Investors, NGOs convene for natural capital workshop

UNEP FI convenes London meeting at F&C offices

A diverse group of investors, asset managers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) got together in London last month to debate the way forward for investing in the ‘biosphere economy’.
The meeting was convened by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and environmental consultant Volans and hosted by F&C Asset Management. As well as F&C, among the 44 participants were representatives from the European Investment Bank, JP Morgan, Schroders, Robeco, ING and Rabobank. Other organisations represented included institutions such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, WWF and PricewaterhouseCoopers
The report of the meeting recognises that the lack of valuation mechanisms and metrics is a barrier and there’s a need to bring them together systematically in a financial sector “toolkit”.
“An older generation of financiers today does not understand or relate to the language of ecologists, climatologists and earth scientists,” the reportstates. The scientific data can cause analysts “discomfort, confusion and apathy”. The meeting formed three breakout workshop sessions, focusing on business education, corporate valuation & transparency and new risk models.
There was a proposal for the UN PRI, the UNEP FI and the World bank’s IFC to collaborate to get PRI signatories to ask firms that have signed up to the Equator Principles on project finance to disclose how they have implemented the principles in practice.
UNEP FI is to distribute a document showing the different initiatives and actors in natural capital area.
Reference was made to a forthcoming report on Universal Ownership by the PRI and UNEP FI, which will quantify environmental externalities for investors. Research firm Trucost is working on this and the report is due later this year.
UNEP FI and Volans are planning a follow-up meeting in early 2011.