Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (11): 22049.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022049

• Special Feature: Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Corporate biodiversity disclosure: Investigation, analysis and recommendation

Yang Zhao, Hongtao Li()   

  1. Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center (FECO), Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Beijing, 100035
  • Received:2022-01-23 Accepted:2022-08-02 Online:2022-11-20 Published:2022-09-14
  • Contact: Hongtao Li


Background & Aim:Nearly 2,000 corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports have been annually released in China, in many of which biodiversity related issues are depicted. Nevertheless, reporting materiality and credibility is insufficient and hence requires review and guidance. In view of the First Draft of Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, “All businesses assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity” (Target 15), calling for “responsibility to implement mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review.” This paper seeks to address the insufficiencies in CSR reporting and help mitigate risks arising from nature loss and mobilize resources for biodiversity.

Results: By reviewing the progress of corporate biodiversity disclosure at home and abroad identified three deficiencies: (1) A lack in mandates for materiality of report contents and standardization of report format and third-party auditing, which results in voluntary reporting by businesses that is characterized by fragmented information, missing key scientific indicators, incomparability of data and result between different entities; (2) A lack in information integrity, consistency and accuracy, as most biodiversity data sources come from a single enterprise project, rather than the overall company; (3) A lack in quantitative and monetized measurement of input efforts versus output performance, and analyses on comparing with peer data (horizontally) or with historical data (vertically). Further study of “China CSR Report Evaluation Index” revealed six major findings: (1) There is differentiation in transparency between industries and enterprises; (2) Businesses highly dependent on nature tend to integrate biodiversity into resource management strategies, e.g. in sourcing and supply chains; (3) The catalytic role of financial sector is prominent, such as responsible investment and green credit; (4) Most reports are far more qualitative than quantitative and few are third-party verified; (5) Species protection becomes the focus of corporate reports, which results in serious content homogeneity, demonstrating the need for companies to build capacity; (6) Disclosure on monetary input is relatively conservative.

Suggestions & Perspectives: In this paper, we put forward four suggestions: top-level design, policy instruction, incentive measure and capacity-building to improve the reporting deficiencies through the lens of mechanism development for corporate biodiversity disclosure in China. This is conducive to quantifying ecological impacts, managing investment risks, and implementing decisions to enlarge biodiversity financing.

Key words: corporate biodiversity disclosure, corporate social responsibility report, business transparency, Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, framework implementation mechanism, reporting and review mechanism