Funding boost to address decline of biodiversity

The James Hutton Institute is part of an innovative programme that has won £3 million funding to enable UK companies to integrate nature into financial decision-making and to mobilise investment in biodiversity.

The Integrating Finance and Biodiversity (IFB) Programme has already established a network of 250 organisations, comprising banks, investment companies, research institutes, government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

It involved 12 different pilot projects exploring the gaps between the financial system and biodiversity.

The success of this initial work has led to the new funding from the Natural Environment Research Council for a second phase of work, running until 2026, to establish an integrated programme.

Dr Hannah Rudman, Senior Research Fellow at the Hutton, and UK and International Co-operation IFB Programme theme lead, says, “Around half of global gross domestic product (GDP) is dependent on nature, but human economic-related activities are causing changing land use, pollution and climate change, resulting in the deterioration and loss of important terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats as well as record declines in many species.

“We will engage UK nations, consider international best practices and synthesise knowledge for emerging biodiversity markets and policy.”

Dr Hannah Rudman

Dr Nick Wells, Director of Impact and Innovation at UKCEH, who is leading the programme network, added: “Our vision is to bridge scientific, finance, policy and third sector communities, harnessing world-leading science to enable the greening of financial systems for nature and mobilisation of funding for nature recovery.

“The announcement of further funding allows us to be more ambitious as we work together to develop the knowledge, tools and skills to incorporate biodiversity-related risks and opportunities into business strategy, investment decisions, reporting and high-integrity biodiversity markets.”

The work of the programme is organised within three flagship initiatives:

  • Financing Green Sector Transitions tackles the need to restore nature in the UK’s agriculture sector, which accounts for over 70% of landcover and address global biodiversity impacts of the UK consumer focusing on tea and rubber imports.
  • Greening Finance for Nature addresses risk assessment and decision-making processes of financial institutions such as banks and asset management companies and how they impact and could benefit nature.
  • Financing Biodiversity responds to the challenge of financing biodiversity conservation with integrity at a large scale promoting best practices and coordination in biodiversity finance.

Professor Louise Heathwaite, Executive Chair of NERC, said the research will support the transition to a more nature-positive global financial system. “This NERC funding will empower financial decision makers in the financial, agricultural and public sectors to consider the impact of biodiversity in their investments.”

The 17 institutions working together on the Programme are the Hutton, Lancaster University, Middlesex University, Newcastle University, Queen Mary University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Brighton, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Portsmouth, University of Reading, University of York, and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Elaine Maslin, Media Officer, The James Hutton Institute, tel: +44 (0)1224 395076 or +44 (0)7977 805808.