According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
Biodiversity is also becoming a more important theme in the financial industry. The Dutch central bank DNB recently published, as the first central bank globally, a report stating that loss of biodiversity also poses risks to the financial sector.
Financial sector and biodiversity
As the DNB report also shows, biodiversity is very relevant for the financial sector. For Triodos Bank, this goes beyond the risks that financial institutions run when they finance companies that have a major negative impact on biodiversity or that their business depends on ecosystem services.
In its vision document Towards ecologically and socially resilient food and agriculture systems, Triodos Bank calls for a completely different design of the way in which we produce, trade and consume food. Banks should only invest in initiatives that have a positive impact on people and the environment. Biodiversity, should in general not be seen as a risk: nature has value in itself and should be promoted by finance as well as by policymakers.
Finance positive change
Since its inception, Triodos Bank has been doing just that. It has only financed or invested in activities that do not damage biodiversity. Based on our minimum standards for financing and investments, we exclude companies involved in, for example, deforestation, environmental pollution, pesticide production or mining. If companies are active in sectors with a high risk of damage to biodiversity, Triodos Bank requires additional policies or certificates.
The objective of many of our loans is to stimulate biodiversity. Organic farming, for example, doesn't use artificial fertilizers and pesticides, recognises the importance of biodiversity and integrates the highest standards of animal welfare. All of Triodos Bank's agricultural loans are to farms that are either certified organic, in conversion to organic production or demonstrate a clear alignment with those principles and practices.
Positive impact on biodiversity
Through the funds managed by Triodos Investment Management, we aim to accelerate the transition to more sustainable agricultural systems. Its impact equities and bond funds invest in companies that lead the transition towards a sustainable agricultural system. One example is Danone, which is expanding into plant-based food, playing an important role in the transition from animal proteins to healthier plant-based proteins and thus decreasing the environmental footprint regarding water use and CO2 emissions.
Biodiversity is also one of the impact themes of the Triodos Foundation, part of Triodos Regenerative Money Center. One of the initiatives it supports Commonland whose goal is to restore 150 million hectares of degraded ecosystems over the next twenty years. Another example is support for a research project into the transition to circular, ecology-based agriculture.
Impact in numbers
The organically managed land on the farms which Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed in 2019 could produce the equivalent of 31 million meals in 2019, or enough food to provide a sustainable diet for approximately 28,000 people. Together they financed approximately 34,000 hectares of organic farmland across Europe. This means one football-pitch sized piece of farmland for every 13 customers, each one producing enough for 550 meals per year. We also financed 31,000 hectares of nature and conservation land.
Partnership Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF)
Triodos Bank is also working with other financial institutions in the Partnership Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF) to investigate how a bank or investor can contribute to the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and how the impact of these investments can be calculated or measured. Financial institutions could use this knowledge to formulate investment policies that take biodiversity into account.
PBAF will work on a report that will describe a common basis for measuring impact on biodiversity. The impact is calculated or measured for a number of cases of concrete investments in, for example, reforestation, forestry and landscape restoration. The goal is to create a generally accepted and supported common foundation and methodology.