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TNFD's definitions of impacts

Core definitions

The TNFD considers an organisation’s effect on natural capital through its impact drivers.

A simple impact driver may be associated with multiple impacts.


Impact drivers

A 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



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SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished], CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures.


Impact pathway

An 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

Additional Content

Types of impact

Impacts may be:[1]

  • Direct – a change in the state of natural capital caused by a business activity with a direct causal link;
  • Indirect – a change in the state of natural capital caused by a business activity with an indirect causal link (e.g. indirectly caused by the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions); and/or,
  • Cumulative – a change to the state of natural capital that occurs due to the interaction of activities of different actors operating in a landscape, not only the target organisation.
Case example

Nature-related impacts in the textiles industry

In the production of natural fibres in the textiles industry, direct impacts on nature could occur through converting habitats for crop production. The textiles industry’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute to air pollution and climate change, as indirect impacts. Cumulative impacts could occur through pollutants, where the pollution impacts of the fibre producer combine with pollution from other producers and industries operating in the landscape, resulting in substantial negative impacts on freshwater ecosystems and sensitive species, and all people who depend on them. This could be financially material for the textile company, exposing it to potential fines, supply chain disruption and loss of social license to operate.