Sustainable Growth Podcast

Exploring nature and biodiversity: tracking the environmental footprint for financial Institutions

Episode 15, Season 7

This is our last episode before we break for the summer! This week on the LSEG Sustainable Growth podcast we speak to John Willis, Director of Research, Planet Tracker. We get into all sorts, including the difference between nature and biodiversity, the importance it plays for financial institutions and how is it being tracked. Can companies be doing more to look at their nature footprint and not just their carbon footprint?

Host: Jane Goodland, Global Head of Sustainability at LSEG


  • Jane: [00:00:01] Welcome to the LSEG Sustainable Growth Podcast where Sustainability and finance meet. I'm your host, Jane Goodland, and in this episode we talk to John Willis, who is research director at Planet Tracker. We cover all sorts from the difference between nature and biodiversity, why it matters to finance and what we all need to do next. So let's hear what he had to say.

    Jane: [00:00:25] So hello, John. It's lovely to be here with you today, and perhaps you can start off by telling us who you are and what planet Tracker is all about.

    John: [00:00:34] Well, thank you very much for inviting me. I can confess I regularly listen to your podcast. I'm not just saying it because I'm on it. And I think you're the jolliest interviewer I've ever come across, so I hope you're going to maintain that throughout.

    Jane: [00:00:48] Well you know I'll try.

    John: [00:00:49] Even if I say something stupid.

    John: [00:02:16] Yeah, anyway thank you for inviting me. And perhaps even more importantly, thank you for focusing on biodiversity, because I really think it's become an extremely important topic and hopefully we'll have an opportunity to explore that. Yes, I'm the director of research at Planet Tracker. Planet Tracker is sort of very simply tries to align financial markets with a sustainable future. Our particular focus is on nature and planetary boundaries related to that.

    Jane: [00:01:20] And am I right in saying that Planet Tracker is sort of like a cousin of or some sort of sibling of Carbon Tracker that people might be a bit more familiar with?

    John: [00:01:30] Yes, thank you. That's a very, very good point. So Carbon Tracker started first and actually is reflected in many ways in what you see between climate and biodiversity. But Carbon Tracker started first 11 years ago. Planet Tracker actually just had its five-year anniversary and maybe that sort of reflects where markets were at that time. As you've said, we're a not-for-profit, so we are always very grateful to our funders, but we have now been amalgamated under the Tracker Group. So it's the two parts and it's the same joint founders for Carbon Tracker. That's Nick Robbins and Mark Campanale for Planet Tracker and Carbon Tracker.

    Jane: [00:02:15] And so, are you focused on shining a light on the issues through research and analytics? Is that the main kind of mechanism you use, or is it are there other things that you get up to?

    John: [00:02:26] That is actually the first point. So when the CEO started running Planet Tracker, that's Robin Millington started running Planet Tracker. The idea was firstly to establish a reputation through research, but now that's sort of not enough. We've got to deliver change. So the idea is that the research is steppingstones to delivering change. So we monitor, for example, the impact that we're having. So does someone take up our narrative? Are we able to share our ideas? Do they develop into financial instruments? Do corporates change behaviour? That's what we're trying to achieve.

    Jane: [00:03:05] And probably that's kind of quite difficult to measure over, over the short term. So this is a long-term game, I presume?

    John: [00:03:11] That's right. I mean, there are some measures that we regard as nice moving in the right direction, but low impact. So for example, someone saying in their sustainability report that we are taking biodiversity seriously, we go, well, that's great news, but that is a step in the right direction. But how tangible is it? The other end, i.e. very high impact, would be a firm turning around and saying we now clearly do this, we spend CapEx on this and it's related to biodiversity. That would be very high impact. The first example would be a step in the right direction but low and we hope to obviously move up that spectrum.

    Jane: [00:03:57] Great. Okay, that makes sense. So before we get on to nature more generally, I'm more interested in you, John. I want to know how did you arrive at your current position? Because I know that you've worn several hats and they've not always been nature hats, have they?

    John: [00:04:12] No. Sorry, Jane, are you saying that I'm a jack of all trades? I won't keep going at this stage.

    Jane: [00:04:17] Not at all.

