Force companies to disclose their impact on nature: big business

Force companies to disclose their impact on nature: big business


Businesses must be forced to disclose their impact on nature, more than 300 companies said in an open letter to world leaders released Wednesday ahead of United Nations negotiations to halt catastrophic biodiversity loss.

Consumer goods group Unilever, furniture maker IKEA and India’s Tata Steel were among a number of high-profile companies calling for tougher measures to nudge businesses into action amid growing concerns about the devastation of nature.

“We need governments worldwide to change the rules of the economic game and require companies to act now,” the Business for Nature coalition said.

The open letter was signed by around 330 companies with combined sales of more than $1.5 trillion.

International efforts to protect the world’s natural life support systems – including air, food and water – are scheduled to conclude in Canada in December. Negotiators are developing a global framework for “living in harmony with nature” by 2050, with important benchmarks in 2030.

As companies begin to report on their carbon emissions and climate impacts – although some have faced accusations of “greenwashing” – few companies are disclosing details on biodiversity.

The companies that signed the statement said they wanted clarity from policymakers.

“This statement demonstrates the broad support of major companies for an ambitious global deal for nature with clear goals to drive joint business and financial action,” said Andre Hoffmann, vice president of Roche Holdings.

“Political certainty will accelerate the necessary changes to our business models. We stand ready to do whatever we can to make the transition to a society where nature, people and business thrive.”

In March, a central bank report found that financial institutions and businesses were underestimating the risks of biodiversity loss and the destruction of the natural resources they depend on.

The new statement calls on world leaders to join a goal of mandatory requirements for large companies to assess and disclose their impact and dependence on biodiversity by the end of this decade.

The task “won’t be easy, but it has to happen,” the firms said, calling for action to ensure the UN goals aim to both reduce negative impacts and encourage positive ones.

“The current pace of global economic activity is more than the planet can handle,” said Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors, who also signed the Business for Nature statement.

“If nature were a checking account, we would be heavily overstretched. This is bad for the environment and bad for long-term growth.”

Many hope that once completed, the UN accord will be as ambitious in its goals to protect life on earth as the Paris Agreement was on climate change — even if the United States is not a party to the UN effort to protect the planet are nature.

A landmark proposal on the table is protecting 30 percent of wild lands and oceans by 2030.

Another focus of the negotiations are harmful subsidies to things like fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries, which can lead to environmental degradation and encourage unsustainable levels of production and consumption.

Business for Nature estimates that these amount to up to 1.8 trillion US dollars or two percent of global gross domestic product every year.

The world has failed to meet almost all of a previous set of goals for nature in the decade to 2020.

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