Leading the Way in Nature-Related Financial Disclosures

Deloitte supported a.s.r. in starting the journey in their application of the TNFD framework.

In a world where evaluating our impact on the environment is essential and the reporting of ecological footprints is mandatory, a.s.r., a prominent Dutch insurance company, started a journey to understand and address its nature-related impacts. Deloitte supported a.s.r. in starting the journey in their application of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework.

The TNFD has formulated a series of disclosure recommendations and guidance to encourage businesses and finance to evaluate, report, and address their nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities. These recommendations and guidance aim to help businesses and finance to integrate nature into decision making.

To clearly identify a.s.r.'s interactions with nature as a financial services organisation, the LEAP (Locate, Evaluate, Assess, Prepare) approach was employed.

Understanding a.s.r.’s nature related impact

The project arose from a desire to concretely engage with biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources, a long-standing focus for a.s.r. As Annechien ten Brink, a.s.r.'s Sustainability Manager, explains, "The industry doesn’t have a choice. Both the new CSRD legislation and external stakeholders are asking insurers to formulate policies in this area."

“Nature is a strategic theme for a.s.r., we want to prevent nature from deteriorating and restore it where possible. The TNFD framework helps a.s.r. to better understand our relationship with nature and enables us to formulate concrete policies, Annechien concludes.

Navigating complexity with Deloitte's expertise

a.s.r. collaborated with Deloitte to receive guidance and support on how to assess and respond to its dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities related to nature. Deloitte's involvement proved critical in navigating the complexities of applying the still very new TNFD framework to specific businesses activities like real estate and non-life insurance. Vanessa Otto-Mentz, Sustainability Solutions Partner at Deloitte, notes, “Deloitte has in-depth knowledge of the TNFD framework and related topics and could therefore help a.s.r. by providing informed perspectives and recommendations related to their interactions with nature and what this could mean for the respective businesses and their stakeholders.

Deloitte started the project by aligning their understanding of the LEAP approach with a.s.r.’s objectives. And conducted working sessions with a.s.r.’s different business lines to assess available internal and public data sources to determine a logical starting point.

Following the LEAP approach, Deloitte proceeded with the project, initially focusing on the steps of Locate, Evaluate, and Assess. Financial institutions like a.s.r. usually have an indirect relationship with nature, compared to for example, most manufacturers. The approach was therefore an iterative process of cycling through the locate, evaluate, and assess steps as we learned more about the specific nature interactions for a.s.r’s business activities and portfolios.

To enrich the iterative analysis, Deloitte leveraged its international network, including experts like Jerome Crugnola-Humbert, who co-authored the report "Underwriting Our Planet," and Anne-Claire van de Wall Bake, who leads the WWF/TNFD alliance in the Netherlands. These experts provided access to international insights, crucial for a project like this, especially considering the novelty of the LEAP approach in the financial services industry. The end-result was a list of specific nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities to inform a.s.r’s strategy and operational planning. In addition, it provides credible data points for public reporting purposes, which TNFD recommends.

The impact on the financial services sector

By embracing the TNFD framework, a.s.r. took a crucial step towards comprehending and pioneering its relationship with nature. Annechien underscores the significance: "This is one of the steps that will help the company formulate concrete actions on how to minimise a potential negative impact and increase the positive impact. When this initiative gets support from more financial institutions, the impact could be much greater as it allows for knowledge and good practice sharing”. The initiative has the potential to catalyse broader industry engagement, fostering knowledge sharing and collective action.

“I am proud of how we were able to take a big complex topic such as nature-related issues in financial services and unpack it in a systemic way. This can help different businesses to find their area of focus where they can influence and manage for positive nature outcomes." 
Vanessa Otto Mentz
Partner Sustainability Performance Management, Disclosure and Assurance

A successful collaboration

Deloitte's longstanding contribution in the TNFD development and partnership resonated with a.s.r. Annechien acknowledges, "Deloitte really took us by the hand in the process of breaking down this complex issue." The collaboration yielded not only insights but also practical tools and databases, facilitating a.s.r.’s analysis of its interaction with nature.

Vanessa agrees, “Collaboration was key in this project. a.s.r. brought the business practicalities and data points, including the right portfolio data with all kinds of location-specific characteristics. Deloitte then combined this with their knowledge about nature data, available tooling, frameworks, and approaches. Together, we iterated the LEAP approach and improved the insights and focus. If we had not worked together on this iterative funneling approach, the resulting insights and value-added would not have been possible”.

Looking ahead

The partnership between a.s.r. and Deloitte is an invitation to others in the industry to get started on their own journey for businesses to understand and positively manage their interactions with nature. By leveraging expertise and working together, organisations are not only advancing their own sustainability goals and future readiness, but also contributing to broader societal and environmental wellbeing.

Vanessa explains, “I am proud of how we were able to take a big complex topic such as nature-related issues in financial services and unpack it in a systemic way. This can help a.s.r.’s different businesses to find their area of focus where they can influence and manage for more positive nature outcomes”.

We hope that the rest of the industry will follow a.s.r.’s example and further investigate their own business’ interaction with nature. The real challenge can only be faced by understanding the issues, focusing on those issues that matter and influencing outcomes by working together with different actors across a sector or ecosystem.

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