Towards A Collaborative Effort by Financial Institutions to Integrate Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Business

4 April, 2011 | Munich, Germany

UNEP FI, HypoVereinsbanks and the Verein für Umweltmanagement und Nachhaltigkeit (VfU) held a regional workshop to discuss environmental and ecological risks and opportunities in the finance sector, why this is an important issue for the sector, and the rationale behind the development of a ‘Natural Capital Statement for Financial Institutions’. There is growing recognition amongst companies of the need to better understand and integrate the management of environmental risks and opportunities into all aspects of business operations. It is also clear that humanity’s impacts on and dependency on biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) represent risks and opportunities for financial institutions (FIs) and their clients. Increasingly, members of the finance community are also responding to this increased recognition for natural capital, and the pressing need to understand systemic risk in a far more holistic way. Does the financial sector sufficiently understand, and therefore value and price the risks and opportunities related to BES? Such matters are increasingly pertinent for all FIs, and particularly those active in the primary economy and in resource intensive sectors. Now is the time to accelerate both the general recognition of and collective action for the integration of BES as a systemic risk to economic and financial sustainability. This event was designed to be a stepping stone in the development of key guidance to the finance sector on the incorporation of natural capital as a systemic risk. It aimed to engage all participants in the drafting of and commitment to a statement ‘Natural Capital Statement’ through which UNEP FI seeks support from banks and other financial institutions to commit to embed biodiversity and ecosystem service considerations into internal processes, products and services. The statement is meant to represent a vital step forward for and signal from the international finance community in the run up to Rio+20 in 2012. The ‘Natural Capital Statement’ is interactively refined with inputs from FIs and non-FIs, during events in Munich, London, New York, Sao Paolo, Sydney, and Washington ahead of a formal launch in early 2012.