Piet Tuinder, Nature Programme Manager says,
“Overall we’re really encouraged by these results. Forty percent of respondents say they currently contribute to biodiversity and nature projects and over a third get out and volunteer on local nature projects. We’re impressed by this activity, and think it reflects well on our network.
At the end of the day though, biodiversity loss is accelerating along with climate change. We’re losing species and ecosystems at an alarming rate. And there is a massive investment gap for nature in Aotearoa and around the world. To really address these issues, we need 100% of businesses investing and actively engaging in nature regeneration.
We hope that SBN can help businesses overcome the barriers that they’ve raised in the survey – especially around a lack of time and not knowing what projects to support. We have great restoration partners that are really delivering for nature and for communities – through job creation, skill development and youth engagement. We’re keen to make sure that our partnerships also deliver to the interest businesses have in building a personal connection to nature restoration projects, getting their teams involved and following the regeneration journey.”
In the survey we asked about action on sustainability. Nearly 70% of respondents said they were taking steps to reduce packaging, waste and pollution. Just over half said they were sourcing sustainable products and services. More than 40% said they were taking steps to conserve energy and water.
We found that few (17.5%) of our respondents participate in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which makes sense given that the majority of respondents are SMEs. A similarly small number are certified carbon neutral or positive (16.4%). But 40% stated that they do measure their carbon footprint. Just over a third (35%) said they volunteer on local nature projects.
This seems to confirm our experience: much of the action on sustainability in business is focused on business efficiency and sustainable procurement. Most of the direct action on climate change for SMEs remains in measuring their carbon footprint and reducing their emissions, while a smaller percentage seek formal certification for offsetting their emissions. Direct engagement in nature regeneration remains something of a minority pursuit.
Unsurprisingly in a survey initiated by the SBN, more than half the respondents were members of a sustainability organisation (SBN, the Sustainable Business Council or similar). The range of other social and environmental investments we discovered was interesting. There remains a broad spread of contributions. They include social support (e.g. community partnerships, support for the vulnerable) (46%), climate change reduction (45%), biodiversity projects that support nature regeneration (41.5%) and carbon offsets through the voluntary market (27%).
Respondents were happy to share what they are currently investing in, but when we asked what they are considering investing in more than half of respondents skipped the question. This may reflect current economic reality or a reluctance to raise expectations of funding support. It’s heartening that of the responses we did get, investing in nature was the most common response for what people are considering investing in (22%). This suggests there is a latent market in this, but does not give much sense of scale. A question later in the survey revealed that 40% of respondents didn’t respond or weren’t sure about the scale of investment they might make in nature in the coming years. This suggests that they are not keen to commit to any future investment figures.
We asked about key barriers to investment. “Financial constraints” was, unsurprisingly, the most common response (61%). This suggests a challenge in getting nature regeneration accepted as a needed investment that will mitigate risk and provide benefits, rather than a donation. Nature Related Financial Disclosures (built on the model of Climate Related Financial Disclosures) are coming and will increase business awareness of their nature related risks and opportunities. This is probably where new regulations or new markets (eg. a nature/biodiversity credits system) would also create additional drivers for action. In our survey, time constraints (37%), lack of experienced staff and not knowing what projects to support (28%) were other common barriers raised.
We also asked what outcomes were important to see coming from nature-based investments. Environmental and biodiversity outcomes, personal connection to the project, tangible outcomes, improving staff wellbeing and providing staff engagement opportunities were all over 80%. This emphasises a strong interest in being involved and making that personal connection to the nature regeneration work.
We asked about impact reporting and learned that impact statistics were of highest priority followed by direct engagement with the project and then material for external communications.
More than half of the respondents said investments in nature would come from a “sustainability” budget. Further research may be needed to assess the size and scope of these budgets.
We’re extremely grateful to everyone who took part in the survey. The additional comments provide a wealth of detailed information. We'll be asking for more thoughts and feedback as we continue our work to connect businesses with nature through our Regenerating Nature Programme.
Our online questionnaire received a total of 183 responses. Most respondents said they were in businesses with less than 50 employees. This reflects SBN’s key audience among the nation’s small and medium sized businesses. They included representatives from many sectors across Aotearoa New Zealand. We had responses from people working in construction, engineering, financial services, retail, real estate, technology, horticulture, manufacturing and more.
Check out a summary report of the raw results.