Confronted with the latest events related to the climate crisis, there is a renewed sense of urgency to effectively address the threat of climate change and the loss of biodiversity spread. But how can entrepreneurs channel their drive to innovate with and for nature?
Victoria Blessing is Senior Project Manager at Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. Fernando Barrientos is Senior Project Consultant at Steinbeis Europa Zentrum.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are expected to deliver a crucial contribution to the climate and biodiversity crisis while supporting more healthy environments and job creation. NBS are, in a nutshell, cost-effective solutions inspired and supported by nature which provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Some NBS are actually a revival of traditional methods, whereas many others are brand-new ideas. The project NetworkNature focused on maximising the impact and spread of NBS by creating opportunities for local, regional and international cooperation.
The public sector at the local, national and supranational level is pushing its own agenda to support NBS. The European Union, for instance, approved the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which includes several actions such as enlarging protected areas on land and at sea, restoring degraded ecosystems, unlocking funding, etc. One crucial aspect to put these bundle of measures in place will be NBS.
Big corporations are following their own pathway to be part of the transition to a nature-positive economy as they increasingly see a chance in NBS to lower their costs, add value to commercial/private property and increase their compliance with the three sustainability aspects Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). In global forums such as the World Economic Forum, the business case for investing in NBS regularly discussed (see the New Nature Economy Report II – The Future of Nature and Business).
However, what can smaller actors -entrepreneurs- do to, on the one hand, be part of the transition to a nature positive economy and, on the other hand, capture part of the benefits that they create with their entrepreneurial drive? Certainly there is a lot of potential and the lack of new approaches and innovative products, services and business models is not the main problem. However, embodying novel ideas into real teams and organisations as well as business models (adapted to the particularities of NBS), growing your network of stakeholders, understanding the regulatory environment applicable to your business model or accessing the necessary funds to start your venture are possibly much more daunting challenges.
Building on the results generated by research and innovation projects funded by the European Commission, we have condensed several sources of information and depicted them in a reader friendly and practical way in the Nature-based solutions Business information package, as part of the work within the NetworkNature project. Regardless if you are just starting out, you are a professional already, or if you simply want to learn more, this publication has useful information for everyone. It was conceived to help individuals, advocacy/academic groups and local communities to help you bring your idea to the next level.
We have covered some basic background information as well as some of the most essential concepts that you need to make yourself familiar with in order to smoothen your arrival to this exciting field of business. We begin by introducing the concepts of NBS and nature-based enterprises (NBE). NBE are enterprises which contribute to the development and delivery of NBS and for whom nature is at the core of their business. NBE can be a relevant vehicle to deliver the NBS that are needed to speed up the transition towards a nature positive economy and seize the business opportunities that this market sector has to offer. Some examples of the previous are the already well established market of NBS for green buildings, but NBS also find application in the field of water management & treatment, sustainable tourism, health & wellbeing, etc. The publication also presents two success stories of existing NBE (one from Germany and one from Belgium) who are already doing their part to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises. In addition, you will get a first insight on what are the future prospects and business opportunities of this field. Moreover, you will get a better understanding of what a “value proposition” is, what is meant by “creating, delivering and capturing value”, etc. We close the Business information package by providing practical guidance to start you NBS journey, including exploring policy and legislation, networking and funding opportunities. If you want to learn more about any of these aspects, the document contains a lot of hyperlinks where you can find additional resources.
If you want to learn more about NBS and NBE, don’t hesitate to visit our website. Lots of interesting materials, tools and resources expect you there.