Today, 150 financial institutions, representing over $24tn in assets under management, have called on world leaders to adopt an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15.
Coordinated by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation, the Statement calls on governments worldwide to adopt a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for economic actors, including financial institutions, to take action to halt and reverse nature loss.
The Statement comes as world leaders at COP15 discuss plans to address biodiversity loss by 2030. Globally, human drivers are causing unprecedented damage to the natural environment, resulting in over one million animal and plant species being threatened with extinction, for the first time in human history.
Signatories to the Statement include leading firms from across the investment industry, including: AXA Group, Legal and General Investment Management, Manulife Financial Corporation, Fidelity International, Groupe La Banque Postale, Shinhan Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, and UBS Bank.
The 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) stresses that biodiversity loss must be halted and reversed by 2030 and brought on a path of recovery by 2050, to ensure future viability of our ecosystems. Such a step is vital to secure the ongoing security of investments around the globe. A 2020 report from the World Economic Forum indicates that more than half of the world’s total gross domestic product is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its ecosystems. Unprecedented biodiversity loss, on the scale we currently face, would entail significant threat to global growth and financial security.
Investors are calling on governments to adopt measures within the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which would set a clear mandate for the alignment of financial flows with the preservation of global biodiversity, like Article 2.1(C) did within the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change). An ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework should also support the assessment and disclosure of nature-related impacts and dependencies; and provide clear targets and definitions to take action and support the development of a pipeline of nature-positive projects and investments.
David Atkin, CEO of The Principles for Responsible Investment, said: Climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked challenges, which present systemic risk for investors. Through this Statement, the investment community itself has demonstrated a commitment to support global efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. It is essential for governments to adopt an enabling global biodiversity framework so that all economic actors may move together on nature.
Eric Usher, Head of UNEP FI, said: At COP 15, we have a real chance to heal our broken relationship with planet earth via nature. Nature loss is a systemic issue that takes economy-wide efforts to solve. With this statement, financial institutions have shown leadership in engaging with the biodiversity challenge and committing to nature and climate goals. We are delighted to see momentum building up across the financial community to call for the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and are excited to see more and more leading institutions committing to halt and reverse nature loss.
Anita de Horde, Co-founder and Coordinator of Finance for Biodiversity Foundation, said: We are witnessing a growing movement; biodiversity is becoming a concern for financial institutions of all sizes and types across the world. But voluntary action alone will be insufficient to change practices across the financial sector in a way that protects and restores biodiversity at the rate and scale required. We need Parties to support the alignment of financial flows with the goals and targets of the Global Biodiversity Framework. That way governments need to start working on policy and regulatory measures to create an enabling environment and stimulate the finance sector to start reversing nature loss this decade.
Jan Erik Saugested, signatory and CEO of Storebrand Asset Management said: The private financial sector is critical if we are to deliver the urgent action required to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in this decade. Some financial institutions are already taking important steps to address biodiversity loss, but voluntary actions alone will be insufficient to change practices across the financial sector in a way that protects and restores biodiversity at the rate and scale required. It is therefore critical that the Global Biodiversity Framework creates the impetus for governments to create the enabling environment that will support and scale up actions from the financial sector to reverse biodiversity loss in this decade.
Caroline Le Meaux, Global Head of ESG Research, Engagement and Voting of Amundi, said: The finance sector must not forget biodiversity in the race to net zero. We recognize the importance of biodiversity which forms the foundation of our economy. Science is clear that we only have a decade to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. We support the establishment of an ambitious and transformational post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and will continue to work towards our own biodiversity commitments as outlined in the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.
The full list of 150 signatories to the Statement is available here.
About the Principles for Responsible Investment:
The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. Supported by the United Nations, it works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The PRI acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate and ultimately of the environment and society as a whole. Launched in New York in 2006, the PRI has grown to more than 5,000 signatories, managing over US$121 trillion. For more information visit www.unpri.org
About the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative:
United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector to mobilize private sector finance for sustainable development. UNEP FI works with more than 400 members – banks, insurers, and investors – and over 100 supporting institutions – to help create a financial sector that serves people and planet while delivering positive impacts. UNEP FI aims to inspire, inform and enable financial institutions to improve people’s quality of life without compromising that of future generations. By leveraging the UN’s role, UNEP FI accelerates sustainable finance. For more information visit: https://www.unepfi.org/about/
About the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation:
The Finance for Biodiversity Foundation is the convening body of 111 financial institutions – representing 20 countries and over €16 trillion in assets – now signatories to the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge that calls on global leaders to reverse nature loss and commit to protecting and restoring biodiversity through their finance activities and investments. The foundation runs several working groups to stimulate knowledge and collaborative action on biodiversity between financial institutions and has been an observer of the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) since 2021. The co-leading financial institutions in the Public Policy Advocacy working group have been advocating for an ambitious GBF via participation in the Open-Ended Working Group meetings of the CBD in 2021 and 2022. For more information visit www.financeforbiodiversity.org