Institutional investors advocate for improved ocean-related ESG data

BNP Paribas Asset Management, Federated Hermes Limited, Mirova, Robeco, and Storebrand Asset Management have issued a joint statement calling on ESG data providers to enhance their data offerings on ocean-related risks and opportunities at the project and issuer level.

This call to action follows the 2022 Kunming-Montreal Agreement, which set frameworks for protecting 30% of the planet’s lands, inland waters, marine, and coastal areas by 2030.

The ocean’s annual economic value is pegged at $2.5 trillion, cited the asset managers, with millions of jobs depending on it. However, the ocean’s health is under threat from human activities, posing both risks and opportunities for businesses.

Biodiversity: A strategic challenge

The investor group highlighted that the agreement commits governments to require large and transnational companies and financial institutions to assess and disclose their dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities on nature through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios. To aid investors in making informed decisions and allocating capital to protect biodiversity, credible and consistent data, aligned with international standards, are essential.

The group outlined the key benefits of enhanced ocean-related data for investors: embedding data into analysis and assessments, highlighting ocean-related risks and opportunities, engaging with investees on these topics, identifying capital allocation opportunities and improving ocean literacy within their workforces.

The statement encouraged ESG data providers to develop ocean-related data points and tools to support the Kunming-Montreal Agreement’s implementation. Suggested metrics include performance indicators for compliance with regulations, supply chain data to check the sourcing of endangered species, local context data like FAO fishing areas, asset-level locations of fishing ships and aquaculture sites, ownership data linking vessels to operators and sector-specific estimates.

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In the joint statement, data providers were urged to ensure the data’s ease of use for integration into investment processes, flexibility and transparency to align with public taxonomies and internal systems, and applicability across main market indices and asset classes.

The group identified major ocean-related sectors with significant data gaps, such as aquaculture, coastal and deep-sea mining, marine tourism, desalination, dredging, marine bioprospecting, renewable energy, offshore oil and gas, ornamental marine products, ports, shipping, and wild capture fishing.

The statement concluded by highlighting data gaps, such as pollution, overfishing, aquaculture impacts, shipping emissions, coastal development and offshore energy extraction, while flagging opportunities like conservation investments, innovation in risk mitigation and improving working conditions.

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