Is greenwashing already threatening to uproot ‘nature positive’ initiatives?

A University of Queensland-led study has warned that vigilance is needed to prevent the concept of a "nature positive" world being overwhelmed by a rising tide of corporate "greenwash."

The report argues a planet where rapid biodiversity loss is halted and reversed, and nature is restored, is urgently needed in order to halt the mass extinction of species, deliver on global climate goals and provide the economy with the food, water, clean air and healthy environment that it is reliant upon.

As such, it says "Nature Positive" has already become a popular phrase within the conservation community and is being embraced by businesses, governments and financiers in a manner that is similar to the widespread adoption of net zero targets.

For instance, more than 90 world leaders have signed on to the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, which calls for a Nature Positive future to be achieved by 2030, while 11 global Fortune 100 companies have aspirations to contribute to the global Nature Positive goal, according to the report.

There can be no shortcuts.

However, researchers behind the report — "Nature positive must incorporate, not undermine, the mitigation hierarchy" — also warned that some of these pledges lack the scientific rigor needed to achieve real impact and as such they put "Nature Positive" commitments at risk of becoming little more than greenwash.

It added that such misleading claims were already evident in the loose application of the term by NGOs to simply mean "doing things that are good for nature" and the practice of companies linking the concept with questionable biodiversity credit schemes.

Moreover, the report warns that a "Nature Positive approach" may cause harm to nature protection efforts if it distracts from existing schemes that focus on avoiding and reducing the harmful impacts of economic development on biodiversity.

Contributing author Professor Dame EJ Milner-Gulland of the University of Oxford's department of biology, cautioned that "aspirational phrases" must not replace practical steps to protect nature from damage nor ensuring that any damage done is fully and demonstrably compensated for.

"There can be no shortcuts," she said. "The concept of Nature Positive provides an optimistic and aspirational vision of the future we want for humanity and for nature."

There is a real concern tha

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