News | 29 Nov, 2023


IUCN is producing guidance to support businesses and non-state actors in making Nature-Positive contributions, including for setting and implementing verified, robust targets for species and ecosystems.


The IUCN consultation on Measuring Nature-Positive is now available here.

Nature-Positive - what is it?

Many businesses and non-state actors have expressed interest in making Nature-Positive contributions, and governments and multilateral organisations are increasingly using the term, but what is ‘Nature-Positive’?

Nature is in crisis: there is overwhelming evidence that human actions have caused and are continuing to cause pervasive declines in life on Earth. The growing evidence of the impacts of this crisis on the planet, on society, and on the economy has led to increased recognition that we need to move beyond ‘minimising harm’ to actually delivering real and measurable improvements in the state of nature – in other words, to become ‘Nature-Positive’.


What does Nature-Positive mean? According to the Nature Positive Initiative (2023) the definition is “Halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 on a 2020 baseline, and achieve full recovery by 2050”.

This goal should be delivered through increasing the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations and ecosystems so that by 2030 nature is visibly and measurably on the path of recovery.

Venn diagram of Nature-Positive showing Climate, Biodiversity, Soil and Water componentsPhoto: Adapted from Baggaley et al. (2023)

Nature-Positive represents an aspirational, inclusive, and intuitive summary of societal goals for nature, including the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF). It can be used by business, government, and civil society to mainstream and progress commitments. The growing enthusiasm for the Nature-Positive concept represents a promising opportunity, to accelerate and scale up the actions that are urgently needed to halt and reverse the loss of nature. However, without a clear definition, metrics, and pathways for delivery, the term risks becoming diluted and used (intentionally or not) to enable ‘greenwashing’.

What IUCN is doing?

Recognising this need and opportunity, and the timely context of the GBF, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has developed a technical paper for business on the concept, potential implications and principles of Nature-Positive. It is also developing a separate document that sets out an approach, based on its standards and data sets, that supports the delivery and measurement of Nature-Positive outcomes.

IUCN is a unique membership union that brings together governments and civil society to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. IUCN has decades of experience in developing and maintaining science-based standards, data, principles and guidance for delivering effective conservation outcomes for nature and people.

‘Nature’ is a broad concept that encompasses non-living components such as water, soil and air, as well as biodiversity. The IUCN guidance document on Nature-Positive covers the range of components of nature, including the non-living components, and the IUCN Nature-Positive approach focuses on biodiversity, i.e. species and ecosystems.

Nature positive for business

The IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), through the Impact Mitigation and Ecological Compensation Thematic Group (IMEC), has developed a technical paper Nature positive for business, Developing a common approach  to provide businesses with a better understanding of approaches that can contribute to the global goal of Nature-Positive. This paper seeks to bring clarity to the concept of Nature-Positive, through alignment with global goals, reduction of inconsistencies, and guiding practical application. It encompasses key principles, definitions, and recommended actions that can serve as a decision-making guide for financial institutions, businesses, governments and civil society. This work complements the Measuring Nature-Positive working document (outlined below) by providing the framing for its use, which describes an approach and metrics that companies and governments can use to identify, prioritise, set targets for and deliver contributions to the GBF.

IUCN approach to measuring Nature-Positive

What it is - high level summary of aims

The IUCN approach to measuring Nature-Positive focuses specifically on species and ecosystems, as components of living nature (biodiversity). The purpose is to enable effective delivery of verified, robust outcomes for biodiversity, through the collective efforts of governments, civil society and the private sector. The initial focus is on providing companies, including the finance sector, with the guidance and tools to take rapid action to deliver verified, robust contributions to the KMGBF.

The working document Measuring Nature-Positive – Setting and implementing verified, robust targets for species and ecosystems has been released for consultation, by IUCN Membership, commissions and the private sector, with the intent that a final version will be presented to the Union during the World Conservation Congress in 2025.

The document focuses on private sector delivery, and sets out a vision, pathways and key building blocks for the approach. It aims to support businesses and their investors to assess where they are on the journey to making Nature-Positive contributions to society’s goals, such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals. Using IUCN data and standards, it also allows them to quantify their negative and positive biodiversity contributions; at a site level, along supply/value chains and in investment portfolios.

The anticipated long-term outcome of the IUCN approach to measuring Nature-Positive is that all economic and social actors identify, plan and effectively and measurably deliver their verified, robust outcomes for biodiversity, at a scale sufficient to ensure (with others’ contributions) a Nature-Positive future.

Consultation / timelines

An open consultation on the proposed IUCN approach to measuring Nature-Positive is now open and will close on the 15th March 2024. The consultation is open to all IUCN members and commissions, and non-IUCN constituents, including the private sector. You can access the consultation via the IUCN Engage Platform. We will aim to respond to all key issues raised through the consultation.