    John: [00:04:19] No that’s actually a very fair point. So I actually started, believe it or not, in trading and dare I say it on a podcast like this, actually, it was with an oil company and it was trading oil products. And from then I actually moved into the sales side who actually wanted to look at utilities and energy more generally. So I started as a sell side analyst, sort of you work your way up doing that. Then I actually moved over to the buy side because I was very, very interested to see both sides of how the financial markets work, then left Deutsche Asset Management at that time and we set up a portfolio management company based on sustainability. So the funds we all ran were sustainable, did that for a number of years. And then it's just one of those things sort of out of the blue, I should say out of the green perhaps. I received a call saying, Would you consider looking at an NGO, a think tank, looking at nature, planetary boundaries? And I thought, oh, this sounds really, really interesting. And that's why I'm here now.

    Jane: [00:05:30] Is this a personal passion project as well as, you're good at research. I mean, because strikes me it helps if you kind of really care.

    John: [00:05:39] Yeah no, I think you've really got to care. I mean, this isn't a pitch, but there's a lot of people in the NGO community, and by the way I think it's very difficult to get this balance right. I think you've got to be very passionate about what you do. But if you're overly passionate and I'm not suggesting that everyone in the financial markets is not overly passionate, but they can sort of get a bit tired of this, you've got to do this now. It's the most important thing in the world. It's trillions because one moment it's millions, then it's billions and then it's trillions.

    Jane: [00:06:14] Lots of zeros, basically.

    John: [00:06:16] That’s right exactly. And I've lost count. So I think what really helps and we've done this at Planet Tracker is we take some people from a financial background, some people from an environmental background and people also from a corporate background. And I think it's that mixture which hopefully allows us to get a message that resonates.

    Jane: [00:06:39] Yeah, and I think it's a good point you make actually, because the research that's coming out of the Tracker family, shall we say, I think is really quite differentiated from perhaps some other research that's out there. And it does from the one the pieces of research that I've looked at, both on the carbon and the planet side, are a really good blend of kind of both the environmental sustainability side of things, but really blended with a solid financial, basis. And I think that's what makes it really compelling. So listeners, if you haven't checked out the reports or the websites, then I urge you to do so because they're a very good read. So that's you, fascinating career. I guess the thing that I'd like to ask is why all this matters. So I think for some people the link between nature as we know it and financial markets, that link is very unclear in terms of how do those two things interrelate? Why do they matter to each other? So perhaps you can help us unpick that.

    John: [00:07:42] It's a good question and we get it a lot. I have to be surprised, Jane, that we're surprised that we still get this question so much. And it's sort of actually makes us look at ourselves and think, are we not able to relay the correct messages or explain ourselves? So maybe it's us that's at fault. So let me have a go. And I know that you're going to stop me if I'm not being clear. Would you mind if I just start with a couple of definitions? Because I think it's actually quite important and I don't want to sort of bore your listeners. But the first thing I just want to say in terms of nature, when I'm talking about nature, I'm talking about sort of all animals, plants and other things in the world. Basically, it's the physical world or universe as we know it that that's nature. Biodiversity and to be honest, biodiversity in nature often used in the same term and there's reasons for that, I think partly because of UN classifications and things. But biodiversity is plant and animal life. So let me just give an example. If I've got a river, a river is part of nature. The things living in the river would be part of the biodiversity, just to be clear. And then this other thing that sort of often gets people thinking, what are we talking about is are these ecosystem services. So those are simply the processes and outputs from nature. So for example, if you take the river, if there's some water filtration taking place, that is an ecosystem services, the removal of carbon, the pollination of crops, those are all ecosystem services.

    Jane: [00:09:18] I think that's really useful actually, because I do think there is a fair amount of interchangeability, is that a new word of biodiversity in nature actually. And the two are distinct. So, what are we going for today? Are we going to talk nature?

    John: [00:09:31] Let's go big Jane. Let's go with nature. I'm not overly worried about it, I have to say, because I think if people are talking about the living things, biodiversity, that's great. But what I would say is if you're talking about an oil reserve, you'd say, well, that's not living, but obviously it's part of nature. So I think probably the people in the financial markets, they're probably most concerned about nature, really.

    Jane: [00:09:54] Okay so, why does it matter then?

    John: [00:09:57] Why does it matter?

