More than 560 companies with combined revenues of $4 trillion including Walmart, Citigroup and Microsoft signed up to a statement calling for action over the next decade.
The call comes as the United Nations prepares to host a biodiversity summit later this month, aiming to build momentum towards forging a new global pact to ward off threats to nature exemplified by recent fires in the Amazon and California.
While many of the companies said they were already taking steps to make their operations greener, governments needed to provide the policies that would allow them to do more.
“Healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature. Governments must adopt policies now to reverse nature loss in this decade,” the companies said in a statement.
“Together let’s protect, restore and sustainably use our natural resources,” they added. Others to sign included IKEA, Unilever and AXA.
Business for Nature, the coalition which organised the statement, said it was the first time so many companies had issued a joint call emphasising the crucial role healthy ecosystems play in human well-being.
“Many businesses are making commitments and taking action. But for us all to live well within the planet’s finite limits, we need to scale and speed up efforts now, not tomorrow,” said Eva Zabey, executive director, Business for Nature.
Last year the IPBES international panel of scientists said a million species were at risk of extinction.
About two-thirds of the world’s animals – mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles – have vanished over the last 50 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.