In 2019, the world’s largest banks invested USD 2.6 trillion in sectors driving deforestation, ecosystem and biodiversity loss and social conflict. However, financial institutions can change this by investing in responsible developments and financing on-site conservation of High Conservation Value areas.
Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land
Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
commercial banks include the HCV Approach in their investment policies.
Can use the HCV Approach to address environmental, social and governance risks.
Performance Standards and the HCV Approach closely align and can be used in conjunction.
The HCV Approach supports responsible investments.
The HCV Network engages with financial institutions to de-link investments from damage or destruction of High Conservation Values (HCVs) and to channel finance towards the protection of areas where HCVs have been identified and may be at risk from land-use change driven by agricultural expansion and other types of developments.
ASN Bank, AXXA Insurance, BNP Paribas, Commerzbank AG, Standard Chartered,
SEB, HSBC, Rabobank, Citi Group, Bank of America, ABN AMRO, JP Morgan Chase, Société Générale and Credit Suisse include the HCV Approach as a safeguard in their policies. Several of these policies specifically target investments in commodities such as cocoa, coffee, tea, cotton, pulp and paper, rubber, oil palm, soy, and sugarcane.
The Secretariat can:
- Help financial institutions align HCV requirements with the Equator Principles and the
International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.
- Provide quality assurance for HCV and HCV-HCSA assessments and Environmental Social
Impact Assessments required prior to investment.
- Develop tailored tools and procedures to identify and mitigate impacts on High Conservation
Values from investments.
- Link finance to areas harboring HCVs that need support for conservation.
- Develop frameworks for systematically reporting on HCV policies.
- Provide learning opportunities for financial institution staff on the HCV Approach.
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In April 2022, FEMEXPALMA and the HCV Network signed a 5-year cooperation agreement to promote sustainable production of palm oil in Mexico. FEMEXPALMA is a Mexican independent entity that represents palm production at the national level and promotes the increase of productivity in a sustainable way.
With global markets becoming stricter, for Mexican producers to be able to export to key markets such as the European Union, they must meet strict requirements such as certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). To be certified by RSPO, the HCV Approach must be applied prior to the establishment of any new oil palm plantations. With this cooperation agreement, the HCV Network will support FEMEXPALMA’s members and allies to design better strategies to identify, manage and monitor High Conservation Values and support smallholders to achieve RSPO certification and implement good agricultural practices.
High Carbon Stock Approach
The High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) is an integrated conservation land use planning tool to distinguish forest areas in the humid tropics for conservation, while ensuring local peoples’ rights and livelihoods are respected.
In September 2020, HCV Network and the HCSA Steering Group signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their collaboration to conserve forests and uphold community rights in tropical forests. The HCS and HCV Approaches are cornerstones of corporate no deforestation and conservation commitments, and increasingly for actors working at different scales. The collaboration aims to further support effective implementation of these commitments through increased uptake of the HCV and HCS tools.
Through this MoU, HCSA and HCVRN are pursuing two main strategic goals:
- Strive to promote the application of the two approaches in tropical moist forest landscapes and explore further opportunities for collaboration.
- Ensure that, where the two approaches are applied together, this happens in a coordinated, robust, credible, and efficient manner, so that HCS forests and HCVs are conserved, and local peoples’ rights are respected.
World Benchmarking Alliance
From May 2022, the HCV Network is an ally at the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). WBA is building a diverse and inclusive movement of global actors committed to using benchmarks to incentivise, measure, and monitor corporate performance on the SDGs, and will assess and rank the performance of 2,000 of the world’s most influential companies against seven systems of transformation by 2023.
The scope of WBA’s circular transformation was expanded to cover nature and biodiversity as recognition of the need for greater understanding, transparency and accountability of business impact on our environment. The WBA Nature Benchmark was launched in April 2022, which will be used to rank keystone companies on their efforts to protect our environment and its biodiversity. As HCV Areas are recognised as key areas important for biodiversity, companies that publicly disclose their actions to identify and protect HCVs will contribute to the assessment of their performance against the benchmark.
Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures - TNFD
The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is a global, market-led initiative, established with the mission to develop and deliver a risk management and disclosure framework for organizations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks, with the aim of supporting a shift in global financial flows away from nature-negative outcomes and toward nature-positive outcomes.
In April 2022, the HCV Network joined the TNFD Forum. The TNFD Forum, composed of over 400 members, is a world-wide and multi-disciplinary consultative network of institutional supporters who share the vision and mission of the task force.
By participating in the Forum, the HCV Network contributes to the work and mission of the taskforce and help co-create the TNFD Framework which aims to provide recommendations and advice on nature-related risks and opportunities relevant to a wide range of market participants, including investors, analysts, corporate executives and boards, regulators, stock exchanges and accounting firms.
Aquaculture Stewardship Council
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is the world’s leading certification scheme for farmed seafood – known as aquaculture – and the ASC label only appears on food from farms that have been independently assessed and certified as being environmentally and socially responsible. In 2021, the HCV Network and ASC formalised their collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU represents the first step in a fruitful relationship aimed at conserving HCVs in aquaculture. Although, existing guidance on the use of the HCV Approach currently focuses mainly on forestry and agriculture, the HCV Approach is however generic, and in principle also applicable to aquatic production systems. Through this MoU, this is recognised by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in their ASC farm standard, in which the protection of HCV areas is mentioned in the context of expansion
Accountability Framework Initiative
The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) is a collaborative effort to build and scale up ethical supply chains for agricultural and forestry products. Led by a diverse global coalition of environmental and human rights organizations, the AFi works to create a “new normal” where commodity production and trade are fully protective of natural ecosystems and human rights. To pursue this goal, the coalition supports companies and other stakeholders in setting strong supply chain goals, taking effective action, and tracking progress to create clear accountability and incentivize rapid improvement. In July 2022, the HCV Network joined AFi as a Supporting Partner. AFi Supporting Partners extend the reach and positive impact of the AFi by promoting use of the Accountability Framework by companies, industry groups, financial institutions, governments, and other sustainability initiatives, both globally and in commodity-producing countries.
Biodiversity Credit Alliance
The Biodiversity Credit Alliance (BCA) is a global multi-disciplinary advisory group formed in late 2022. Its mission is to bring clarity and guidance on the formulation of a credible and scalable biodiversity credit market under global biodiversity credit principles. Under these principles, the BCA seeks to mobilize financial flows towards biodiversity custodians while recognising local knowledge and contexts.
The HCVN joined the BCA Forum in August 2023 to learn more from the many organizations already coming together to find effective pathways to opening up credit-based approaches, and how to contribute our knowledge and experience of years of working in a practical way, often with global sustainability standards and their certified producers, to protect what matters most to nature and people.
The Network is always looking for partners who are interested in supporting our work, for talented professionals who can join the growing Secretariat team, and for professionals who can lead assessments globally.Get Involved