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UNEP FI publishes 'roadmap' for natural capital considerations by financial institutions

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28 May 2013

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has released a 'NCD Roadmap', which seeks to implement the four key commitments of the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD). The UNEP FI is a global finance-led initiative to integrate natural capital considerations into financial products and services, and to work towards their inclusion in financial accounting, disclosure and reporting.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the global financial sector, which aims to to identify, promote, and realise the adoption of best environmental and sustainability practice at all levels of financial institution operations in order to develop and promote linkages between sustainability and financial performance.

The UNEP FI currently works with over 200 financial institutions, and has 41 signatories to its 'UNEP Statement of Commitment by Financial Institutions on Sustainable Development', which outlines key acknowledgements and commitments made by signatories in order to fulfil these objectives.

Under the Natural Capital Declaration, signatory institutions commit to:

  • Understand the impacts and dependencies of financial institutions on natural capital (directly and through customers) which can translate into material risks or opportunities
  • Embed natural capital considerations in financial products and services
  • Work towards achieving a global consensus for the integration of natural capital in private sector accounting and decision-making
  • Work towards achieving a global consensus on integrated reporting and disclosure.

The publication of the NCD Roadmap represents the second phase of the implementation of the National Capital Declaration, and seeks to encourage signatory financial institutions to show progress in implementing the NCD commitments, develop practical tools and metrics to integrate natural capital in asset classes and financial products, and increase the number of signatories. The Roadmap explores each of the commitments in more detail, and outlines gaps and options to structure work on each.

On the third NCD commitment which is focused on accounting for natural capital, the Roadmap notes that work "should lead to a sort of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Natural Capital (GAAPNC) via [a] coalition of financial institutions and accounting bodies and firms to integrate natural capital in private sector accounting and decision-making", with an aim of develop an accounting framework for financial institutions by 2015, and a scoping report on developing a possible global standard by 2020.

On the fourth NCD commitment around disclosing and reporting on natural capital, the Roadmap notes the number of initiatives currently underway and seeks to form a coalition of financial institutions to develop, among other things, "templates for natural capital disclosure and reporting for financial institutions in association with relevant bodies such as the Global Reporting Initiative, the International Integrated Reporting Council, and the Carbon Disclosure Project".

Click for access to the NCD Roadmap (link to the UNEP FI website).

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