UN nature summit wants industry to disclose more

Companies may have to halve environmental impact by 2030
calendar icon 12 December 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Industry executives have joined activists and negotiators from nearly 200 countries at this month's UN nature summit in Montreal, where negotiations on a global pact to protect nature could lead to tougher disclosure requirements for businesses, reported Reuters.

Sectors such as mining, agriculture, oil and fashion are under scrutiny at the COP15 talks, due to their heavy impact on nature with activities that can contaminate soil, foul waterways or pollute the air.

As negotiators work to agree on conservation targets by the summit's scheduled end on Dec. 19, momentum is building for a measure to require businesses to disclose their harm to the environment.

The measure, as currently drafted, would also ask companies to halve those negative impacts by 2030, which could mean additional costs for businesses, said Franck Gbaguidi, senior analyst for energy, climate and resources at the Eurasia Group risk advisory.

But a weak deal without global agreement on how businesses should behave could also raise company costs - by opening the door to a global patchwork of different biodiversity regulations and requirements that makes compliance more difficult, Eurasia Group said in a policy statement.

With new disclosure rules, the farming sector would face an increased burden of reporting on activities like land clearing and pesticide use.

Hefty reporting obligations could burden smaller farms and ranches, some industry groups warned.

"A lot of our producers are family businesses," said Larry Thomas, manager environment and sustainability with the Canadian Cattle Association.

The agriculture sector will likely escape a separate proposed goal to slash pesticide in half, said the Eurasia Group analyst Gbaguidi, following opposition from developing countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay due to food shortages and higher prices.

"Because of the food crisis, a lot of emerging markets are just not as open as they would have been on setting bold targets related to the agricultural sector," Gbaguidi said.

Melanie Epp

Melanie Epp is a freelance agricultural journalist from Ontario, Canada.

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