The world’s leading food, beverage and forestry companies are being invited to join business leaders working with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), to identify new commercial opportunities from protecting the natural environment. 

The call to action is included in a ‘must read’ report launched by CISL today (17 February 2015), targeting international companies that rely heavily on ‘natural capital’ – natural resources such as water, soil and timber, that underpin global supply chains and provide commercial value. Through collaboration with household names including Nestlé, Asda and Mars, the CISL report also sheds light on the different responses businesses are already making to enhance natural capital, and where they are generating business benefits.

Last month, the UK Government’s independent advisory body, the Natural Capital Committee, warned that the decline of the country’s natural environment is harming the economy. The CISL report highlights that this has implications for businesses, not only in the UK but globally, as environmental degradation increases worldwide.

Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) said: “Many of the companies we work with at CISL are already implementing measures to reduce their impact on natural capital across their supply chains, but we all recognise the need to go further and to get many more businesses involved.

“By developing a body of evidence in partnership with a group of companies we aim to translate the management of natural capital into tangible commercial benefits – highlighting in real terms the financial savings, security of supply, and brand enhancement on offer.”

Through innovative thinking, CISL hopes to build the business case for companies to manage the natural capital throughout their operations and supply chains more sustainably.

Andy Brown, Head of Sustainability at Anglian Water, said: “The need for improved water quantity and quality is intensifying all across our region, whether it’s used for our growing population, agriculture or industry.

“This is why we are increasingly looking for opportunities to further develop multi-sector resource management plans and an integrated approach to a new water resource infrastructure.”