UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference – a ‘historic’ deal is reached to protect nature

The recent UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) saw nations from around the world agree on a package of measures designed to tackle the perilous loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems by 2030. Madhushree Agarwal reflects on how this global framework could support investors in redirecting capital towards more sustainable endeavours.
Published 24 January
2½ mins

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.

Clients of Nedbank Private Wealth can get in touch with their private bankers to understand how their portfolios are responding to market events, or answer any questions prompted by the webinar. You can also call +44 (0)1624 645000 and speak to one of our client services team.


If you would like to find out more about how we can help you manage your investments, please also contact us on the same number as above. Or you can get in touch using the links to the forms towards the end of this page.

The value of investments can fall, as well as rise, and you might not get back the original amount invested. Exchange rate changes affect the value of investments. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future returns. Any individual investment or security mentioned may be included in clients’ portfolios and is referenced for illustrative purposes only, not as a recommendation, not least as it may not be suitable. You should always seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.

about the author

Madhushree Agarwal

Madhushree Agarwal

In 2015, Madhushree joined the London office of Nedgroup Investments, a sister company of Nedbank Private Wealth, as an investment analyst. She focuses on macroeconomic asset allocation and fund research.


Madhushree holds an MSc in Investment and Wealth Management from Imperial College Business School and has a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Banking and International Finance from Cass Business School. Madhushree is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.

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