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UK task force report calls for sustainability reporting tools and metrics

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13 Mar 2013

The United Kingdom Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF) has published a final report on the business opportunities arising from valuing nature correctly. The report includes a cross cutting theme that better tools and metrics are needed to understand the role nature plays in businesses, calling for "tools and metrics that will integrate financial, environmental, social and governance information in a concise, consistent and comparable format".

The task force was established by the UK Government to review the opportunities for UK business from expanding green goods, services, products, investment vehicles and markets which value and protect our natural environment. The task force's report, entitled Realising nature’s value: The Final Report of the Ecosystem Markets Task Force, outlines various issues across a broad array of sustainability-related topics in response to this mandate.

In the specific area of sustainability reporting, the report notes the work of organisations such as Accounting for Sustainability (A4S), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and TEEB for Business Coalition.  The report goes on to point out that a reporting framework for natural capital is not yet developed, commenting "standards for nature are at the financial equivalent of the 14th century, before the development of double-entry bookkeeping".

The report develops this theme further, commenting that "measures need not be perfect to be useful, indeed the perfect may be the enemy of the good here" and that "we need company level schemes – ideally endorsed by the International Accounting Standards Board".

The specific recommendations of the task force in this area include:

  • Companies should move from a principle of “no net loss” (or net positive impact) on nature to demonstrate their progress towards this goal, using valuation methods where possible
  • Companies in high impact sectors should build partnerships to develop and road test valuation methods and tools that are "robust enough for the IASB to develop them into internationally recognised standards"
  • The UK Government must maintain pace developing national accounting for natural capital
  • Government should review the incentive structures surrounding standards and metrics to consider if these create specific barriers for businesses taking these up.

The UK Government will issue its official response to the task force’s report later in 2013.

Click for more information (link to UK Government website).

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