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Term Definition
Abiotic ServicesAbiotic flows are contributions to benefits from the environment that are not underpinned by, or reliant on, ecological characteristics and processes.

United Nations et al. (2021) System of Environmental Economic Accounting  -  Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) 

AdaptationAdjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment that exploits beneficial opportunities or moderates negative effects.  

Fourth National Climate Assessment Glossary 

Additional conservation actionsAdditional conservation actions are important contributions companies can make to advancing conservation, above and beyond but not quantitatively linked to their residual impacts. 

Conservation International 

Agri-voltaicUse of land for both agriculture and solar photovoltaic energy generation. 

US Department of Agriculture  

Area of influenceThe project area of influence is generally larger than the physical footprint of the project, and includes the area within which a project may potentially directly, indirectly, and cumulatively cause impacts to nature. 

International Finance Corporation (IFC), Performance Standard 6 and the Cross Sector Biodiversity Institute, Good Practices for the Collection of Biodiversity Baseline data

Assessment metricsMetrics used within an integrated internal assessment process for nature-related risk and opportunity management, such as the LEAP approach. These would not be required for disclosure.


AtmosphereAtmosphere includes the gaseous medium and its suspended particulate liquids and solids above the land realm, extending to the altitudinal limits of life.
BaselineStarting point or benchmark against which changes in the state of nature attributed to your business activities can be compared.

Natural Capital Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Baseline for science-based targetsStarting point or benchmark against which changes in the state of nature attributed to your business activities can be compared.
BiodiversityThe variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) Article 2

Biogeochemical flows planetary boundary (nitrogen and phosphorous)The biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus have been radically changed by humans as a result of many industrial and agricultural processes. Nitrogen and phosphorus are both essential elements for plant growth, so fertiliser production and application is the main concern. Human activities now convert more atmospheric nitrogen into reactive forms than all of the Earth's terrestrial processes combined. Much of this new reactive nitrogen is emitted to the atmosphere in various forms rather than taken up by crops. When it is rained out, it pollutes waterways and coastal zones or accumulates in the terrestrial biosphere. 

Stockholm Resilience Centre, EU Platform on Sustainable Finance: Technical Working Group. Supplementary: Methodology and Technical Screening Criteria October 2022. 

BiomeGlobal-scale zones, generally defined by the type of plant life that they support in response to average rainfall and temperature patterns e.g., tundra, coral reefs or savannas.

IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

BiosolidsBiosolids are a product of the wastewater treatment process. During wastewater treatment the liquids are separated from the solids. Those solids are then treated physically and chemically to produce a semisolid, nutrient-rich product known as biosolids.  

US Environmental Protection Agency 

Biotic composition characteristicsComposition / diversity of ecological communities at a given location and time (e.g. presence / abundance of key species, diversity of relevant species groups. 

United Nations. (2021). System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA). Table 5.1, p 90. 

Circular economyEconomic system that uses a systemic approach to maintain a circular flow of resources, by regenerating, retaining or adding to their value, while contributing to sustainable development. 


CommunityA community of plants and animals characterised by a typical assemblage of species and their abundances.

IPCC (2007). Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 996 pp. 

Community development programmePlan that details actions to minimise, mitigate, or compensate for adverse social and/or economic impacts, and/or to identify opportunities or actions to enhance positive impacts of a project on the community. 


CompostableA packaging or packaging component is compostable if it is in compliance with relevant international compostability standards and if its successful post-consumer collection, (sorting), and composting is proven to work in practice and at scale. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UN Environment Programme (2022) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment  

Contagion (type of systemic risk)Originates in the financial or real economy as a risk that financial difficulties at one or more financial institution spill over to the financial system as a whole.
ConversionChange of a natural ecosystem to another land use or profound change in a natural ecosystem's species composition, structure, or function. Deforestation is one form of conversion (conversion of natural forests). Conversion includes severe degradation or the introduction of management practices that result in substantial and sustained change in the ecosystem's former species composition, structure, or function. Change to natural ecosystems that meets this definition is considered to be conversion regardless of whether or not it is legal.  

Accountability Framework initiative 

Critical habitatAny area of the planet with high biodiversity conservation significance, based on the existence of habitat of significant importance to critically endangered or endangered species, restricted range or endemic species, globally significant concentrations of migratory and/or congregatory species, highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems and key evolutionary processes.

IFC (2012) Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources. International Finance Corporation, Washington DC, U.S.A 

Cumulative impactA change in the state of nature (direct or indirect) that occurs due to the interaction of activities of different actors operating in a landscape.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrated biodiversity into natural capital assessments; Business and Biodiversity Offset Programme (2012) Glossary

Cut off dates (related to no-deforestation and no-conversion commitments)The date after which deforestation or conversion renders a given area or production unit non-compliant with no-deforestation or no-conversion commitments, respectively.  

