Companies warm to Nature-based Solutions. Greenwashing?

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Nature-based solutions are increasingly being used for greenwashing - to give the impression that a business with high greenhouse gas emissions is environmentally friendly

Greenbiz magazine describes Nature-based Solutions as leveraging ‘nature’s inherent genius’. Nature loss puts companies’ supply chains, reputation and financial security at risk, and companies are starting to realise this, encouraged by the World Economic Forum and Business for Nature. According to Greenbiz, so far over 350 companies have made commitments to help reverse nature loss and restore ecosystem services on which businesses depend. These commitments are primarily through business partnerships, such as the AgWater Challenge which develops time-bound and measurable commitments to reduce the impact of agricultural commodities on water resources.

However, we must be cautious of businesses using NbS for greenwashing. For example, in 2019 Shell announced that they will invest $300 million over the next 3 years in natural ecosystem-based projects, focusing primarily on reforestation in Europe. This is a small proportion of their $21 billion annual profit (2018). Even if the projects are conducted with best-practice, which is far from guaranteed, they could not negate the effect of the 70 million tonnes of CO2e emissions that Shell is responsible for each year.