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COP15: Is ‘Nature’ the New ‘Climate’?

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We need nearly two planet Earths to sustain our consumption of natural resources as human beings: Our use of ecological resources and services is about 75% higher than our planet’s capacity to regenerate them. This is not really a recent issue, but the scale of the challenge has reached unprecedented levels — and nature-related risks are material to businesses. In response, global commitments to tackle environmental degradation are increasing. 

With the COP15 biodiversity conference currently underway, Swenja Surminski, managing director of climate and sustainability at Marsh McLennan Advantage, chats with experts across the fields of climate, finance and risk about why the global effort to halt biodiversity loss is so important for business.

On following the path of climate change:

Nature is very much an issue that has reached a critical point in terms of its significance, and its position, we are seeing, can be likened to that of climate change before the development of the Paris Agreement. 

On nature-based solutions:

Nature-based solutions are a fundamental part of action for climate and biodiversity. There are many potential nature-based solutions. … [One idea] is carbon capture, but not mechanical carbon capture … [rather] using nature to allow carbon capture. … It is more about reforestation, or restoration of mangroves, or ecosystem services that nature is providing. 

The mangrove one is an obvious one in the risk field. You use mangroves to protect coastal areas from flooding. And the same goes with coral reefs … they play a huge function in … delivering a service to society. And without them, we are much more exposed to losses from hurricanes, wind storms, and so on. 

On the investor’s perspective:

The question we still face is why should regulators and, specifically, central banks care about biodiversity and nature loss? … The simple answer is, of course, that biodiversity and nature loss have macroeconomic and financial stability implications. … The key point really is that climate change and biodiversity loss are closely interconnected and potentially also interacting in a compounding way. This makes it very hard to justify only looking at climate change without taking biodiversity loss into account. … The big issue really is that not everyone is on the same page. 

Gunes Ergun

Engagement Manager for Marsh Climate & Sustainability Strategy

Gunes is an engagement lead at Marsh Climate and Sustainability Strategy, and a secondee at the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures. Previously, Gunes worked as a strategy and management consultant supporting companies in their innovation, change management, M&A, organizational design, investment plan and business development activities.

Sarika Goel

Global Head of Sustainable Investment Research at Mercer

Sarika Goel is a senior researcher at Mercer, and sits within the Responsible Investment and Manager Research teams. She leads the global and regional investment manager research for listed equity sustainability strategies, including environmental and other social demographic themes. Sarika is responsible for the development of RI related intellectual capital and was co-author of “The Pursuit of Sustainable Returns: Integrating ESG and Sustainability by Asset Class.”

Cornelia Neumann

Partner for Finance and Risk at Oliver Wyman

Cornelia spends the bulk of her time at Oliver Wyman working with EU banks and financial sector supervisors on key regulatory matters, ranging from stress testing, recovery and resolution planning, compliance, and AML, to governance, conduct, and risk culture. Cornelia joined Oliver Wyman in 2011 from the Financial Stability Department of the Bank of England, entering the field of consulting at the height of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

Simon Dikau

Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics

Simon joined the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in May 2019. He is working as a Research Fellow on central banking and financial supervision in the context of environmental degradation, risk and the economic transition to a sustainable economy. He is also the Research Director of the International Network for Sustainable Financial Policy Insights Research and Exchange (INSPIRE), a global research network and research stakeholder of the Network of Central Banks and Financial Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).

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