Accountability Framework initiative 

DecommissioningA structured process of planning, preparation and execution, leading to the eventual removal from service or reuse of an asset, giving due consideration to the potential impact on the environment and communities. The term 'decommissioning' is intended to include the following activities: 
  • Abatement: safe removal of hazards, such as asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hydrocarbon, or hydrogen sulphide (H2S) from an asset. Demolition: the process and activities to remove an asset. 
  • Remediation: a process to reduce or eliminate the impact on areas of land or water in order to restore environmental conditions to acceptable levels, with reference to regulatory or company standards as appropriate. 
  • Reclamation: the restoration of disturbed lands to similar pre-development condition, other economically-productive use, or natural or semi-natural habitat. 

IPIECA - Sustainability Reporting Guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020  

DeforestationDeforestation: Loss of natural forest as a result of: i) conversion to agriculture or other non-forest land use; ii) conversion to a tree plantation; or iii) severe and sustained degradation. This definition pertains to no-deforestation supply chain commitments, which generally focus on preventing the conversion of natural forests. Severe degradation (scenario iii in the definition) constitutes deforestation even if the land is not subsequently used for a non-forest land use. Loss of natural forest that meets this definition is considered to be deforestation regardless of whether or not it is legal.  

Accountability Framework initiative

DegradationChanges within a natural ecosystem that significantly and negatively affect its species composition, structure, and/or function and reduce the ecosystem's capacity to supply products, support biodiversity, and/or deliver ecosystem services. Degradation may be considered conversion if it: is large-scale and progressive or enduring; alters ecosystem composition, structure, and function to the extent that regeneration to a previous state is unlikely; or leads to a change in land use (e.g., to agriculture or other use that is not a natural forest or other natural ecosystem).  

Accountability Framework initiative

DependenciesAspects of ecosystem services that an organisation or other actor relies on to function. Dependencies include ecosystems' ability to regulate water flow, water quality, and hazards like fires and floods; provide a suitable habitat for pollinators (who in turn provide a service directly to economies), and sequester carbon (in terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms).

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished]

Dependency pathwayA dependency pathway shows how a particular business activity depends upon specific features of natural capital. It identifies how observed or potential changes in natural capital affect the costs and/or benefits of doing business.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Direct impactsA change in the state of nature caused by a business activity with a direct causal link.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrating biodiversity into natural capital assessments

Direct operationsAll activities and sites (e.g., hydropower plants, buildings, mines, farms, stores) over which a company has operational or financial control. 
Disclosure metricsMetrics required to be disclosed to market participants in line with the TNFD's disclosure recommendations.


Drivers of nature changeAll external factors that affect nature, anthropogenic assets, nature's contributions to people and good quality of life. They include institutions and governance systems and other indirect drivers, and direct drivers (both natural and anthropogenic).

Source: IPBES

Ecological / habitat connectivityThe degree to which the landscape facilitates the movement of organisms (animals, plant reproductive structures, pollen, pollinators, spores, etc.) and other environmentally important resources (e.g. nutrients and moisture) between similar habitats. Connectivity is hampered by fragmentation. 

 IPBES Glossary

EcosystemA dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and the non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit.

Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) Article 2; IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem AssetsA form of environmental assets that relate to diverse ecosystems. These are contiguous spaces of a specific ecosystem type characterised by a distinct set of biotic and abiotic components and their interactions.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

Ecosystem conditionThe quality of an ecosystem measured by its abiotic and biotic characteristics. Condition is assessed by an ecosystem's composition, structure and function which, in turn, underpins the ecological integrity of the ecosystem, and supports its capacity to supply ecosystem services on an ongoing basis.

Adapted from: UN SEEA (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft

Ecosystem functionThe flow of energy and materials through the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem. This includes many processes such as biomass production, trophic transfer through plants and animals, nutrient cycling, water dynamics and heat transfer.

IPBES (2019) The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Ecosystem healthUsed to describe the condition of an ecosystem, by analogy with human health. Note that there is no universally accepted benchmark for a healthy ecosystem. Rather, the apparent health status of an ecosystem can vary, depending upon which metrics are employed to assess it and which societal aspirations are driving the assessment.

IPBES (2019) 

Ecosystem ServicesThe contributions of ecosystems to the benefits that are used in economic and other human activity.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

EffluentTreated or untreated wastewater that is discharged. 

Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), AWS International Water Stewardship Standard, Version 1.0, 2014; GRI Standards Glossary 2022  

Endangered speciesSpecies considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Adapted from IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iv + 32pp. 

Environmental AssetsThe naturally occurring living and non-living components of the Earth, together constituting the biophysical environment, which may provide benefits to humanity.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

EutrophicationThe pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich water, causing harmful algal blooms and low oxygen (hypoxic) water. 

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

Extended producer responsibility (EPR)An environmental policy approach in which a producer's responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product's life cycle. An extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy is characterised by: 
  • The shifting of responsibility (physically and/or economically; fully or partially) upstream toward the producer and away from municipalities; and 
  • The provision of incentives to producers to take into account environmental considerations when designing their products. 

OECD (2016) Extended Producer Responsibility. 

FertiliserA chemical or natural substance or material that is used to provide nutrients to plants, usually via application to the soil, but also to foliage or through water in rice systems, fertigation or hydroponics or aquaculture operations. EPR can be voluntary or mandated by law. 

FAO, 2019 

Financial exposureThe amount (usually expressed in monetary terms) of exposure to the risk of suffering a loss in a particular transaction or with respect to any kind of investments. It represents the amount an investor stands to lose in an investment should the investment fail. 

Corporate Finance Institute Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) - concept of Exposure at Default (or credit exposure) for banks 

FlaringThe burning of gases in a thermal destruction device; includes flaring of associated gas from oil production.  

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020  

Food loss and food wasteFood loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass at the production, post-harvest and processing stages of the food chain (upstream). Food waste refers to the discard of edible foods at the retail and consumer levels (downstream). 

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 

ForestsLand spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or other land use 

Accountability Framework initiative  

Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous Peoples and is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). FPIC is a mechanism that safeguards the individual and collective rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, including their land and resource rights and their right to self-determination. The minimum conditions that are required to secure consent include that it is 'free' from all forms of coercion, undue influence or pressure, provided 'prior' to a decision or action being taken that affects individual and collective human rights, and offered on the basis that affected peoples are 'informed' of their rights and the impacts of decisions or actions on those rights. FPIC is considered to be an ongoing process of negotiation, subject to an initial consent. To obtain FPIC, 'consent' must be secured through an agreed process of good faith consultation and cooperation with indigenous and tribal peoples through their own representative institutions. The process should be grounded in a recognition that the indigenous or tribal peoples are customary landowners. FPIC is not only a question of process, but also of outcome, and is obtained when terms are fully respectful of land, resource and other implicated rights. 

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (2016): Free Prior and Informed Consent - An Indigenous Peoples’ Right and a good practice for local communities  

Fresh water returnedThe fresh water discharged from a facility (directly or via a third party) into a freshwater body or aquifer.  

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020  

FreshwaterAll permanent and temporary freshwater bodies as well as saline water bodies that are not directly connected to the oceans.
Freshwater use changeThe change from one freshwater use category to another.  

Adapted from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) FLAG and   IPBES Glossary definition of land use change 

Fugitive emissionsThe mass of uncontrolled releases of gas from pressurised process equipment, such as valves, flanges, pump and compressor seals, and open-ended lines, as well as tanks where hydrocarbons are exposed to the atmosphere.

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020.  

Genetically modified organism (GMO)An organism in which the genetic material has been altered anthropogenically by means of gene or cell technologies. 

FAO, 2009

GoalA high-level statement of ambition, including a timeframe.

Science Based Targets for Nature: Initial Guidance for Business. September 2020. 

HabitatThe area, characterised by its abiotic and biotic properties, that is habitable by a particular species.

Keith, D et al (2020) IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology 2.0: Descriptive profiles for biomes and ecosystem functional groups

Habitat fragmentationA general term describing the set of processes by which habitat loss results in the division of continuous habitats into a greater number of smaller patches of lesser total and isolated from each other by a matrix of dissimilar habitats. Habitat fragmentation, which leads to a barrier effect, may occur through natural processes (e.g. forest and grassland fires, flooding) and through human activities (forestry, agriculture, urbanisation). 

Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)  

Habitat lossThe reduction in the amount of space where a particular species, or group of species can survive and reproduce. 

Understanding Global Change (UC Berkeley) 

HazardInherent property of a substance, agent or situation having the potential to cause undesirable consequences (e.g. properties that can cause adverse effects or damage to health, the environment or property). 

Food and Agriculture Organisation & World Health Organisation, 2014. International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management: Guidelines on highly hazardous pesticides 

Hazardous wasteWaste that possesses any of the characteristics contained in Annex III of the Basel Convention, or that is considered to be hazardous by national legislation.  

