06 Dec 2022 3 min read

COP15: it’s time we had a ‘Paris moment for nature’

By Alexander Burr , Toby MacKean , Catherine Ogden

COP15 represents a historic opportunity to commit to reversing nature loss this decade. LGIM will be attending and supporting calls for a 'Paris moment for nature'.  

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With the UN’s COP27 climate change conference recently having concluded, all eyes now turn to its biodiversity conference in Montreal: COP15. The two conferences represent global systemic risks that are intrinsically connected and mutually reinforcing; limiting global warming to 1.5oC will be impossible without the protection and restoration of nature. Climate change had the Paris Agreement, it’s time for Montreal to deliver the same level of ambition on biodiversity.

After 10 years of poor performance on the Aichi targets,1 COP15 marks a historic opportunity to tackle the growing threat of biodiversity loss. Policymakers and stakeholders, including LGIM, will gather to agree how we collectively approach the conservation, protection and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.

The agreement will be the ‘Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’ (GBF). In its draft form it includes 21 targets and 10 milestones for 20302, with an overarching goal of “living in harmony with nature” by 2050.

What do we want to see from COP15?

The outputs of COP15 are critically important to financial institutions such as LGIM. The essential role of nature within our economy is undisputed but underappreciated; companies in which we invest are exposed to poorly understood risks of nature’s degradation and acting on biodiversity is essential to meeting our climate objectives.

Earlier this year we discussed whether the conference might be a ‘COP out’. Aside from the ‘missing invites to global leaders’,3 we are optimistic that COP15 can reinvigorate action from governments and stakeholders across the world. While in Montreal, LGIM will push for progress in three key areas:

1. Strengthening disclosure and management

  • There are significant challenges in how we tackle this complex issue effectively, including insufficient reporting, data availability and a lack of internationally agreed metrics. Strengthening access to data and how businesses manage nature-related risks and opportunities is important. Target 154 of the draft GBF touches on exactly this, requiring all businesses to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity by 2030. We are very supportive and have joined the ‘Business for Nature’ Make it Mandatory campaign that is calling on heads of state to make these standards mandatory.
  • We encourage policymakers to integrate nature-related disclosures into sustainable finance regulations. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD, similar to the better-known TCFD) – the emerging gold standard on company approaches to, and disclosure of, how they interact with nature – will be key to implementation of Target 15. We encourage international harmonisation and for TNFD to work closely with the IFRS International Sustainability Standards Board as standards broaden and are adopted across markets.  

2. Alignment of public finance and global roadmaps

  • GBF Target 185 seeks to reform incentives that are harmful for biodiversity. We strongly support the need to realign or remove public support programmes in the fossil fuel and agriculture sectors that are not sufficiently aligned with biodiversity and nature goals. We have highlighted how the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy can be reformed to achieve this. Target 14 in the GBF also recognises this, specifically that “all activities and financial flows are aligned with biodiversity values”.6
  • While not part of the GBF, LGIM has been working with stakeholders, including FAIRR, for the development of a scientific based roadmap for decarbonisation of the agriculture and land-use sector. At COP27 we were pleased to see the UN FAO agree develop it, but stress that the roadmap must integrate biodiversity risks.

3. Ambition, coordination and accountability

  • We’re supporting the financial sector statement calling on world leaders to agree a global economic plan for halting and reversing nature loss. Coordinated by UNEP7, PRI8 and the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation, the statement recognises the role the financial sector has to play in reducing biodiversity loss.
  • Given biodiversity’s cross-sector links, we encourage governments to adopt a broader approach to implementation of the GBF. Specifically, we want governments to integrate and balance climate change and biodiversity risks across their respective thematic National Action Plans and Strategies. They must include clear, measurable goals that are monitored and enforced. Related regulation and legislation must include robust targets on nature; the UK’s Environment Act 2021, for example.
  • Target 14 is the important and relevant section of the GBF.

The next few weeks of COP15 negotiations will be key, and we very much hope leaders seize the opportunity in Montreal.

However, we’re not waiting for the outcome of COP15 to act. In the second part of this blog, we’ll explain what we are doing today to tackle biodiversity loss.

 

1. Aichi Biodiversity Targets (cbd.int). The targets are: A – to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society; B- to reduce direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use; C – to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity; D – to enhance benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services; and E – to enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

2. First draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (cbd.int)

3. Cop15: ‘World leaders might have to invite themselves’ to summit | China | The Guardian

4. “Target 15. All businesses (public and private, large, medium and small) assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts, by at least half and increase positive impacts, reducing biodiversity-related risks to businesses and moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, and use and disposal.” First draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (cbd.int)

5. “Target 18. Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least US$ 500 billion per year, including all of the most harmful subsidies, and ensure that incentives, including public and private economic and regulatory incentives, are either positive or neutral for biodiversity”

6. Target 14. Fully integrate biodiversity values into policies, regulations, planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies, accounts, and assessments of environmental impacts at all levels of government and across all sectors of the economy, ensuring that all activities and financial flows are aligned with biodiversity values

7. UN Environment Programme

8. Principles for Responsible Investment

Alexander Burr

ESG Policy Lead

Alexander joined in 2019 and leads LGIM’s ESG policy engagement across markets. Prior to this, he helped establish an impact fund that uses blended finance to invest in emerging markets. Before that, Alexander negotiated blended finance investments at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support sustainable economic growth across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and North Africa. He has held roles advising governments on alternative finance and established a nuclear safeguards organisation. Alexander holds a BSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Southampton, and further education at LSE, ICSA, CISL, and Birkbeck.

Alexander Burr

Toby MacKean

ESG Analyst

Toby is an ESG Analyst within our Investment Stewardship team.

Toby MacKean

Catherine Ogden

Manager - Sustainability & Responsible Investment

Catherine joined LGIM in 2015 to help drive forward ESG integration into mainstream fund research and to strengthen sustainability engagements. Prior to this, Catherine spent four years working with governments in Africa and Asia on the sustainable policy, planning and management of the extractives sector, and five years in sell-side equity research. A keen linguist and sportsperson, she bemuses her colleagues with a love of Capoeira and British Military Fitness.

Catherine Ogden