15 Jun Align project: How is finance sector working on integrating biodiversity into natural capital
In the framework of Align project (Aligning accounting approaches for nature,). at the beginning of June took place an open webinar on “Integrating biodiversity into natural capital”, where representatives from ASN Bank, BNP Paribas Asset Management and ING Group participated sharing their experience on how they are addressing risks related to natural capital in financial decisions.
During the online seminar, Fiona Place, Associate Director of the Capitals Coalition, explained to the audience that Align shares the common ambition which is that the value of nature has to be embedded within economic thinking. Currently the way that businesses measure and report their impact and dependencies on natura capital is limited, and there is a growing demand for changes in corporate reporting towards a multidimensional view covering natural, social, human & non-reporting. In parallel there is pressure from other stakeholders such us international policy drivers (CBD, EU Green Deal, EU Biodiversity Strategy), finance (EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, TNFD, IFC), sustainability reporting organizations (GRI, CDP), and consumers demanding increased transparency.
The Align project has been established with the aim of reaching alignment on existing measurement approaches to improve clarity and build consensus on how both business and financial institutions can measure and report their performance, and to develop a generally accepted way for businesses and financial institutions to understand their relationship with nature to lead to more informed decisions and positive impacts on biodiversity. And the project will build from and link to existing initiatives and networks within the business and finance communities and will bring together technical developers of corporate measurement approaches, guided by businesses and finance needs and learned from applying these in practice. It also seeks to complement policies developed within the European Commission and be opened to influencing and to be influenced by the these. The work will not be addressing a specific piece of legislation at this moment.
Marine de Bazelarie, Group Advisor on Natural Capital of HSBC, shared the preliminary work that her company is developing linked to HSBC’s recognition of natural capital.
Rodermon also explained that they have also begun to set targets for climate alignment taking into consideration that climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss or decline. They also have some thematic biodiversity targets, for instance, responsible soy and palm oil and are disclosing biodiversity-related aspects. This year ING Group has published a report that jointly integrates climate and biodiversity because both aspects are very interlinked, but more and more they are asking themselves more questions as they are developing their understanding of biodiversity. Some of these questions are: where the risks related to biodiversity are in ING portfolio? To what extent is their portfolio dependent on biodiversity? Where should they focus their efforts? They are aware that they “really need data and insights and look at biodiversity measurement approaches to get more answers.”
Nozeman assured that SDGs are another key motivation to work on biodiversity as if “we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to keep the natural resources base in good condition.” He recalled that, many reports launched in the last years have also contributed to put biodiversity higher and higher in the agenda, such as the Global Risks Report by World Economic Forum, the report from the Dutch Central Bank Indebted to Nature is a quite important step as it looks at the dependency of the Dutch financial sector investments from natural capital. You can read on the document that one third of the investments are highly or very highly dependent on biodiversity, and more recently the ‘The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity is a crucial step and helps feed the knowledge of governments so Ministers of Finance won’t ignore this issue anymore.”
Watch the video below for further information about the practices developed by panelists to mainstream natural capital management accounting practices and biodiversity measurement in their respective organizations, and the interesting open discussions held by Align coordinators (Joshua Berger, Head of Biodiversity Footprint Department of CDC Biodiversité, Wijnand Broer, partner of CREM, Johan Lammerant, Lead Expert, Natural Capital & Biodiversity of Arcadis, and Yann Verstraeten, Senior Consultant of ICF), speakers, and participants.