Environment Biodiversity & Natural Capital

Biodiversity & Natural Capital

Credit Suisse's efforts to support sustainable development include our commitment to preserving biodiversity. We recognize the vital need to protect the broad range of species on our planet and to safeguard natural ecological processes. Biodiversity is under threat due to the overexploitation of land, the destruction of habitats, climate change and the impacts of invasive species.

The term "biodiversity" denotes the variety of life and its processes. It includes the diversity of living organisms, the differences between them, and the ecosystems and communities in which they exist. Both ecosystems and the biodiversity contained within them provide valuable services to humankind and business: They supply food and medicine derived from plants, they filter pollution and store CO2, and they regenerate soils and recycle nutrients. The methods used to determine the value of this natural capital, as well as the economic costs of species loss and a reduction in the capacity of ecosystem services, need to be further developed. As a financial services provider, we believe that such financial valuation methods are vital to adequately assessing the risks and returns of the economic activities and investments that are dependent on those services.

Projects and Activities

We conduct various activities to raise employee awareness of biodiversity, and we regularly engage in a dialogue with a number of NGOs and private sector companies on the subject. In 2016, we continued our role as an advisor to the Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT). We hosted the annual conference in New York of the Rainforest Alliance, an environmental NGO, which examined practical approaches to investing in responsible forestry and farming. We also hosted a workshop in London for banks and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) representatives to engage on risk management approaches to World Heritages Sites as well as a separate event with WWF Turkey on water risks for business.

Conservation Finance

In order to preserve the natural habitats and processes that are vital for the survival of human beings, animals and other species, significantly more capital will be required than has so far been deployed. To generate more private capital for this purpose, it is essential to extend the existing range of financial products and make investors more aware of investment opportunities that not only generate financial returns but also have a measurable positive impact on the environment. In early 2014, Credit Suisse published a study co-authored with WWF and McKinsey that looked at innovative private sector financing structures in conservation and the barriers and enablers to scaling up such approaches. In December 2014, we launched our first product in this field, the Nature Conservation Notes, and we have continuously expanded our efforts in this field since. More information on the topic can be found here.

Habitat Mapping

Since 2014, we have been an advisor to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in the development of its free, interactive Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT), which combines satellite mapping technology with sustainability assessments of the largest publicly listed oil palm growers. Credit Suisse makes use of SPOTT during sustainability risk assessment, and we encourage our clients to participate in the expansion of the project.