Robeco: Selecting target companies will be key challenge for Nature Action 100

Biodiversity initiative will also take into consideration indigenous rights.

Selecting target companies for NatureAction 100 will likely be harder than for the initiative’s climate counterpart, according to Peter van der Werf, senior manager of engagement at Robeco. 

Van der Werf was speaking to RI as the investor-led initiative – which RI exclusively revealed was underway last April – provided an update on its progress. 

The aim of NatureAction 100 is to enable investors to engage with companies and policymakers deemed to be systemically important with the goal of reversing nature loss by 2030. It is headed by investors including Robeco, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Federated Hermes and Storebrand Asset Management, and it is supported by the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation. Currently, the initiative is in the process of scoping its governance structure and selecting partner organisations for coordination and to support operations.

The governance structure is due to be completed by the summer. Speaking with RI, van der Werf said the next steps would include applying for funding and fine-tuning the list of companies to target. “This will be a more challenging effort for biodiversity than it was for climate. When Climate Action 100+ started, they were able to take the top 100 from a carbon footprint perspective. Whereas for biodiversity, you have different angles from a hotspot perspective, from a global perspective, from a footprint perspective that you need to bring together.

“There’s also the question of do we look at companies with the highest impact, or with the highest dependencies? All of those elements come into play. So I think that’s a process where we will also need some time.”  

He did, however, point to some sectors which tend to be associated with biodiversity, including food and agriculture, mining, oil and gas and apparel. CA100+ recently updated its benchmark methodology to include indicators and assessments focused on the just transition. 

Van der Werf told RI that social issues, in particular indigenous rights, will also feature in NatureAction 100. “It has been identified as a crucial piece that should be included. This is an important element of safeguarding biodiversity. In many cases having proper systems in place to safeguard indigenous rights goes hand in hand with an outsized impact on protecting biodiversity.” 

BNP Paribas Asset Management previously told RI that Nature Action 100 planned to have an independent technical advisory group “to ensure that our work is grounded in the science”.

This has been “switched up a little to allow for a more investor-led technical advisory group”, van der Werf said. “But it will still bring in independent science experts. The change was made because we want to avoid the group being pulled in different directions in case the organisations which the experts came from have different methodologies.” 

Investors interested in receiving information on Nature Action 100 in the coming months are invited to express their interest here.   

Monday’s news comes as a research programme focused on biodiversity – and boasting AP2, KPMG, SEB, Storebrand Asset Management, Eurosif and Swedbank amongst its partners – has been granted funding. 

BIOPATH aims to develop, innovate and test the most viable and effective solutions needed to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity.  

On why Storebrand Asset Management got involved, a spokesperson told RI: “We see that protecting biodiversity is one of our critical responsibilities as an investor. It’s critical for businesses and investors such as us to recognise companies’ dependencies and impacts on nature, expose ‘hidden’ risks and ensure that these risks are mitigated. The BIOPATH programme will contribute significantly to ensuring this.” 

The Nordic investor will collaborate with the programme and partners to map, evaluate and co-develop existing and new approaches where biodiversity is integrated into financial decision-making. The institutional and political consequences of these approaches will also be analysed. 

Karl-Oskar Olming, head of sustainability strategy and policy at fellow partner SEB, has high hopes for the programme. He notes that key objectives include the development of “practical methodologies, tools and metrics for financial decision-making and target-setting that can be used widely geographically and in the financial community and that are consistent with other initiatives such as TNFD, etc”.

“Naturally we are humble regarding the many challenges involved,” he added, “but we do see a value in being close to where this knowledge is being generated.”