Varma looks into how prepared its investees are to consider biodiversity

More than a quarter of the listed high-risk sector companies in Varma’s investment portfolio have set targets for preventing biodiversity loss. This came out in a survey carried out by Varma, looking at companies’ biodiversity policies based on publicly available information.

Varma has continued its biodiversity work by surveying its investment portfolio companies’ attitudes and preparedness for risks linked to biodiversity loss. The survey included 282 companies in high-risk sectors. The survey covered Varma’s listed equity investments.

Of the companies, 27 per cent had set targets for considering the prevention of biodiversity loss in their operations. Nevertheless, a clearly larger proportion, just over half of the companies (51 per cent), had expressed their intent to take action for considering or compensating biodiversity loss.

However, only five per cent of all companies had a concrete action plan. Over a fifth (22 per cent) of the companies had not considered biodiversity issues in their public policies at all.

“Although only a small portion of the companies had a plan of action, it is worth noting that many of the companies had committed or intended to commit to considering biodiversity in their operations. Awareness of the impacts and risks of biodiversity loss has only recently become more common. At Varma, biodiversity work is just as key to our environmental responsibility as is climate work. We want to know how the companies we invest in view issues that matter to us,” says Hanna Kaskela, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & Communications at Varma.

“For now, it is difficult for investors to identify companies that are more advanced in terms of biodiversity loss. Especially identifying climate change risks linked to extreme weather phenomena is easier and there are already standardised indicators in place for assessing climate change impacts. When we assess biodiversity loss impacts, the issues are more complex. For example, what is the right number of pollinators for a specific area?” Hanna Kaskela says.

European companies show the way in preventing biodiversity loss

European companies were more advanced compared to companies operating in North America and Asia. Of the sectors, forest industry companies, construction material manufacturers and electricity producers have come the furthest in their biodiversity work. The biggest need for improvement can be seen in companies operating in the transport, beverage and textile industries and companies manufacturing luxury products.

The survey was carried out so that the companies’ biodiversity policies were divided into three categories: (1) expression of the will to take action, (2) commitment and detailed targets for considering biodiversity and (3) a detailed action plan for delivering on the commitment.

The survey is part of Varma’s own biodiversity work, for which Varma created a roadmap last year. Varma’s Biodiversity Roadmap sets a framework for sustainability requirements in preventing biodiversity loss.

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