Mandate nature impact disclosures from corporates, 300+ businesses urge world leaders
Companies with combined annual revenues of $1.5trn are calling on world leaders to mandate that all large businesses and financial institutions should assess their impacts and dependencies on nature by the end of the decade.
The call to action is being made ahead of the UN’s 15th Biodiversity COP (COP15) in Montreal this December. COP15 was due to have taken place in Kunming, China, in 2020, but has faced numerous delays during the pandemic as well as challenges relating to slow progress in negotiations. Its chief aim is to develop and implement a post-2020 biodiversity treaty for the world, with a headline ambition to halt nature loss this decade.
One of the proposed treaty targets that has received much coverage is the need for nations to agree to protect 30% of their lands and seas for nature by 2030. Measures regarding corporate mandates are also under discussion, including a proposal for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, by 2030. This mandate could be implemented by nations in a manner similar to existing climate reporting requirements.
Supporting the inclusion of this proposal in the final treaty today are more than 330 corporates and financial institutions, convened by Business for Nature. Those in support of the call span from 52 countries, with the UK being the most-represented country in the cohort.
Businesses supporting the move include Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB Inbev), British American Tobacco (BAT), Burberry Group, Danone, Dentsu, Diageo, DSM, GSK, H&M Group, Holcim, Ikea, Inditex, Kering, L’Oreal, Mahindra, Natura & Co., Nestle, Prada Group, Sainsbury’s, Salesforce, Suntory Holdings, Tata Steel, Unilever and Volvo Car Group. From finance, supporters include AXA Group, Aviva Investors, BNP Paribas, Legal & General and UBP Asset Management.
A report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020 concluded that at least half of global GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature. In signing the call to action, the businesses and financial firms acknowledge this, and call for world leaders to recognise the role of the private sector in previously creating nature’s decline and its responsibility to buck the trend.
Business for Nature’s executive director Eva Zabey described nature-related disclosures as “an important first step” to halting decline and working towards restoration at scale.
She said: “This is an essential first step. Without this information, we are flying blind into extinction. Frameworks being developed now will support this transition, and companies stand ready to transform their businesses.
“Real change happens when voices unite. Today businesses and financial institutions are sending governments a clear message.”
The call to action follows on from WWF’s latest ‘Living Planet’ report. That major report puts the average population size decline for wildlife globally at 69% since 1970. Decline has been particularly steep in the Amazon rainforest.
Also supporting the call to action is CDP. The disclosure platform has once again, this year, posted a steeper uptick in climate data disclosure than in disclosures on nature. Some 18,600 companies report climate data through CDP, compared to 3,900 reporting on water security and 1,000 reporting on forests.
“At present, too many companies are blind not only to the material risks they face, but ignorant to the opportunities associated with protecting and restoring nature,” said CDP’s chief impact officer Nicolette Bartlett.
Back in May, CDP expressed concerns that most companies reporting forest data have not publicly set no-deforestation and/or no-ecosystem-conversion policies. It warned that without these policies, and with weak data, the private sector is set to face billions of dollars of unforeseen risk.
On water, the organisation stated last year that most businesses are not adequately investing to advert water stewardship risks, pointing out that the cost of inaction is some five times higher than the cost of credible action.