On 10 June, the official global launch event for the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) took place. The two TNFD Co-Chairs, David Craig, CEO of Refinitiv and Group Leader of Data and Analytics Division at London Stock Exchange Group, and Elisabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), discussed their visions for the TNFD, alongside an extensive panel of senior speakers from AXA, BlackRock, Grupo Financiero Banorte, International Institute for Green Finance, Olam / World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and WWF.
USD 3 trillion of externalities annually
“The financial system is not fully aware of the risk biodiversity loss poses to business,” said TNFD Co-Chair David Craig, CEO of Refinitiv and Group Leader of Data and Analytics Division at London Stock Exchange Group, who leads the TNFD together with Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, in his opening remarks at the TNFD launch event. “This is both an incredible crisis and an incredible opportunity to drive change. The biodiversity finance gap today is equivalent to the GDP of Switzerland.”
The extent of nature-related risks to business were elaborated on by Sunny Verghese, Co-founder & Group CEO of food- and agribusiness Olam and Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who represented the corporate sector at the launch event: “The benefits we derive from nature to produce the food, feed and fiber we consume – which today we don’t pay for because nature’s back office is not set up to issue us with invoices – is to around 3 trillion US dollars annually. To put that in context, during the financial crisis of 2008 we suffered a loss of around 2.7 trillion US dollars. TNFD for me is the right solution at the right time […] to allow us to measure nature loss.”
Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International and representative for the TNFD Partner Group, echoed the urgent need for measuring nature-related externalities: “Like investors know, today’s externalities are tomorrow’s risks, because externalities do get internalised – by design, by decree or by disaster. And you don’t want the third kind to happen as a C-suite executive or investor. For this reason we need a common valuation framework.”
Closing capacity and data gaps
The TNFD now embarks on its two-year workplan to develop a framework for organisations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks.
Blackrock’s Managing Director Michelle Edkins added details on what the world’s largest asset manager hopes the TNFD framework will offer: “As investors, we are looking for reporting that is consistent, comparable and decision-useful. Most reporting is a combination of narrative and data. For nature-related issues, we are long on narrative, but we are short on data that is proven to help companies and investors measure a company’s impacts and dependencies on nature and how well they are managing the risks arising from those impacts and dependencies.”
“Keeping the TNFD framework simple, practical and market-led is critical for success,” said TNFD Co-Chair David Craig, while stressing that closing data gaps is only a part of the task ahead:
Closing capacity and data gaps
Several speakers highlighted the importance of linking up work on climate- and nature-related risks. “Climate-disclosure work has been done [by the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures],” said TNFD Co-Chair, Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. “Now we want to build on that to develop a framework for nature.”
Ulrike Decoene, Group Chief Communication, Brand & Sustainability Officer of AXA, one of the financial institutions that’s been instrumental in bringing together the TNFD, commented: “We see biodiversity as an extension of our climate change work. The climate agenda is extremely busy; we know that as financial institutions. But we need to make space for the biodiversity challenge. She added in her closing remarks ‘Financial institutions can change the game if the right framework is there, and if policy makers help drive this framework, we can together move the needle to curb nature loss.’
Linking the market-led TNFD with global biodiversity goals
The TNFD is a market-led initiative, but nature-related risks are also rising up the agenda for financial regulators across the globe, said Yao Wang, Dean at the International Institute of Green Finance: “As risks of biodiversity loss are becoming even more obvious, central banks need to further improve their understanding of their interdependencies and transmission channels between nature and the financial sector. 2021 is a crucial year for biodiversity and finance.”
Looking ahead, TNFD Co-Chair Elizabeth Mrema highlighted the importance of linking up the market-led TNFD with the post-2020 global biodiversity framework that’s being negotiated this year. In October, the world’s governments will gather at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Kunming, China with the task of deciding upon global biodiversity goals for the next decade.
“It is important for the financial sector to be engaged, because as much as there are risks, there are opportunities. This is the time to look at them,” said Elizabeth Mrema, who is currently leading the political process for the negotiations of the global biodiversity goals. The previous set of global biodiversity goals – the Aichi targets agreed in 2010 – were not met, and involving the finance sector much more closely in the development and implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be critical to ensure the targets are met this time, she said.
Closing the preparatory phase
As the TNFD now embarks on its two-year work programme, the preparatory phase of the initiative bringing together the TNFD has come to a close.
Speaking at the launch event, Mariuz Calvet, Director of Sustainability & Responsible Investment at Grupo Financiero Banorte and one of the Co-Chairs of the Informal Working Group that has worked on bringing together the TNFD, extended gratitude to each of the organisations involved, as well as the Informal Technical Expert Group and the 130-strong Observer Group, and thanked achor investors for their support.
The TNFD Co-Chairs will now lead the Taskforce itself towards the goal of launching a framework in 2023 for organisations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks.
“I’m excited as we have a daunting task ahead of us. Future generations are counting on us to deliver this,” said David Craig.
“We have a lot of work to achieve in the next two years,” said Elizabeth Mrema. “Your support and collaboration is the only way to move forward.”
Read on at TNFD