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Accountability for Nature: January 2024 Comparison of Nature-Related Assessment and Disclosure Frameworks and Standards Overview

The Accountability for Nature was co-authored by UNEP-WCMC and UNEP FI, provides an overview of nature-related assessment and disclosure approaches in the private sector. It explores standards, frameworks, and systems utilised by companies to assess and disclose nature-related issues. Focusing on definitions and coverage of environmental management concepts, the report examines both voluntary and mandatory approaches globally recognised for shaping market best practices. Research conducted between April and November 2023 analysed key characteristics of these approaches, with input from industry experts.
The seven nature-related assessment and disclosure approaches covered in this report are the following:

  • CDP disclosure system
  • European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS)
  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards
  • International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Standards
  • Natural Capital Protocol
  • Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) target setting guidance
  • Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework

Key findings:

  1. Definitions of materiality vary among the reviewed approaches, with some emphasising financial materiality or environmental and social materiality, while others offer flexibility. Guidance on identifying material nature-related issues also varies.

  2. While most approaches aim to encompass all areas, they primarily focus on land and freshwater, with less attention given to the ocean area. Efforts are underway to develop methodologies for measuring and disclosing ocean-related issues.

  3. All approaches strive for sector applicability but differ in the extent of tailoring to sector contexts. Additional guidance is provided for sectors with high nature-related dependencies, such as agriculture, extractives, and finance.

  4. Most approaches require assessment and disclosure within companies' direct operations and value chains, but the level of detail and scope of coverage in upstream and downstream disclosures vary.

  5. Location-specific information is deemed essential across all approaches, with several recommending the provision of spatial data for precise location capture.

  6. Assessment of impacts is central to all approaches, with recognition that comprehensive analysis extends beyond direct business activities to encompass changes in ecosystem services and assets.

  7. Business dependencies on nature are covered in most approaches, increasingly considering the interplay between dependencies, impacts, and external drivers of change.
  8. Approaches share similar definitions and categorisations of nature-related risks and opportunities, emphasising disclosure of material effects on financial performance and strategy.
  9. Companies are urged to disclose metrics alongside descriptions of nature-related issues, though the level of prescriptiveness on metric selection varies.

  10. Setting targets for improving performance on nature-related issues is encouraged across most approaches, with a trend toward setting targets on specific dependencies, impacts, risks, or opportunities at locations.

  11. Engagement with rights-holders and stakeholders is emphasised, with emerging guidance on stakeholder engagement practices, both at operation locations and beyond.

The visual above is an overview of the key characteristics of the nature-related assessment and disclosure approaches reviewed.

To read the full report, click here.

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