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Biodiversity and climate change

Climate change and environmental degradation are inextricably linked and require immediate and significant action to avert potentially irreversible damage. The impacts of rapid climate change, such as forest fires and acidic oceans are causing significant biodiversity and nature loss. 

Simultaneously, protecting and restoring our natural world can make a substantial contribution to both climate change mitigation, by removing emissions and adaptation, for example, rewilding upland areas reduces the impacts of flooding in downstream towns. In 2022, the UN Biodiversity Conference will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade. This will be critical as time is running out to address these issues.

Our approach to biodiversity and nature

In 2021, NatWest Group formalised the ‘Emerging Environmental Issues Working Group’ to identify, track and make recommendations on a wide range of environmental issues relevant for our business. In 2021, we also classified ‘biodiversity and nature loss’ as a formal emerging risk for NatWest Group.

Ahead of COP26 NatWest Group published its biodiversity and nature statement (PDF 158KB) that outlined a number of initiatives and work NatWest Group is involved in related to biodiversity and nature.

It is critical for NatWest Group and our customers to work towards becoming ‘nature positive’ by reducing negative impacts and increasing restoration of natural capital. We are at the start of the journey, in 2022 we will work to better understand nature-related risks and opportunities.

As a bank we have significant indirect impacts on biodiversity and nature through our financing. We seek to reduce and limit negative impacts through our environmental, social and ethical sector-based lending policies, which help determine the customers and projects we finance.

Transitioning towards a nature-positive economy will require reform and improvement of food, fishing and agricultural systems and subsidies to ensure they reflect the real costs and benefits of nature in economic systems. We must direct financial resources to ensure they work for nature, people and planet. In 2021, we announced our new target to provide £100 billion of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing by the end of 2025. Our climate and sustainable finance criteria (PDF 208KB) includes lending to projects that protect and restore biodiversity, habitat and ecosystems.

Collective action

NatWest Group is helping to drive collective action on nature and biodiversity through number of exploratory collaborative groups including: 

  • The Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) member of the Informal Working Group 2020, Forum Member 2021, which will be delivering a risk management and disclosure framework for organisations to report and act on nature-related risks.
  • United Nations Environment Programme Finance (UNEP FI) Initiative, Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) Biodiversity sub-group, which is focusing on developing indicators, metrics and methodologies for target setting on biodiversity.
  • HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative (as part of the Financial Services Taskforce). It aims to accelerate the flow of private investment into sustainable infrastructure projects, which includes restoring the balance sheet of natural capital.
  • Banking Environment Initiative (BEI) working group, participating in projects including the Soft Commodities Compact and BEI Financial Risks arising from Biodiversity Loss and Land Degradation.