Robeco explores ‘Nature Action 100’ as proposal is published on collective biodiversity engagement platform

Researchers working with the World Bank on what a potential platform could look like also highlight learnings from shortfalls of CA100+

Robeco is exploring the possibility of developing a Nature Action 100 with several other global investors alongside the World Bank, the World Benchmark Alliance (WBA), and the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, RI has learnt.

“The aim is to really see how we can replicate the impact that Climate Action 100 had on the collaborative engagement space for climate; bringing so many different investors together and really clarifying the global asks investors have for corporations,” Peter van der Werf, Senior Manager of Engagement, Robeco told RI. “While at the same time also taking the lessons learned of some of the things that maybe were challenging […] and seeing how we can now develop Nature Action 100.”  

Robeco’s plans come amid the publication yesterday of what a potential Nature 100 – a collective engagement platform on biodiversity – could look like and what it can learn from Climate Action 100+. Graduate student researchers at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs have worked with the World Bank to put together recommendations for the potential platform. 

Amongst their recommendations, they suggest that the biodiversity initiative could focus on engagement, awareness and education, reporting and measurement, and policy/regulatory advocacy. 

“Nature Action 100 should be a platform through which investors can articulate a clear vision for corporate action on biodiversity: Net zero loss of biodiversity in the near to medium term and net positive impact on biodiversity in the long term,” they said. 

‘Like CA100+ with greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers suggest that the collective engagement on nature should converge around a “single, universal metric for measuring biodiversity loss’

The group has developed an interactive tool that investors could use to identify companies to engage with based on their impacts or dependencies on nature. This is based on the Exploring Natural Capital Opportunities, Risks and Exposure (ENCORE) natural capital risk identification tool.

In April, RI exclusively revealed that efforts on a “Nature 100+ collective engagement” were underway by the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, with expected updates late this year or early next. A planned output for the pledge’s engagement working group is to identify 100 companies to engage with. 

And in May, RI also exclusively learnt that the WBA is working on developing a benchmark tool covering companies with the biggest impact on nature.

“We certainly support the recommendations of the World Bank's report on the value of having investor engagement on nature and see the development of our Nature Benchmark as an accountability mechanism that can support investors in this,” Nikki Gwilliam-Beeharee, Investor Engagement Lead at WBA, told RI.

Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment, also welcomed the idea, telling RI: “CA100+ has set the bar on what’s possible in terms of collective investor ambition and impact on climate change, and we welcome similar collaborative engagement initiatives on important topics such as biodiversity. Collective and individual engagement and support from investors alongside governments and other stakeholders can – and must – play a critical role in helping to realise a net-zero emissions economy”.

Simon Zadek, Chair, Finance for Biodiversity, told RI: “Nature Action 100 is an important step in mobilising the weight of forward looking institutional investors to move aggressively in pressuring their investees to reduce what the newly launched Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosure names 'nature related risks’, including short term material financial risks, but also longer term transition risks represented by nature dependencies and impacts.”

However, the Columbia University researchers identified challenges with the CA100+ approach they said should be avoided in a nature equivalent. While the research acknowledged that its climate counterpart came at a “critical time” and investors could apply “similar methods” for the above, it said the initiative missed an opportunity by launching its benchmark – which revealed “painful” progress on the climate agenda – this year rather than from its inception.

In addition, they criticised the initiative for having “disclosure blind spots”, that it had “governance inefficiencies” through being managed by five partner organisations, and it alluded it did not focus enough on Asia where “some of the largest emitters [are] based”.

Also in a presentation document they claimed that CA100+’s target setting is not ambitious enough, there is a lack of well-defined performance metrics, and a misalignment between stated objective and operational activities.

CA100+ had not responded for comment at the time of publication.

The researchers went on to recommend that a Nature Action 100 should be managed by a single organisation.

Nevertheless, like CA100+ with greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers suggest that the collective engagement on nature should converge around a “single, universal metric for measuring biodiversity loss”.

Moving forward, the World Bank, who previously floated the idea of this kind of initiative, will build on this work by “cooperating with all interested partners to advance this initiative and support engagement that drives corporate transition to nature-smart practice”. The students suggested there be a call for investors at the highly anticipated COP15 on biodiversity in Kunming, China in October.

Today and tomorrow, the Convention on Biological Diversity is conducting workshops, “to facilitate a structured dialogue among experts from the financial community, as well as experts from Parties and stakeholders, on how the finance sector can most effectively contribute to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the 2050 vision and to identify priority actions needed for its implementation”.