Firms failing to turn biodiversity commitments into action, CDP warns

The majority of companies worldwide are not translating commitments on biodiversity to action, according to new data released today (30 November) – one week ahead of the major UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15.

Firms failing to turn biodiversity commitments into action, CDP warns

Commitments are being made but commonly not delivered on, CDP has revealed

As Governments prepare to negotiate mandatory environmental disclosure from 7-19 December at COP15 in Montreal, the data reported through CDP in 2022 shows that just 31% of companies have made a public commitment or endorsed biodiversity-related initiatives, with another 25% planning to do so within the next two years.

If these companies follow through, by the end of 2024, more than 56% will have voluntarily made commitments or endorsed initiatives related to biodiversity.

While commitments are a necessary starting point, CDP’s data indicates that companies are not yet translating them into tangible action.

More than half (55%) of companies with a public commitment have not taken actions to progress their biodiversity-related commitments in the past year. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of these companies do not assess the impact of their value chain on biodiversity.

The results are even starker when looking at sectors known to have the most damaging impacts on nature. The data showed 74% of those in the apparel sector and 73% of those in manufacturing do not assess the impact of their value chain on biodiversity. This suggests that many of the companies with the opportunity to make the greatest positive impact are still failing to take meaningful action to stop biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.

Last chance for action

CDP’s global director for environmental standards Sue Armstrong Brown said: “COP15 is often referred to as a ‘once in a decade’ opportunity, but it’s actually once in a generation. In ten years’ time, with little intervention, it is likely our biodiversity and ecosystems will be damaged beyond repair.

“CDP’s new data shows that the voluntary progress already made should be all policymakers need to finally make biodiversity disclosure mandatory. Governments must seize this chance and create the enabling environment companies need to drive forward their commitments by agreeing a clear and ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework. This must include mandatory environmental disclosure through Target 15.

“Once agreed, CDP stands ready to leverage our global environmental disclosure system, through which nearly 20,000 entities disclosed in 2022, to accelerate the implementation of the new Global Biodiversity Framework and track progress against its targets.

“This will in turn drive action to protect and restore biodiversity across the global economy.”

The CDP research found an appetite for mandatory disclosure from the global economy, and businesses and investors recognise the tangible benefits more standardisation and guidance can bring.

Just last month, more than 330 businesses with around $1.5trn in combined revenues called on heads of state to make nature-related disclosure mandatory at COP15.

Jane Ambachtsheer, global head of sustainability at BNP Paribas Asset Management, said: “The unraveling of nature is underway, and investors need to act now, starting with a better understanding of how our investments impact nature and how nature loss may translate into financial risks.

“To achieve this, we need better and more consistent disclosure from the private sector, which is why we provided funding to CDP to introduce new questions linked to nature-loss and biodiversity.

“It is also why we actively participate in the TNFD [Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures] and support Business for Nature’s Make it Mandatory campaign. Ultimately, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

“Enhanced disclosures enable us to allocate capital in a way that can help protect our clients from risk, while contributing towards a better future for society and the planet.”

CDP’s Armstrong Brown added: “As CDP collects data from companies on biodiversity for the first time, it is positive to see their willingness to disclose this information.

“This is reflective of an uptick in corporate interest on nature more generally, with significant increases in forests and water disclosure in 2022.

“Many leading companies have for years recognized the absolute need to understand their relationship to the natural world: the material and systemic risks they face, the opportunities available to them and the impacts they have on the environment.

“This is also clearly reflected in the nearly 8,000 companies engaging with CDP on biodiversity.

“But our findings also point to the challenges facing companies who want to take action: even when some companies are ahead of the curve and recognising these risks, commitments are not turning into action at the pace we need to boost resilience, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

“COP15 must close the loop and turn interest into action.”

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