Business group standards aim to help firms account for nature-related risks

By Isla Binnie

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An international working group of 40 business and finance executives on Monday presented companies with guidelines on explaining to investors their dependence on ecosystems in a bid to better manage nature-related risks.

The Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) aims to mirror a G20-backed set of global rules on reporting on climate risks, to satisfy growing demand from shareholders and regulators for information on how businesses affect and are affected by the environment.

Tony Goldner, executive director of the TNFD, said that while the risks of climate change have long been a focus of many companies, the wider state of nature is beginning to be looked at. “We are providing a toolbox,” Goldner said. “Some companies have told us their estimations of their nature risk are larger than their climate risks.”

If features of natural ecosystems like pollination and the absorption of gases by trees and peat lands collapse, the World Bank estimates the global economy could be $2.7 trillion poorer by 2030.

The guidelines aim to get companies to report their nature risks in ways that mirror their financial and economic reporting that for decades have been part of regular corporate operations. Both the climate and nature frameworks urge companies to choose appropriate indicators to measure, monitor and report their risks.

Climate and nature-related risks are often closely connected, Goldner said.

“Take bush fire risk to Californian utilities … it’s related to rising temperatures, but the scale of devastation on the ground is often also linked to soil erosion and lack of ability of the ground to capture water,” he said.

Just under half the world’s 250 biggest companies report on biodiversity loss as a risk to their business, consultants at KPMG found in 2022, adding they expect new standards like the TNFD to improve disclosure.

The 14 recommendations launched on Monday include describing nature-related risks and opportunities to business models, and explaining management’s role in assessing and handling them.

The taskforce’s members include representatives from BlackRock, HSBC and Tata Steel. It receives funding from governments, the United Nations, and philanthropic foundations.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Timothy Gardner)