“Game Changer” – New policy document Biodiversity as Systemic Risk: 10 Game-Changers for Board Directors and Stewardship Teams

“Business as usual is not a viable long-term strategy. We need game-changers: concepts, processes, strategies, frameworks, and legal regimes that will change how the economy and capital markets interact with the environment.”Robert Walker, ICGN Sustainability Policy Manager

A new policy “viewpoint” document Biodiversity as Systemic Risk: 10 Game-Changers for Board Directors and Stewardship Teams has been released by the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), highlighting the criminalisation of ecocide as an essential emerging framework.

Adding the crime of ecocide to the Rome Statute will build on the existing international crime of severe damage to the environment during armed conflict and is expected to both raise awareness and serve as a deterrent to those contemplating projects that could fall under the established definition,” the paper says. “Directors and stewardship teams may wish to enhance their understanding of the potential legal and reputational risks that may ensue, not just for ecocide, but also for other liabilities associated with biodiversity loss.

The ICGN report goes on to list keeping abreast of legal developments on ecocide, as well as on rights of nature, as a “key area of consideration” (no. 2 of 10).

The comprehensively referenced paper addresses the most important recent frameworks and initiatives aiming to address biodiversity loss (Post-2022 Global Biodiversity Framework, Human Right to a Clean, Healthy & Sustainable Environment, Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, Finance for Biodiversity, Planetary Boundaries and more) with a view to helping companies “to raise their awareness and be prepared to respond” to ensure that “appropriate actions are taken to stave off the significant, if not existential, risks to companies, investors, investment institutions, and the global economy”.

The ICGN is a global network led by investors responsible for assets under management of around US$70 trillion, and is a leading authority on global standards of corporate governance and investor stewardship.  Its membership includes dozens of the world’s largest public pension funds, asset management firms, public listed companies and professional advisory firms (AXA, Blackrock, Chevron, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Microsoft, Vanguard… to name a few of the best known).

The engagement of the investment world at this level is a concrete indicator of both the significance and the acceleration of the conversation on ecocide law, and opens up real potential for strategic positive change in the light of its approach.