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Salesforce goes for ‘nature positive’

The software company wants nature to be just as much of a focus as climate in its sustainability initiatives.

Salesforce buildings

Salesforce launches a nature positive strategy. Image via Shutterstock/Sundry Photography.

Last week, software giant Salesforce added another prong to its Climate Action Plan with a specific set of commitments related to nature and biodiversity.

The Nature Positive Strategy will coexist alongside its many other sustainability initiatives, which include a net-zero commitment by 2040, a 50 percent reduction in business travel emissions by 2050, getting 60 percent of its suppliers to commit to a science-based target, and investing in technological and nature-based carbon removals. The company also already had an Ocean-Climate Policy Priorities to drive climate solutions around oceans.

The Nature Positive Strategy has three main pillars — reducing impacts on nature, leading nature restoration at scale and accelerating the ability of Salesforce customers to start their own journey of becoming "nature positive" businesses. In its materials, Salesforce defines nature positive as a "world where nature — species and ecosystems — is being restored and is regenerating rather than declining."

Part of this nature positive strategy for Salesforce includes measuring, managing and developing a a plan to reduce our nature impacts and dependencies by 2025; buying 1 million tons of high-quality blue carbon credits by 2025; supporting and mobilizing the conservation, restoration and growth of 100 million trees by 2030; and distributing $100 million through the Ecosystem Restoration & Climate Justice Fund.

"We added a few things that are new, and we fused it together with our climate action plans," said Tim Christophersen, vice president of climate action at Salesforce. "It's a much more strategic, comprehensive, holistic approach to nature."

According to Christophersen, the nature positive strategy isn’t so much about creating a bunch of new nature-focused projects for Salesforce but instead embedding nature and biodiversity goals into many ongoing projects that previously had more of a climate focus. 

Now we’re making it a more holistic approach to landscape management and seascape management. It's no longer just about climate change mitigation.

One example is the company’s Trillion Trees initiative with, launched in 2020. Originally the goal of this effort was to sequester 100 gigatons of carbon by planting, protecting and restoring trillion trees. Now, a focus on nurturing biodiversity and nature conservation has become a wider, more encompassing goal.

"[The project] was mostly done out of a climate perspective," he said. "Now we’re making it a more holistic approach to landscape management and seascape management. It's no longer just about climate change mitigation. It is also about biodiversity, people and global ecosystem restoration. You cannot have carbon tunnel vision." 

Salesforce still plans to track its climate commitments with carbon credits and has not looked into investing in separate biodiversity or nature credits — an alternative to carbon credits that have been floated by nonprofits such as the World Economic Forum but not widely used, as most companies are hyper-focused on net-zero goals. Christophersen believes quality improvements to the biodiversity of an area should be part of a high-quality carbon credit. 

While the software company’s own nature-related risks, impacts and dependencies are relatively low — Salesforce does not manufacture any physical products that are big drivers of nature loss — its data centers and energy consumption still looming large when it comes to emissions and planetary impacts. However, Christophersen highlighted that the true power of Salesforce lies in its ability to influence and empower its thousands of customers in other nature-impacting sectors. 

As part of the Nature Positive Strategy, Salesforce will add global frameworks and methodologies around nature and biodiversity to its Net Zero Cloud reporting tool. The reporting framework for Taskforce on Nature Related Disclosures is coming out later this year, and Salesforce is already integrating standards from the European Union into its platform, such as support for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, Christophersen said. 

"We want to enable our customers to enter the nature space and to accelerate their nature journey and the overall nature positive movement," he said. 

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