    Jane: [00:09:58] Why does a bee matter to a sell-side analyst? The two extremes, actually.

    John: [00:10:05] Yeah I thought one of the things that might be interesting is as you will know, Jane and probably many of your listeners, there was a very big agreement done at the end of last year. It sort of got sandwiched in between a lot of events and very confusingly was called a cop, a conference of parties. And it was 15, unlike the Climate Cop, which was 27.

    Jane: [00:10:28] It's very confusing for folks.

    John: [00:10:30] It’s really confusing. So what you have is you have, a UN group looking at biodiversity. That's what they were charged to and they came up with a global biodiversity framework. Now the interesting thing is, and it's so frustrating to people is you go, Oh, these things take forever. And the reason that they take a long time is you've got to get a lot of countries to agree on what that wording is going to be. And literally they go through it line by line, word by word. And when they're not happy, they put a bracket around it. And that means they've got to return to that word and remove the bracket or remove the word, whatever it is. Now, the interesting thing is 188 countries agreed in December last year, the global biodiversity framework. And I thought, I wonder what they said, because they had to get a lot of countries to agree on every single word. And their statement was as follows This is the quote “Biodiversity is fundamental to human well-being, a healthy planet, and economic prosperity for all people”. So you think, okay, that's pretty big. But it went on to just add a bit more. Probably for the business and corporate and financial community. And it says “we depend on nature”. There's the confusion, by the way. I've used biodiversity, now nature. So let's not worry about it. “We depend on nature for food, medicine, energy, clean air and water, security for natural disasters, as well as recreation and cultural inspiration. It supports all systems of life on Earth”. So, I think about it and I'm not disagreeing with any of that. And I turn around and think, well, that's why it's important, but let's be really unemotional about it and say, Actually, I'm not going to think about cultural inspiration. I'm not even going to think about people taking time off and recreation. There's another statistic that gets kicked around the market, which is actually a misquote, and it's from the World Economic Forum, a fantastic organisation, and they're quoted regularly as saying 50% or thereabouts, 50% of GDP is reliant on nature. Actually, what they said was about 50% was moderately or highly reliant on nature. Actually, the whole economy is reliant on 100% is dependent on nature in some form or another, obviously less so in some cases. So financial markets absolutely need to understand it. It's a different issue whether they want to price it in. I completely accept that. And because of that, there are often unintended consequences or implications that happen. So let me just take one. One piece of work we did was looking at credit rating agencies. So credit ratings, as you know, really sort of define one the most important structures within the fixed income market. And we thought, well, let's look at nature dependent countries and see how those sovereigns are rated by the credit rating agencies. Guess what? If your nature dependent, you generally have a lower credit rating with the exception of if you're an OECD country, if you're not an OECD country, the more nature dependent you come, the more you're punished.

    Jane: [00:14:05] But just checking in on something there. Presumably that's not because they're nature dependent, because are those credit rating agencies even incorporating nature at all?

    John: [00:14:14] That's exactly my point, Jane. So is that intended or not? But the sort of mathematical statistical relevance is really, really interesting. So I'm not saying to you that credit rating agencies have all gone around and said if you're a non-OECD country and you're highly nature dependent, I'm going to give you a low rating. I'm just saying that that's how it plays out.

    Jane: [00:14:38] There is a correlation.

    John: [00:14:39] And I think it also happens in things like, well, you know more about this than I do with your organisation. It also happens in indices. And I'm very interested that a number of organizations are now beginning to look at indices and go, how much of that indices is really dependent on nature to a high degree And some very high percentages are coming out. If you go to a corporate level, you've got things, obviously things like food companies, beverage companies, very big users of water forestry, things like that. Oil and gas obviously very reliant. It's not living. I get that. But reliant on nature. Well, clearly those companies are very, very dependent. And I think there's something else creeping up the agenda. And we're sort of betting it could take off. And I think that's litigation. And that is why I think financial markets really should look at that.

    Jane: [00:15:34] Who would be the litigators in that in that, Would that be indigenous communities or?

