The Ethical Investor: Biodiversity is the next big issue, and these ASX stocks have committed to tackling it
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The vast majority (82%) of ASX 200 companies surveyed accept that they have a role to play in protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
However, over 60% say they do not have biodiversity as a material component in their policies, and were not committed to developing one in the next two years.
That’s the result of a recent survey conducted by Martin Currie Australia, the active investment manager of Franklin Templeton Australia.
Martin Currie believes that biodiversity is in crisis, and Australia’s approach to land use puts it at the forefront.
“We believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that companies we invest in on behalf of our clients are considering the potential impact of their business on biodiversity,” said Martin Currie lead portfolio manager for the Sustainable Equity Strategy, Will Baylis.
Despite a lot of progress on companies reducing their carbon emissions over the last few years, the reality is climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked.
“We believe protecting biodiversity is the next big issue, and this will get more attention with the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) final recommendations next year.”
Martin Currie says it will continue to monitor this disconnect, and will keep on engaging companies to ensure they are making progress in considering biodiversity in their daily operations.
According to Baylis, some sectors on the ASX are more advanced than others when it comes to biodiversity.
“We found the property, mining and energy sectors to be advanced in considering biodiversity in their daily operations, and many companies in these sectors have a biodiversity policy, or have biodiversity as a material component of another policy,” Baylis says.
On the other hand, banks and insurance companies see opportunities for the development of markets for ecosystem services like carbon credits.
To engage more companies in the future, Martin Currie has developed a best practice framework which covers identifying biodiversity impacts, setting policies, establishing accountability and monitoring.
The fund manager is currently sharing this framework with the ASX listed companies that participated in the survey.
“We will also be using our extensive company engagement program with boards and management to provide guidance, and to push for further positive change,” says Baylis.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get a better understanding of some of these issues, but one thing is clear – without biodiversity the global economy would simply not operate as we know it.”
Please note that this list is far from exhaustive.
Logistics and infrastructure play Qube says it will enhance practices across its business to protect negative impacts on biodiversity.
The company says it will work hard to ensure a sustainable supply chain in areas under its control or influence.
Qube also says it will engage with key stakeholders including government bodies and local communities to assess and manage biodiversity within its areas of operation.
Gold Road says its primary focuses for environmental protection are biodiversity and land use, responsible management of water resources and minimising waste and emissions.
The company says UN’s Sustainability Development Goal (SDG15), which focuses on promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, is crucial for the company.
“This is important to us as our operations and exploration activities occur in a semi-arid region that has been degraded in parts over the years by prior land use such as pastoral activities, while other parts remain very much as they were in pre-colonial times,” says Gold Road.
The CBA says it is committed to complying with, or exceeding, the requirements of environmental legislation relevant in all areas in which the bank operates.
The bank reiterated that it will not knowingly provide finance to new clients whose primary focus is in the mining, exploration, expansion, or development of oil sands; or oil and gas projects in the Arctic and Antarctic.
In its Environmental and Social report, the CBA concludes:
“We recognise the challenges that biodiversity loss and water scarcity presents; we consider these impacts as part of the environmental, social, and economic assessment of large transactions.”
The natural gas and electricity assets operator said that it is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environments and biodiversity located near its projects.
APA said it has thoroughly identified the impact of its activities, products, and services on biodiversity.
The company says it will protect and restore habitats located near its projects, or in operational sites owned, leased, managed in, or adjacent to, protected areas.
Blackmores’ board has committed to address the risk of modern slavery in the company’s supply chain, and to extend the program to understand climate change and biodiversity impacts.
Blackmores acknowledged that it uses more than 1,000 ingredients, so adopting a sustainable approach to sourcing is necessary to support its long-term viability and mitigation of supply chain risk.
Similarly, the board acknowledged that protection of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity is vital for ensuring long-term and sustainable use of land-based natural resources.