Finance and Biodiversity
Protecting and restoring the planet’s biodiversity is crucial in and of itself. It is also intimately connected to the world’s response to the climate crisis. Rich ecosystems contribute to and enhance ways of mitigating or adapting to climate change. On the other hand, man-made climate change is one of the main forces leading to biodiversity loss. Any chance of a sustainable future for us all depends on tackling both issues together.
The financial sector has a pivotal role to play in preventing biodiversity loss and restoring and conserving nature.
Over half the world’s GDP is dependent on nature1. Yet most financial activities, public and private, occur with little or no consideration of the impact they are having on the natural world. Not only is this causing significant harm to our biodiversity, it is also failing to consider the very real and significant risks to our assets that biodiversity loss poses. The private financial sector is the lynchpin in funding this activity and is in turn exposed to the risks, as are our customers. As a result we have a critical role to play in halting and reversing biodiversity loss through changing our practices.
The need to bring nature more into financial decision-making is now more widely acknowledged. There is momentum from industry initiatives, alliances and some firms to develop the practices and shift in mindset that will make this a reality across the sector. We need to build on this work together if we are going to stop the harm that is being done to biodiversity through the activities financed and supported by private financial activities and to increase the financing and financial service provision to those parts of the economy that are actively beneficial for biodiversity.
 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (2022)
We are encouraging governments to develop a harmonized policy approach that will both deliver net zero greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and tackle the rapid decline of ecosystems and habitats.
Alongside Finance for Biodiversity and our peers, we are calling for governments to take four key policy actions:
- Agree on an ambitious and transformational post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that requires the alignment of financial flows with global biodiversity goals;
- Strengthen National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs) to ensure successful implementation of the GBF and enforce domestic policies to deliver biodiversity targets;
- Establish a regulatory environment that enables financial institutions to address biodiversity-related risks and opportunities, including by introducing consistent and decision-useful corporate disclosure requirements;
- Remove harmful subsidies and reverse them into aligned subsidies to bring about economic change and reduce market failures.
We all have a part to play.
While policy frameworks are being established, it is important for the private sector to start taking action on this important issue. At Aviva we are taking direct action ourselves to reduce negative impacts and protect nature and biodiversity across our business and across the finance sector. In 2021 we launched our first Biodiversity Policy to highlight our progress. We also participate in industry groups and initiatives and advocate for action, including through partnerships, such as with WWF.
What we hope our report illustrates is that it is possible to start somewhere, and that positive and coherent action can be taken even though we do not yet have the complete policy frameworks or data sets that we might like to have. We, like everyone else, are on a learning curve with this work, but none of us can afford to delay.
We encourage other financial services firms to join those of us who are already taking action and encourage all companies to:
- Start assessing and disclosing their impacts and dependencies on nature
- Sign up to the Financial Sector Commitment Letter on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation
- Join industry initiatives such as Finance for Biodiversity Foundation to collaborate with your peers and encourage stronger action from both the private and public sector.
Our new Biodiversity Report
Aviva’s first Biodiversity report highlights Aviva’s positive and negative contribution to global biodiversity goals across financing activities, investment portfolios and underwriting. A key 2022 priority was to complete conducting our deforestation risk assessment across Aviva’s investment portfolio and underwriting activities as part of our signature of the Financial Sector Commitment on Eliminating Commodity-Driven Deforestation. By combining data from CDP Forests, Forest 500 and ZSL SPOTT, we found that nearly 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. Analysis of deforestation exposure across corporate entities was undertaken on a best-efforts basis and accuracy of coverage will improve over time as a result of data quality enhancements.
These results will inform Aviva’s engagement strategy going forward and will be built on in 2023 to include more data of agricultural commodity trade flows.
All reports and resources
- Commitments and advocacy
- Finance for Biodiversity Financial Institution Statement Ahead of COP15
- Commitment on Eliminating Agricultural Commodity-Driven Deforestation and Increasing Investments in NbS
- Unlocking finance for nature: learning from experience in driving climate action – a WWF-Aviva position paper (PDF 2.9MB)
- Aligning the UK Financial System to Net Zero: a WWF-Aviva position paper (PDF 3.7MB)
- Other WWF-Aviva position papers
- Confronting a Permacrisis
- Biodiversity loss: From horror to hope
- Back to nature: Why we must act now on the biodiversity crisis
- Why investors must act now on the biodiversity crisis
- Valuing nature: An interview with Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
- Life force: Why nature matters
- The AIQ Podcast: Taking stock of nature risk