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This Week’s Tech and Tools News: UN Platform Offers New Perspective on Sustainability

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of news on technology and tools in the sustainable investing sector, including the UN Development Programme, MSCI, Moody’s ESG Solutions, Alcumus, PathZero and Circulor.

The United Nations has launched a free, open-source platform which provides access to state-of-the-art maps and data on nature, climate change and human development to generate new insights on nature and sustainable development. The UN Biodiversity Lab is freely available online to governments and other stakeholders as a digital public good and was developed jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and the Secretariat of the UN Biodiversity Convention. Microsoft has committed to support the digital ecosystem of UNBL with its Planetary Computer and custom analytics as digital public goods. “The UN Biodiversity Lab will enable anyone to access state-of-the-art spatial data and dynamic indicators that will generate brand-new insights into conservation and sustainable development,” says UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “It will provide decision-makers with access to over 400 spatial data layers across biodiversity, climate change, and development – helping them to identify new opportunities to act in the best interest of both people and planet.” According to the UN, the UNBL 2.0 release responds to a known global gap in the types of spatial data and tools, providing an invaluable resource to nations around the world to take transformative action.

Data, analytics and research services provider MSCI has introduced a new application for enterprise-level monitoring and management of climate and financial risks for investors. MSCI Climate Lab combines the firm’s climate modeling, financial risk management and portfolio analytics capabilities to help investors track and assess companies’ progress towards net-zero commitments and align their portfolios with climate targets. MSCI said the application has been built for institutional investors managing a large-scale transition of portfolios to meet net-zero goals and to manage the underlying complex and vast amounts of data supporting portfolio analysis. It will also enable aggregation at the portfolio level of MSCI’s recently released Implied Temperature Rise solution. “Many of the world’s largest institutions are repositioning their portfolios to meet climate targets, and up until now the technology has not been in place to allow for a swift, scalable and effective understanding and management of climate exposure across all funds and portfolios. At MSCI, we are focused on turning large datasets into actionable insights that our clients can apply across their portfolios,” said Jorge Mina, Head of Analytics, MSCI.

Moody’s ESG Solutions, a business unit of Moody’s Corporation, is expanding its data coverage of the physical risks posed by climate change by providing sub-sovereign climate risk scores. These physical climate risk scores quantify population-weighted exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and typhoons, sea level rise, water stress and wildfires. The scores complement Moody’s existing coverage of physical risk data for locations globally, which includes scores for 200 sovereigns. Moody’s dataset leverages satellite imagery alongside global models to overlay population and economic information with granular climate data. Banks, asset managers, asset owners and other organisations can use the scores and underlying data to assess climate risk in specific areas and create benchmarks for individual property assessments to understand how a specific asset may fare relative to others in the area. “Mitigating loss requires a forward-looking view on which geographical areas are most exposed to specific hazards. Our new sub-sovereign dataset enables users to better understand the level of climate risk facing their assets and investments based on location, informing proactive risk management and resilience investment,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Global Head of Moody’s Climate Solutions in Moody’s ESG Solutions Group.

Health, safety and ESG risk management solutions provider Alcumus now offers a standards-based ESG platform which enables businesses of all sizes to build “one true view” of their ESG performance, providing simple data analysis across 11 key areas. Alcumus said the new integrated proposition will help clients link sustainability decisions with risk management processes, so they can track, organise, interpret and present data on their ESG performance. By aggregating ESG data into one management and analytics platform, Alcumus said the solution would help users to easily manage compliance to regulatory requirements, quantify the financial benefit of ESG strategies and demonstrate responsible practices to stakeholders. “Successful ESG strategies rely on diverse data streams measured accurately and consistently across business units. Current methods of data collection and storage are not uniform, resulting in challenges to reporting ESG performance accurately. Making actions and impacts measurable is the foundation of sound business decisions, setting a challenging balance that changes behaviours for commercial benefit,” said David Picton, SVP of Sustainability at Alcumus.

Sydney-based Pathzero has raised US$5 million to develop its digital platform, which enables smaller companies to calculate and securely share their carbon emissions information. The investment round was led by Australian venture firm Carthona Capital, supported by early investors Antler Australia and Impact Investor. Pathzero’s platform provides a highly accessible way of measuring corporate carbon emissions, implementing an emissions reduction plan, purchasing verified carbon credits and disclosing carbon emissions information publicly. Having already enhanced portfolio emissions transparency for clients in Australia, the firm will use the funding to expand globally. “For asset managers, accessing emissions data for a portfolio of small listed and unlisted companies has been very challenging. The expense of performing an assessment and the lack of consistency in reporting has meant that greenhouse gas emissions information has simply not been available,” said Carl Prins, CEO and Co-Founder. “Pathzero believes that by providing corporate carbon transparency, companies will be equipped to make confident strategic decisions about their transition to a low carbon paradigm, with the support of their informed stakeholders.”

Circulor, a provider of supply chain provenance and emissions tracking services, has signed a deal to provide traceability and CO2 tracking for the nickel and cobalt trading division of physical commodity trading firm Trafigura. Under the agreement, Trafigura and Circulor will develop a programme to track dynamically and attribute CO2 emissions throughout Trafigura’s nickel and cobalt supply chains for customers, in particular electric vehicle manufacturers. Circulor will also support Trafigura’s responsible sourcing and traceability programme, in terms of the physical tracking and tracing of material, as well as the communication of ESG data relevant to the application and integration of OECD Due Diligence Guidance and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to its value chain. The objective for both projects is to work with a range of upstream producers and downstream receivers progressively to integrate and communicate responsible sourcing due diligence and CO2 tracking data into their respective value chains via Circulor’s lockchain traceability platform.

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