The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) on Tuesday released its long-awaited last draft framework for managing and reporting risks and opportunities related to nature, ahead of the final rules slated for publication in September.
The cross-stakeholder taskforce aims to steer businesses and financial organisations in calculating and reporting their dependencies and impacts on nature, noting that related risks and opportunities should factor into transparency documents and decision-making as the world increasingly recognises the biodiversity crisis caused in large part by global business models.
“This fourth and final draft of the TNFD framework will provide market participants, for the first time, with a full representation of the core aspects of the proposed TNFD framework, including examples of additional guidance by sector and biome and a recommended set of disclosure metrics,” said David Craig, co-chair of the taskforce.
The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that was agreed at the UN’s COP15 biodiversity negotiations in Montreal last December included reporting under its Target 15, which encourages governments to mandate large companies and financial institutions to regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies, and impacts on nature.
But the exact metrics and process for this type of reporting is complex and the concept is new to most organisations, leaving most businesses eager to make advances in the area awaiting guidance from TNFD.
Tuesday’s v0.4 release allows stakeholders to test and provide feedback based on their specific sector and biome, and provides specific reporting metrics aligned to global standards, including the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).
If widely adopted by global businesses through standard setters, nature-related financial disclosure could support a shift in the world’s financial flows away from actions detrimental to ecosystems and toward nature-positive outcomes.
The TNFD has in many ways fast-tracked its work since 2021 by building off lessons learned in the climate space under the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD), established in 2015 by international body the Financial Stability Board.
That climate process has seen companies and financial organisations ramp up their transparency on key metrics such as Scope 1-3 greenhouse gas emissions and transition planning and has been incorporated under national reporting rules as well as under a forthcoming ISSB standard.
Implementation of the climate disclosure guidance has been fraught with controversy, however, with businesses lobbying to maintain the practice as strictly voluntary, meaning they would be free to pick and choose what information to report and when.
Disclosure of Scope 3 emissions, those associated with value chains, has been particularly controversial, with businesses citing the requirements as burdensome, costly, and requiring data that may be incomplete or unavailable.
The TNFD discussions, though complex, have been successful in leapfrogging this controversy, with guidance clear that a company’s direct, upstream, downstream, and financed impacts and dependencies on nature should be reported.
As per the TCFD, the TNFD is not in and of itself a standard, but aims for cross-collaboration with standards, including under the ISSB and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), both knowledge partners to the TNFD.
The ISSB has already committed to integrating TNFD work into its Sustainability Disclosure Standards, set to take effect from Jan. 1, 2024.
“Ongoing collaboration with our standards development partners and with regulators will be critical to help codify the taskforce’s recommendations so that nature-related reporting becomes standard business practice over time,” said Elizabeth Mrema, TNFD co-chair and deputy executive director of UNEP, one of the taskforce’s founding organisations.
The taskforce’s platform aims to cut through the complexities with a user-friendly platform for corporates, providing the LEAP framework to help locate, evaluate, assess, and prepare to report on nature-related metrics.
Steps involve locating any assets or supply chain dependencies within high-risk ecosystems and then assessing the extent to which impacts and dependencies pose risks.
The resulting metrics are clearly defined, including by sector, and are intended to be reported annually to support comparability across and within sectors.
The TNFD said it aimed to balance the complexities of nature-related science with the practical reporting needs and constraints of companies and financial institutions – whittling down over 3,000 related metrics to what it has labelled as ‘leading indicators’.
‘Core global’ and ‘core sector’ disclosure metrics include polluting activities, land and water use, as well as other resource use and replenishment.
The platform is supported by core concepts and definitions and draft disclosure recommendations on best practices aligned with those of the TCFD, and also includes draft guidance on its proposed approach to the use of scenarios for nature-related issues.
Sector and biome guidance will include specific metrics for each sector, with additional sectors to be released in the coming months on a rolling basis.
Although reporting on nature-related metrics is relatively new, it is likely to accelerate rapidly given the related breakthroughs in the climate space, as well as the global momentum behind the GBF and mounting public and investor-driven pressure.
Reporting remains voluntary at this point, but governments are more likely to include nature disclosure in reporting requirements as the TNFD framework is finalised and ISSB guidance is standardised.
There are already 200 organisations piloting aspects of the draft framework, according to the TNFD website, representing various sectors across global jurisdictions.
V0.4 follows on from the three previous draft beta frameworks in March, June, and November last year.
The final 60-day consultation process will run between Mar. 30 and June 1.
By Katherine Monahan – firstname.lastname@example.org
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