When Madeleine Ronquest attended the Johannesburg launch of an innovative guide designed to help banks assess their exposure to environmental degradation, a quick look around the room proved it was no longer business as usual in the financial sector.
“When I started out there weren’t any environmental or sustainability people in the banks, and (at the launch) we were looking around and those groups have significantly grown to become teams of people,” said Ronquest, who is head of environmental and social risk, climate change at South Africa’s FirstRand Group.
Ronquest was attending the January unveiling of a step-by-step guide to enable financial institutions to carry out rapid natural capital risk assessments.
Natural capital — the world’s stock of natural assets such as soils and water — affects all economic activities, directly and indirectly. Businesses depend on it for direct inputs, such as water and materials, but also experience indirect effects as when environmental degradation, for example floods or erosion, affect production processes.
The guide was produced by the Natural Capital Finance Alliance (NCFA), a collaboration between the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and Global Canopy, in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The guide promotes the use of ENCORE (Exploring Natural Capital Opportunities, Risks and Exposure), the first comprehensive web-based tool linking environmental change with its economic consequences, produced by the Natural Capital Finance Alliance in collaboration with UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
The guide is the second phase of the Advancing Environmental Risk Management (AERM) project. Download the report here.
The report from the first phase can be found here.