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Catch me if you can! – United Nations Environment – Finance Initiative

Nature risk, including physical, transition and systemic risk as a result of biodiversity loss, is a material risk for our global financial system. The ability or inability of our financial systems to respond to nature-related risks can have considerable macro-economic implications, as well as having a direct impact on human well-being and quality of life.

The increasing level of understanding of such risk has prompted the financial sector to act through a wide spectrum of initiatives, including the recent call to action urging central banks and financial supervisors to manage climate and biodiversity related financial risks as part of their primary mandates.

However, this landscape is complex and ever expanding , and to those new to the field, the breadth of initiatives can feel overwhelming. Therefore, this article aims to help you navigate through this complexity.

Overview of existing nature-based initiatives

The table below provides an overview of the existing nature-based initiatives that are either market-led or public-led. Initiatives are classified as supporting impact measurement, or are a new/improved standard or framework to guide measurement and action.

From the forest floor — deep dive into the PBAF

The Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF), Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and the Aligning Accounting Approaches for Nature (Align project) are three initiatives helping to align financial flows with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. They are distinct, but complimentary, and help the sector to harmonise its approach to identification and management of nature related risks.

The Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF)

The PBAF can be considered to be the same as the Partnership for Climate Accounting Financials (PCAF), but with a focus on biodiversity. PBAF and PCAF are industry-led, with PBAF bringing together 40 financial institutions from 11 countries, including banks, investors and insurance members. Both PBAF and PCAF use pressure-impact models, based on the best available science, to understand drivers of climate change (PCAF) and biodiversity loss (PBAF). This provides investors with insights of the interdependencies between different drivers of these issues.

The PBAF ultimately aims to standardise and mainstream biodiversity data and impact measurement through the creation of the PBAF standard. This standard defines what information is required in order to accurately assess the impact of financial institutions on biodiversity. In the past few months, the PBAF Standard v2022 has been released, focussing mainly on biodiversity impact assessment in the financial sector. Building on the output of cross-sector working groups, the PBAF v2023 (to be released next year) will also include guidance on:

  1. The assessment of dependencies
  2. Loans and investments in the agricultural sector
  3. The interaction with existing and upcoming regulation (for example the EU Taxonomy and the Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation (SFRD))
  4. Nature-positive impact

The spider in the web — the role of UNEP FI

As the spider in the web, UNEP FI holds close relationships with all initiatives, either as a co-founder, or strategic and technical partner. In this way UNEP FI can ensure members, and the wider sector, are up to date on current developments and supported in their work, regardless of their maturity.

Together with the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge and the EU Business and Biodiversity Platform, UNEP FI initiatives include:

  1. Hosting of regular webinars for interested parties such as the ‘Nature in a Haystack’ webinar that provides an overview of data measurement for nature.
  2. The creation of the Principles for Responsible Banking Biodiversity Community – a specially designed network for banks to expand their understanding of biodiversity and nature and learn from peers across the sector
  3. Piloting of the TNFD for more advanced organisations, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of action on nature.

Part of UNEP FI’s role is to look at the appetite of our members to incorporate nature in their risk frameworks. In a recent report UNEP FI, together with the UNDP and TNFD, found that the main drivers for actions were the increasing awareness of risks, impacts and opportunities associated with biodiversity loss. As understanding of these risks increase, action throughout the financial sector is scaling. 

UNEP FI can be seen as pivotal and central to the coordination and acceleration of action, with a number of initiatives convening financial actors, advancing skills and knowledge. This ensures the financial and corporate sector are held accountable and continue to take ambitious action to reverse current biodiversity losses, bringing positive benefit people and planet.

Interested in joining the work of the TNFD, PBAF or UNEP FI and take the next steps?

UNEP FI, Romie Goedicke, Project and Technical Manager Nature, UNEP FI, [email protected]

PBAF, Wijnand Broer, Program Manager PBAF, [email protected]

TNFD, Emily McKenzie, Technical Director, [email protected]

ALIGN, Sharon Brooks, ALIGN Advisory Board Co-chair, [email protected]

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