News Release

Are large corporations upholding their conservation promises?

Reports and Proceedings

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Large transnational corporations (TNCs) are positioning themselves as environmental leaders, carrying out environmental restoration projects that go beyond their legal obligations. However, some corporations oversell their efforts. In this Policy Forum, Timothy Lamont and colleagues present an evaluation of sustainability reports of 100 of the world’s largest businesses, revealing the extent to which TNCs are claiming to contribute to, but failing to report on, ecosystem restoration. “Increased rigor, consistency, transparency, and accountability are needed to ensure that corporate-led restoration delivers quantifiable, beneficial, and equitable outcomes,” write Lamont et al. According to the analysis, two-thirds of the companies analyzed state that they carry out various forms of restoration, including tree planting, repairing recent specific environmental damage, and assisting in the long-term recovery of extensively degraded ecosystems. However, across all sectors there is marked lack of rigor in defining restoration, outlining methods, and quantifying outcomes of these activities. Lamont et al. found that a third of the reports fail to mention the size of any of their restoration projects, nearly 80% provide no financial information concerning efforts, and more than 90% fail to report a single ecological outcome. Moreover, none of the reports quantify social or economic impacts on local or traditional stakeholders. The authors offer suggestions on how policy can help improve corporate accountability and transparency when it comes to reporting on their nonmandatory ecological restoration efforts. “Corporate involvement will certainly transform the future of ecosystem restoration; now, policy interventions must determine whether that change is for better or worse,” write the authors.

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