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989, GRI Standards Glossary 2022  

Impact driversA measurable quantity of a natural resource that is used as a natural input to production (e.g. the volume of sand and gravel used in construction) or a measurable non-product output of a business activity (e.g., a kilogram of NOx emissions released into the atmosphere by a manufacturing facility).

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Impact pathwayAn impact pathway describes how, as a result of a specific business activity, a particular impact driver results in changes in natural capital, and how these changes in natural capital affect different stakeholders.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

ImpactsChanges in the state of nature, which may result in changes to the capacity of nature to provide social and economic functions. Impacts can be positive or negative. They can be the result of an organisation's or another party's actions and can be direct, indirect or cumulative.

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished], CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures.

Impacts on natureA change in the state of nature, which may result in changes to the capacity of nature to provide value to business and society and/or instrumental, relational and intrinsic value.
Indicator (for measuring performance against goals or targets)A specific metric used to track performance or progress (positive or negative change) against a goal or target.
Indirect impactA change in the state of nature caused by a business activity with an indirect causal link (e.g., a change indirectly caused by climate change, to which an organisation's greenhouse gas emissions contributed).

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; ; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrated biodiversity into natural capital assessments

Informed Consultation and Participation (ICP)Involves an in-depth exchange of views and information, and an organised and iterative consultation, leading to the incorporation into decision-making processes the views of the affected stakeholders on matters that affect them directly, such as the proposed mitigation measures, the sharing of development benefits and opportunities, and implementation issues. 

IFC performance standards (2012)  

Instrumental valuesMeans to a desired end often associated with the notion of 'ecosystem services'.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)The careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human and animal health and/or the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

Food and Agriculture Organisation & World Health Organisation, 2014. International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management: Guidelines on highly hazardous pesticides 

Intrinsic valuesThe values of nature expressed independently of any reference to people as valuers and include entities such as habitats or species that are worth protecting as ends in and of themselves.
Invasive SpeciesSpecies whose introduction and/or spread by human action outside their natural distribution threatens biological diversity, food security, and human health and well-being. 'Alien' refers to the species having been introduced outside its natural distribution ('exotic', "non-native' and 'nonindigenous' are synonyms for 'alien'). 'Invasive' means tending to expand into and modify ecosystems to which it has been introduced. Thus, a species may be alien without being invasive, or, in the case of a species native to a region, it may increase and become invasive, without actually being an alien species. 


Ionizing radiationA type of high-energy radiation that has enough energy to remove an electron (negative particle) from an atom or molecule, causing it to become ionized. ionizing radiation can come from natural sources, such as radon and cosmic rays. Nuclear power plant accidents also release high levels of ionizing radiation. 

National Cancer Institute, US National Institute of Health (NIH)  

Issue areas (for SBT setting)The environmental issues which SBTs will address include the following:
  • Ecosystem use and use change,
  • Resource (over) exploitation,
  • Climate change,
  • Pollution, and
  • Direct impacts on biodiversity (invasive species, accidental mortality, biological alterations, short term disturbances).
Key biodiversity areaA site contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity.

IUCN (2016) A global standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas : version 1.0

LandLand includes all dry land, its vegetation cover, nearby atmosphere and substrate (soils, rocks) to the rooting depth of plants, and associated animals and microbes.
Land use changeThe change from one land use category to another. Land use change refers to the modification or management of natural environments into human dominated environments, such as settlements, semi-natural and agricultural areas. 

Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) FLAG   IPBES Glossary 

LeakageA collateral effect caused when an environmental policy indirectly triggers impacts that go against its aims, thus reducing the overall benefit of the intervention  

Bastos Lima et al. 2019

Measurement (science-based targets)The process of collecting data for baseline setting, monitoring and reporting of science-based targets.
MitigationAction(s) taken to reduce the extent of a negative impact. 

United Nations (UN), The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide, 2012 modified; GRI 

Mitigation hierarchy (and conservation hierarchy)The mitigation hierarchy is the sequence of actions to anticipate and avoid, and where avoidance is not possible, minimise, and, when impacts occur, restore, and where significant residual impacts remain, offset for biodiversity-related risks and impacts on affected communities and the environment.  The conservation hierarchy goes beyond mitigating impacts, to encompass any activities affecting nature. This means that conservation actions to address historical, systemic and non-attributable biodiversity loss can be accounted for in the same framework as actions to mitigate specific impacts. TNFD aligns to the SBTN AR3T Framework which covers actions to avoid future impacts, reduce current impacts, regenerate and restore ecosystems, and transform the systems in which companies are embedded. It is built on the mitigation hierarchy set out in the International Financial Corporation's (IFC) Performance Standard 6 and the Conservation Hierarchy. Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative, Conservation hierarchy, SBTN Initial Guidance for Business 
Monitoring (science-based targets)Tracking progress towards targets.
Natural CapitalThe stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources (e.g., plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Natural commodities (resources)Natural assets (raw materials) occurring in nature that can be used for economic production or consumption. 


