When listening to the “COP” conference, many think of the UN climate COP. Yet another Conference of the Parties that is making incredible strides is the “Biodiversity COP”.
The Conference of the Parties to the 2022 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) held in Montreal was attended by representatives of 188 governments from around the world, finance ministers, indigenous peoples and local communities, academics, business and finance, and youth. The goal was the adoption of a strong post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frameworkwhich has been public and is in the drafting process since July 2021. The framework with its four general global objectives and 23 goals to be achieved by 2030 seeks to stop and reverse the loss of biodiversity.
Success was achieved! After two weeks of intensive meetings and negotiations of almost all stakeholders, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted. Now we have a shared vision to live in harmony with nature.
The framework is the formal global recognition of the importance of biodiversity and nature. Through its goals and targets, it aims to protect 30% of the world’s land, oceans, coastal zones, and inland waters, reduce $500 billion in harmful government subsidies, and cut food waste in half by 2030. This is important because more than half of the world’s GDP depends moderately or heavily on nature and the services it provides, and there is increasing evidence of the decline of species and ecosystems.
It energized me to see the progress. The days were long, even when the participants were jet lagged. The panels, whether at dawn or late at night, had standing room only crowds. There was a palpable feeling of dedication and commitment to press ahead with the adoption of a robust and meaningful framework. The saying “despair breeds innovation” comes to mind. Real ambition, deep commitment and sharing of ideas were the catalyst for success.
It was the first time I attended the Biodiversity COP. As a sustainable investment manager, we have always valued transparency. Therefore, I was fascinated by the open forum of the negotiations.
Environment and finance ministers from around the world met and painstakingly edited the proposed text, line by line. Hundreds of participants surrounded them, as if it were a music concert.
I was surprised to learn that COP 15 was the first to include a finance day, dedicated to communication and engagement between government officials, regulators, central banks, and public and private finance.
Finance is a powerful engine. Every dollar put into the world has an impact, whether through purchases or investments. It is imperative to channel financial flows to achieve a positive impact and slow down negative flows.
This agreement allowed sharing of progress that was already underway. But these voluntary actions alone are not enough to protect biodiversity. We need governments to incorporate nature into regulation and make biodiversity disclosure mandatory. Support from the financial community for the framework and encouragement for heads of state to press for agreement on goals and targets was significant and influential.
Another notable development is the speed at which biodiversity has become part of the conversation in both the public and private sectors. At Domini, for a number of years, we have been working to integrate a systems-oriented approach to investing and risk control into our portfolio-level policies and practices. Our goals of ecological sustainability and universal human dignity guide our approach to climate change and forests.
In 2020 we signed the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, a commitment to protect biodiversity through the financing of activities and investments. At that time, the pledge was signed by 25 other global financial institutions, representing $3 trillion in assets under management. Since then, it has grown to 126 firms with more than $20 trillion in assets in 21 countries. In addition, we have witnessed the recognition of the importance of biodiversity by corporations in a variety of sectors, from pharmaceutical companies to insurance companies. The world appears to be at a tipping point as it moves from assessing risk through a commercial lens to assessing risk based on its impact and reliance on nature.
With the framework in place, it’s time for the work to begin and, in some cases, pick up speed. The Task Force on Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) was formed in 2020 and launched in 2021 with broad support from finance, corporations, governments and civil society. By November 2022, TNFD has released its third version of its beta framework for feedback. There is strong collaboration between various industry experts to promote outreach and nature-impacting practices.
Domini is one of the launch investor members of Nature Action 100, a new global investor engagement initiative launched at COP15. Investors will engage companies in key sectors deemed systemically important to the goal of reversing nature loss and biodiversity by 2030, with the aim of driving greater ambition and corporate action to address nature loss and decline of biodiversity. With this momentum building, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started. There is not a moment to lose.