Financiers accelerate companies’ efforts to promote biodiversity – Nefco helps SMEs to put nature at the heart of their business

Nefco – the Nordic Green Bank – wants to accelerate companies’ efforts to prevent nature loss. In its role as financier, Nefco has been piloting biodiversity enhancement in collaboration with six Nordic and Baltic SMEs. The results have been encouraging, and the final outcomes of the joint pilot programme have just been published: the creation of practical solutions that put nature impact assessment at the heart of business decision-making and care for nature as an asset while building a successful business.

The risks of biodiversity loss to company activities and the economy in general are undeniable. To prevent biodiversity loss through their own activities and value chains, more understanding is needed of companies’ dependencies on nature, biodiversity-related impacts and biodiversity loss. This can be used to build a strategic vision of how nature can be seen as capital in the same way as other capital.

Nefco wanted to give a boost to SMEs in their biodiversity efforts. This gave rise to the Biodiversity Pilot Programme, the outcomes and good practices of which have been published on Wednesday, 5 June 2024.

Financiers can accelerate companies’ actions to promote biodiversity

“Now is the time to act to protect biodiversity. Halting the loss of biodiversity calls for concrete and rapid action. We can contribute to showing the way by directing more funding also to promote biodiversity in companies. Just like climate change mitigation, the prevention of biodiversity loss needs to be part of a company’s strategy,” comments Katariina Vartiainen, Senior Manager, Environment and Sustainability, Nefco.

There is still no standard global policy on which indicators and data companies can best use to steer their operations to prevent biodiversity loss. However, there is growing recognition on the financial markets of the need for immediate practical action while assessment and indicators are being developed. This is where SMEs have a key role to play.

Experimentation creates new solutions

The first steps any company can take to start biodiversity work are to map the impacts of its business and own value chain on nature, and to identify its nature dependencies.

Nefco’s Biodiversity Pilot Programme supported six pioneering companies in this work. The programme, which lasted just over a year, has helped SMEs to identify their biodiversity-related risks and opportunities. It also sought to find solutions to manage a company’s impacts on biodiversity. Practical tools were used to build the link between biodiversity and business strategy. The pilot programme focused on concrete actions to promote biodiversity in companies and sought solutions with a longer-term impact.

Pure Waste Textiles, a specialist in textile recycling; Meriaura Energy, a solar heating technology company; Sulapac, a company focused on bio-based and biodegradable materials to replace plastics; and Norsepower, a cleantech company that provides mechanical sails for large ships, are among the Finnish companies participating in the pilot programme. BaltCap, the largest private equity and venture capital investor in the Baltics, and Klappir, an Icelandic company specialising in information systems that enable organisations to monitor and track their environmental and sustainability performance, were also included in the pilot programme.

“Since the companies participating in the pilot programme came from different sectors, their businesses were very different. This helped not only us at Nefco but also the participating companies to understand the challenges and opportunities that SMEs face in their biodiversity work,” Vartiainen explains.

As a financier focusing on environmental impacts, biodiversity is at the heart of Nefco’s operations. For example, Nefco has been financing Baltic Sea nature conservation projects such as water treatment plants since the 1990s and has many projects in its portfolio that support biodiversity. The biodiversity pilot programme was funded by the Nordic Environmental Development Fund (NMF), which currently receives financial contributions from the Nordic Council of Ministers and is administered by Nefco on behalf of the Nordic countries.

“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 says. Nefco’s second Biodiversity Pilot Programme is planned to start during autumn 2024.

Action by SMEs in biodiversity work

Summary of the Biodiversity Pilot Programme outcomes:

  • Action plans and roadmaps to guide practical work
  • Biodiversity-related indicators and how to take biodiversity into account in future investments
  • Better resourcing of sustainability-related work, including biodiversity
  • Identifying, assessing and managing the impacts on nature in the supply chain
  • Identifying, collecting and using biodiversity-related data
  • Building nature-positive networks in Finland and beyond
  • Developing the biodiversity aspect of companies’ own processes
  • Active communication of biodiversity work to stakeholders and customers

Final report – read and download

Nefco Biodiversity Pilot Programme Final Report

For more information, please contact

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

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