330 companies call on governments to force the publication of biodiversity data

Companies argue mandatory reporting would give them the information they need to meet targets

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Hundreds of companies around the world made an unusual request on Wednesday, asking governments to force them to disclose the impact of their operations on biodiversity.

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Three hundred and thirty companies from 52 countries have signed the « COP15 Business Statement for Mandatory Assessment and Disclosure » ahead of the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity, COP15, which will be held from December 7 to 19 in Montreal.

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COP15 is shorthand for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD, which has been ratified by 196 countries. At COP15, governments will negotiate new targets up to 2040 to protect biodiversity during this decade.

Historically, reporting biodiversity data was voluntary, but companies say mandatory reporting would give them the information they need to meet targets.

« Assessment and disclosure are an essential first step in generating action, but they will only have impact if they are made mandatory, » the statement said. “At COP15 in Montreal, we call on you to adopt, in Goal 15, mandatory requirements for large corporations and transnational financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, by 2030 .

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Signatories to the statement have combined revenues of $1.5 trillion and include Canadian companies such as Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and Toronto-based cement company Lafarge Canada Inc. Other major international signatories include These include BNP Paribas SA in France, Ikea in the Netherlands, operated by Inkga Group, and Swedish H&M Hennes & Mauritz Inc.

Hentie Dirker, chief ESG and head of integrity at SNC-Lavalin, said the lack of transparency around biodiversity means the business community doesn’t have the data it needs to act.

“Overall there is not enough progress being made,” he said. “Taking this step to assess and disclose industry’s impact on nature will allow the business community to have a much better understanding of the scale of the problem, which means we can take the right steps.

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The business community depends on the natural environment, said Robert Cumming, sustainability and public affairs manager for Lafarge Canada. “The story is very simple: if we continue on this trajectory, there will be no more profitable companies in 30 years,” he said. « The loss of nature is eating away at our economy. »

Cumming said in a recent post on LinkedIn that companies can use transparency as a tool to avoid « greenwashing », which is when companies claim to be environmentally friendly for marketing purposes. but do not really make significant efforts in terms of sustainability. Transparency compels companies to act, he said.

The CBD aims to conserve biological diversity, to ensure the sustainable use of nature and to share the benefits of the “genetic material” of living organisms that could prove useful to humans. But since its entry into force in 1993, the loss of biodiversity has only continued. Today, more than 41,000 animals are threatened with extinction and natural ecosystems have declined by an average of 47%.

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