In July, SfC member Ecofi launched a biodiversity engagement campaign with 22 companies selected on the basis of the quality of their biodiversity policies and the severity of their controversies on this topic.
Four question to Alix Roy, ESG analyst at Ecofi
What is your commitment to biodiversity?
We integrated the biodiversity dimension into our SRI approach. We exclude from our investments all sectors that represent a risk to biodiversity. For example, companies that operate in conventional and unconventional fossil fuels (oil sands, shale gas, very deep and Arctic drilling, etc.) or in pesticides. Then, we take into account the policies implemented by companies in terms of biodiversity. In this way we can see how they integrate it into their strategy and reporting. Finally, Ecofi also excludes companies that are implicated in serious controversies linked to biodiversity.
But this year we took a further step. For the first time, we have launched a specific campaign to mobilise major companies in favour of biodiversity.
Why have you launched this campaign?
Biodiversity is essential to human development and to all economic activities. But today it is under threat. According to researchers of the Stockholm Resilience Center, the planetary limit for the loss of biosphere integrity has already been largely exceeded. And it is in a much worse situation than that of the climate. Companies need to integrate this issue into their strategies to minimise four major risks: the operational/physical risks (deterioration of biodiversity could prevent companies to carry out their activities); the regulatory risks (the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive CSRD requires companies to assess how biodiversity issues may impact the company’s activity, as well as the positive and negative externalities of the company’s activity on biodiversity); the transition risk (company will have to invest more in adapting their production processes, supply chains and control mechanisms to reduce their impact and preserve ecosystems); the reputational risks.
Furthermore, integrating biodiversity into corporate strategies creates opportunities and helps differentiate the company’s approach in the eyes of its stakeholders.
What have you asked companies?
First of all, we asked them about their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity and how they measure it. But also whether they have made any progress in improving their impact. Second, how they integrate it in their risk management strategy. And the policy and objectives established for the medium and long term to limit their impact.
In addition, we thought it was important to know how much of their business depends – directly and indirectly – on ecosystem services, how they integrate biodiversity into the selection and management of their suppliers and how they check that their suppliers limit their impact on biodiversity.
Finally, we asked them what measures have they put in place to encourage the restoration of biodiversity and if they support local initiatives to preserve biodiversity.
Which companies have you targeted? Have you got any answers so far?
We have engaged 22 companies with the support of seven SfC members: Bank für Kirche und Caritas, Etica Sgr, Forma Futura, GLS, Meeschaert, Sanso, Wheb. But any investors wishing to join us are always welcome.
So far, only 9 companies have responded to our requests for information. We have met with (or received written responses from) Carrefour, Danone, Électricité de France, Henkel, Iberdrola, Nestle, Rockwool International A/S, Unilever. With a further one, Reckitt Benckiser Group, we are going to meet in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, from other companies – such as HSBC, Nike, Siemens, Tesco, Cosa-Cola – we have not received any answers yet.
Photo: Larisa-K, Pixabay