LEAP – the risk and opportunity assessment approach: L2: Nature Interface
LLocate The interface with nature
EEvaluate Priority dependencies and impacts
AAssess Material risks and opportunities
PPrepare To respond and report
L2: Nature Interface
Guiding Questions: Which biomes and ecosystems do these activities interface with? What is the current integrity and importance of the ecosystems at each location?
The nature-related risks faced by an organisation are directly related to the integrity and resilience of the ecosystems supporting the ecosystem services on which they and others rely as, for example, inputs into production processes.
Once an understanding of an organisation’s operational and commercial footprint is assembled, an organisation can overlay this geo-spatial map of business activity with spatial data, including data from existing market tools, which can assist in mapping terrestrial, freshwater and ocean biomes and ecosystems, and their integrity and resilience.
A number of tools with relevant spatial data layers exist, including data on changes in ecosystems and drivers of change such as deforestation and land use change. A non-comprehensive list of tools includes:
- Global Ecosystem Typology (IUCN)
- Global Map of Ecoregions (Resolve)
- Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) (Birdlife, Conservation International, IUCN, UNEP-WCMC)
- Critical Habitat Screening Layer (UNEP-WCMC)
- Ocean+ (GEO BON, UNEP-WCMC)
- UN Biodiversity Lab (UNDP, UNEP, UNEP-WCMC, CBD Secretariat)
- Global Forest Watch (World Resources Institute)
- Earth (Conservation International)
- Resource Watch (World Resources Institute)
Once the relevant ecosystems and biomes have been identified, it is then critical to assess the:
- Current and projected future integrity and extent of that ecosystem;
- Other classifications of the biodiversity importance of that ecosystem (e.g. key biodiversity areas, protected areas, conservation status and critical natural habitats);
- Wider environmental assets, such as water resources, and their ability to provide ecosystem services; and
- Other environmental risks, including water stress.
Other approaches such as direct measurement techniques (e.g. environmental DNA and species monitoring) may also be useful.
Those ecosystems facing the highest impacts and risks to their integrity, and those identified as being of biodiversity importance due to their classifications, will likely present the organisation with the most material nature risks in the short-, medium- and long-term based on current and future dependencies and impacts. For the purposes of undertaking LEAP analysis, these locations – where a business interacts with ecosystems assessed as being in a state of low integrity or otherwise important – are shortlisted at the next step of the LEAP approach and defined as ‘priority locations’. The first step is a quick assessment of the current integrity and resilience of all ecosystems with which the organisation has a commercial interface.
There are a number of tools that organisations can use to undertake this analysis, including some that are publicly available and others that are provided on a fee-for-service basis, such as:
- Ecosystem integrity/health: GLOBIO’s mean species abundance;
- Water risk/stress: the WWF Water Risk Filter, WRI Water Risk Atlas, the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas;
- Ecosystem conservation status: IUCN Red List of Ecosystems database;
- Other ecosystem classifications: Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool, which contains maps of Key Biodiversity Areas and the World Database on Protected Areas; and
- Natural assets/ecosystem services: GLOBIO Ecosystem Services, ENCORE (contains natural capital depleted hotspots), InVEST (quantifies, maps and values ecosystem services), Ocean Wealth (maps ocean ecosystem services).
- Biodiversity data: Global Biodiversity Information Facility
While a number of leading scientific and data organisations are developing new tools and data sets for assessing the integrity and resilience of ecosystems, there is currently no single global reference to make this determination. As a result, the TNFD encourages organisations to use a number of different tools and data sets to triangulate an understanding of ecosystem integrity and resilience in order to identify potential priority locations. While the TNFD recognises that current data constraints may mean that early attempts at undertaking this analysis are limited to direct organisational assets and operations only, it encourages all organisations to assess related upstream and downstream locations as soon as practicable, given data availability.
Over the next few years, the development of new assessment tools and data sets will lead to increasingly sophisticated and integrated assessments of the integrity and resilience of ecosystems. The TNFD is continuing to research and collaborate in this area and will work with a wide range of organisations to assess how nature-risk data, metrics and targets can be enhanced and made more widely available to market participants.