SBTi adds land-based metrics to target-setting framework

The suite of metrics will be further developed and expanded in future SBTi frameworks.

aeriel view of forest with data points

The Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) has issued a draft methodology for companies to begin setting targets on the protection and restoration of ecosystems.

These are billed by the net-zero review body as the first “land science-based targets”, and will complement SBTi’s existing climate targets methodology by addressing the “overall needs of the environment” and result in holistic outcomes, the organisation said.

The draft methodology shares some overlap with the SBTi Forest, Land and Agriculture (SBTi FLAG) guidance published towards the end of 2022 but has a more explicit focus on nature and biodiversity. The FLAG framework is emissions-focused and covers deforestation and other activities that reduce and remove emissions.

The draft framework sets three distinct requirements for companies: halting conversion of natural ecosystems; freeing up land for natural ecosystem restoration; and “landscape engagement”, or improving the ecological integrity of landscapes.

Whether an organisation adopts these targets will depend if they are material to its size, sector and impact. The SBTi has identified food, beverage and agriculture, forestry, fishing and aquaculture, bioenergy, mining, infrastructure, accommodation and construction as potentially relevant sectors.

The publication of land-based metrics comes ahead of the planned release of the first draft of science-based targets for nature by SBTi later this year, which it says will establish “a roadmap for integrated action on nature and climate”. Land-based metrics will be a considered subset of the incoming framework.

As with the science-based targets for nature, land targets will focus only on assessing the direct operations of companies and upstream activities in the first instance. Downstream value chain reporting will be considered in future releases, SBTi said.

SBTi has indicated that more comprehensive targets will be developed by end-2024 as sophistication progress of land system science and methods for accounting for impacts and dependencies on nature .

Stakeholders have until 7 March to respond to the draft framework.