The UN Biodiversity Conference has been in full swing for more than a week in Montreal, and it’s not just environmentalists, civil servants, biologists or activists from all over the world who are attending COP15. Today, it is the turn of players from the financial world to discuss their involvement in the implementation of the global biodiversity framework.
What are financiers doing at a conference whose ultimate goal is to slow down the unbridled development of our natural resources in order to protect the fragile biodiversity that has suffered for several decades from the double assault of blind growth and global warming?
The answer is simple: 21st century capitalisme century can no longer afford to consider the pursuit of profit as the sole driver of its prevalence. This economic system must also take into account the effects it has on its environment and on its stakeholders.
While the concept of responsible investing developed during the 1980s and 1990s, those that seek to respect environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors have now taken over.
All major investors today seek to respect ESG criteria as much as possible in the selection of their investments because this is the wish of their depositors who certainly want to obtain returns, but not at any price.
This is also the reason why financiers are interested in the implementation of new standards and new rules of the game in terms of biodiversity.
This is the first time this year that financiers, already very present at the various COPs on climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015, have been invited to participate in the UN Conference on Biodiversity.
Representatives of major financial institutions around the world are therefore taking part today in the Finance and Biodiversity Day of COP15. Throughout the week, these financiers were also able to participate in external events organized on the sidelines of COP15.
It should be noted that large private investors are mostly here to support initiatives aimed at achieving the objective of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030, and to align the allocation of their assets of this objective.
BNP Paribas bank is one of these major financial institutions participating for the first time in a UN Biodiversity Conference. Laurence Pessez, director of social and environmental responsibility at BNP Paribas, explains that ESG investing has become central to the business strategy of the largest European bank.
“We finance the energy transition by prioritizing renewable energies. For example, we no longer finance coal. We left this sector to achieve the objective of neutrality in 2030 in Europe and in the OECD countries.
“We stopped financing projects in shale oil and gas as well as the oil sands in 2017”, explains Mr.me Weigh.
This means that BNP Paribas no longer participates in capital investment projects in these sectors of activity, but that it supports customers who want to convert to other sources of renewable energy.
The French bank, present in more than 60 countries, comes to assess on site at COP15 the impacts of biodiversity in the portfolio of its customers.
We want to create a common methodology and indicators for all financial institutions, everywhere in the world. We are here so that the new biodiversity framework is set in motion. A call to action is issued to negotiators.
Laurence Pessez, director of social and environmental responsibility at BNP Paribas
In office since 2010, Laurence Pessez confesses that the first five years of her mandate as director of social and environmental responsibility have not been easy.
“At the beginning, I was a bit itchy. But since the Paris Agreements of 2015 and the clear targets that have been set, we realize that the “business green” has enormous development potential. It has become the norm, my life has become easier,” notes Laurence Pessez.
Financiers are at COP15 to prepare for the post-conference, when it will be necessary to put in place the measures that will have been decided in Montreal and that their institutions will have to incorporate to evaluate new investment projects with a grid that takes take into account environmental, social and governance criteria, as well as the protection of biodiversity.