Charities back UK workers saying nature must be at the heart of business decisions - The Coventry Observer

Charities back UK workers saying nature must be at the heart of business decisions

Three of the UK’s largest conservation charities are calling on companies to put nature at the heart of all business decisions.

Businesses have a critical role to play in tackling the nature and climate crisis, but only three in every 100 companies monitor nature and biodiversity risks.

To address this, WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust have this week launched a new online guide designed to give workers at all businesses the confidence to take steps to make nature part of everyday decision making, from the factory floor to the boardroom.

Nature’s Workforce, the first resource of its kind designed to help employees call for nature-positive change at work, has been created as part of the charities’ Save Our Wild Isles partnership. Developed alongside employees and managers across a range of industries, Nature’s Workforce provides a suite of resources including a detailed step-by-step guide on how to start conversations at work on ways businesses can help bring nature back from the brink.

A YouGov poll commissioned this month for the Save Our Wild Isles campaign revealed nearly two-thirds of employees (62%) think their employers should be doing more to tackle issues such as nature loss and climate change, with 70% saying they’d be likely to encourage their employer to take action to help nature.

Over three-quarters (77%) of employees are also worried about the state of nature in the UK, rising to 82% in the 45-54 age group. Almost nine out of ten (89%) employees agreed that employers should consider the impact their business has on nature when making decisions.

Businesses have a key role to play in helping to protect and restore nature, and the charities hope that Nature’s Workforce will press more firms into creating a nature positive world.

Using Nature’s Workforce, people will discover how best to engage with their employer to make a meaningful difference. Change could come through embedding net zero into the company strategy or switching to a greener pension plan that funds habitat restoration. Supply chains could be improved by analysing transportation emissions, packaging waste and energy consumption at every stage. Businesses could choose to support community groups and local green spaces, either financially or through volunteering, or improve biodiversity on site through nature-friendly planting.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and one in six species is at risk of extinction from Great Britain. Yet nature underpins our economy, with more than half (55%) of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) either moderately or highly dependent on nature. The charities are calling on businesses to act now as issues including supply chain disruption, asset loss, increased costs and declining employee health will only get worse without a thriving natural world and healthy environment.

Deborah Meaden, business leader and ambassador for both the RSPB and WWF, said:

“The need to protect and restore nature is something businesses cannot afford to ignore. Without it, supply chains would collapse and most companies couldn’t function. This guide will hopefully spark conversations in firms across the UK and help put nature at the centre of boardroom decisions.

“Our business community is packed with innovative thinkers and pioneering companies, capable of speaking to millions of consumers and influencing government policy. I’ve no doubt we have the ability to tackle the nature and climate crisis – but we need to act fast, and we need to act now.”

Polling by the charities revealed that more than half of employees (52%) are confident that their employer can take positive action in the workplace to help tackle the decline in nature. Yet 42% of employees don’t feel confident to have a conversation with their employer about what else the business could be doing to help protect nature in the UK.

A number of UK businesses were involved in the development of the toolkit. Many have already adopted greener business practices, from saving paper and starting volunteering schemes to supporting community tree planting, and improving biodiversity in the workplace through nature-friendly grounds maintenance.

Fiona Ellis, Director and Co-Founder of Business Declares – who was involved in the development of Nature’s Workforce says:

“I am really impressed with the quality of Nature’s Workforce as a tool for everyone in business to use, particularly those in sustainability networks, to identify what they can do to take action around nature in their business.

“Business Declares Network exists to help businesses accelerate action on the climate, nature and social emergency and some of our 140 members tested out the tool in early stages and gave feedback. We need grassroots support for change within business from all employees.

“This tool will encourage people, who recognise the crisis and the need to restore nature to feel empowered to influence at work and take action. The clear signposting of how to have conversations on nature and our impact that the guide provides will help people at every level.”

In a joint statement, Hilary McGrady, Director-General National Trust, Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB and Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF, said:

“If we can inspire the 30 million people at work in the UK to think about nature in their day-to-day decisions, just think how powerful that could be to bring real change to our natural environment.

“By making changes to the way we all work and do business, we can transform our natural world. Our hope is that Nature’s Workforce will give employees the confidence to speak up and ensure our economy is working for nature and not against it.”

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