Helen Barber – Nature Positive Biodiversity Solutions

For World Environment Day, Tetra Tech’s Nature Positive Lead Helen Barber reflects on 25 years of implementing biodiversity strategies, and discusses what a Nature Positive business plan can offer to the future of businesses.

How does being an active member of so many working groups influence your biodiversity strategies?

When working with business and biodiversity, I like to keep abreast of all the latest changes happening, so I can provide effective holistic solutions at multiple levels.  Being an active member of working groups on Nature Positive, Green Finance, and Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) keeps me ‘in the loop’ and lets me apply internal insights to external issues to better assist companies.

Since working as a landscape architect or environmental planner in my younger years, I have always sought multifunctional solutions that would work alongside other requirements from related professions too. This is because I had found it was a difficulty for developers to comply with often competing requests from different disciplines, so it was better to compromise, and bring all those requests together into one achievable solution.

You’re a Steering Committee Member of the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum (UKBBF). Does that influence how you approach supporting clients?

It has been an absolute privilege to work with the directors, other steering committee members, and business members of UKBBF. It is a passionate, committed, and knowledgeable hub, who come together to make sense of the swiftly changing landscape of environmental regulation and best practice impacting business and biodiversity.

We are all better equipped to advise clients because of this exchange in knowledge and solution focussed interactions.

You’ve supported biodiversity strategies for over 25 years now. What changes have you seen in that time?

Most long-time serving ecologists, especially if they have a holistic worldview, saw what was coming in terms of the global ecological collapse. Yet, in the past, we have all been ‘shouting into the wind’. This is because biodiversity was not prioritised by decision makers or people in positions of power. The interwoven social and economic policy linkages were not appreciated, and ‘biodiversity’ was seen as a ‘nice to have’, but always the first thing to be ‘cut out’ at cost engineering stages.

Finally, the needle has moved. Through a vast array of activities, providing evidence and highlighting connections to social and economic wellbeing, prioritisation has risen sharply with unequivocable evidence.  The recent adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), also known as ‘The Biodiversity Plan’ has set out what needs to be achieved in 4 goals and 23 targets. Big businesses are understanding the risks and opportunities, which is being filtered down to smaller businesses. Incentives and regulations are now changing at pace – and the task, frameworks, and tools to help are being developed to prevent any opportunity for greenwash.

This is the greatest cause for positivity for nature in my career, and thankfully, the name reflects this: ‘Nature Positive’.

What attracted you to helping clients with their Nature Positive Journeys?

I have always been interested in successful businesses and reducing biodiversity loss. Nature Positive planning combines both, and my work experiences led to me wanting to help business clients with these journeys. It employs all my key skills sets, whilst doing immense good for the environment, society, and the economy. I am passionate about helping clients with this.

During my doctorate, I was swayed towards green finance and re-prioritising biodiversity via new understandings of social and natural capital. That grew into a deeper appreciation of knowledge exchange and collaboration for the benefit of businesses, the environment, and people.

Where do you see the future of a ‘Nature Positive’ experience going for businesses?

The power of a nature positive business plan cannot be underestimated, especially in terms of talent acquisition and retention, shareholder/customer attraction, supply chain stabilisation or protection, trading possibilities, and resolving wider environmental/sustainability needs – even climate adaptation, and sometimes carbon sequestration.

There are also benefits like enhanced reputation and gaining a competitive advantage, in addition to avoiding potential nature-related regulatory issues that are being discussed for implementation in Europe by 2025.

 

In the last month, Helen has joined international colleagues on the submission of two nature positive bids, as well as exploring collaboration opportunities, training internal colleagues on ‘Nature Positive’, and raising awareness of regional business in what ‘nature positive’ can do for them.

Contact Helen today, for an informal chat about what ‘Nature Positive’ could mean for your business.

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