Past SSF Events 2019

Launch of natural capital risk framework for financial institutions

zurich, 16 january

Together with the Natural Capital Finance Alliance (NCFA), SSF co-organised a launch event for the newly available guide “Integrating Natural Capital in Risk Assessments”, the first step-by-step guide to help financial institutions conduct a rapid natural capital risk assessment. At the fully-booked event, hosted by UBS, 80 professionals gathered to learn more about the guide and the online tool ENCORE, a project funded by SECO and MAVA Foundation. These tools enable practitioners to better understand and assess their natural capital exposures.

After opening notes from Liliana de Sà Kirchknopf (Head of Private Sector Development Division, SECO), Sabine Döbeli (CEO, SSF) and Christian Leitz (Head of Corporate Responsibility management, UBS), event chair Anders Nordheim (Programme Leader, Ecosystems and Sustainable land use, UNEP FI) kicked-off the presentations and introduced the speakers.

Katie Leach (Senior Programme Officer, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre) presented an in-depth look into the ENCORE tool and the vast knowledgebase behind it. She showed how users can apply the tool to visualise economic dependencies on nature and how environmental change creates risks for businesses. The tool covers 167 economic sectors on a global scale, and helps banks better analyse, measure and report on their exposure to natural capital (i.e. water, forests and clean air) and related risks and opportunities.

To give an overview of the new guide, Jon Williams (Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC), took the floor, explaining PwC’s work with pilot banks in preparing the report. Collaborating with banks located in areas heavily affected by environmental stresses, such as South America and South Africa, was a success factor to define key elements of the report.


Following these two input presentations, in a panel moderated by Eric Usher (Head of UNEP FI), first-hand experiences and insights from practitioners were presented. Liselotte Arni (Head of Environmental and Social Risk, UBS) and Madeleine Ronquest (Head of Environmental and Social Risk, FirstRand) joined Jon Williams on the panel. Madeleine pointed out how important the topic is for their bank, as South African banks generally have substantial exposure to agriculture and mining. When lending to such industries, banks must be fully aware of the natural capital risks to avoid financial losses should clients default and return unusable land/assets to the bank. The panel also agreed that artificial intelligence and smart data collection will be key to make the process more efficient, considering that we have yet to leverage on alternative sources of data. Additionally, the panel discussed how the language used when addressing this issue must focus on strategic risks, in order to sensitise management to the fact that natural capital risks are indeed to be looked at on a corporate level and not only in niche products.

The event closed with a networking lunch, during which many participants could continue their discussions and connect with the experts and their peers.

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