World's largest companies ignoring biodiversity risks

1st December 2020

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michelle purkiss

Less than a quarter of the world's largest companies at risk from biodiversity loss are disclosing these threats in their corporate reporting, a global study by KPMG has uncovered.

After reviewing corporate reports from the top 100 companies by revenue in 52 countries and jurisdictions, KPMG found that just 23% of at-risk firms currently disclose biodiversity-related threats.

This is despite scientists warning that the Earth is losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history, and roughly $44trn (£33trn) of economic value – over half of global GDP – dependent on nature and its services.

While it is notable that 80% of the world's largest companies now report on sustainability, KPMG warned that biodiversity-related risk remains significantly under-reported by the global business community.

“Many companies currently lack a sophisticated understanding of how biodiversity-related risk could affect their business,“ explained Wim Bartels, study co-author and corporate reporting partner at KPMG in the Netherlands.

“They also lack access to tools and methodologies to help them model and disclose the risk impacts. With the foundation of organisations such as the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), disclosures are likely to take a sharp upward trajectory.“

The study found that Latin American companies are the most likely to report biodiversity-related risk, on 31%, while North American firms are the least likely, on 13%.

Mining was the only industry sector in which a slim majority of companies were found to report biodiversity-related risks, with 51%.

Furthermore, the study found that the two UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on addressing the global biodiversity challenge – goals 14 and 15 – are the least prioritised of all the 17 SDGs by businesses worldwide.

“It is critical for all businesses to disclose the risks that biodiversity loss poses to their companies, as well as the impact their companies have on ecosystems,“ said Richard Threlfall, head of KPMG IMPACT. “Our survey suggests that most companies have a long way to go when it comes to providing a full picture of business risks from biodiversity loss.“

Image credit: iStock

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