    John: [00:15:38] Yeah, I think it can be a variety of things. So you've actually got some excellent NGOs who do this work. So someone like Clientearth, for example, would come to mind immediately with some very high-profile cases. And the interesting thing is if you are polluting nature, it's often very, very visible. Now, you could say in a legal environment, does that make a difference? Well, I'm going to leave that to the legal experts, but it's also can be very local. So you can see it in your area, which also makes it very traceable. These are all very, very promising signs for Litigation, I'm not saying everyone should be sued tomorrow, but I'm just saying you're going to have to start taking this into account. And interestingly, there's an expectation that when it comes to litigation and nature, it will be much more penalty based. So you will be able to attribute value to it. It's more difficult in climate because you could say, well, the fact that the temperature around the world is rising, is it really just me? So most of the legal cases are trying to stop you do something which may not carry a financial penalty. I hope that sort of makes sense to you, but it's an important issue.

    Jane: [00:16:58] Moving on a little bit from the litigation side of things, I want to kind of talk to you about economic value in the context of externalities. So I think that if you're thinking about comparing contrasting nature with climate, which we will come on to by the way, but just for a moment, thinking about the differences in the context of externalities. So at the moment, we price carbon either through mandatory markets or voluntary markets, but in some way, shape or form, companies are starting to think about units of carbon, CO2 equivalent and a monetary value, which makes kind of the internalization of climate easier. Is that something that you think is valuable? Because we've talked about the dependency on nature and we've talked about the potential litigation, but at what point could companies start quantifying that dependency and risk of litigation, for example, in terms of a financial element on their balance sheet, for example? And is that likely to ever happen?

    John: [00:18:01] Yeah, I mean well hope it happens because I think that that is a defining moment because if you're a CFO of a corporate and an accounting body requires it, you have to do it or you're in serious trouble. So that is one of the major changes that can definitely happen. There are absolutely ways to measure impact. For those old enough like me to remember, they'll remember all this discussion that took place, when you acquired a company and there was intangible assets such as goodwill. They said, Well, you can't measure it. Well, got there. In the end, most of these things are measurable if there's a way. But your point about externalities, is fundamental. You're spot on. It’s fundamental to this whole discussion. The point is that, of course, if it's an externality, I don't need to price it unless I'm basically forced to. So in a system where we want growth, where companies are often valued on growth, I also get the income argument, but where they're valued on growth, then actually trying to keep costs away from me is extremely important. And I was actually reflecting before coming on and speaking to you, I thought, how long has this discussion been going on? Well, a long time, but I thought where would I sort of definitely go for documentation. And there was a bit of a wobble in the 1980s about this. And the UN set up a commission to actually say, well, if we are all about growth and that drives our capitalist system, how do we make that sustainable? And there was a commission called the Brundtland Commission, I think it reported late 1987 or thereabouts, and they were asked to look at this one issue. And I thought their summary of what is sustainable growth applies to this day. And what they said is sustainable growth should be defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. And I thought, you know what, that's word perfect, still applies to this day.

    Jane: [00:20:18] It absolutely does. And I think it's actually testament to those involved at the time that actually they came up with something that's so enduring, actually, and so fit for purpose still. I remember it and I remember sort of studying it and I guess the point is it's got the word development in it, right? So it's not just about sustainability in its own right. It's about marrying both kind of the economic development in a sustainable way. So yeah, absolutely love it. And I think it still applies. Let's turn our attention to this whole kind of climate v nature side of things, because it's interesting how climate has, has effectively been the pop star almost and nature is the understudy, and it doesn't seem quite right to me. So, you know, why have we come to this situation when actually surely climate is part of nature, isn't it?