Natural ecosystemAn ecosystem that substantially resembles - in terms of species composition, structure, and ecological function - one that is or would be found in a given area in the absence of major human impacts. This includes human-managed ecosystems where much of the natural species composition, structure, and ecological function is present.  

SBTN, 2023 Science Based Targets for Land 

Natural forestA forest that is a natural ecosystem, possessing many or most of the characteristics of a forest native to the given site, including species composition, structure, and ecological function. Natural forests include: (i) primary forest that have been subject to major human impacts in recent history, (ii) regenerated forest that were subject to major impacts in the past (for instance by agriculture, livestock raising, tree plantations, or intensive logging) but where the main causes of impact have ceased or greatly diminished and the ecosystem has attained structure, function and composition of a natural forest, (iii) Managed natural forests where much of the ecosystem's composition, structure, and ecological function exist in the presence of activities such as harvesting of timber or small scale cultivation, (iv) Forests that have been partially degraded by anthropogenic or natural causes (e.g., harvesting, fire, climate change, invasive species, or others) but where the land has not been converted to another use and where degradation does not result in the sustained reduction of tree cover below the thresholds that define a forest or loss in structure, function or composition. The categories "natural forest" and "tree plantation" are mutually exclusive, though in some cases the distinction may be nuanced. 

Accountability Framework initiative

Natural-climate solutionsA subset of nature-based solutions, natural-climate solutions include conservation, restoration, and improved land and sea management that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience, and assist climate adaptation across global forests, wetlands, mangroves, grasslands, and agricultural lands and other habitats.

Girardin, C et al (2021) Nature based solutions can help cool the planet — if we act now; Griscom, B et al (2017) Natural climate solutions

NatureThe natural world, with an emphasis on the diversity of living organisms (including people) and their interactions among themselves and with their environment.

Díaz, S et al (2015) The IPBES Conceptual Framework – connecting nature and people

Nature lossThe loss and/or decline of the state of nature. This includes, but is not limited to, the reduction of any aspect of biological diversity e.g., diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels in a particular area through death (including extinction), destruction or manual removal.

IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Nature-based solutionsActions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

IUCN (2020) The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions

Nature-positiveA high-level goal and concept describing a future state of nature (e.g., biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural capital) which is greater than the current state. The TNFD is engaging with key partners and stakeholders, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat, the coalition of organisations behind the Global Goal for Nature, the IUCN and others on the evolving debate about defining the term 'nature positive'. Like others, the TNFD would welcome inclusion and definition of the term 'nature positive' in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) being negotiated at COP-15 in December 2022.

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished]

Nature-related opportunitiesNature-related opportunities are generated through impacts and dependencies on nature, and can occur:
  • When organisations avoid, reduce, mitigate or manage nature-related risks, for example, connected to the loss of nature and ecosystem services that the organisation and society depend on;
  • Through the strategic transformation of business models, products, services, markets and investments that actively work to reverse the loss of nature, including by restoration, regeneration of nature and implementation of nature-based solutions.

TNFD (2021) Nature in Scope Adapted from: WWF (2022) A Biodiversity Guide for Business SBTN (2020) Adapted from: WWF (2022) A Biodiversity Guide for Business

Nature-related physical risksAll global economic enterprise depends on the functioning of earth systems, such as a stable climate and ecosystem services, such as the provision of biomass (raw materials). Nature-related physical risks are a direct result of an organisation's dependence on nature. Physical risks arise when natural systems are compromised, due to the impact of climatic events (e.g. extremes of weather such as a drought), geologic events (e.g. seismic events such as an earthquake) events or changes in ecosystem equilibria, such as soil quality or marine ecology, which affect the ecosystem services organisations depend on. These can be acute, chronic, or both. Nature-related physical risks arise as a result of changes in the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) conditions that support healthy, functioning ecosystems. Physical risks are usually location-specific. Nature-related physical risks are often associated with climate-related physical risks.

