‘No Net Loss’ is a goal for a development project, policy, plan or activity in which the impacts on biodiversity it causes are balanced or outweighed by measures taken to avoid and minimise the impacts, to restore affected areas and finally to offset the residual impacts, so that no loss remains. Where the gain exceeds the loss, the term ‘Net Gain’ may be used instead. No Net Loss or Biodiversity Net Gain must be defined relative to an appropriate reference scenario (‘NNL of what compared with what?’).

For companies, the goal may be set at a site, project or corporate level, or for part of the value chain.  For financial institutions, the focus could be their investment strategies, based on environment, social and governance (ESG) policy that refers to No Net Loss or Biodiversity Net Gain.  For governments, the goal may be set at a national, regional or local level.

The BBOP Roadmaps for Business and Government (and accompanying Technical Notes) explain that No Net Loss or Biodiversity Net Gain are policy goals in many countries and businesses. Sixty-nine governments have laws and policies on the mitigation hierarchy that include biodiversity offsets and the number rises to over 100 when including countries that are developing such measures.  Ninety-four financial institutions in 37 countries provide project finance to clients subject to safeguards that include requirements for No Net Loss of biodiversity for impacts on natural habitat (where feasible) and a Net Gain of biodiversity for impacts on critical habitat.  Several multilateral development organizations such as the World Bank do similarly.  Over 60 companies have made public, company-wide commitments or stated aspirations related to No Net Loss or Net Gain of biodiversity.

No Net Loss or Net Gain of Biodiversity should include no net loss of socioeconomic and cultural values of biodiversity(as well as intrinsic values like listed species)to leave affected communities at least as well off – and preferably better off – than they were before.  BBOP’s Cost-Benefit Handbook, Standard and Roadmaps cover this, as do good practice principles on this subject published in 2019.