TNFD Mulls Nature Data Utility

Panellists at Paris summit for a New Global Financial Pact underlined the importance of integrating climate and nature considerations, with access to data a pitfall for both.  

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has confirmed its intention to establish an equivalent of the Net Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU) project for nature. 

The NZDPU is poised to provide an open, free, and centralised data repository allowing all stakeholders to “easily” access key climate transition-related data, commitments, and progress of businesses and financial institutions toward those commitments. 

Speaking at the summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris, David Craig, co-Chair of the TNFD, said that with nature-related data still being in its “early days [and] still very new” the information landscape is still not well-connected and inaccessible – “we need to make that easier”. 

At the event, Craig confirmed the TNFD is currently “scoping a similar project to the NZDPU” for nature-specific data. This follows the initial mention of a scoping study for a Nature Public Utility in the taskforce’s ‘Landscape Assessment of Nature-related Data’ document, which was set to start in March.

Currently, the TNFD is undertaking the study as part of a group that includes CDP, the Science Based Targets Network, and the Global Reporting Initiative to explore the “merits” of creating a nature-related information database, with the findings due to be shared by the end this month.  

A key part of the TNFD’s work has focused on identifying the challenges in the nature-related landscape and discover opportunities to close the gaps to accelerate better risk management and disclosure by market participants.  

Connecting nature data 

The TNFD’s nature data utility, similar to the NZDPU, would aim to address the challenge of how an organised connected set of data of nature can be collected, how it can be made more freely accessible, and the facilitation of making it easier to track the commitments and progress of companies. 

Craig told onlookers that issues frequently cited over nature include: a lack of data adequate data to measure nature risk and impacts, the data available being too complicated, with no single metric and no single target for nature; instead, composed of a “complex set of things”. 

In July last year, the TNFD launched a Nature-related Data Catalyst with the aim of stimulating innovation and improving market access to nature-related data, with the introduction of an NZDPU equivalent project for nature further bolster this objective.  

Speaking at the summit, Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Climate Data Steering Committee, which created the proposal for the NZDPU, confirmed that a pilot version of the utility is on track to be up and running by the start of COP28 in Dubai, which will take place from 30 November until 12 December.  

She also underlined the importance of the NZDPU being free to access meaning there are no barriers to entry in accessing climate data. 

This sentiment was echoed by Sylvie Goulard, the panel’s moderator and former Governor of the Banque du France, who said that some countries “really want” to have access to nature and climate-related data but “cannot afford” it, reiterating the removal of barriers to entry as being an “important element”. 

Aligning climate-nature considerations 

With the NZDPU’s climate-transition related data focus, the introduction of a nature data utility would foster closer alignment between climate and nature. Craig noted that it’s important to consider climate and nature as part of “one ecosystem” rather than as “two separate things”.  

“Much of the physical risks that climate change is creating are actually manifesting themselves in the natural system – droughts, floods, and damaging nature production,” he noted.  

“The natural system is a huge tool that we can put to use to absorb greenhouse gas emissions via carbon sinks like soil and by preserving forests and seagrass.” 

He said that by building on the foundations laid by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the TNFD is attempting to “lead people towards an integrated way of thinking about nature and climate together”. 

Craig stressed that better disclosures are not the sole goal of the TNFD, but rather to “create a methodology where we can tackle the complexity of this issue”.  

“In September, we will have broken down the complexity,” he said. “We’ve simplified the metrics, created an approachable methodology, and we’ve demonstrated that integrating nature and climate together is actually a more efficient and effective way to deal with this kind of risk.” 

The TNFD released its fourth and final beta framework for nature-related risk management and disclosure in March, with it on track to publish its final recommendations in September. 

Craig added that “people mistakenly think that perfection is the goal” for data.  

“We’ve got to be practical, because there is no such thing in this world as perfect data when it comes to nature,” he said.  

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