Corporate failings on biodiversity
Lack of policies makes companies vulnerable to shareholder activism
Only six per cent of the top 1,800 international companies listed on the London stock exchange have an adequate policy on biodiversity, according to a report by financial researchers EIRIS.
At the UN COP 10 Convention on Biological Diversity in November, environment ministers signed an agreement promising to cut biodiversity loss by increasing the amount of protected marine and land areas. But progress will be largely dependent on voluntary measures by corporations.
The EIRIS report found that 58 per cent of the FTSE-listed companies investigated operated in sectors whose activities had a 'considerable' impact on biodiversity. But just 6 per cent of these 'high impact' companies were assessed as having a good policy on biodiversity. Good practice could include signing up to voluntary reporting or plans and targets for reducing their impact on biodiversity.
Chemicals & pharmaceuticals, construction, property development and road distribution & shipping sectors are doing the least to tackle biodiversity. The forestry and paper sector displays the best performance.
EIRIS says many of the worst-performing companies could soon find themselves the target of campaign groups and shareholder activism.
Risks to businesses from biodiversity loss include: increased cost of raw materials such as freshwater, higher insurance costs for disasters, new governmental taxes and policies on biodiversity as well as reputational damage from NGO campaigns.