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Natural capital accounting: Measuring the biodiversity footprint of products and organizations

The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 recognises that biodiversity considerations need to be better integrated into public and business decision-making at all levels. This should include measuring the environmental footprint of products and organisations on the environment, through life-cycle approaches complemented and eventually integrated by natural capital accounting. In this context, the Commission will support the establishment of an international natural capital accounting initiative.

Natural capital accounting has potential in providing a meaningful basis for business performance reporting by explicitly mapping out impacts and/or dependencies on natural resources and placing a monetary value on them. Specific examples include business accounting and reporting and the disclosure of non-financial reporting and accounting directives.

The successful proposal should develop, take up or demonstrate in real settings standardised natural capital accounting practices to support companies to measure, value and synthetise biodiversity and ecosystem risks assessment, notably in a way that is suitable for routine consideration in business and economy decision-making (including at executive level). It should also mainstream environmental footprints methods for instance through quantifying the environmental impacts of products, or supply and value chains, business models or organisations based the Commission Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) and the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).

The successful proposal should contribute to the alignment of natural capital accounting between the public and private sectors and to explore how the links to link the collection and use of statistics and data for natural capital accounting. It should also address the obstacles businesses are facing, in particular on data collection and improving the access and utility of European environmental data sets at different levels (i.e.: national statistical offices, environmental agencies, corporate reports) allowing better corporate and national data integration for economic and financial decision making.

The successful proposal should work on methodologies for companies to set science-based biodiversity targets. It should also address the specific decision-making needs of corporates and financial service provider to allow a specific and meaningful linkage with the macro-economic perspective and the ecological concept of planetary boundaries at the scale of decision to be taken at corporate level enabling to assess and understand to corporate safe operating space.

The successful proposal should develop and test concrete natural capital accounting and reporting frameworks for business performance with respect to biodiversity and ecosystem services reporting. This should include explicit mapping of the impacts and/or dependencies on natural resources and placing a monetary value on them. Specific examples should include business accounting, reporting, and the disclosure of non-financial reporting.

The successful proposal should explore to which extent the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting / Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA) framework in its current form is useful for natural capital assessment and natural capital accounting by businesses. This should be done both in terms of methodological approach and data collection o the opportunities for adapting the SEEA EEA framework to make it more tailored to the business needs or the extent to which national statistical offices can benefit from data collection by businesses.

The successful proposal should develop and test concrete natural capital accounting basis for business performance on biodiversity and ecosystem services reporting by explicitly mapping out impacts and/or dependencies on natural resources and placing a monetary value on them. Specific examples should include business accounting, reporting, and the disclosure of non-financial reporting.

The successful proposal should support the European contribution to a globally consistent approach to account for ecosystems and their value. The proposal should ensure that the EU continues to play a lead role in international environmental affairs through its support for effective measures, international standards and accounting relating to natural capital.

The successful proposal should improve the access and utility of European environmental data sets at different levels (i.e: national statistical offices, environmental agencies, corporate reports) allowing better corporate and national data integration for economic and financial decision making.

The successful proposal should support developing and testing natural capital and biodiversity based business models. These are expected to invest in nature for the benefit of biodiversity, ecosystems functioning and ecosystem services and address the challenge to turn the value of ecosystem into a revenue stream. The successful proposal should help making natural capital and biodiversity based business models bankable, thereby enabling private investments in nature conservation. In other words, ‘how to facilitate making money with nature by enhancing ecosystem conditions but not by exploiting it to the detriment of nature’.

The successful proposal should therefore take stock and establish links with the work undertaken by ongoing initiatives, European and national platforms on business and biodiversity, the Natural Capital Protocol, Value balancing alliance, the Knowledge Innovation Project KIP INCA and other Horizon 2020 related projects[[MAIA and We Value Nature]].

The successful proposal should support the practical implementation of corporate reporting obligations such as under the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (2014/95/EU)[[The Commission is currently working on a review of the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (2014/95/EU) – current guidelines: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/non-financial-reporting-guidelines_en]] or of the EU Taxonomy on Sustainable Finance.

Applicants should create synergies with relevant projects under this call (‘HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-07: Ecosystems and their services for an evidence-based policy and decision-making’; ‘HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-17: Policy mixes, governance (including financing) and decision-making tools for transformative action for biodiversity’ the EU Biodiversity Partnership and the Science Service. To this end, proposals should include specific tasks and appropriate resources for coordination measures, and, where possible, envisage joint activities and joint deliverables.

The proposal should set practical policy recommendations for the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 targets and commitments. Proposals should contribute to strategic dialogue with the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity forum and ensure that all evidence, results, data and information will be accessible and interoperable with the KCBD[[The EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD) is an action of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. It aims to enhance the knowledge base, facilitate its sharing and foster cross-sectorial policy dialogue for EU policy making in biodiversity and related fields. https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/biodiversity_en. ]].

In this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

This topic should include the effective contribution of social sciences and humanities disciplines.