CISL (2021) Handbook for nature-related financial risks: key concepts and a framework for identification; NGFS (2021) Biodiversity and financial stability: building the case for action

Nature-related risksPotential threats posed to an organisation linked to their and wider society's dependencies on nature and nature impacts. These can derive from physical, transition and systemic risks.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; TCFD (2017) Final Report: Recommendations on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

Nature-related systemic risksSystemic risks are risks arising from the breakdown of the entire system, rather than the failure of individual parts. Nature-related systemic risks are characterized by modest tipping points combining indirectly to produce large failures and cascading interactions of physical and transition risks, one loss triggers a chain of others and stops systems from recovering their equilibrium after a shock.

Goldin, I & Mariathasan, M (2014) The Butterfly Defect: how globalisation creates systemic risks and what to do about it; IRGC (2018) IRGC Guidelines for the Governance of Systemic Risks; Kaufmann, G & Scott, K (2003) What Is Systemic Risk, and Do Bank Regulators Retard or Contribute to It?

Nature-related transition risksNature-related transition risks are risks that result from a misalignment between an organisation's or investor's strategy and management and the changing regulatory, policy or societal landscape in which it operates. Developments aimed at halting or reversing damage to nature, such as government measures, technological breakthroughs, market changes, litigation and changing consumer preferences can all create or change transition risks.

NGFS (2021) Biodiversity and financial stability: building the case for action

Nature’s contribution to peopleAll the contributions, both positive and negative, to people's quality of life.
Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE)Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) can be defined as the ratio between the amount of fertiliser (nitrogen) applied and the amount of nitrogen removed with the harvest (OECD). Note that NUE is not easily comparable across regions and the scale (temporal and spatial) at which NUE analysis is carried out should be specified. 

OECD Nitrogen Use Efficiency as an Agro-Environmental Indicator 2010  

Non-hazardous wasteWaste, other than hazardous waste, resulting from company operations, including process and oil field wastes disposed of, on site or off site, as well as office, commercial or packaging related wastes. 

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020

OceanAll connected saline ocean waters characterised by waves, tides and currents.
Ocean use changeThe change from one ocean use category to another.  

Adapted from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) FLAG and   IPBES Glossary definition of land use change 

Particulate matterA mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets (dust, dirt, soot, or smoke). 


PesticideAny substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds or which may be administered to animals for the control of ectoparasites. The term includes substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport. The term normally excludes fertilisers, plant and animal nutrients, food additives, and animal drugs  

Source: FAO & WHO, 2019

Pesticide hazard levelThe World Health Organisation classification uses the Acute Toxicity Hazard Categories from the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) as the starting point for classification: Ia) Extremely hazardous, Ib) Highly hazardous II) Moderately hazardous III) Slightly hazardous U) Unlikely to present acute hazard 

World Health Organisation (WHO), Classification of Pesticides by Hazard 2019 

PollutionPresence of substances and heat in air, water and/or land whose nature, location, or quantity produce harmful and undesirable environmental effects. 

UN Statistics Division Environment Glossary 

Post-consumer recycled contentProportion, by mass, of post-consumer recycled material in a product or packaging. Post-consumer material is material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UN Environment Programme (2022) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment 

Primary forestA primary forest is a forest that has never been logged and has developed following natural disturbances and under natural processes, regardless of its age. It is referred to "direct human disturbance" as the intentional clearing of forest by any means (including fire) to manage or alter them for human use  

Convention on Biological Diversity, Forest Biodiversity Definitions 2006

Primary, secondary and tertiary plastic packagingPrimary packaging is the packaging that contains the product. Secondary packaging includes boxes or containers containing specific quantities of primary packages. Tertiary packaging includes pallets and large shipping containers for storing and warehousing. All three types are used to ship products from the production line to the consumer; each level represents a different scale. 

Air Sea Containers, Guide to the three levels of packaging 2021 

Priority locationsPriority locations are defined as the locations of ecosystems where there are assets and/or activities in the organisation's direct operations, and upstream and/or downstream and/or in financed activities, in:high integrity ecosystems; and/orareas of rapid decline in integrity; and/orareas of high biodiversity importance; and/orareas of water stress; and/orareas where the organisation is likely to have significant potential dependencies and/or impacts 
Produced waterWater that enters the organisation's boundary as a result of extraction (e.g., crude oil), processing (e.g., sugar cane crushing), or use of any raw material, and has to consequently be managed by the organisation.  

CDP Water Security Reporting Guidance, 2018; GRI Standards Glossary 2022 

Protected areaA clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

IUCN (2008): https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/9243). 

RealmMajor components of the living, natural world that differ fundamentally in ecosystem organisation and function: terrestrial (land), freshwater, marine (ocean), subterranean, atmospheric. The TNFD's framework is based on four realms - Land, Freshwater, Ocean and Atmosphere. The subterranean realm is included within the land, freshwater and ocean realms.
Recyclable packagingA packaging or packaging component is recyclable if its successful post-consumer collection, sorting, and recycling is proven to work in practice and at scale. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UN Environment Programme (2022) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment 

Reference conditionThe condition against which past, present and future ecosystem conditions are compared to in order to measure relative change over time.

