PRESS RELEASE: 20 financial institutions make far-reaching commitment on natural capital
From the Natural Capital Declaration website:
Support grows for finance initiative in run-up to Rio+20.
3 May 2012: The CEOs of Standard Chartered (UK), Nedbank (South Africa) and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, have signed the Natural Capital Declaration [see note 1], bringing the number of endorsers to 20.
The new endorsers join the CEOs of financial institutions from Australia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, the British Isles and the US [see note 2].
The Declaration, which will be launched at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) [see note 3] in Brazil this June, is a statement by the financial sector committing to work towards integrating natural capital criteria into financial products and services.
The announcement on the latest signatories comes today as Mr. Bas Rüter, Director of Sustainability of NCD signatory Rabobank, speaks about the Declaration at a high level event on Natural Wealth Accounting in New York, co-sponsored by Botswana, France, the World Bank and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) [see note 4]. The event is part of a fortnight of negotiations taking place this week to inform the Rio+20 Conference.
Lars Thunell, Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Finance Corporation, said: “IFC is firmly committed to protecting the environment. The recent update of IFC’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability reflects our recognition of the value of natural resources and their contribution to people’s livelihoods. I am therefore very glad to be a signatory to this declaration and for IFC to participate in the leadership that financial institutions are taking on this important issue.”
Andrew Mitchell, Founder and Executive Director of the Global Canopy Programme, one of the convenors of the NCD [see note 5], said: “By endorsing the Natural Capital Declaration, CEOs are demonstrating their leadership and commitment to start understanding the value of natural assets and the services they provide.
“This is part of a wider trend among governments, businesses, and now the finance sector to increasingly take account of risks and opportunities related to the world’s rapidly disappearing natural capital.”
UNEP FI’s interim head Yuki Yasui said: “By launching the Natural Capital Declaration at Rio+20, our message to the summit’s negotiators and government delegations is that the financial sector is ready to take the next step on the path of smart and sustainable finance, and that it calls for policy-makers to put in place enabling conditions to facilitate this.”
The Declaration also calls upon national governments to develop the enabling policy framework to support and incentivise organisations – including financial institutions – to value and report on their use of natural capital, and thereby work towards internalising environmental costs.
The Natural Capital Declaration was recently hailed by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) as a “key investor initiative” in the run-up to Rio+20. [see note 6].
The Declaration is being convened by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV).
Notes to Editors
Note 1: The Natural Capital Declaration, to be launched at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, is a statement by the financial sector demonstrating its commitment to work towards integrating natural capital criteria into financial products and services for the 21st century. It acknowledges and re-affirms the importance of natural capital in maintaining a sustainable global economy, and calls upon the private and public sectors to work together to create the conditions necessary to maintain and enhance natural capital as a critical economic, ecological and social asset. The declaration states that “Natural capital comprises Earth’s natural assets (soil, air, water, flora and fauna), and the ecosystem services resulting from them, which make human life possible. Neither these services, nor the stock of natural capital that provides them, are adequately valued compared to social and financial capital. Despite being fundamental to our wellbeing, their daily use remains almost undetected within our economic system. Using natural capital this way is not sustainable.” Read the Declaration at www.naturalcapitaldeclaration.org, or follow it on Twitter: @NCDeclaration
Note 2: For a full list of signatories, please visit the NCD website: www.naturalcapitaldeclaration.org.
Note 3: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. From 20-22 June 2012, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together at the Rio+20 Conference, to shape the global debate on ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity, and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet. Visit www.uncsd2012.org.
Note 4: For today’s high-level side event in New York see 3 May agenda in programme of Second Informal-Informal Negotiations on the Zero Draft of Outcome Document of UNCSD, 23 April – 4 May here: www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/content/documents/522Second%20round%20Informals%...
Note 5: NCD convenors
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a global partnership between the financial sector and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP FI works closely with over 200 financial institutions to carry-out the mandate of identifying, promoting, and mainstreaming the adoption of best environmental and sustainable practices by financial institutions policy-makers. The backbone of the partnership is the UNEP Statement of Commitment by Financial Institutions on Sustainable Development, through which members openly recognize the role of the financial services sector in making the global economy sustainable, and commit to integrating environmental and social considerations into all aspects of their operations. UNEP FI’s activities include research, training, and advocacy. The partnership’s Secretariat is in Geneva, Switzerland. www.unepfi.org or follow us @UNEP_FI.
The Global Canopy Programme is an alliance of scientific institutions around the world, applying the tropical forest intelligence of our networks to protect forests and the vital ecosystem services they provide to humanity. We are a think-tank and catalyst, actively testing innovative ways to protect tropical forests in a globalised economy that still values them more dead than alive. Visit www.globalcanopy.org or follow us @GlobalCanopy.
The Center for Sustainability Studies (GVces) of the Business Administration School of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV-EAESP) is a place of study, learning, reflection, innovation and knowledge production, staffed by professionals with a wide range of multidisciplinary expertise and a tremendous capacity for creativity, who are engaged and committed, curious and daring and, in particular, who have a genuine desire to change the world. GVces works on the formulation and monitoring of public policies, the construction of self-regulation instruments and the development of business management tools and strategies for sustainability, on a local, regional, national and international level. Visit www.fgv.br/ces or follow @GVces.
Note 6: To read the UKSIF press release, please visit: www.uksif.org/cmsfiles/press/5390331/UKSIF_PRESS_RELEASE_-_UKSIF_champio...
Note 7: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
Note 8: Rabobank Group is a Netherlands-based, international financial services provider operating on the basis of cooperative principles with a predominant focus on providing all finance services in the domestic market. Internationally the Group’s focus is on food and agriculture. In line with its cooperative roots, Rabobank Group is a cooperative bank, comprised of independent local Rabobanks, plus their central organisation Rabobank Nederland and its (international) subsidiaries. The organisation has almost 60,000 employees (fte) worldwide and operates in 48 countries. Rabobank Group has the highest credit rating of all privately owned banks, awarded by international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch and DBRS. For more information visit www.rabobank.com.