Businesses look to COP15 nature summit for clarity

  • COP15 biodiversity talks kick off in Montreal
  • Call for ambitious deal under Paris Agreement
  • Mandatory corporate disclosure nature is key

Dec 7 (Reuters) – As government officials begin talks on Wednesday on a hoped-for deal to protect the wildlife and resources that underpin the global economy, investors are looking for one thing that matters most – clarity. Spend.

As the COP15 biodiversity summit kicks off in Montreal, businesses and business leaders are pushing for an ambitious agreement with strong policies to guide companies seeking change.

During the two-week summit, all 196 governments under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity will need to agree on how to ensure that by 2030 there is more “nature” – animals, plants and ecosystems – than there is today .

They are under increasing pressure to make progress in fighting climate change and reducing harm to the environment. But countries have yet to agree on which environmental goals to prioritize, how companies should report on environmental risks and how their activities should be regulated.

“We’d like to see a framework that really provides clear goals and clear definitions in order to take action. And help build a pipeline of projects and investments that are good for nature,” said climate and environment director Tam Sim Ballard. Principles for Responsible Investment, a UN-backed investor network.

The rapid inflow of capital into clean energy businesses, as well as funds and projects labeled as environmentally sustainable in recent years, shows that investors are interested in investing in environmental solutions.

But while half the world’s economy depends on resources and services related to natural ecosystems, much less and on a much smaller scale is invested in biodiversity-focused projects, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Nature projects will need about $384 billion a year through 2025, the agency said.

“Nature needs to be treated as an asset — an asset we invest in,” said Tony Goldner, executive director of the Nature-Related Financial Disclosures Task Force, which is developing a framework to manage and disclose nature-caused exposures to the global economy .

invest in nature

Actions such as improving soil quality, increasing tree density, or clearing water areas lead to economic gains, Goldner said.

“If we bring this mindset to nature, it will generate investment models that allow us to invest in nature as infrastructure,” he said.

Business leaders responded to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change by pledging to limit their companies’ climate-warming emissions, including by switching to renewable energy.

But while many companies say they also consider biodiversity in their investments, less than half of the 7,700 companies surveyed by environmental disclosure platform CDP have taken new action over the past year — and most have still not done so. Be aware of the hazards posed by their supply chains.

Whitney Sweeney, director of sustainability investments at Schroders, said forcing large companies to assess and disclose their impact on nature and access to more data would be an important step.

“In order for us to truly fulfill our role as asset managers, we need to have a deep understanding of what those nature-related risks are,” Sweeney said, echoing a call by more than 330 businesses in October.

“Many were surprised to see companies calling for more regulation,” said Andre Hoffmann, vice chairman of Roche Holding AG, one of the signatories, but the need to encourage boards to overhaul their business models was clear.

Martijn Wilder, chief executive of climate change investment and advisory firm Pollination, is even more vocal, looking at previous political efforts to kick-start finance to help address biodiversity challenges.

“Two years ago, all these governments in the world were saying ‘let’s throw trillions of dollars into nature.'” It just never happened,” he said. “Again, it’s good to call it out and say what’s needed Yes, but unless you actually force the company to do it, they won’t do it. “

Reporting by Isla Binnie in New York and Simon Jessop in London; Editing by Katy Daigle and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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