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Science Based Targets Network taps independent reviewer for nature-related goals

Companies can submit strategies for addressing biodiversity loss in the second half of 2024.

Nature illustration

Image via Shuttestock/Petrmalinak

The Science Based Targets Network, a coalition formed to help corporations set science-based strategies for addressing nature and biodiversity loss, has picked an independent organization to validate targets based on its framework. The Global Commons Accountability Accelerator will handle validation services for the next two to three years, until more resources are needed.

SBTN’s guidance covers corporate commitments related to freshwater, land, biodiversity, ocean and climate.

The selection comes as SBTN prepares to make its methodology and services more widely available beyond the 17 multinational companies that have been part of its pilot program since mid-2023. Those companies include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Nestle, Tesco and H&M Group.

SBTN is inviting more companies to submit targets for validation in the second half of 2024. The number selected for that wave will depend on funding and resources, said Erin Billman, executive director of SBTN. There will be an administrative fee for the process. 

SBTN was formed to extend the mission of the Science Based Targets initiative, which helps corporations set emissions reduction targets aligned with the latest climate science. There’s no way to reverse climate change without also addressing nature and biodiversity loss, according to the United Nations. SBTN’s work on freshwater and land is closely linked to SBTi’s guidance for forestry, land and agriculture, Billman said.

Much of the data collected for climate reporting can be used for nature-based emissions-reduction targets, said Simon Gillet, a senior sustainability consultant with strategy firm Quantis. "The difference lies in the location and contextualization of these activities," Gillet said. "By pinpointing where purchases are made, where commodities are cultivated, and where operations occur, companies can conduct a thorough assessment of their environmental impacts and dependencies."

Independent accountability for validation

Despite their similar names, SBTN and SBTi are separate entities, with separate governance. SBTN is part of the Global Commons Alliance, which includes 100 nonprofits and foundations. SBTN’s new validation partner, the Accountability Accelerator, is a Global Commons initiative focused on ways to make corporations more accountable for their impact on nature. SBTi, by contrast, has managed validation internally, although it’s in the process of separating out those activities.

"Having an independent validation partner is crucial for maintaining the credibility and integrity of the targets," Gillet said. "It ensures that the targets are based on rigorous scientific standards and unbiased reviews, fostering trust among stakeholders, investors and the public." 

Accountability Accelerator will handle validation services for the next two to three years. As more companies set science-based targets for nature, additional third-party validators will be tapped, said Billman.

Companies that aren’t ready to set nature-based targets yet can use SBTN’s technical guidance to prepare. The organization also plans to publish case studies based on the work of the corporations in its pilot test in coming months, Billman said.

[Learn how companies are navigating the fast changing sustainability agenda and driving more impact with Trellis Network.]

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