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Nature-based solutions for climate: guidance for companies

A one-stop shop for guidance on incorporating nature in corporate climate plans - from ambition to action, advocacy and accountability

Every company should factor nature into their climate plans. This means playing their part in cutting the 35% of global emissions that are related to forestry, farming and land use and investing beyond their value chain to protect and restore natural ecosystems like forests and wetlands. 

Yet there is widespread confusion about where nature fits into a company’s climate journey , including the role of the voluntary carbon markets.  

We have brought together best-in-class resources and initiatives from our network of partners, to guide companies to credible action on nature. We share the latest science, insights into current debates, and stories from businesses leading the way, to build business confidence to act.   

Nature and The 4 A's of Climate Leadership

The 4 A’s of Climate Leadership framework is the We Mean Business Coalition’s core offer for business. It’s a framework to enable companies to take credible climate action across the value chain and beyond. We continue to adapt and refine it as new standards and guidelines come out to ensure it reflects the latest best practice.

These are the key principles for factoring nature into each stage of a company’s climate journey:


Measure the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and set short and long-term 1.5°C-aligned science-based emissions reduction targets. Capture the near-term, specific steps to meet these targets in a climate transition action plan. 

For companies with forestry, land use and agriculture (FLAG) emissions in their value chains, setting targets to cut land-based emissions, transform our food system, and invest in nature now is essential. This should include a commitment from all companies to eliminate deforestation from their supply chain no later than 2025. 

Meanwhile, all companies must go full tilt to cut their emissions from fossil fuel use. As they do so, they should include investments in nature-based solutions (NbS) in their climate plan to address the emissions they can’t yet cut.  

To end nature loss by 2030 – in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C – requires $350 billion in finance per year by the end of the decade.  Despite representing 30% of the climate solution, NbS receive just 3% of climate finance.

Read more: Carbon credits won’t help companies hit their emissions targets, but nature must be in every corporate climate plan



Cut land-based emissions in company operations and across value chains, and purchase high quality carbon credits to invest beyond the value chain in protecting and restoring nature.

To cut land-based emissions, companies must act swiftly to eliminate deforestation from forest-risk supply chains. They also must prioritize action that reduce methane and nitrous oxide from food production, while scaling natural carbon removal. This will require a shift to sourcing forest and food commodities produced using regenerative agriculture and sustainable forestry practices which deliver positive outcomes for climate, people, nature and biodiversity.  

In addition, to help get the world on track for halving global emissions by 2030, all companies need to invest in protecting, managing and restoring nature, for example by buying high quality carbon credits aligned with the NCS hierarchy.

Key initiatives to act on nature within the value chain


Select high integrity carbon credits


Ensure responsible policy engagement on climate and nature with an emphasis on nature-positive policy advocacy. 

Advocacy is essential to bring about science-based climate policy that unlocks investment and delivers action at scale.   Responsible policy engagement is particularly important when it comes to nature, because the root causes of nature loss are often embedded in perverse policy incentives, subsidies and weak governance. Because nature loss increases emissions and reduces nature’s ability to absorb carbon and respond to climate-related impacts like storms and floods, companies should integrate nature-positive policy advocacy that seeks to protect nature and biodiversity as a key component of their climate policy engagement efforts. 



Companies should clearly state the quantity of nature-based climate solution credits purchased as a percentage of annual unabated value chain emissions and describe any other investments in nature protection or restoration.

Disclosing investments in carbon credits or other nature projects beyond the company’s value chain must be reported separately and independently from the company’s annual greenhouse gas emissions reports.  VCMI provides additional guidance on best practices for disclosure of carbon credits.Disclosing investments in carbon credits or other nature projects beyond the company’s value chain must be reported separately and independently from the company’s annual greenhouse gas emissions reports.  VCMI provides additional guidance on best practices for disclosure of carbon credits. Companies can use VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice for guidance on how to purchase high-quality carbon credits to cover at least 20% of their unabated emissions.

Carbon credit purchases should not be considered as a traditional ‘offset’ and should only be used in addition – not as a substitute – to urgent and deep decarbonization.

Report, manage and track progress on emissions reduction through CDP who provide the global environmental disclosure platform, supporting businesses to report manage and track progress on their environmental impacts. 


Discover initiatives to help you to build a nature positive future.

Join other corporate climate leaders to take action



Nature-based solutions
represent a crucial tool in both helping to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and reversing nature loss. More and more businesses and investors are ready and willing to back the right solutions, alongside robust decarbonization strategies.



The carbon market has rapidly expanded in recent years, helping channel much needed finance to climate priorities including the protection and restoration of nature.  At the same time, increased corporate engagement in carbon markets has brough enhanced scrutiny of the quality of credits companies are purchasing. This scrutiny should not discourage companies from investing in carbon markets, but rather encourage them to perform robust due-diligence of their credit purchases.

Carbon markets are a critical tool to mobilize adequate finance to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reverse devastating nature loss. However, companies must play a more active role in making sure the carbon credits they purchases are credible.  

Information to help companies to select high integrity carbon credits can be found in a new report: A Buyer’s Guide to Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Credits. 

Our Q&A covers the most critical questions companies ask as they seek to navigate the risks and opportunities of the carbon credits market, including how to:  

1) purchase credible carbon credits 

2) ensure credits purchased result in real emissions reductions and have a positive impact on communities 

3) continue to monitor the integrity of credits purchased   


Read thought-leadership from We Mean Business Coalition leaders on topics from Nature-based Solutions to engaging with the carbon markets.


Our research, carried out with Forest Trend’s Ecosystem Marketplace, highlights how companies that participate in the voluntary carbon market (VCM) are leading on climate transparency, ambition and action efforts.

Our analysis finds that companies engaged in the VCM outperform their peers in accelerated climate action. 59% of VCM buyers reported lower gross emissions year-on-year related to reduced emissions and/or renewable energy consumption, compared to 33% of companies not participating in the carbon markets.

Voluntary carbon buyers are more likely to have science-based targets to address climate change, and their targets are more ambitious. They are also 3.4 times more likely to have an approved science-based climate target than companies that do not engage in carbon markets, and three times more likely include Scope 3.

  • Download a PDF version of the All in on climate: the role of carbon credits in corporate climate strategies here.

More resources

More resources to help you better understand the role of land systems in climate change, and how to navigate the carbon markets.

Learn more about land use and the carbon markets

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