Preserving and restoring biodiversity: A major challenge for all
To structure its actions and understand their impacts, the Group relies on studies by IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). In its report published in 2019, IPBES states that one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, a figure that is growing each year. This natural capital, which relies on the variety of plants and animals that support the ecosystems needed for our survival, is priceless. Letting it disappear would have far reaching consequences on the environment, of course, but would also have human, economic, societal, and ethical impacts.
Fully aware that its activities, such as those of its individual, corporate and institutional clients, play a key role in preserving biodiversity, the Group is diversifying and strengthening its actions as a leading economic player, as well as through collective actions. To that end, the Group has published a Position on biodiversity, marking a major milestone in this movement.
"The degradation of biodiversity has multiple environmental, economic and human repercussions. Actors across our societies must contribute to protect ecosystems and resources. The movement can only be collective, international and deeply embedded in behaviour. That is why, within BNP Paribas, we are proactively announcing concrete actions to our customers, employees and partners and have decided to affirm the Group's commitments in a biodiversity position. In this context, coalitions like act4nature or future TNFD are key levers for greater integration of biodiversity challenges. "
Director and Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas and Chairman of Entreprises pour l'Environnement.
The means to take action
According to IPBES, several indirect factors contribute to changes in ecosystems and biodiversity: socio economic, demographic, technological, cultural and governmental. In addition, the report highlights five threats that directly affect biodiversity: Changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of certain organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive species. In its Position, published today, the Group states that it intends to take action in particular on the first four:
Changes in land and sea use: focusing on the fight against deforestation and the artificial use of soil;
Direct exploitation of certain organisations: supporting actions that minimise the consumption of resources and the protection of the oceans;
Climate change: already being a priority of the Group's environmental policy since 2011;
Pollution: acting in particular on pollution related to plastics and cigarette butts.
A committed player for many years
BNP Paribas, as a financial institution, has already mobilised through its financing and investment policies. For example, the Group excludes financing for projects in areas classified as rich in biodiversity, particularly in certain sensitive sectors such as agriculture, palm oil, the mining industry, and unconventional oil and gas.
Last February, the Group strengthened its policy in the field of agriculture with new measures relating to deforestation in Amazonia and Cerrado, Brazil. For its customers producing or buying beef or soy from these regions, the Group will only support those targeting zero deforestation by 2025 in their production and supply chains.
In the field of marine biodiversity, the Bank has already supported financing the ecological transition of marine vessels with a commitment of €1 billion by 2025 and is also mobilising through initiatives like the Global Fund for Coral Reefs.
More recently, the Bank's action in the fight against climate change have been marked by signing on to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, launched by the UN Environment.
The various businesses that make up the Group are also, of course, fully committed to this fight to preserve biodiversity. These efforts include BNP Paribas Real Estate, which strives to integrate biodiversity issues into the whole of its real estate activity, and BNP Paribas Asset Management, which will shortly roll out its roadmap to measure the ‘water’ and ‘forest’ footprints of its investment portfolios by 2022.
In addition, the Group is working to develop the circular economy - notably through its subsidiary BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions - and is designing new sustainable finance tools that aim to index the cost of financing for biodiversity issues, such as sustainable equity linked loans and green bonds.
And because the Group has nearly 193,000 employees in 68 countries, it also acts within its own operational scope, supporting employees to reduce their use of single-use plastic, notably through the Green Company for Employees programme. The BNP Paribas Foundation is also a powerful source of support for the Group’s commitments, through research and raising awareness among the general public about the challenges of biodiversity.
Reaffirmed commitments to promote biodiversity
In line with the publication of BNP Paribas' Position, the Group has made several new commitments aimed at helping its customers reduce their impacts on biodiversity and further reduce its own impact.
The Group aims to:
Achieve a target of €3 billion in financing based on criteria linked to the protection of terrestrial biodiversity (positive impact loans, green bonds, etc.);
Build an investment package of €250 million by 2025 for startups mobilised in the ecological transition;
Assess by 2025 all of its corporate customers on criteria linked to biodiversity;
Dialogue with its clients active in raw materials and within sensitive countries by requiring them to demonstrate their commitment to combating deforestation;
Deploy training programmes for its 199,000 employees, such as the ‘WeEngage’ programme;
Dedicate €55 million euros of new investments to the protection and restoration of natural capital.
Coalitions in favour of biodiversity
IPBES states that it is not too late to act, but with a subject as vast and complex as biodiversity, all actors muste be mobilised and commited, including governments, scientists, companies, financial institutions, NGOs, citizens and consumers. Well aware of this, BNP Paribas does not act alone and actively participates in several coalitions that work on the major environmental and societal challenges confronting the world. In addition to act4nature and EpE, BNP Paribas is involved in the launch of the Natural Related Financial Disclosures Task Force (TNFD), the Cerrado Manifesto, as well as several local initiatives around the world.
Together, we can all contribute to the preservation of biodiversity!
photo credit : Augustin Lazaroiu