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Results of the EU Finance@Biodiversity’s workshop series on engagement with companies

Building on the momentum of the 29 April workshop on engagement with companies, the EU Finance@Biodiversity Community met twice more this summer to broaden and deepen its discussion on the best ways investors can engage on questions of biodiversity with listed companies, and also on how banks can engage with their clients.

The second meeting of the workshop series, on 23 June 2021, focused on expert views on the topic. Experts from the World Bank, World Benchmarking Alliance, Nature Alpha, IUCN and WWF NL shared their views on engagement with companies. The Community discussed which companies to engage (both frontrunners and laggards are crucial to achieve systemic change) and how to use the leveraging power of financial institutions to ask the right questions (both upstream and downstream in the value chain). More information on the discussion is available in the minutes, and details on the biodiversity initiatives of each presenting expert and the sectors they engage with is available in the Annex to the minutes.

On 22 July 2021, the F@B Community gathered virtually to discuss the biodiversity impacts and dependences at the sector level. Representatives from Iceberg Data Lab, CDC Biodiversité and UNEP-WCMC showed how multiple tools that can be used to identify sectors with high impact on biodiversity. Their analysis shows that seven sectors – Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Mining and quarrying; Manufacturing; Accommodation and food services; Construction; Transportation and storage; and Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply – have the highest biodiversity impact. The main drivers of the biodiversity impact of these sectors are land use change and climate change, and in some cases water pressures.

UNEP-WCMC presented their research on identifying the sectors which are most dependent on ecosystem services, and which therefore would be priority sectors for financial institutions when developing biodiversity-related targets. The analysis identifies the top three sectors with high potential dependencies on ecosystem services underpinned by biodiversity: Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; and Manufacturing.

Finally, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) presented an overview of the methodology companies can use to set science-based targets. The first step of the 5-step process that companies should follow to set credible and meaningful targets is a sector-level assessment of material issues. For this step, SBTN and partners (including UNEP-WCMC) have developed a materiality assessment tool. This tool gives an indication of where in a business’s overall value chain (upstream, direct operations, downstream) and for which pressures it can expect to have material issues needing to be addressed. This initial assessment helps companies to gauge where they should focus their data collection efforts for further steps of SBT setting.

For more information on the 22 July workshop, download the slide deck and detailed minutes.

The results of the workshop series will be used to feed into a guide or a paper to be produced on the topic of Engaging with companies to inform a wider audience. Stay tuned!

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