A remarkable milestone was achieved at the recent UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) held in Montreal, Canada. With almost 200 countries agreeing to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, setting out a commitment to protecting 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030, it has been described as a truly ‘historic’ moment.

Adding credibility, this global framework will include measurable targets and require all large companies to disclose their dependencies and impacts on nature – their biodiversity footprint. Such transparency could transform the way investors understand the biodiversity-related risks and opportunities in their portfolios, making them more confident in redirecting capital toward sustainable endeavours.

Over the last three years, one of our holdings Schroders Healthcare Innovations has undertaken more than 200 engagements with companies on biodiversity. It has also invested in Natcap Research, which has developed and is rolling out a world class framework to assess biodiversity at an asset level. The Global Head of Sustainable Investment at Schroders, Andy Howard, rightly stated the agreement “is a signal the financial community cannot ignore” and that it “should make financial regulators sit up and listen”. The agreement will essentially encourage the asset management industry to assign a price to natural resources that had formerly been regarded by investors as cost-free. This would now be in line with the fact that natural resources play a crucial role in our economy and society, with over half of global gross domestic product (GDP), US$44 trillion, dependent on it, and therefore preserving and restoring nature can make a powerful contribution in efforts to mitigate climate change.

A major issue that is damaging natural habitats and ecosystems is plastic pollution. It is important to curb plastic production and consumption by adopting circular economy principles; preventing and eliminating plastic leakage into the environment; and increasing the circularity of necessary plastics. Food retailing is one industry that could benefit substantially since nearly 85% of plastic packaging waste ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste. And one of our holdings BNP Paribas Smart Food targets the most innovative and responsibly managed leaders in sustainable food supply, resource efficiency and nutrition.

BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM) believes active engagement with the biggest polluters across the supply chain is critical. One example of its engagement is that it supported a resolution calling on a company to cut plastic waste to zero by 2030 and disclose how it will meet its sustainability targets to shareholders. For BNPP AM, knowing how companies perform when it comes to biodiversity matters. This may influence decisions on whether to invest. For that reason, it recently provided funding to CDP (the not-for-profit organisation that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies) to add questions linked to nature-loss and biodiversity to its research questionnaires. This should help companies provide better and more consistent information about their biodiversity-related commitments. BNPP AM also actively participates in the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) and supports Business for Nature’s Make it Mandatory campaign. These enhanced disclosures will enable it to allocate capital in a way that can help protect clients from risk, while contributing towards a better future for people, businesses – and the planet.