IGCC Summit 2023: Deforestation and Biodiversity

3 October 2023
The IGCC summit 2023 puts a spotlight on the growing concerns around the twin crises of biodiversity and climate, as poignantly put by Anna Skarbek, CEO of Climateworks Centre, "the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature".

Australia is a critical battleground for biodiversity as the only continent with a biota sitting under a single nation.


  • Sponsored by The Wilderness Society, the detailed panel discussion “Deforestation Nation or the Lucky Country?” explored the nexus between climate change threats and the critical role of natural systems for investors concerned about deforestation and biodiversity impacts within portfolios.  


  • The panel session marked the launch of a new report from EY titled: “Following the money: Financial services’ links to deforestation and forest degradation in Australia”. This work was commissioned by The Wilderness Society, and presented at the IGCC Summit by Alexandra Banks, Partner in Climate Change and Sustainability Services at EY, and Tim Beshara, Manager of Policy and Strategy at The Wilderness Society. 
  • Some of the many findings from the research included identifying deforestation and degradation in Australia as considerable factors in biodiversity loss, primarily driven by the agriculture, forestry, and land development sectors. These impacts become material financial risks for companies and investors due to dependencies within value chains, particularly as the EU’s new regulations around deforestation-free supply chains come into effect.  


  • We heard from Amanda Richman, Ethical Stewardship Lead at Australian Ethical Investment, on what happens when investors actually need to draw the line and divest as part of their stewardship responsibilities.  
  • In March this year, Australian Ethical divested shares in developer Lendlease after four years of advocacy around the impact of company developments on koala habitat. Amanda also highlighted the various emerging standards and opportunities available to investors seeking to engage with companies on nature-related topics.


  • The ANU’s Dr Virginia Marshall noted that Indigenous communities in Australia and around the world tend to benefit least from modern investment practices, and yet are often most exposed to the negative consequences of these activities. 


  • Joanne Saleeba from New Forest discussed the new investment opportunities arising from nature as a contribution to the amelioration of climate risk – although of course offsets are not a panacea. 
  • Alternative methods of producing timber and fibre are emerging that will transform the impacts that society has on the environment, with the potential for circularity in our thinking. 
  • Can Nature become a new asset class? 

Thanks to session sponsors The Wilderness Society and New Forests for making this panel possible.