    John: [00:24:39] Look I know your listeners don't listen to this for a history lesson, but it's very revealing. So in 92, which maybe more people will remember, there was the Rio conference also called the Earth Summit, and it was in the aftermath of the Cold War. And the idea was get people together to cooperate because sustainability is a bigger issue than one sovereign state. So they needed to look across internationally and look for agreements that set up three conventions. It set up the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change called the UNFCCC. It also set up the Convention for Biological Diversity, which was the CBD, which is the conference I was referring to in Montreal at December last year, and actually the one that people often haven't heard about but is actually at the same cop number as biodiversity is the UNFCCC, which is the UN convention to combat a desertification. So you had deserts, You had biological diversity. Biodiversity as we know it, and climate change. And then they were all sort of let loose in effect and you're right, if it is a race and I'm slightly worried about the narrative because it appears like a race. So climate went first, probably biodiversity is coming up, that sort of railroad, the railway line after them and then somewhere along the desert group will appear as well, I guess. But of course they're all related. And it's really interesting that if you look at and attend the various cops, they've all got issues that the other ones are talking about. So if you go to Cop 27, which was the climate change one, the last one held in Egypt, there was a whole section on food, etcetera. And you go, hang on, is that CBD? Is that climate? Is that food? Of course they're all related. And you keep seeing this sort of time and time again. As you pointed out at the beginning, our own Tracker G roup company in some way sort of reflects what was important at that time. So I think why then is there a difference apart from maybe this sort of historical accident? I think it's to your point that climate in many ways, I think certainly from a capital markets point of view was more measurable. What financial markets are brilliant at is give me a benchmark and tell me what sort of currency to use. And you're right, carbon. And by the way, if it's not carbon, I'll give you a carbon equivalent and I'll give you a benchmark. It's one and a half degrees C, Don't go over that and try and stay below that. That's actually very, very understandable. And I think that's given the impression that biodiversity is just too complex. But there are some, I'll say, relatively simple measures, such as species that can be used.

    Jane: [00:24:23] I guess the question is saying if the singular unit of measure that is commonly used in financial markets is the unit of tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which probably oversimplifies dramatically how difficult all this stuff is, it is helping investors to start to really think about the carbon intensity of their portfolios. And certainly companies thinking about kind of what's going on for them in terms of climate. So we're starting to see tools and some good sophistication of analysis of transition plans, etcetera. So then you flip that to nature and you think, well, what needs to happen in the nature space in order to get to that level of maturity? Now, this is where my head starts to hurt because I just think, how do we get to a singular unit? And this is all so kind of detailed, right, in terms and so varied across the world, in terms of the rainforests in South America are providing certain ecosystem services and then, lakes and rivers in other parts of the world are providing other services and benefits. So how on earth do you get to a point where you start measuring this stuff? And I'm hoping that you're going to give me some hope that there may be some way to do that.

    John: [00:25:35]  I am going to give you hope because I think a lot of it's already being done and I think it's all available. And I think there's a couple of things, if I may say. So I'm going to be a bit provocative. We hear a lot from the financial markets as a whole is just, John, just give us the measure that's okay and tell us where we've sort of got to get to. And I've got to say, I always turn around and say, okay, so I'm valuing a financial company. What is the measure? Well, what are you measuring? Are you measuring growth or start looking at EPS growth peg ratios or are you looking at. Well, no. And I want to look at income. So start looking at yield, look at interest cover, look at dividend cover. Oh, no. Actually, I want to look at how financially strong they are, start looking at balance sheets. Start looking at cash flow. Okay. So let's be honest. There isn't a single way.But there is a measure that we all understand and it has been measured for a long time and it's species. And if you say, well, I don't want to measure all the species in the world, I'll go, okay, then don't measure, your largest index. Go and measure a subset of those. So what I'll say is keystone species, they're the ones that really impact everyone else. So that means that that particular species has a massive impact on the whole ecosystem.

    Jane: [00:26:57] Can you just clarify what’s a keystone species?

    John: [00:27:01] So a keystone species is something that's actually really important to the whole ecosystem. So if it's removed from the ecosystem, it has very widespread effects. So an example of a keystone species would be something like the American beaver. Why? Because not only does it affect vegetation and things, it affects water flows. It also affects biodiversity within rivers. So the effect of removing beavers and you'll know that a number are now being reintroduced in certain countries would be an example of one. So again, this is incredibly well studied. I mean, the Zoological Society in London has done loads of work on this. And I don't know and this is where I'm being very provocative, Jane, deliberately is I don't know whether actually financial institutions sort of don't want to go there because they're very, very focused on climate. And it's sort of don't give me any more. Again, I'm not overly sympathetic on that because financial institutions and you know this because of your company, they're brilliant at measuring things. They've got very sophisticated data systems. They've got very sophisticated risk systems. Don't tell me you can't take this on board. I mean, if you're trading your trade, getting data in nanoseconds, I'm not asking for nanosecond information. So, I just wonder, is it, I sort of don't want to do it. Is it really as complicated? So, what I'm going to do is keep pushing back and say, you haven't given me the measure, you haven't given me a benchmark, so I'll give one. Why don't we just stop the collapse of species and you'll go, give me a measure, I'll give you a measure. There's actually a number of very, very credible companies that do it. But the World Wildlife Fund have an index, the Living Planet Index, and they measure it. They've been measuring it since 1970, and it's down over 60%. Well, that's pretty alarming. And by the way, if you go to places like Latin America, it's down over 90%. I mean, that should be ringing alarm bells. So coming back to your point, there is a measure, there's history there because I get is important. They want to see trends. And it's I don't want to be really bleak about it but it's really depressing data to look at.

