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At COP27, how to make progress in the face of uncertainty

Listen: At COP27, how to make progress in the face of uncertainty

The UN climate conference known as COP27 kicks off in just a few days. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast we tell you what to expect.

We talk to Jenny Davis-Peccoud, a Partner at management consulting firm Bain & Co., about the role of the private sector at COP.

Taryn Fransen, Senior Fellow in the Global Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, talks to us about where countries stand on climate pledges known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.

And we speak with Capitals Coalition CEO Mark Gough about how the private and public sectors are working together toward goals related to climate change as well as nature and biodiversity.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall ( and Esther Whieldon (

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Transcription provided by Kensho.  

Lindsey Hall: Hi. I'm Lindsey Hall, Head of Thought Leadership at S&P Global Sustainable1.  

Esther Whieldon: And I'm Esther Whieldon, a senior writer on the Sustainable1 thought leadership  team.  

Lindsey Hall: Welcome to ESG Insider, a podcast hosted by S&P Global, where we explore  environmental, social and governance issues that are shaping investor activity and company strategy.  

Esther Whieldon: In early November, officials from governments, businesses and sustainability-focused  organizations worldwide will make for 2 weeks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the UN's big annual climate  conference called COP27. These annual conference of the parties' gatherings serve as a place for  government officials to meet in person to negotiate thorny topics related to implementing the Paris  Agreement on climate change.  

As a quick reminder here for our listeners, under the Paris Agreement, more than 190 parties committed  to limiting the global rise in greenhouse gas emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to  1.5 degrees, and that's relative to preindustrial levels. The agreement brings together nations from  around the world to work toward a common climate goal. And each year, the goal is for countries to  come away with some new agreements or at least make progress towards reaching a deal on those  difficult topics.  

Lindsey Hall: And as we'll hear, businesses, NGOs and others also use this annual conference as a time  to gather, negotiate and network.  

In today's episode will explore what to expect from COP27. We'll hear about key themes that will be  covered at the event and how the public and private sectors are working together. We'll explore where  countries currently stand on climate pledges and what top themes they're likely to discuss behind closed  doors.  

We'll hear from Taryn Fransen, who's senior fellow in the Global Climate Program at the World  Resources Institute. Taryn is the lead author of a report that WRI put out in October, titled The State of  Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. NDCs are the documents countries update every 5 years  that outline their plans for lowering emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate  change.  

We'll also hear how the climate agenda being discussed at COP27 fits together with the nature agenda  that will be the focus of another upcoming conference of the parties known as COP15. For this, we'll  speak with Capitals Coalition's CEO, Mark Gough. The Capitals Coalition advocates for companies to  identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital, social capital and human  capital.  

Now Esther, at COP26 last year, we heard about this big increase in private sector participation at this  UN Climate Change Conference. And I wanted to understand how the private sector is approaching COP  this year. So I spoke with Jenny Davis-Peccoud. Jenny is a partner at management consulting firm, Bain  & Co., where she founded the global Sustainability & Responsibility practice in 2011. She's also co leading Bain's delegation at COP in Egypt this year. 

I asked for her perspective on the role of private companies at COP.  

Jenny Davis-Peccoud: The private sector presence at these conferences has certainly been increasing  over time. COP26 last year in Glasgow may have been a high point. Of course, it was the first COP after  COVID. It was also a very major one, 5 years on from the Paris Accords, and so a very major milestone  COP. But the one in Egypt, I expect to see quite a big corporate delegation as well because there are so  many issues to continue to input into, keep an eye on and exchange around.  

Some of the ones that are going to be of particular interest for companies, one, is around carbon  markets and how those are going to evolve. Another one is around the areas of deforestation and  methane, for example, commitments where we need to see more and faster action.  

Something that will be a new focus for this COP is around just transition, so understanding all of the  social issues for companies and countries as they navigate the energy transition.  

And then the final one that will get a lot of attention this year is around food systems and nature, and  that really is becoming more and more of a focus because it has such a big impact on not just climate,  but on the food, food security as well.  

Lindsey Hall: I asked Jenny, what should people at home understand about how COP this year compares  to years past?  

Jenny Davis-Peccoud: Yes. Listen, COP26 last year made a lot of progress on some really critical issues.  And we also saw during that process, the nationally determined contributions from countries coming in  to get us to about a 2.1 degree pathway.  

But at the end of the COP26 conference, I think the phrase that was used was, "The patient is alive, but  perhaps just barely." There are so many challenges, even at that point, of really trying to get on the right  trajectory to wrestle in climate change.  

As we head into COP27, the world looks profoundly different. We have the war in the Ukraine. We have  significantly increased geopolitical tensions in other regions of the world. We have rampant inflation.  We have a looming recession. We have concerns about food security across the world and continued  political turbulence in some of the world's most important markets. And by the way, we've had quite a  lot of bad news, if you will, from the scientists and others about even our ability to get on to a 1.5- degree pathway or stay within that kind of safe space.  

And so I think the view at COP27 needs to really focus on how do you keep that progress going, even in  the face of uncertainty? And how do you take those pragmatic steps that means we can make progress  on these really critical issues, even when the temptation is very much going to be to dial back on this  because there are so many other pressing concerns that businesses will be worrying about.  

Esther Whieldon: We just heard Jenny talk about the role of the private sector. But what about the role  for countries?  

Well, for that, let's turn to my interview with Taryn from the World Resources Institute. Here she is  explaining how NDCs work and where countries stand collectively on ambition. She also dives into other  key details countries provided in their NDCs, such as their estimates of how much their plans may cost  to implement. 

Here she is.  

