New guidance has been launched to help financial institutions and businesses gain a holistic view of how dependent they are on nature and comprehensively assess their nature-related risks and opportunities.

There is now growing private sector awareness of the risks and opportunities that businesses face as a result of their dependencies on nature. Financial institutions and businesses increasingly recognise the need to measure and disclose both business impacts and dependencies on nature, and how these are determined by location-specific drivers.

New global goals to safeguard nature – forming the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and package – were agreed at the UN biodiversity summit COP15 in December 2022. They make it a target for the 196 signatory countries to encourage and enable businesses to “regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity”. Meanwhile, since 2021, the cross-industry Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) has been collaboratively developing a globally applicable framework for financial institutions and businesses to manage and publicly report on their risk exposure linked to the use of natural resources.

However, due to the complexities of interconnections between businesses, nature and society, more clarity is needed on how to measure dependencies.

Today’s guidance from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, created with the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, builds on recent measurement recommendations and processes from the European Union’s Aligning Accounting Approaches project. It outlines the importance of measuring business dependencies on nature and highlights insights, gives a clear process around what components need to be assessed to measure the full scope of nature dependencies and sets out recommendations for the TNFD, financial institutions and businesses to implement robust dependencies measurement.

Key insights and a clear method for measuring dependencies

The guidance states measurements must be holistic – going beyond how a business may rely on particular ecosystem services, such as storm protection or pollination, to incorporate wider nature trends and the impacts and considerations of other businesses and local communities. Another important consideration is for financial institutions and businesses to appreciate the differences between dependencies on different types of ecosystem services and whether or not they involve consumption of an ecosystem asset. Measurements should also look ahead and consider when crucial ecosystem services may reach tipping points.

The new guidance then walks companies through the key components needed to measure dependencies. Its approach has been developed to align with the Evaluate phase of TNFD’s LEAP assessment approach.

It also outlines illustrative case studies for how the approach could be applied by different businesses. One hypothetical example is of how an energy company would use the approach to measure its dependency on coastal hazard protection. Another example looks at how a clothing company would use the approach to understand its dependency on water supply via cotton supply chains.

Next steps for shaping the future of dependency measurement and disclosure

With assessment and disclosure of nature-related risks and opportunities becoming recognised as best practice in global markets, there is a need for rigorous and scientifically robust measurement of business dependencies on nature. Today’s guidance document provides a series of ongoing actions for businesses, investors and the TNFD to promote a comprehensive approach to measuring dependencies.

Financial institutions are encouraged to measure dependencies across their portfolios and set expectations for portfolio businesses to conduct assessments. Businesses are told to collect location-level nature-related data and use existing data and tools to measure their dependencies across ecosystem services, including operations data that they are already collecting and data from public sources. Both financial institutions and businesses are called on to actively use their dependency measurements to make portfolios and business operations nature-positive.

The authors recommend the TNFD continue its momentum towards developing a risk management and disclosure framework – including promoting robust measurement of both nature-related impacts and dependencies and working with global standard setters – and that it encourages the integration of nature-positive actions such as restoration and nature-based solutions to manage dependency-related risks.

Corli Pretorius, UNEP-WCMC Deputy Director, said:

“For businesses to lead the transformation to a sustainable, nature-positive future, we need a shared understanding of where and how companies both impact and depend on nature.


Measurement of dependencies needs to reflect the interconnections between businesses, nature and local communities. These interconnections are dynamic given climate change and the rate of nature loss. Our new guidance provides companies with the steps to identify the financial risks and opportunities to operations, and make these visible to investors, insurers and governments.”

Romie Goedicke, UNEP FI Co-Head, Nature, said:

“Financial institutions will play a key role in achieving the global biodiversity goals and targets agreed in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Ensuring business dependencies are rigorously measured will allow financial institutions to assess and manage the full scope of the nature-related risks in their portfolio and steer capital flows towards nature-positive solutions.”