    Jane: [00:29:18] I suppose what needs to happen is we need to get that unit of measure. Just far more commonly understood. So I think organizations like yourselves and others that you've mentioned are really critical to that education and broadening out of understanding, because often I think organizations be those financial institutions or corporates or whatever. It's the fear of the unknown, if there's something is not familiar to you. You know, perhaps there's a tendency not to dive kind of straight in. I guess the other thing that potentially might be going on is this kind of sense of thinking, well, it's not the job of the financial system and it's not the job of the corporates. Isn't nature all about governments and governments have a big role to play in the extent to which their natural resources within their control are either exploited, protected or somewhere in the middle. So what do you say if people come with that perspective of saying, look, this isn't something that is for us to solve? This is a governmental issue.

    John: [00:30:14] You want the polite version, I'm assuming?

    Jane: [00:30:16] Well, probably, yeah because I don't want to get censored. I'm not sure we've got the bleeping capability on our recording.

    John: [00:30:23] That's right. So your question actually is very well backed up. Again, I'm going to quote the World Economic Forum, who do a global risk report every year, which is sort of telling you, I mean, I know you know it telling you, how business, how thinkers are, how governments are thinking about risk. And very, very interestingly, if you looked at biodiversity in the shorter term, sort of under the five years or whatever, actually it wasn't in the top ten. If you looked further out longer term, it was number four. So what I'm feeling is people are thinking, Oh, there is some risk with biodiversity. But probably to your point, I'm not really understanding what that risk is. To your point about whose responsibility is. Well, we'll come back to your earlier question about why should financial markets care? Well, one of them, if I'm going to do it through complete self-interest, there are loads of companies dependent, moderately and highly dependent on nature. So they should really care. Because if I don't care if I'm a food company, I'm a food processor. Those are obvious ones. If I'm very reliant on water, I really should care because that is my business model. I'm not even making an environmental one argument. I'm making an economic one, so what was interesting, if you really dug into the wealth risk report, it was basically saying, what you've just said is that 5% of respondents believed that business was responsible for putting it right. So I'm assuming that they're going well, my business has nothing to do with nature, therefore it's not my problem. And a further 5% said, well, okay, it's private and public, so that's 10% saying private is involved in some way. So presumably 90%, which they tell you is the job of international organizations, regional organizations, national organizations and governments. Basically, it's not our problem. And my point is, is that they get nature for free. So I don't think they want to be associated with it. And maybe and this is a bit depressing, so we don't want your listeners to be depressed is in some options and this is really unpleasant is that businesses can move on. So let's say I'm a food trader and let's say I'm a reliant on a country and actually they completely decimate the soil. Okay? And actually, in some countries that has happened. There's been massive degradation of soil. And by the way, if that was a factory, a company wouldn't accept that. It would think, why have I just run down this factory so it doesn't work anymore unless they're depreciated. But those businesses can move on. So I take, my crop from country, a country A goes down the pan, I move on and buy from country B Now, does that allow country and you think so? There's no responsibility. That business is not really affected unless the prices change. And I just think until it's this point you made about externalities, until this is priced in, I do think Businesses want to remain distant, so much so that even when you have an industry which has to restore nature, they often not in all cases, got to be careful what we say, but in many cases they won't. So take the mining industry, that's an obvious one. And you say, look, this was constructed. We're extracting a finite resource; we're going to remove it. But the requirement in most countries is you will then restore it. So let's go to very well-known countries and see whether that restoration takes place. It doesn't take place. So if you take Canada, well known for its mining, there are over 10,000 abandoned mines never restored, Australia is 50,000 and the US is over 160,000. Why? Because the mining company suddenly can't operate anymore, goes bankrupt before all that decommissioning has to take place. So I can walk away. The system allows me to walk away from nature.

