Nature Positive, the Bespoke Environmental Consultancy
Winner of the Nature Positive Award
Nature Positive exists to make the world nature positive
Nature Positive, part of the RSK Group, is a bespoke consultancy that was set up specifically to help businesses with the transformational changes that are required to contribute to halting and reversing the global loss of biodiversity. Simply put, Nature Positive exists to have a positive and regenerative impact on natural resources.
A fast-moving environment
Nature Positive was launched in September 2020 as part of the RSK Group. The founding directors, Dr Stephanie Wray and Dr Tim Hounsome, had become concerned that the good work being done at a project level was having only a minimal impact in halting biodiversity loss, and that at board level, despite talking about corporate responsibility and environmental action, companies weren’t addressing biodiversity or how they used natural resources. The effect of this was that climate change was being looked at as the main problem rather than as a symptom, while the true problem – unsustainable use of resources and the loss of biodiversity – was not being recognised. Stephanie and Tim were convinced that what was required now was influence on large, global organisations with equally large and complex supply chains that depend on biodiversity.
Thus, Nature Positive was announced to the world. With the addition of a carbon team, an assembled team of consultants on biodiversity and wider sustainability, data analysts and management consultants, the company grew quickly to its current size of 40 people. Together, they create bespoke strategies and action plans that provide a clear direction towards, and means of embedding, sustainability within both corporate and public sector organisations. Their ultimate goal is to create a climate-resilient, nature-positive and equitable future.
Going in with a big splash at COP26
Almost immediately, Nature Positive got involved with the 26th Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, where the company curated the “Greening the Blue Chips” event, developing the agenda and finding the speakers for an event that would be delivered by RSK. This brought together businesses and partners that RSK had been working with to make the case for the transformative change that was needed and how the business community could help. The message was simple: For businesses to be sustainable, sustainability needed to be how they did business. Along with the attendance from those present at COP26, nearly 1500 people tuned into the event as it was streamed live.
New company, big client list
Despite Nature Positive being a relative newcomer to the consultancy scene, the experience and passion of its founders has meant it has quickly built a strong client list that includes extremely high-profile businesses.
Bam Bamboo Clothing
In 2020–22 Nature Positive reviewed impacts to biodiversity for BAM Bamboo Clothing, a leading sustainable clothing company that uses bamboo as the primary material in its clothes. Already proactive to ensure its continued sustainability credibility, BAM wanted to understand the full biodiversity impact of using bamboo for clothing. Nature Positive reviewed the company’s entire supply chain, as well as the potential biodiversity impacts of alternatives to its suppliers, looking at both alternative source countries and alternative manufacturing methods that enabled BAM to improve its procurement and manufacturing processes.
“We want to prove it’s possible for a clothing company to be Impact Positive. This is about more than sustainability. It means finding a way to be truly regenerative and not depleting the earth’s resources.” – David Gordon, Founder of BAM
In 2021–22, Nature Positive undertook work for Network Rail, the owner, operator and developer of Britain’s railway infrastructure. Sustainable operations are a key strategic consideration and the company wanted to develop a new KPI to provide an accessible and standardised measure of the sustainability performance of its operations, as well as a sustainability behaviour change tool.
Nature Positive provided Network Rail with sustainability advice that included ecological footprints to inform the development of the company’s new sustainability KPI. The calculation Nature Positive designed incorporates metrics such as use of land, resources and disposal of waste to form a business-specific ecological footprint calculation. In partnership with sister RSK company RSK Business Solutions, this methodology was turned into an interactive digital tool that processes data and provides metrics split across time, area and contribution. A behavioural change assessment was integrated to this tool to highlight and promote sustainable activities relevant to individuals.
Finally, Nature Positive acted as the specialist biodiversity adviser for Network Rail Infrastructure Limited (NRIL) to guide the future delivery and coordination of a biodiversity offsetting strategy for the long-term use of NRIL’s land and infrastructure.
Spirax-Sarco Engineering PLC
In 2021, Nature Positive took on its biggest project yet: completing a biodiversity audit for global manufacturing operations at Spirax-Sarco Engineering PLC (SSE), which is a world leader in high-quality products for the control and efficient use of steam and other industrial fluids. The business has a global infrastructure and sales presence in 67 countries worldwide. Nature Positive completed a high-level assessment of the biodiversity issues and opportunities in the company’s direct operations and highlighted the next steps in tackling the company target of biodiversity net gain by 2030. It engaged local staff at over 30 global manufacturing sites for assistance in measuring biodiversity, which helped build enthusiasm in the company for its target of delivering biodiversity net gain at each of the group’s 145 operating companies.
In its assessment, Nature Positive highlighted the use of land as the biggest impact on nature at SSE, and the business, in partnership with the World Land Trust, is funding the purchase of 2585 acres of previously unprotected habitat in Argentinian Patagonia to establish the first protected area on the Somuncurá Plateau. This is in line with the ambitions of the draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Following the success of this project, Nature Positive and SSE are now entering the next stage of their sustainability strategy, which will include a supply chain hotspot analysis to examine biodiversity impacts and dependencies and further targets will be set to mitigate these.
“Undertaking the assessment with Nature Positive has provided new insights into both our site interactions with habitats and species…with support from Steph’s team we are resourcing and committing to meaningful long-term actions.” – Richard Hildersley, Group Energy and Environmental Manager, SSE
National Health Service
Nature Positive was commissioned in 2022 to produce a guidance document for non-executive directors in the National Health Service (NHS). Nature Positive carried out extensive consultations with sustainability leads and non-executive directors through surveys, round-table discussions and interviews. The resulting major report published by IEMA and RSK titled Guidance on sustainability for NHS Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) provided a go-to guide on sustainability for decision-makers, executives and net zero leads within the NHS.
Among Nature Positive’s other clients are Vibrantz, Natural England and even the RSK Group itself. Nature Positive wrote the RSK Group biodiversity policy that applies to all of the 175 companies within the group. Nature Positive is currently developing the RSK sustainability programme and is in the process of refreshing the RSK sustainability strategy, commitments and action for 2023 onwards.
The company has also signed the Business for Nature pledge that commits it to reversing nature loss, is an official supporter of the Natural Capital Summit 2022, is a member of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Forum, is a member of the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) Corporate Engagement Programme, is signed up to Business for Nature’s COP15 Business Statement and Get Nature Positive, and its members have authored thought-leadership articles in a range of publications including Business Green and the Scrip Intelligence Pink Sheet.
COP15 and the GBF
As 2022 came to an end, Director Stephanie Wray was heavily involved in Nature Positive and RSK events leading up to the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Montreal. Nature Positive members delivered several external webinars including a “Live from COP15” session that covered topics that would be vital in the proposed global biodiversity framework (GBF), such as science-based targets for nature and how to address biodiversity in the finance sector. Stephanie Wray personally attended the conference and was involved with a number of round-table discussions and side events with organisations such as WWF, WBCSD and the Capitals Coalition, all pushing for member action, that ultimately led to the adoption of a Global Biodiversity Framework and the “30 by 30” initiative.
Looking towards the future
“No one can deal with the issue of biodiversity in isolation – nature impacts are inextricably connected with issues such as climate and inequalities – and that is why Nature Positive takes a systems view to understand all the ramifications for business.” – Dr Stephanie Wray, Director, Nature Positive
In the weeks since COP15, the Nature Positive team has seen a large increase in enquiries, particularly from the financial services sector. It seems nature has finally reached the boardroom and the team is working hard with clients to address the risks and opportunities for business that arise from their dependence on nature.