BUSINESS IS FACING UP TO THE RISKS OF DESTROYING THE NATURAL WORLD | Kanebridge News
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BUSINESS IS FACING UP TO THE RISKS OF DESTROYING THE NATURAL WORLD

Companies from around the globe have volunteered to report their impact on nature

By JOSHUA KIRBY
Wed, Jan 24, 2024 12:41pmGrey Clock 3 min

Hundreds of businesses have volunteered to measure and report their impact on the natural world, as they recognise the growing risks to their own operations from environmental degradation, including a denuded Amazon rainforest and dying coral reefs.

While many businesses are struggling to meet coming requirements to report their climate impact, more than 300 banks and companies are pledging to go much further. Early movers from across sectors and countries have promised to regularly publish nature-impact information as set out by the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD, a United Nations-backed initiative.

The first adopters represent $4 trillion in market capitalisation and around $14 trillion in assets under management. They include seven of the world’s 29 globally systemic banks, Japanese investor SoftBank, Norway’s sovereign-wealth fund, Gucci parent Kering, miner Anglo American and pharmaceutical majors GSK, AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk.

Take-up by sector leaders should encourage peers to accelerate their efforts, said Tony Goldner, executive director of the TNFD. The framework is aligned to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed to in 2022 by nearly 200 countries. It recommends disclosures in governance, strategy, risk and impact management, as well as sector-specific metrics and targets for reducing impact.

Biodiversity impact is both a new type of risk and a new opportunity, said Valentin Alfaya, sustainability director at Spanish-listed infrastructure group Ferrovial, one of the first movers. “As a consequence of the implementation of the TNFD and our own natural capital assessment program, sometimes investments are going to be left aside,” Alfaya said.

“When you are interacting with those protected areas that are very relevant in terms of ecological value…it’s really risky for the company, not just in terms of reputation but also in terms of operations and even finance,” he said.

Using the framework will guide investment and help integrate nature into financial decision making, said Marisa Drew, chief sustainability officer at lender Standard Chartered. The move is a “significant opportunity for us to facilitate financial flows toward nature-positive outcomes,” Drew said.

Gauging impact is central to business decisions and managing risk, said Jennifer Motles, chief sustainability officer at tobacco giant Philip Morris International. “The TNFD recommendations and guidance will support us as we continue to focus on nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities,” Motles said.

The ramp-up in disclosure comes amid heightened awareness of the threat posed to the world by such natural degradation. The top four medium-term risks are all environmental, according to the World Economic Forum’s global risk report published earlier this month. They include extreme weather events, critical changes to the Earth’s systems, a collapse of the ecosystem and natural-resource shortages. “The collective ability to adapt to these impacts may be overwhelmed,” the report warns.

The World Bank estimates that the global economy could lose $2.7 trillion by 2030—which would mean a 10% drop, on average, in the economic output produced across all nations—if certain at-risk ecosystems collapse, such as fisheries or pollination by bees.

Adoption of the TNFD is “a clear signal that investors, lenders, insurers and companies are recognising that their business models and portfolios are highly dependent on both nature and climate,” the taskforce’s co-chair, David Craig, said. Natural risk should be treated both as a strategic risk and an investment opportunity, Craig said.

But reporting the damage done to the natural world isn’t the same as stopping it, said John Tobin-de la Puente, a professor of corporate sustainability at Cornell University. Disclosure is less about encouraging companies to change than it is about giving investors clear information on risk, he said.

Unlike carbon emissions, which can be assessed in terms of metric tons, there isn’t consensus on how to gauge environmental impact—whether, for example, in terms of protected species, general biodiversity, or a bundle of measures, said Tobin, a tropical ecologist and corporate lawyer by training. Some efforts have been made to create units of ecosystem impact, but for now, no universal metric exists, he said.

Alternatives to current business models will also need to be created, just as renewable energy has been developed to replace fossil fuels, Tobin said. “Will we get there at some point soon, before it’s too late for the biosphere?” he asked. “That question is still open.”



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Preparatory Work for UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail Project Commences at Full Speed

Preparations have begun on the transformative UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail network, revealing significant construction details during a site visit.

Thu, May 16, 2024 3 min

The $3bn Hafeet Rail project between the UAE and Oman will feature 60 bridges and a 2.5km tunnel, making it an “architectural and engineering marvel,” according to CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi.

Hafeet Rail has announced that preparatory work is moving full speed ahead for constructing the transformative railway link between the UAE and Oman. This announcement was made during a site visit attended by key officials, members of the Asyad and Hafeet Rail executive management teams, project contractors, and consultants.

Key Highlights

During the visit, attendees were introduced to the main components of the project, including passenger, repair, and shipping stations, as well as major bridges and tunnel sites.

The Hafeet Rail project is set to play a very important role in enhancing local and regional trade, unlocking new opportunities in the infrastructure, transportation, and logistics sectors, and fostering economic diversification. It will also strengthen bilateral relations between the UAE and Oman.

The project will involve constructing 60 bridges, some reaching heights of up to 34 meters, and tunnels extending 2.5 kilometres. The Hafeet Rail team showcased the latest rail technologies and innovative engineering and architectural solutions designed to navigate the challenging geographical terrain and weather conditions while maintaining high standards of efficiency and safety.

The rail network will boost various industrial sectors and economic activities and significantly impact the tourism industry by facilitating easier and faster travel between the two countries.

Ahmed Al Bulushi, Asyad Group Chief Executive Asset, noted that the project’s rapid progress reflects the commitment of the UAE and Oman to developing and realizing the project’s multifaceted benefits.

Investment and Future Impact

Al Bulushi added that investments in developing local capabilities and expertise in rail-related disciplines over recent years have enabled the project to reach the implementation phase successfully under the leadership of highly efficient and professional national talent.

Hafeet Rail’s CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi emphasized, “The commencement of preparatory works for construction is a testament to the robust synergy between all parties involved in both nations, achieving this milestone in record time. We are confidently laying down the right tracks thanks to the shareholders of Hafeet Rail and the expertise of local companies in Oman and the UAE, alongside international partners.”

During the site visit, the visitors explored some of the key preparatory sites, including Wadi Al Jizi, where a 700-meter-long bridge towering 34 meters will be constructed. This ambitious project is envisioned as an architectural and engineering marvel in a complex geographical landscape.

Future phases will require more collaboration, with a continued focus on quality, safety, and environmental considerations in line with the international industry best practices.

The Hafeet Rail project represents the first-of-its-kind railway network linking two Gulf nations, marking a significant shift in regional goods transportation. This efficient and reliable transportation option will reduce dependence on slower and less sustainable road transport.

Hafeet Rail promises a 40% reduction in shipping costs and a 50% in transit times compared to traditional land transportation methods, as it will be connecting five major ports and several industrial and free zones in both countries.

This shift will reduce reliance on road transport by cars and trucks and promote more sustainable shipping practices. The establishment of the railway network will also create significant opportunities for SMEs in construction, engineering, and logistics support, acting as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation within the domestic economy.

By linking major ports, the Hafeet Rail project will enable local SMEs to import, export, and distribute their products more effectively, enhancing their market reach and global competitiveness.

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