GLOBAL - Chief executives at the helm of 37 banks, investment funds and insurance companies have committed to work towards integrating natural capital considerations into their products and services at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.

With the unveiling of their Natural Capital Declaration, the financiers committed their companies to help build an understanding of their impact and dependency on natural capital, embed natural capital into their products and services, report or disclose on the theme of natural capital and account for natural capital in accounting frameworks.

The chief executive at the Brazilian Institute of Social Security Infraprev, Frederico Aires Duque, said: “As part of a sector that forms the engine of the global economy, the pension fund industry considers itself a key stakeholder in future discussions about valuing and protecting natural capital. The sector also acknowledges that it has a key role to play in the reforms needed.”

UN Environment Programme executive director and under-secretary general Achim Steiner added: “Factoring capital into the bottom line is about bringing the real wealth of the planet from the invisible into the visible spectrum in order to tip the balance from degradation towards sustainable management for communities, businesses and countries.”

In the declaration, the signatories state that members of their industry, the corporate sector and governments must all take better stock of the unsustainable stress currently put on ecosystems by the economic activity they manage, while financial institutions acknowledge their role in prompting a shift from the brown to the green economy that would safeguard the resilience of ecosystems.

Under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, they warn, the damage to the planet’s ecosystems poses a risk to the wellbeing and environmental security of entire populations.

The declaration also recognises the value of biodiversity and its ecosystem services in underpinning wealth creation and therefore the global economy.

The declaration calls for the public and private sectors to work together to find suitable methods for financial institutions to “hardwire” natural capital considerations into the risk assessment procedures they undergo before taking a loan, equity, bond or insurance product-related decision.

It also calls for policymakers gathering at the global conference to make headway in crafting legislation and regulations that can incentivise the development of financial products and services that take account of and sustain the Earth’s natural capital.

The Natural Capital Declaration is co-convened by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, the Oxford-based tropical-forest group Global Canopy Programme and the São Paolo-based Center for Sustainability Studies (GVces) of the Business Administration School of the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

The list of signatories includes: Athelia Ecosphere, ASN Bank, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Banco Multiva, Banco Pichincha, Banorte-Ixe, Caisse des Depots, Caixa Econômica Federal, Caledonia Wealth Management, Calvert Investments, CDC Climat, China Merchants Bank, CIBanco, Cyrte Investments, Financiera Rural, FIRA-Banco de Mexico, Fundación Social, Infraprev, International Finance Corporation, MN, Mongeral Aegon, Mutualista Pichincha, National Australia Bank, Nedbank, Oppenheim, PaxWorld Management, Rabobank Group, Robeco, Shenzhen Development Bank, SNS Asset Management, Société Forestière, Sovereign, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holding, UniCredit, Vision Banco and Zevin Asset Management.