Bold actions and targets were agreed at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15. This means that more attention is being paid to local nature preservation, policies that encourage sustainable use of natural resources and a move to mandatory disclosures by large organizations. There is also likely to be increasing consolidation of methodologies and frameworks to help organizations deliver on these requirements. Increased disclosure should allow the market to price in nature-related risks and opportunities so that capital flows in the right direction.

A nature positive world presents opportunities for organizations that are willing to take bold actions for nature. Organizations that understand, manage and disclose their nature-related impacts, dependencies, risks and opportunities will be both more resilient and more attractive to investors and consumers.

What is the role of CFOs and finance teams?

The finance function has a crucial role to play in driving progress towards a nature positive economy. However, many in the business and finance community struggle to understand their role.

The A4S Finance Leaders' Sustainability Barometer in 2022 found that almost half of respondents felt their organization had made little or no progress in mitigating the risk of biodiversity loss and depletion of natural resources.

Finance professionals can make a difference by:

  • Assisting with the assessment of nature-related impacts, dependencies, risks and opportunities by ensuring underlying data is robust, comparable and reliable and can be trusted by decision makers
  • Ensuring any targets set are robust and verifiable, and accurately tracking and reporting performance against targets
  • Embedding nature positive outcomes within organizational decision-making processes, which can include integrating nature into management information, capital budgeting and expenditure evaluation, risk and compliance processes, and stakeholder relations
  • Building capacity within finance teams to ensure the necessary knowledge, skills and information systems are in place to drive and implement change
  • Raising and allocating the funds needed to implement nature positive solutions
  • Leading the organization's interaction with the capital markets, including developing disclosures in line with TNFD

A4S works with CFOs and their teams to explore the practical steps that they can take to make progress towards a nature positive value chain.

What is the role of the financial sector?

With trillions invested worldwide, the investor community plays a significant role in determining whether a nature positive economy can be achieved. Investors can make a difference by:

  • Recognizing biodiversity loss as a potential source of economic risk and responding accordingly
  • Driving capital towards the best ideas and enterprises, being a catalyst for innovation, opportunity and dynamism in achieving a nature positive economy
  • Leading an integrated approach to addressing climate and nature-related issues, and expecting the same from others throughout the investment chain
  • Influencing organizations to make disclosures in line with TNFD

Key terms

  • Nature – the natural world, with an emphasis on the diversity of living organisms (including people) and their interactions among themselves and with their environment.[i]
  • Nature positive – an evolving term typically used to refer to the global aim to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 (with a 2020 baseline) with a view to full recovery by 2050. Achieving a nature positive target for an individual organization is highly complex and would require a whole value chain approach. Organizations are therefore encouraged to work towards a nature positive economy.
  • Biodiversity – the diversity of all living things, and a subset of nature. A high level of biodiversity boosts the productivity of ecosystems and therefore increases natural capital. Importantly, it also increases the resilience of an ecosystem to climate change.
  • Natural capital – the stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources (eg, plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.[ii]
  • Ecosystem – a community or group of living organisms that live in and interact with each other in a specific environment,[iii] eg a tropical forest.
  • Ecosystem services – the benefits to people from ecosystems, such as timber, genetic resources ('provisioning services'); pollination, water regulation, climate regulation ('regulating and maintenance services'); and recreation and mental health ('cultural services') and soil formation (‘supporting services’).[iv]
  • Abiotic services – the benefits to people that do not depend on ecological processes but arise from fundamental geological processes and include the supply of minerals, metals, and oil and gas, as well as geothermal heat, wind, tides, and the annual seasons.[v]


[i] Díaz, S et al (2015) via TNFD

[ii] Capitals Coalition, 2016

[iii] youmatter, 2020

[iv] Adapted from the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005

[v] Lammerant, 2019


Our guidance can help you understand the nature landscape and to navigate actions towards nature positive outcomes, wherever stage you are at. 


Loss of nature and biodiversity can impact business operations. However, investing in biodiversity also offers opportunities. It can help to improve the long-term viability of business models, reduce costs and increase operational efficiency and resilience.

Natural Capital Accounting

Use this one-page map to assess what you are currently doing and how you can advance to a leading position.


This top tips guidance focuses on step-by-step actions, with qualitative techniques to identify and then manage specific nature risks, and invest in the opportunities. Explore our 5 practical actions for pension fund chairs and trustees and ensure investments align to a sustainable future.

Supporting TNFD Recommendations

Use these insights to assess your organization's current position and  implement the TNFD recommendations.


Should organizations aim to be nature positive?

What does it mean to be 'nature positive'? And can finance and accounting professionals do anything about it? In this Earth Day blog, we reflect on the finance community’s role to protect nature, what being nature positive means for an organization, and what actions can be taken to get started.

Key outcomes from the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference

Read our blog exploring what COP15 is, its outcomes and what this means for business.

Can the TNFD deliver for nature disclosures, as the TCFD has done for climate?

Read our assessment on the ambition and actions of the TNFD.


These resources can give you a greater understanding of the some of the organizations working in this space and tools that are available.

Natural Capital Protocol

The Natural Capital Protocol provides guidance on how to conduct natural capital assessments.

Science Based Targets Network (SBTN)

Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) helps organizations develop science-based targets for nature, including freshwater, land, ocean and biodiversity, to complement the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). 

The Business for Nature Coalition

Business for Nature is a global coalition that brings together business and conservation organizations and companies. Together, the coalition demonstrate and amplifies a credible business voice on nature. They have produced high-level actions for businesses as well as help to direct commitments on nature. A4S is a member of the Business for Nature Coalition.

Accounting for Sustainability is a Charitable Incorporated Organization, registered charity number 1195467. Accounting for Sustainability is part of the King Charles III Charitable Fund Group of Charities.
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