    Jane: [00:34:43] And I think it sounds like the system needs to be fundamentally rewired. And, just talking to you over this period of time, it's almost like there's this kind of clear to do list, right, in terms of, and some of it's, of course, about disclosure. And we need companies and investors to do more disclosure. But fundamentally, what it comes down to is the fact that our economy is reliant on free stuff and that free stuff is nature. And all the while it's free, then actually there's no inherent value or there's limited inherent value placed on it. And I guess this comes back down to the fundamental flaw to the current way of doing things. So I mean, this has been absolutely enlightening and we could go on and on, I'm sure. I just want to close because we are out of time, but I just wanted to get a view from you about a company. Let's say the company hasn't even thought about nature yet. What's the main thing they need to do right now?

    John: [00:35:42] Good. Thank you for finishing on that point, because that's very positive. Well, I think it's really encouraging because I think there's three things that are all available now. So the first thing is, I hope I've convinced you that basically biodiversity nature loss is very serious and that there are tools available. So what do I do as a company? Is it back to your question? Well, the first thing is I can go and see and I can get access this all for free. By the way, I can go to the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures - that's the TNFD, and that allows you to simply assess where you are in this picture, how to assess that and how to disclose that. So that's the first thing. It's all there, all the frameworks. They're just coming up to the final beta so that's going to be available in September. There's also our friends from Climate who will be very well known, the science based targets. So once you sort of know what to disclose, how to assess it, they will actually help you with all that measurement. And the science based targets have just released their first ones on nature. And then you go, Well, okay, I've now assessed it, disclosed it, I know how to measure it. Now what do I do? What's the action? Well, there's a group for that as well called Business for Nature, and they will actually help you with the actual actions businesses have to take. And the whole thing is available for free.

    Jane: [00:37:09] Brilliant. Okay, so if you're listening companies and you don't know where to start, you've got a three point plan there. One is a TNFD shout-out to them. So that's all about disclosure and assessment. Then you've got SBTI so you can set your targets on nature. And then in terms of the actually doing it and putting it into practice, it's business for nature. So what a good way to finish. John, thank you so much. You've been generous with your time and your expertise. So thank you so much and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Thank you again.

    John: [00:37:38] Well, thank you for having me. Thank you.

    Jane: [00:37:43] That's it for this week's episode of the LSEG Sustainable Growth Podcast. I've been your host, Jane Goodland, and if you're not already following us, then please do. And don't forget to rate us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or any other platform you use. If you've got questions, comments or someone you'd like us to talk to, then get in touch by email at Thanks for listening. I hope you'll join us for another episode very soon.

Also available on

Terms of use

The content and information (“Content”) in the program (“Programs”) is provided for informational purposes only and not investment advice. You should not construe any such Content, information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other professional advice nor does any such information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed. None of the Content constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), its affiliates or any third party service provider to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments in this or in in any other jurisdiction in which such solicitation or offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. All Content is information of a general nature, is illustrative only and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. LSEG and its affiliates are not a fiduciary by virtue of any person’s use of or access to the Programs or Content. You alone assume the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information or other Content in the Programs before making any decisions based on such information or other Content. In exchange for accessing and/or participating in the Program and Content, you agree not to hold LSEG, its affiliates or any third party service provider liable for any possible claim for damages arising from any decision you make based on information or other Content made available to you through the Program. LSEG and its affiliates make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the Content. LSEG disclaims all liability for any loss that may arise (whether direct, indirect, consequential, incidental, punitive or otherwise) from any use of the information in the Program. LSEG does not recommend, explicitly nor implicitly, nor suggest or recommend any investment strategy. LSEG and its affiliates do not have regard to any individual’s, group of individuals’ or entity’s specific investment objectives, financial situation or circumstances. The views expressed in the Program are not necessarily those of LSEG or its affiliates. LSEG and its affiliates do not express any opinion on the future value of any security, currency or other investment instrument. You should seek expert financial and other advice regarding the appropriateness of the material discussed or recommended in the Program and should note that investment values may fall, you may receive back less than originally invested and past performance is not necessarily reflective of future performance.