Asia’s largest corporations fail to make the connection between biodiversity loss and corporate survival: study | News | Eco-Enterprise

Climate risk may have exploded onto the corporate agenda in Asia in recent years, but the importance of biodiversity to business has yet to be taken on board by the region’s boards.

According to the Asian Markets Biodiversity Report by environmental consultancy Nature Positive.

The research examined the reports and websites of 192 companies listed on four stock exchanges and documented the number of companies referencing biodiversity, where biodiversity featured in materiality assessments, and the efforts companies made to make about their impact on nature.

Percentages of listed companies in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore that mention biodiversity in their reports and websites. Green indicates mentions, gray no mention. Source: Biodiversity Report of Asian Markets

Seventy percent of companies referenced biodiversity in some way, but only 42% highlighted nature as a material issue. Of the companies that consider biodiversity an important issue, only a handful (4%) consider nature a priority for their business and have goals to reverse biodiversity loss.

More than a fifth of businesses (22%) seem to be using biodiversity as a buzzword, with no connection between nature and how businesses depend on it for survival, according to the report.

Japanese companies are by far the regional leaders in viewing biodiversity as a business issue, and their common use of the term in company filings has skewed the overall data, the report’s authors noted.

The companies most attentive to biodiversity are those that have already faced biodiversity-related crises.

Supakorn Ekachaiphiboon, Assistant Vice President, Sustainability, Stock Exchange of Thailand

“I think businesses struggle to understand their biodiversity impacts and dependencies and there is this misconception that this only applies to agriculture and food businesses,” said program manager Pei Ya Boon. regional conservation funder for the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Society, who was interviewed for the study.

Asian real estate companies – which typically suppress biodiversity as they grow – refer to nature most often in their corporate documents [click to enlarge]. Source: Biodiversity Report of Asian Markets

Although some companies run conservation programs, the report found no evidence of companies auditing their biodiversity impacts, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of these programs in offsetting their impacts on biodiversity. nature.

The report’s authors noted that the focus on reducing carbon and emissions may have left companies with little bandwidth to consider the value of biodiversity to their operations.

Nature Positive chief executive Dr Stephanie Wray said while it was heartening to see some companies talking about biodiversity in a region losing natural areas as quickly as anywhere on the planet, it was doubtful that ‘they are taking significant steps to counter their impact on nature.

It is only recently that the corporate world has begun to make the connection between biodiversity loss and business survival. Businesses depend on healthy ecosystem services for their production processes, to maintain soil, water and air quality, and to build resilience to climate change.

The Asian listed companies most likely to recognize this link are those directly dependent on nature, such as basic consumption, energy and materials. Companies with a less obvious connection between their industry and their nature, such as information technology and healthcare, were the least likely to recognize biodiversity as a material problem, according to the study.

“Companies that pay greater attention to biodiversity impacts are generally those that have either faced crises related to biodiversity issues or can clearly see the connection between their business activities and biodiversity risks,” said said Supakorn Ekachaiphiboon, assistant vice president of sustainability at Stock. Exchange from Thailand.

Singapore-listed palm oil company Wilmar, which is committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain, has been noted for its efforts to educate its supply chain on biodiversity impacts , while the Philippine utility Manila Water was highlighted as one of the few companies to conduct a biodiversity audit. .

The report emerges ahead of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15 also known as the “nature COP”) in Montreal in December, where world leaders are expected to negotiate an agreement to address biodiversity loss. The agreement aims to establish a framework for the production and consumption of natural resources that could have implications for how businesses are run in Asia-Pacific.

The Nature Positive report suggests that frameworks such as the Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and tools such as Nature Science Goals would help Asian companies better assess their relationship with biodiversity.

“Until we have common industrial frameworks [such as TNFD and science-based targets for nature] provide guidance and clarity I think [biodiversity] target setting will be limited,” said Sue Mulhall, global head of biodiversity and business partnerships, BirdLife International, a conservation group.

The report’s authors called on businesses in the region to assess how they depend on and impact nature and set biodiversity restoration targets.

A 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) revealed an unprecedented decline in the natural world and a record rate of species extinctions. Nature has declined by 45% in Asia-Pacific since 1970, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

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