Event summary: Accelerating biodiversity action with companies

How can businesses take action to protect nature and halt biodiversity loss? How could financiers engage with their clients to increase ambition in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework? On 5 June 2024, Nefco held a seminar in Helsinki and online to share the learnings and results of Nefco’s first Biodiversity Pilot Programme. A second Biodiversity Pilot Programme is planned to start during autumn 2024, as announced during the event.

The focus of Nefco’s biodiversity-themed seminar was to highlight the importance of concrete actions by financiers and private sector companies to halt nature loss. One example of such action is Nefco’s Biodiversity Pilot Programme, which has tested and developed tangible biodiversity solutions in collaboration with small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). The programme was funded by the Nordic Environmental Development Fund (NMF), which currently receives contributions from the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The highlight of the seminar was the concrete results of the pilot programme, which were published in the form of a final report in connection with the event.

Watch the seminar recording

Scaling up biodiversity action is necessary

The event kicked off with a keynote by Camilla Välimaa, Deputy Director of Markets & Finance, Expert Business & Biodiversity at WWF Sweden. With more than 20 years of experience making businesses more sustainable in Sweden and internationally, Välimaa, works to connect the dots between companies and biodiversity. “Biodiversity represents a risk for business, but it is also an opportunity supported by all EU and global regulations. We are on a journey. We just need to scale up activities which improve biodiversity, increasing the pace of change throughout the value chain by showing care and working together,” said Välimaa.

Nefco’s Managing Director Trond Moe highlighted the need to directly involve the private and financial sectors to close the financial gap needed to halt biodiversity loss. Moe explained Nefco’s environmental mandate and the early actions it took to protect the nature of the Baltic Sea already in the 1990s, as well as the nature-positive solutions in Nefco’s portfolio today. “As a green financier owned by the Nordic countries, we have a responsibility to take a leading role in the green transition and on biodiversity action,” Moe stated.

Nefco's biodiversity seminar 5 JuneNefco’s Managing Director Trond Moe

Pilot companies’ pioneering work with biodiversity

Moderated by Tiina Kähö from AFRY Management Consulting, Nefco’s facilitating partner in the pilot programme, the discussion continued with a deep-dive into the successes and challenges that the companies faced during the 1.5-year journey. After an overview of the programme steps and actions by Tiina Kähö and Katariina Vartiainen, Senior Manager, Environment and Sustainability at Nefco, three out of six pilot companies shared their experiences during the panel discussion:

Petra Nars, Procurement Development and Sustainability Manager at Norsepower, a Finnish cleantech company and the leading provider of mechanical sails for large ships, shared the company’s approach to and experiences of value chain analysis as a global company with main markets outside Europe. “We are now raising awareness of biodiversity-related matters among our suppliers and considering what actions we should recommend them to take. Availability of data can be a challenge,” said Nars.

Jón Ágúst Þorsteinsson, CEO and Co-founder of Klappir, an Icelandic environmental and sustainability software company, explained the complexity of biodiversity reporting and how it is changing as a result of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and other regulations. Jón Ágúst explained that the learnings from the pilot programme had helped Klappir to realign its strategy and sharpen its focus regarding its software operations. “This pilot programme has been the key to Klappir’s development,” Jón Ágúst said.

Esko Pettay, Sustainability Manager at Meriaura Energy, the leading provider of large-scale solar thermal systems in Finland, said that a systematic approach to biodiversity adopted as a result of the programme has helped Meriaura with its planning and sales operations. “Biodiversity is factored into in every offer that we make and implemented in our ongoing projects,” Pettay shared.

Esko Pettay, Meriaura and Petra Nars, NorsepowerJón Ágúst Þorsteinsson, Klappir

During the panel discussion, all the companies emphasised that the pilot programme had helped them to understand their companies’ relationships with biodiversity and improved knowledge within their organisations. The specific actions developed over the course of the programme have provided them with effective tools to keep working with biodiversity. Read more about the actions and results of the pilot companies.

After the panel discussion, Katariina Vartiainen, Senior Manager, Environment and Sustainability at Nefco, wrapped up the event by sharing Nefco’s next steps following the pilot programme: “We will continue to fund projects that are positive in terms of biodiversity and support our client companies in their biodiversity work in light of the lessons learnt from the pilot programme.” Vartiainen also revealed that Nefco’s second Biodiversity Pilot Programme is planned to start during autumn 2024.

Nefco's biodiversity seminar 5 June 2024
Nefco’s seminar held in Helsinki and online shared the learnings and results of Nefco’s first Biodiversity Pilot Programme.

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Katariina Vartiainen Senior Manager, Environment and Sustainability
Finnish, English
Anni Rein Communications Manager
Finnish, English, Swedish

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