Robeco partners with WWF

A Robeco paper about biodiversity loss is backed by the NGO

Robeco has teamed-up with up with the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL) to complement existing collaborations such as the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.

Both organizations are working together to integrate biodiversity into asset management, according to the Rotterdam-based asset manager, which has a large presence in Asia.

“The partnership aims to develop a biodiversity investment framework and policy for Robeco and co-develop biodiversity investment strategies. It will also engage with clients and other stakeholders in the financial sector to create more awareness of the issue, and to help them to integrate biodiversity into their policies,” said the firm in a press statement.

Investors can play a role in tackling issues such as deforestation and land use change through engagement and the integration of nature-related risks (and opportunities) into decision making, according to Robeco.

“The financial sector and the asset management industry in which we sit has a crucial role to play in helping to prevent further biodiversity loss,” says Peter van der Werf, senior manager engagement. “This is not something that is simply ‘nice to have’ in the context of sustainable investing: it is in the long-term interest of our clients and our investment performance, along with our duty to do our best to use our leverage to protect the planet.”

“However, [it is] no longer just a question of avoiding those companies that are responsible for biodiversity loss through their environmentally damaging operations. We must also embrace those companies that are striving to protect biodiversity, directing more capital towards these sort of sustainable enterprises,” he said.

White paper

The white paper, entitled “Robeco’s approach to biodiversity: Towards the integration of nature-related risks, opportunities and impacts in our investments”, outlines the “urgency that biodiversity presents to the planet and the future stability of business life”. The World Economic Forum estimates that more than half of the world’s economic output of $44trn is moderately or highly dependent on nature in some form, noted Robeco.

The paper details the financial materiality this presents for investors: a heatmap assessment using data from the ENCORE tool (Exploring Natural Capital Opportunities, Risks and Exposure) developed by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative showed that around one-quarter of Robeco’s AUM are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem service.

In line with the exposure of other financial industry participants, the assessment found that around 29% of Robeco’s investments are in sectors that have potentially high impacts on key drivers of biodiversity loss, led by use of land and freshwater, followed by climate change, pollution and direct disturbances. This shows that biodiversity is a highly material topic for investors and that action is needed across the financial industry to ensure that investments contribute to achieving the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Robeco is a signatory of the Task Force for Nature-Related Disclosure (TNFD), founded by the WWF and others. It aims to build a framework which will allow financial institutions to incorporate nature-related risks and opportunities into strategic planning, risk management and asset allocation decisions. The firm signed the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge in 2020, committing to protect and restore biodiversity through finance activities and investments by 2024.

Robeco is originally a Dutch asset management firm, and was sold by Rabobank Group to Orix Corporation in 2013. It had AUM of EUR200bn ($229bn) as at June 2021, according to Robeco’s website.