skip to content

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Looking up at the tree cano

12 July 2018 – The Natural Capital Impact Group (NCIG) yesterday hosted an event for over 50 participants, including 25 businesses, to launch a new metric that will help companies reduce their impact on biodiversity, soil and water – natural resources which are crucial for business continuity and preserving the Earth’s ecosystems.

Companies are increasingly interested in considering and demonstrating their impacts on the natural environment, not least with the adoption of the SDGs, and have been calling for a simple, practical metric that can be used in key decision making processes.

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has worked with companies of the Natural Capital Impact Group (NCIG), leading NGOs and academics to develop the Healthy Ecosystem Metric, a new concept and tool that has the potential to improve long-term management of natural capital by companies, and drive change across different industries. 

At the event, which took place at The Royal Society in London, companies discussed the need to establish credible science-based measures that can drive improved business performance.

There is a plethora of methodologies, standards and tools to help companies understand their interaction with the natural environment. However, there is a need to provide specific information for companies to measure and demonstrate impacts upon the natural environment in a consistent way.

Dr Gemma Cranston, CISL's Director, Natural Capital said:

“Businesses lack both a rigorous evidence base and metrics that can help determine which raw materials and sourcing locations pose a greater risk, and what types of response strategies are most appropriate. The healthy ecosystem metric will provide companies with an indication of the scale of the impact they are having and where there are opportunities to reduce their impact through their operational decision-making.”

The need for action is ever more urgent given the rapid loss and destruction of ecosystems, as highlighted by the UN’s 2018 ‘Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals’ report, which found that progress in preserving and sustainably using the Earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems is uneven.

The Healthy Ecosystem Metric will help companies:

  • Measure the impact from sourcing raw materials on biodiversity, soil and water in global supply chains
  • Identify high-risk locations where a company is most likely to experience biodiversity, soil and water risks or create negative impacts
  • Drive credible impact data that companies can use to develop targets or KPIs
  • Inform response strategies to safeguard natural capital and drive improved business performance

Andy Murray, Chief Customer Officer, ASDA and Chair of the NCIG said:

“The Healthy Ecosystem Metric (HEM) provides a comprehensive way to get moving on change…It is a game changer for businesses like ASDA and it gives us more confidence that we’re making the best choices possible.”