United Nations et al. (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting— Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA). White cover publication, pre-edited text subject to official editing. Available at: https://seea.un.org/ecosystem-accounting.

Regenerated second-growth forestsRegenerated (second-growth) forests were subject to major impacts in the past (for instance by agriculture, livestock raising, tree plantations, or intensive logging) but where the main causes of impact have ceased or greatly diminished and the ecosystem has attained much of the species composition, structure, and ecological function of prior or other contemporary natural ecosystems 

Accountability Framework initiative, Terms and Definitions (2019, revised 2020)

Regenerative agricultureThere is no scientific consensus definition of regenerative agriculture; rather there are process (use of cover crops, reduced tillage etc.), principle and outcome-based definitions (e.g., improved soil health etc.). As the TNFD framework adopts an outcome-based opportunity definition, based on business activities that deliver nature positive outcomes, a business should as a minimum use a definition of regenerative agriculture, which allows it to capture the nature positive outcomes in terms of improvements to environmental assets and flows in ecosystem services based on producing or sourcing from the regenerative farm practices. The most cited outcomes as part of a definition of regenerative agriculture in scientific literature include improved soil health, increased carbon sequestration and increase in biodiversity. 

Newton et al. 2020

RehabilitationMeasures taken to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems or restore cleared ecosystems following exposure to impacts that cannot be completely avoided and/ or minimised. Rehabilitation emphasises the reparation of ecosystem processes, productivity and services, whereas the goals of restoration also include the re-establishment of the pre-existing biotic integrity in terms of species composition and community structure. 

Australian Government, Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry; Integrated Closure Good Practice Guide (ICMM) Environmental Stewardship Guidance 2019 

RenewableMaterial that is composed of biomass from a living source and that can be continually replenished. When claims of renewability are made for virgin materials, those materials shall come from sources that are replenished at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of depletion. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UNEP (2022) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment 

ResilienceThe level of disturbance that an ecosystem or society can undergo without crossing a threshold that creates different structures or outputs. Resilience depends on factors such as ecological dynamics and the organisational and institutional capacity to understand, manage and respond to these dynamics.

IPBES (2019) 

RestorationAny intentional activities that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem from a degraded state.  

Source: IPBES Glossary 

Reusable packagingPackaging which has been designed to accomplish or proves its ability to accomplish a minimum number of trips or rotations in a system for reuse. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UNEP (2022) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment  

RevegetationThe introduction and establishment of new vegetation following land disturbance by seeding, planting or natural colonisation. 

Australian Government, Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry; Integrated Closure Good Practice Guide (ICMM) Environmental Stewardship Guidance 2019 

Rights-holdersUnder the Universal Declaration of Human rights, all human beings are 'rights-holders.' However, not all individuals will have their human rights put at risk or impacted by a project or its associated activities. It is important to identify human rights risks related to project activities among stakeholders and recognise such stakeholders as 'rights-holders' in the context of engagement activities.
ScenariosScenarios explore a broader set of uncertainties, at least some of which represent discontinuities with existing planning models. Scenarios are also typically designed in part to identify risks that could emerge over the course of a longer time frame (e.g. multiple years), which typically take shape at the intersection of several seemingly unconnected uncertainties.
Science-based targets for nature (or SBT’s)Measurable, actionable and time-bound objectives based, on the best available science, that allow actors to align with Earth's limits and societal sustainability goals.

Science Based Targets for Nature: Initial Guidance for Business. September 2020. 

Sensitivity analysesAssess how a planning model's outputs change when important inputs vary within expected ranges (e.g. +10%, -10%).  
Soil degradationA change in soil health status, resulting in a diminishing capacity of the ecosystem to provide goods and services for its beneficiaries. The main types of soil degradation are defined by four categories: 1) soil erosion 2) soil fertility reduction 3) soil fertility reduction 4) soil salinisation 5) waterlogging 

Food and Agriculture Organisation, Family farming Knowledge Platform 2021 

Soil fertilityThe ability of a soil to sustain plant growth by providing essential plant nutrients and favourable chemical, physical, and biological characteristics as a habitat for plant growth. 

Food and Agriculture Organisation, Global Soils Partnership 

Soil salinisationAn increase in the salt content of the soil, often as a result of irrigation practices. Excess salt uptake hinders crop growth by obstructing the ability to uptake water, causing loss of soil fertility and desertification.  

