3 Themes From GreenBiz23 That Will Impact Climate Progress This Year
Cheryl Sansonetti
Cheryl Sansonetti
22 February, 2023 min read

Sustainability and climate experts gathered at GreenBiz23 in Scottsdale, Arizona last week to discuss innovations, priorities, and learnings that will move us down the path to a sustainable future. Three themes permeated both the agenda and one-on-one conversations – nature-based climate solutions, regulatory compliance for climate-related disclosures, and biodiversity. These themes are a signal of where we can expect to see movement from companies, NGOs, and sustainability solution providers for the rest of 2023 and beyond. Here is a little more on the types of discussions we saw and what to expect from them:

Theme 1: We Can’t Do This Without Nature

In years past, nature has been a part of the GreenBiz conversation, but this year it dominated. The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) released their Science Based Targets for Land during their session. During the organization’s explanation of the new targets, a standing room only crowd eagerly awaited as Craig Beatty, Manager of Forests Research & Strategy at World Wildlife Fund, furiously worked in the back of the room to get the SBTN targets released to the rest of the world. While the targets for all of nature have not yet been released, the one covering land ecosystems dropped that day. The land proposal identified 3 types of targets organizations can take on:

  1. No conversion of Natural Ecosystems – Stop direct and indirect conversion of all natural, terrestrial ecosystems
  2. Reduction in Land Footprint – Reduce the global occupation of production systems and liberate currently held land
  3. Landscape Engagement – Engage in relevant landscape scale initiatives to improve nature

There is no climate solution without nature. Natural climate solutions represent over one third of cost-effective climate mitigation through 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2°C.  The much-needed targets from SBTN give us the collective opportunity to protect, restore, and work with nature in a positive way that is not an afterthought, but a natural part of how society and businesses operate. We’ll be covering these in greater depth in a future blog post but stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback during the SBTN public consultation period that ends March 7th.

Theme 2: It’s Time to Get On Top of Compliance and Claims

The SEC’s impending rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors are on the mind of every sustainability professional, CFO, and CEO. Investors want consistent, comparable data for climate risk, just like they want it for financial risk. The presenters of a session focused on SEC climate-related disclosures that included GreenBiz, Deloitte, Apollo Global Management, and Persefoni identified the most controversial aspects of the proposed new rules as:

  1. If a line item on your financial statement has a 1% risk or greater of climate affecting it, you must disclose the potential financial impacts. This effort is intended to reduce underreporting and inconsistencies in how organizations report on their climate-related risks from things such as severe weather events, transition activities, or other natural events.
  2. Companies have to report on scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions are not produced by the company itself or a result of activities from assets owned by them, but by those that it’s indirectly responsible for, up and down its value chain. This rule presents a serious challenge of data collection for any sustainability professional and will take time and resources to do well.

It was emphasized that disclosures need to be more than just checking a box. Companies need to make climate related risks something the C-suite, senior managers, and employees think about in their day to day work. While a desire for regulation from corporations may be surprising to those that don’t follow this issue, the sustainability leaders present at the panel were excited to see this level of transparency and clarity become reality this year, because it would enable more predictability for forward planning.

Theme 3: Biodiversity is Going from Idea to Priority

Biodiversity is the rich network of interdependent living species on our planet. While the underlying species and their relationships are inherently valuable, the loss of biodiversity over time also endangers ecosystems’ stability and our ability as humans to thrive on this planet. The clear risk from climate change to businesses and society along with limited resources have historically left biodiversity unaddressed at the bottom of the priority list of sustainability-related goals. But, recent revelations (50% of GDP depends on nature) and discussions at Biodiversity COP15 have given way to a ground swell of interest. Companies are seeing pressure from investors and customers to formulate a plan of action. Many in the industry will tell you it’s important but then struggle to identify exactly what it is and what levers to pull to protect it. 

At GreenBiz23 NCX’s Julia Strong and Sophie Gilbert spoke with Patricia Zurita of Birdlife, John-O Niles of Salesforce, and Elizabeth Sturcken of the Environmental Defense Fund on biodiversity where they discussed how companies can begin to take action on their goals. We as an industry have a long way to go on biodiversity, but this level of excitement will bring the necessary speed to progress, in order to address the urgency of the situation. The all-star panel shared tips for taking action:

  1. Academics and NGOs like BirdLife International have been thinking about biodiversity for a long time and have existing frameworks for prioritization that companies can tap into
  2. Prioritizing certain species can be hard, but aiming for solutions that impact multiple species at once is a good place to start
  3. Look at landscapes that connect to each other in order to maintain and create healthy species diversity

If these themes from GreenBiz23 are any indication of progress the industry will make in 2023, it stands to reason that this will be a productive year for the climate, ecosystems, and accountability. To receive our next blog post on Science Based Targets for Nature, sign up for our newsletter here.

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about the author

Cheryl Sansonetti

Cheryl Sansonetti

Director of Marketing
Cheryl is Director of Marketing at NCX. Prior to joining NCX, Cheryl was a marketing leader at global customer experience management company, Merkle. She was nominated as a "Mobile Woman to Watch" for helping to shape the emerging mobile technology space while at a mobile technology start-up and worked in production for feature animated films. Cheryl earned her MBA from University of San Francisco's Business School.