PwC-experts on the impact of COP15 for businesses
Koos Biesmeijer on the importance of biodiversity and COP15
Jaap de Jong on the importance of biodiversity and COP15
From a drop of water to a worm in the soil, from a desert to a forest of deciduous trees: the world we live in is a gathering place for nature in all its variety – nature which is our lifeline. Food, medicines, and industrial resources –– almost everything has its origin in biodiversity. There's good reason why the United Nations states that 40 percent of the world’s economy depends on biological resources. With some one million plant and animal species threatened with extinction worldwide, everything is under pressure.
For companies, this presents a new challenge and also a responsibility. Due to the increasing volume of legislation and regulations, and pressure from stakeholders, the list of issues demanding action is constantly increasing. Collecting data, creating reports, formulating strategy, and implementing the transformation so as to have a positive impact on biodiversity: how do you tackle all of these? At PwC, we combine our focus, knowledge, and the entire ecosystem of employees, knowledge partners – such as Wageningen University & Research – and also clients so as to find solutions.
'We are undermining the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life.'
The climate topic has been on top of the agenda for many years. The alarming state of nature, on the other hand, is less often the subject of discussion, or of action. That needs to change, because the unprecedented rapid decline in biodiversity poses an even greater threat to humanity than global warming. That is IPBES’ view, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the counterpart of the climate-focused IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Today, about a million species of flora and fauna are threatened with extinction worldwide, and biodiversity has declined by 68 percent over the past 50 years. Current efforts are insufficient to halt this unprecedented deterioration of nature, which undermines the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life.
World Population: 2,3 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 280 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 66%
World Population: 4,3 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 335 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 55%
World Population: 7,8 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 415 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 35%
Companies usually start their quest for a less negative and ultimately positive impact on biodiversity with one basic question: where should we start? The answer depends entirely on where a company operates and what activities it engages in there. Different activities create different kinds of pressure on biodiversity.
Land use is one of the key issues to consider. How much land is used, how is it used, and where exactly is it located? Other important factors – “pressure factors” – that have a negative impact on biodiversity are water consumption, pollution of the environment through ecotoxicology, or the extraction of natural resources.
Fortunately, biodiversity and nature are gaining an ever more prominent place on the international and corporate agenda. That’s apparent from the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030, which includes the goal of planting three billion trees and reducing the use of pesticides by 50 percent. Biodiversity also plays a major role in the EU’s Taxonomy Regulation, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). The SFDR, for example, makes it obligatory to report on activities that have a negative impact on areas with vulnerable biodiversity. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) – currently being developed to ensure that organisations report on non-financial information at the same standard as on financial information – is intended to ensure that both kinds of reporting are given equal weight in companies’ decision-making.
Worldwide biodiversity has declined by 68 percent over the past 50 years.
Furthermore, the UN’s COP15 scheduled for 2022 will be focussed entirely on biodiversity; it is intended to become comparable in importance to the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris in 2015. COP15 will establish the biodiversity targets for the present decade and translate them to specific guidelines.
More and more companies and organisations are seeking help in understanding the strategic issues regarding biodiversity. For example, a port authority has to contend with the illegal trade in protected wild animals and plants, and is looking for a way to combat it. A bank asks how to deal with the risk involved in lending to clients that contribute to deforestation. And an energy company doesn’t want to have a negative impact on the local environment when undertaking new energy projects. But how can it be sure that it doesn’t?
Knowledge of biodiversity and an integrated approach to climate and nature are essential where a positive environmental impact is concerned. Companies that plant trees on a large scale as to compensate for their CO2 pollution and thus reduce their negative impact on the climate often ignore the importance of biodiversity. Planting a large number of the same species of tree can have a negative effect on the local ecosystem. That is why the cooperation of an ESG team in which different approaches contribute new perspectives is so important. From biologists to accountants and from strategy experts to transformation specialists – together we work on strategic solutions in the field of biodiversity.
Socially engaged consumers, shareholders, credit rating agencies, and investors – a large body of stakeholders and new legislation and regulations are forcing companies to make improvements in the field of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). Companies need to prepare for fundamental changes in almost all aspects of their organisation. We categorise those aspects in what we call the three dimensions of the ESG revolution: reimagined reporting, strategic reinvention and large-scale business transformation.
Where biodiversity is concerned, it’s essential to work with people who actually know all about it. That is why, within the ESG team, we don’t only work with accountants and strategy consultants but also with biology and climate experts. We help define clear aims, formulate a robust strategy, measure KPIs in the field of biodiversity, set up the right reporting system and organise the data, as well as involving all the organisation's employees. Because it’s only by working together that we can achieve real impact for a more sustainable world.
Insight to determine the right targets, interventions and strategies to increase positive impact on biodiversity: the 'Biodiversity Impact Screening Tool' helps companies in a transparent and accessible way. The starting point? A company's or organisations financial records. The financial data are converted to impact using values from large databases such as Exiobase and the ReCiPe developed by the RIVM. The tool then converts this into clear numbers per pressure factor and KPIs. Would you like to know more? Read about reporting with the new ‘Biodiversity Impact Screening Tool’.
We help businesses create a nature-positive future. By bringing together more than five hundred specialists across our entire PwC network, the global Centre for Nature Positive Business helps accelerate this necessary transition. We bring together knowledge around biodiversity, water, forestry, regenerative agriculture and geospatial analysis, accelerating the route to a net zero future.
The acceleration towards a nature-positive and net-zero future is badly needed. Over 55% of global gross national product depends on nature and more than half (50.6%) of the market value of listed companies on 19 major stock exchanges is subject to material nature risks, according to recent PwC research. The health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity thus has far-reaching implications.