PRI Springs Into Action on Nature

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    Tokyo (NordSIP) – On Wednesday 4 October the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) chose the occasion of its annual PRI in Person conference in Tokyo to launch Spring, its new stewardship initiative on nature.  In line with the investment industry’s renewed focus on biodiversity loss and nature restoration following the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) agreed at COP15, the Spring initiative will initially target forest loss and land degradation.  Other drivers of biodiversity loss will be added over time as the Spring initiative develops.

    Spring sets out expectations for investee companies regarding their business operations, strategy and risk management.  They will be required to commit to science-based and timebound targets in line with the GBF and overseen at Board level, along with the appropriate interim milestones and monitoring.  Companies will also be expected to similar standards within their supply chains and ensure that their political engagement activities align with the goals of the GBF and Paris Agreement.

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    The launch of the Spring initiative was accompanied by a panel discussion on climate and nature moderated by Tamsin Ballard, the PRI’s Chief Investor Initiatives and Collaboration Officer and involving Toby Goldner, Executive Director of the TNFD, Yoshio Hishida, President and CEO of Sunitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, Jan Rasmussen, PensionDanmark’s Head of ESG and Sustainability, Kenechi Ueyama, VP of ESG at the KAO Corporation and Heather Wright, VP Markets at the WWF.  Also dialling in to the discussion was Professor Jim Skea, Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who commented: “We need to recognise that the world is facing interconnected crises around climate and biodiversity.  We are removing carbon from the atmosphere through avoided deforestation and reforestation, and that is the biggest contributor to carbon removal at the moment, but there are other techniques that can be used.  For example, with agricultural practices it is possible to build up more carbon in soil, and that has a twin benefit because it takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, but it can also make agricultural systems more resilient against climate change.”

    Creating the right economic environment and incentives for nature-related investment is essential, and in not yet quite where it should be, according to PensionDanmark’s Rasmussen: “It is definitely an area where policy action needs to happen.  That is not to say that we are doing nothing in the meantime.  We have been looking at the real assets where we are outright owners and made the promise that all new such developments will be nature positive by 2030.  We have used a methodology developed in Danish and British universities, and plan to have the results externally audited each year.  We are also involved in a pilot project to see whether offshore windfarms can be designed to be beneficial to ocean life.  PensionDanmark fully supports collaborative engagements in this field and we are part of the NatureAction 100 as well as the new PRI Spring initiative.  We believe engagement on nature should target governments as well as companies.”

    Commenting on the launch of the Spring initiative, the PRI’s Tamsin Ballard said: “By opening up Spring’s investor statement for endorsement, we’re establishing the groundwork for ongoing vital work which will allow investors to tackle the risks entailed by nature and biodiversity loss through their stewardship work.  The initiative’s focus on real-world outcomes and emphasis on responsible political engagement are consistent with PRI’s own existing workstreams and will complement and bolster the efforts of other existing initiatives already active in the space.  We are keenly aware of the need to provide a suite of options to allow investors access to the best collaborative tools to fit their needs, while also avoiding duplication.”

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