Environment

Aviva calls for financial sector to play a bigger and clearer role in preventing biodiversity loss

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  • Aviva calls for clarity on the financial sector’s role in meeting the goals and targets set by the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), expected to be agreed in Montreal at COP15;
  • Private financial flows must be aligned with the aims of the GBF and this should be implemented as soon as possible. Additionally, Aviva calls on the financial sector to sign up to the Commitment on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation;
  • Approximately a quarter of Aviva’s corporate holdings* have exposure to deforestation risk. Over half of these are financial institutions which are exposed via the companies they finance; the other half are exposed as a result of their supply chains. Aviva will be engaging with a number of banks and companies as part of the Financial Sector Deforestation Action initiative (FSDA).

Aviva calls for clarity on the financial sector’s role in the goals and targets set by the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), due to be agreed at COP15 in Montreal. The GBF is expected to set out the plan to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living sustainably with nature is fulfilled.

Biodiversity is a key indicator of the health of the planet and its many connected ecosystems. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recommend tackling climate change and biodiversity loss together.

Aviva is calling for regulatory regimes that bring nature into financial decision making in a similar way to the regulatory approach to climate. For example, through mandatory disclosures on impacts and dependencies on nature. Aviva believes that there needs to be alignment of all financial flows (including private ones) with the aims of the GBF, for example, reducing the harms caused by financial services activity. This is largely provided for in the current draft of the GBF and Aviva hopes this will be confirmed in the final agreement and implemented without delay.

Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer of Aviva said: “Financial institutions will be central to preventing and reversing the loss of our planet’s precious biodiversity. Aspirational statements and voluntary actions won’t be enough to change long standing practice at the rate and scale required. That is why we’re calling on everyone at COP15 to make sure the GBF sets explicit, ambitious standards. We will only see real results if we all then implement them immediately.”

Aviva launches first Biodiversity Annual Report

Aviva has produced its first Biodiversity report today, providing an update on progress one year on from launching its Biodiversity Policy. The report highlights Aviva’s contribution across financing activities, investment portfolios and underwriting to achieve the goal of reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

A key part of the report and a priority for 2022 was to complete Aviva’s deforestation risk assessment as part of its commitment to the Financial Sector Commitment Letter on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation.

The risk assessment was applied across Aviva’s investment portfolio and underwriting  activities. By combining data from CDP Forests, Forest 500 and ZSL SPOTT to identify companies with exposure to deforestation, Aviva was able to rate a company’s deforestation management score as strong, medium or weak.

The initial assessment found that approximately a quarter of Aviva’s corporate holdings by value have some level of exposure to deforestation risks. Over half of these are financial institutions which are exposed via the companies they finance; the other half are exposed as a result of their supply chains. The assessment also identified that the financial and retail sectors have weaker deforestation management scores when compared to other sectors. These results will inform Aviva’s engagement strategy going forward and will be built on in 2023 to include more data on agricultural commodity trade flows.

Aviva also recognises the critical role the financial sector has to play in addressing commodity driven deforestation and will be engaging with a number of banks as part of the Financial Sector Deforestation Action initiative (FSDA). Through the FSDA working group Aviva is calling for companies to commit, assess, transform and disclose their policies and activities to provide greater transparency towards tackling deforestation.

Amanda Blanc, continued: “Last year, we committed to report annually on biodiversity. Having policies on climate-related issues without reporting on progress is no longer enough; all businesses need to be transparent about their impact on biodiversity and this report is a good start. However we recognise that far more is required if we are to reverse nature loss this decade - more from Aviva and more from the financial sector.

“A key step in improving biodiversity is to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven deforestation. Our assessment shows businesses can take positive steps simply by getting started - we don’t have time to wait for a perfect route, the time to act is now and that’s why I’ll be in Montreal. We are proud to be a signatory to the Financial Sector Commitment Letter on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation and we urge our peers who have not signed up yet to do the same.”

Nigel Topping the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion said: "We simply cannot achieve net zero without addressing deforestation. Financial institutions must engage to massively reduce deforestation-related emissions in their investment portfolios if they want to achieve net zero. Aviva is amongst the leaders who signed the Financial Sector Commitment Letter on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation alongside 30 other financial institutions. Aviva is showing what’s possible and protecting itself against financial, regulatory and reputational risk in its portfolio."

Aviva will be at the Finance for Biodiversity stand during COP15 on the afternoon of 12 December. We have signed the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation Pledge and we are proud to be part of its delegation in Montreal. Our colleagues will be there to talk about our report. Aviva’s Biodiversity Report can be read here.

-ENDS-

Sources

Aviva’s corporate holdings cover equity, multi-assets and credit asset classes.

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Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in Singapore, China and India.
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