COP15: What does this mean for business in 2023 and beyond?

Lloyds Banking Group’s director of environmental sustainability Dr Rebecca Heaton was on the ground in Montreal as discussions took place to create a new global deal for nature. edie asks what this means for businesses moving forward.

COP15: What does this mean for business in 2023 and beyond?

Q: Now that COP15 has concluded, what is the biggest takeaway for businesses that are seeking to improve their approach to biodiversity?

A: It’s not a ‘nice -to have’ – it’s an essential! We have to treat climate and nature as two sides of the same coin if we want to keep a 1.5 degree world within reach. Climate is just one of many pressures that the world’s nature is facing, so we can’t have climate tunnel vision when setting climate targets, we must also take nature and biodiversity outcomes into account.

Another big takeaway for me is that we’re going to start seeing a much greater focus on measurement and disclosure after COP15 and how businesses report the impact they have on nature. As I leave Montreal, it’s not clear if this will become mandatory – but even if it’s not agreed as part of the negotiations – we can expect to see it in the near future. Every business is facing into the same challenge when it comes to measuring impact.

Q: We know that protecting biodiversity is a severe and important issue, but what are the business benefits to act on this now ?

A: We need resilient natural ecosystems to be able to withstand the worst effects of climate change and improving biodiversity is fundamental to overall planetary health. Acting now will help to halt the decline of the world’s biodiversity.

It’s a crucial time to act, as it is now that many businesses are setting climate targets. It’s not always the case that what’s good for climate is good for nature and we should be aware of the trade-offs. We need to be setting targets that won’t inadvertently cause harm to nature.

In order to so do it’s essential that we measure both biodiversity and carbon. We recently launched a really exciting partnership with the Soil Association to start doing this with our own agricultural clients.  The Soil Association Exchange is designed to help British farmers understand and improve the ecological footprint and overall sustainability of their operations. The Exchange doesn’t just look at carbon emissions, but also covers a much wider set of nature metrics including soil health, water quality, biodiversity, animal health as well as the social and community impacts of the farm.

It’s clear that we have a long way to go on nature and biodiversity, but I was really encouraged by the buzz and energy at COP15 – and the heavy presence of business and finance. It’s the first time that a biodiversity COP has had a finance day- and it was really well supported by a global set of finance institutions. I think we will see even more of this focus and attention next year.

So regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, we are clearly seeing the business world begin to sit up and take notice on this critical issue and face into the impacts they have on nature.

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