Kumar and Droby (2021), Microbial Management of Plant Stresses

SpeciesAn interbreeding group of organisms that is reproductively isolated from all other organisms.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis

Species compositionThe array of species in a specific sample, community, or area.

IPBES (2019) The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Species richnessThe number of species within a given sample, community or area.

Hassan R, Scholes R, Ash N (eds) (2005) Millenium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing, Volume 1, Current State and Trends. Island Press, Washington 

Spill to the environmentAny unintended release of liquids or solids associated with current operation, from primary containment or secondary containment, into the environment.  

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020 

Stakeholder engagementStakeholder engagement involves interactive processes of engagement with relevant stakeholders, through, for example, meetings, hearings or consultation proceedings. Effective stakeholder engagement is characterised by a two-way communication and depends on the good faith of the participants on both sides.
StakeholdersStakeholders are persons or groups who are directly or indirectly affected by a project, as well as those who may have interests in a project and/or the ability to influence its outcome, either positively or negatively.
State of natureThe condition and extent of ecosystem assets, including positive or negative changes.

TNFD, adapted from UN SEEA. 2021. System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft

Stress testsStress tests represent difficult 'edge cases' that are developed by putting extreme values of a relevant variable or small number of variables into existing planning models. The objective of stress testing is to assess how the results of those models change in response.
Stressed watershedsWatersheds, where the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period, or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress freshwater resources to deteriorate in quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality (eutrophication, organic matter pollution, saline intrusion, etc.).

Adapted from EEA. 1999. Environment in the European Union at the turn of the century. Page 155. Environmental assessment report No 2.

Sustainable yieldThe harvest of a specific natural resource such as timber or fish. Such a yield is one that can be maintained indefinitely because it can be supported by the regenerative capacities of the underlying natural system  


Sustainably managed (used)The use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations. 


TargetSpecific quantitative and time-bound objective, preferably with a defined means of measurement.

Science Based Targets for Nature: Initial Guidance for Business. September 2020. 

Target boundary (science-based targets)The corporate scope of the target, specific to each issue area. The target boundary may be defined in terms of the value chain aspect covered, as well as the specific locations, products, brands, etc. that will be in focus in a given time period.
Thermal pollutionDeviation from the natural temperature in a habitat. Can range from elevated temperatures associated with industrial cooling activities to discharges of cold water into streams below large impoundments. 

Kennedy (2004), Thermal Pollution 

Third party certification standardsA third party with no stake in the business has determined that the final product complies with specific standards for safety, quality or performance.  

FAO (2003) Environmental and social standards, certification and labelling for cash crops 

Threatened ecosystemEcosystem assessed as facing a high risk of collapse in the medium-term.

IUCN 2017: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/45794).

Threatened speciesSpecies assessed as facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term.

IUCN 2012: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/10315).

Validation (science-based targets)An independent process involving expert review to ensure target meets required criteria and methods of science-based targets.
VentingThe controlled release of gases in the atmosphere. The gases might be natural gas or other hydrocarbon vapours, water vapour and other gases, such as carbon dioxide, separated in the processing of oil or natural gas.  

IPIECA Sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry 2020 

Verification (science-based targets)An independent third-party confirmation of either or both: a) baseline values of a target indicator (e.g. a company's water or GHG inventory) and b) progress made toward achieving the target.
WasteAnything that the holder discards, intends to discard, or is required to discard 

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989; GRI Standards Glossary 2022  

Water dischargeSum of effluents, used water, and unused water released to surface water, groundwater, seawater, or a third party, for which the organisation has no further use, over the course of the reporting period.

GRI Standards Glossary 2022  

Water qualityThe biological, chemical, and physical properties of water, often assessed against a usage standard e.g. can be quality with regards to supporting freshwater biodiversity or quality with regards to suitability for drinking water for people or irrigation. Note that standards, and thus definitions of water quality, vary across use cases. 

UNEP Water Quality Index for Biodiversity Technical Development Document, 2008 

Water stressAbility, or lack thereof, to meet the human and ecological demand for water. Water stress can refer to the availability, quality, or accessibility of water.  Water stress is based on subjective elements and is assessed differently depending on societal values, such as the suitability of water for drinking or the requirements to be afforded to ecosystems. Water stress in an area may be measured at catchment level at a minimum .

CEO Water Mandate, Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, 2014; GRI Topic Standard Project for Biodiversity–Exposure draft, 2022  

Water withdrawal or useDescribes the total amount of water withdrawn from its source to be used. Water consumption is the portion of water use that is not returned to the original water source after being withdrawn.  

World Resources Institute