With the UN Convention on Biodiversity (COP15) started in Montreal on 7 December – where countries negotiate a new biodiversity action plan – the timing could not be more critical for GRI to propose a global reporting standard on biodiversity corporates’ impacts.

GRI COP15 biodiversity impacts

At the UN Convention on Biodiversity (COP15) over 20,000 delegates from 190 countries are meeting in Canada, with the goal of setting the essential targets and commitments in order to address and mitigate devasting biodiversity loss around the world.

GRI has published last week a revised transparency standard for biodiversity impacts, with a 12-week public comment period. The proposed GRI reporting standard seeks to unlock accountability for the impacts organizations on the natural world. The revision process saw extensive engagement with other biodiversity frameworks and initiatives, to align the GRI Standard with new developments in the field. IPBES, CDP, the Align project, Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials, and the Accountability Framework were all represented on the technical committee that led the review, while the draft was shaped by input from the Science Based Target Network (SBTN), Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and WBA Nature Benchmark.

COP15 seeks to establish a new biodiversity framework, committing the global community to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, and achieve recovery by 2050.  Despite some progress, the previous framework resulted in only six of 20 targets being partially met by the 2020 deadline. Target 15 of the framework, to be negotiated at COP15, has a proposal for mandatory requirements for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, which already has strong backing in the global business community.  

GRI COP15 biodiversity impacts

Scale of challenge: turning interest into action

As new research by CDP of nearly 8,000 companies has concluded, while businesses are ready to disclose data on biodiversity, a majority (55%) have failed to take action on biodiversity commitments they have already made. Meanwhile, the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting (October 2022) included findings that only 40% of 5,800 leading companies in 58 countries report on biodiversity. 

The CDP analysis found that few companies (30%) currently assess biodiversity impacts in their supply chains. GRI’s draft Biodiversity Standard (which CDP has confirmed will inform their platform) has a key emphasis on supply chain transparency.

The updated 2022 WBA Nature Benchmark (for which GRI was represented on the Expert Review Committee) identifies that, from a snapshot of 400 business across eight sectors, only 5% have completed a full assessment of how their operations impact biodiversity. When contrasted to the 50% who set greenhouse gas reductions targets, it further emphasizes the need for comprehensive and widespread biodiversity reporting.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has warned that biodiversity is declining in every global region.

What this context underlines is that companies face huge demands, from multiple stakeholders, to do more to assess, disclose and reduce their biodiversity impacts.

The exposure draft responds to these pressures, building on the latest authoritative insights and extensively revamping the 2016 Standard (GRI 304). It proposes changes that:

  • Reflect reporting throughout the supply chain, given many biodiversity impacts are found beyond the scope of a company’s own operations;
  • Help organizations prioritize attention on their most significant impacts, recognizing the challenge of scale in addressing biodiversity impacts;
  • Add new disclosures to connect with the drivers of biodiversity loss, including climate change, pollution, and overexploitation of resources;
  • Introduce requirements for biodiversity-related human rights impacts, such as those on indigenous peoples, local communities and workers;
  • Emphasize location-specific data, to ensure businesses are transparent about the sites where their biodiversity impacts take place.

GRI COP15 biodiversity impacts

Source: GRI