The Natural Value Initiative (NVI) engages financial institutions around the materiality of natural capital as a means by which to steer finance towards businesses that manage their impact and dependency on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Primary economic activities are generating $7.3 trillion in external environmental costs per year – equivalent to 13% of global GDP – through the effects of land use including deforestation, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and waste. This is creating new risks to security of supply, brand value, license to operate and investment return; as well as opening up new business opportunities. Whilst risks are increasingly being recognised by the finance sector and within the companies in which they invest, tools to enable a rigorous evaluation of performance on this issue are scarce. The NVI is working with the finance sector to address this gap.
The NVI was set up in 2007 by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a UK based charity that works to protect threatened species and ecosystems worldwide. Since its inception, the NVI has made important contributions by demonstrating the materiality of natural capital, biodiversity and ecosystem services to the financial services sector as a means by which to stimulate greater private sector uptake around these values. Amongst its greatest achievements is the “Ecosystem Services Benchmark”, a methodology developed in 2008, that not only managed to raise awareness among financial services actors and stimulate improved private sector performance, but also demonstrated that companies can indeed be benchmarked with regard to their management of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The NVI’s past achievements have helped the Initiative to grow into an important resource for the financial services sector and other stakeholders. It was even a runner up to the company Puma in the Guardian 2012 sustainability awards.