Conservation organisation WWF launched a new free-access tool on Monday intended to help companies and investors better understand their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity.
WWF announced its Biodiversity Risk Filter at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, showcasing the initiative as a first-of-its kind tool to help the private sector footprint its biodiversity related impacts, while also assessing risks related to biodiversity dependencies across their value chains.
An accompanying case study that tested the tool found that most of the 600 companies studied, covering 24 industries and listed on the global equity index MSCI ACWI, had a medium or high exposure towards biodiversity-related risks.
“Increasingly, companies and financial institutions recognise the business case for tackling biodiversity loss, but many simply do not know where to start,” Rebekah Church, WWF’s global biodiversity stewardship lead said in a statement.
“This tool helps them to map and assess biodiversity-related risks, enabling them to prioritise investments in areas that will make the most impact in mitigating their risks,” she said.
The tool builds on WWF’s existing Water Risk Filter tool, which has been used successfully by both corporates and investors to assess the water-related impacts and dependencies of their own operations, or those of their portfolio companies.
While many corporates and other businesses have expressed interest in minimising their negative impacts on biodiversity, many have not calculated their current footprint, and most do not fully understand where biodiversity plays into their business cycle.
The WWF tool aims to help establish this baseline, noting that this is a prerequisite to setting biodiversity-related targets.
WWF authors noted that they expect an increasing number of companies to adopt nature-related targets in order to contribute to the collective goals under the Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed by governments at COP15 UN negotiations in Montreal in December.
The tool is also designed to help facilitate financial risk disclosure related to biodiversity, a transparency requirement that is increasingly sought by global investors.
Some 330 business and financial institutions from 52 countries, with combined revenues of more than $1.5 trillion, in December urged world leaders to adopt mandatory requirements for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity by 2030.
However, calculating the required metrics to fulfil this reporting – along value chains and across different jurisdictions – has been challenging according to the WWF authors, with many businesses struggling to identify and apply a science-based approach to data collection.
WWF said that the free tool can now be used to help in this area, with related data compiled to help assess biodiversity-related risks for all industries across all countries.
“It is a free to use, web-based tool, which aims to break down complex biodiversity information and gives businesses practical, decision-useful information in a visually comprehensible way,” WWF wrote.
“It includes information on species and ecosystems, protected areas, and the most important pressures on biodiversity such as deforestation, habitat destruction, pollution, land-use change for agriculture, [and more],” it added.
The tool brings together a diverse range of data specifically for the purpose of analysing biodiversity-related risks to corporates and financial institutions, while additional methodological guidance has also been developed by WWF and its think-tank partner Climate & Company.
The groups hope that once the private sector has a better understanding of how its activities interact with biodiversity-related hotspots, companies will begin to prioritise positive action in these areas.
By Katherine Monahan – email@example.com