COP15: Momentum for corporate transparency

Published date: 12 December 2022

GRI engagements during the UN biodiversity summit in Montréal

With the UN Convention on Biodiversity (COP15) underway, over 20,000 delegates from 190 countries are meeting in Montréal, Canada, with the goal of setting the essential targets and commitments in order to address and mitigate devasting biodiversity loss around the world.

As revealed last week, GRI has published a revised transparency standard for biodiversity impacts, and a 12-week public comment period has begun. The proposed GRI Standard is timely, given growing attention at COP15 on the reporting and data that will be needed to assess progress and hold organizations to account.

Against this backdrop, GRI is speaking at a series of COP15 events this week, as well as hosting global webinars for stakeholders, to share more about the more insights on the draft Biodiversity Standard and the cooperation efforts with other initiatives.

Nature is the new climate: What does this mean for your organization? (14 December,10:30 EST; Delta Hotels Montréal, and online)

  • GRI’s Harold Pauwels (Director of Standards), Matthew Rusk (Head of GRI North America) and Elodie Chêne (Standards Manager) take part in this Agendi-hosted event on the role of corporates in addressing their biodiversity and land use impacts, with discussion on the GRI Biodiversity Standard alongside other accountability metrics.

Business and biodiversity: The essential role of global sustainability reporting standards and their impact on corporate decision making (14 December, 18:15 EST; Yellow venue – room 513A, and online)

  • Elodie Chêne participates in this official COP15 side event, hosted by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and Value Balancing Alliance. THe session will explore the fundamental role of reporting standards in transferring global bipodiversity targets into business action.

GRI global webinars: Biodiversity Standard public comment period (15 December, 09:00 CET, and 17:00 CET (11:00 EST), online)

  • The GRI team will share more on the key highlights and proposed changes to the revised Biodiversity Standard, identified reporting challenges and trends, and how stakeholders can participate in the consultation process to shape the final standard. Q&A webinars will take place in January, while details on regional events (February) will be announced soon.

From A to Z with regulators, standard-setters and framework bodies @ COP15 (15 December, 18:00 EST; Humaniti Hotel Montréal, and online)

  • Alongside representative from CDP, ISSB, TCFD and TNFD, GRI’s Harold Pauwels is a panellist for a session on the role of metrics and disclosure standards in reaching corporate transparency on biodiversity, as required to achieve COP15 outcomes.

Mandatory disclosure ambitions at COP15

COP15 seeks to establish a new biodiversity framework, committing the global community to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, and achieve recovery by 2050.  Despite some progress, the previous framework resulted in only six of 20 targets being partially met by the 2020 deadline.

Target 15 of the framework, to be negotiated at COP15, has a proposal for mandatory requirements for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, which already has strong backing in the global business community.  

Scale of challenge: turning interest into action

As new research by CDP of nearly 8,000 companies has concluded, while businesses are ready to disclose data on biodiversity, a majority (55%) have failed to take action on biodiversity commitments they have already made. Meanwhile, the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting (October 2022) included findings that only 40% of 5,800 leading companies in 58 countries report on biodiversity. 

The CDP analysis found that few companies (30%) currently assess biodiversity impacts in their supply chains. GRI’s draft Biodiversity Standard (which CDP has confirmed will inform their platform) has a key emphasis on supply chain transparency.

The updated 2022 WBA Nature Benchmark (for which GRI was represented on the Expert Review Committee) identifies that, from a snapshot of 400 business across eight sectors, only 5% have completed a full assessment of how their operations impact biodiversity. When contrasted to the 50% who set greenhouse gas reductions targets, it further emphasizes the need for comprehensive and widespread biodiversity reporting.