Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas OBE
Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute
‘We must make it easy to operationalise tackling nature and climate-related risks simultaneously’
In this Q&A, the three Co-chairs leading the Informal Working Group (IWG) that is bringing together a Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) sets out what the TNFD will achieve
Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute
Director of Company Engagement at BNP Paribas and Member of the Group Executive Committee
Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Banorte
Last week the IWG Co-chairs participated in a panel at the One Earth One Future Summit, following which we spoke to them about the initiative to bring together a TNFD, what the TNFD plans to achieve in the future and what financial institutions can do right now to tackle nature-related risks.
The three Co-chairs are: BNP Paribas’s Antoine Sire, Director of Company Engagement and Member of the Group Executive Committee; Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas OBE, Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute, and Mariuz Calvet Roquero, Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment at Banorte.
What is the TNFD trying to accomplish?
Antoine:“TNFD aims to enable investors, banks, insurers and companies to understand the financial risks associated with nature loss and degradation, and in turn integrate those nature-related risks in investment, credit, and insurance underwriting decisions.”
Mariuz: “We know that just like climate-related risks, nature-related risks are material and systemic. More than half of the world’s economic output is highly dependent on nature but at the moment, companies and financial institutions have a low understanding of how their operations or investments impact or depend on nature, and therefore to what extent they are exposed to nature-related risks. TNFD will provide to companies a robust and credible framework to identify, assess, manage and report their impacts and dependencies on nature.”
Antoine: “To integrate nature-related risks in their decision-making, financial and corporates need decision-grade data, and right now, that’s not available. To close the data gap, both corporates and financial institutions must measure, track and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature. And this is where the TNFD comes in: the TNFD will develop recommendations for more effective nature-related disclosures across both impacts and dependencies.”
Drilling down into the practicalities, how and when will the TNFD deliver?
Rhian-Mari: “The Informal Working Group is currently developing a detailed work plan and scope for the TNFD. Later this year, we will appoint and launch the Taskforce itself. The Taskforce will then implement the work plan over the next two years. Assessing available data and methodologies to identify relevant metrics and indicators by industry sector will be central to the early stage of the work. That’s the first step towards measuring dependencies and impacts on nature at the company, asset and fund levels. The TNFD will deliver a reporting framework by 2023.”
The TNFD will help the finance sector manage nature-related risk, but what about opportunities?
Mariuz: “The risks of inaction are immense, but the opportunities from action are equally huge.”
Antoine: “Yes, exactly. The TNFD will also provide the information necessary for financial institutions and businesses to identify new opportunities for investments that are positive for both nature and business.”
The TNFD is building closely on the work of the TCFD, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. What are the risks and benefits to keeping TNFD and TCFD separate?
Rhian-Mari: “As the Dasgupta Review drives home, climate and nature are two sides of the same coin. The financial community can’t just focus on climate, which is what they have largely done to date. At the moment, the TCFD with almost 2000 supporters is much further along in its journey having launched in 2015. Over time though, the two frameworks will be complementary. This is why the TNFD has adopted the same four-pillared framework as the TCFD. We are very aware that it will be the same teams within businesses and financial institutions that will work at implementing both in practice, and so we must be mindful to make it as easy as possible to operationalise tackling nature and climate-related risks simultaneously.”
How will the TNFD ensure a wide uptake of its recommendations once they launch?
Rhian-Mari: “Most simply,we have to develop a product that people want. We have to make sure the TNFD’s recommendations will offer such a useful universal framework that financial institutions and corporates will want to use it. The framework the TNFD develops will be extensively road tested by financial institutions and corporates to ensure it’s useful for them. Expanding the community behind the TNFD is important too. Integrating nature into financial decision making will not be straightforward and we need collaboration to get there.”
Mariuz: “Having a diverse range of stakeholders involved in the process from the very beginning will help us develop a framework that can really help manage nature-related risks in a comprehensive way. The Informal Working Group has a diverse composition with members from five continents. Alongside financial institutions and corporates, we have governments and think-tanks and consortia. And in addition to the Informal Working Group, we also have a Technical Expert Group and an Observer Group.”
Beyond engaging with the TNFD, what can financial institutions do right now, while the TNFD develops its reporting recommendations?
Antoine: “If I use our work at BNP Paribas as an example, our approach to natural capital has been three-fold. First, through our own balance sheet. We monitor and then improve our impact on nature through sector-level policies. In the agriculture sector for example, we just announced last week that we are strengthening our deforestation policy linked to soy and beef. We are also integrating biodiversity in our credit committee, as part of a broader effort of integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues.
“Second, we’re working with our clients to incentivize financing that favours nature positive solutions. In our asset management arm, we have recently incorporated biodiversity into our fund selection process.We are also working with other stakeholders to develop more innovative financing solutions. One example here is the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, which is a blended finance initiative that mobilises both public and private capital.Lastly, working with partners in a coalition of the willing – like we are doing with the TNFD – is absolutely essential.”
You’ll be the first to hear as we release new versions of the TNFD framework and knowledge bank.