Taryn Fransen: So NDC, as you mentioned, stands for nationally determined contribution. And the way  that they fit into the Paris Agreement is that countries in the Paris Agreement agreed to very high-level  collective global goals, including to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial  levels, and ideally, to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as well as to promote adaptation and resilience to  climate change and to align financial flows with low-carbon, climate-resilient development.  

But under the agreement, it's up to each individual country to set targets and policies that ideally will  add up to those global goals. So countries, in their NDCs, set targets to reduce their own emissions by  2030, for example. And once you add up all those emissions reductions, they ideally should be sufficient  to limit warming to well below 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees.  

When the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, it was obvious that the 2030 targets that countries had  set at that time were not going to be sufficient yet to meet those global goals. So the agreement  includes a process to strengthen commitments every 5 years with the idea that, over time, countries  would be able to collectively align their bottom-up commitments with those temperature goals.  

Esther Whieldon: Okay. So where do we stand collectively now then?  

Taryn Fransen: Well, we're falling unfortunately pretty short still. So countries set their initial NDCs  around the time of the agreement was adopted in 2015. So 2020 would have been the first of these 5- year cycles to strengthen NDCs. Because of the pandemic and the UN climate negotiations that year  being delayed, that cycle sort of extended informally past 2020, which is why we're here now in 2022,  sort of taking stock of what that first cycle of updates delivered. So that's where we are in the process.  

Then we ask, what did this process deliver? What did this first cycle deliver? And relative to the initial  NDCs, it actually made a significant improvement. So we calculated that, under the updated NDCs,  emissions would be about 5.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent lower in 2030 than they would have  been under the initial NDCs.  

And just to put that 5.5 gigaton number in perspective. That's about equivalent to eliminating the  annual emissions of the United States. And the United States is the second-largest emitter. So it's  significant.  

But the problem is the level of emissions reduction that is needed to achieve our global temperature  goals is so -- it's a lot. It's much greater than that. And so even having made that improvement, we're  still facing a major gap. And the latest calculations show that under the current NDCs, those updated  NDCs that have already been improved, we will still be on track for around 2.4 to 2.6 degrees Celsius of warming.  

Esther Whieldon: And we've heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that 2 degrees  alone of warming will be pretty catastrophic, right? Not just -- not even counting 3 degrees, right? So 2.4  to 2.6 is still...  

Taryn Fransen: It's a big number. We do not want to be there. Just for context, we have -- the planet has  already experienced about 1.1 or 1.2 degrees of warming. And here where I live in California, for  example, we're seeing the effects of that in severe droughts that are hampering agriculture, extreme wildfire events that are much more destructive than anything we've seen in the past that are not only  destroying communities, but really having a toll on human health, giving people asthma and a significant  health impacts and sort of making life miserable. And that's at 1.1 or 1.2 degrees in a part of the world  that is relatively well resourced and has some abilities to mitigate these impacts.  

The types of impacts that we're talking about in the developing world are potentially much more  extreme than that, with impacts on food security, famine, water security, drought, severe impacts on  agriculture, not to mention on ecosystems.  

So we hear these numbers 1.5, 2, 2.4, 2.6, and they might all sound like small numbers, but every  decimal point has -- comes with a severe impact. It really has tremendous implications for human  security of all kinds.  

Esther Whieldon: So we have COP27 happening in less than a week now. How do these annual COP  gatherings, the Conference of Party gatherings fit in with the broader NDC discussion? How are they  linked? And how might they come up at this upcoming event?  

Taryn Fransen: Well, for one thing, at these negotiations are when some countries will likely announce  their additional targets. So we know that some countries have said they still intend to strengthen their  targets. Perhaps we'll see some countries doing that at COP27 in Egypt.  

Another way is that the negotiations include a process that is called the global stocktake. And what the  global stocktake is, is a process that occurs every 5 years in between these cycles of strengthening the  NDCs, where negotiators come together and take stock of their progress, or lack thereof, towards the  goals that are established in the Paris Agreement. And then countries are also supposed to use the  results of that global stocktaking exercise to inform their subsequent NDC updates. So the first global  stocktake will conclude in 2023, but it is ongoing now, including at COP27. So that will be part of the  discussions at COP27.  

There are also other items on the agenda at COP27 that relate in a significant way to what countries put  forward in their NDCs. And one of those topics has to do with international climate finance. Under the  Paris Agreement, developed countries agreed to mobilize increasing amounts of climate finance to help  developing countries mitigate climate change. In other words, to reduce emissions, to transition to clean  energy, to stop deforestation and undertake those kinds of initiatives, as well as to strengthen their  abilities to adapt to climate change impacts.  

And so far, developed countries have fallen short on delivering those -- on those climate finance  commitments that they had promised in the Paris Agreement. And that continues to be a point of  contention in negotiations, where developing countries are demanding that developed countries live up  to the commitments that they have made and also chart a course for how climate finance will be  provided and scaled up in the future.  

And I think we can reasonably expect that how well developed countries deliver on those promises and  how well the negotiations go in that regard will directly then inform what developing countries as a  group are willing to commit to in their subsequent NDCs.  

Esther Whieldon: So in the report that you put out on this, you mentioned that some countries provide  sort of a top line figure of how much it's going to cost them to make these pledged reductions. Can you give us a sense of how many countries overall? Like what percentage of countries have actually put  some numbers to these pledges? And what does it add up to? And what can we sort of learn from that?  

Taryn Fransen: So 89 countries in this current round of NDCs have included finance estimates. And  those 89 countries, they're developing countries for -- as a rule, that provide this information. And those  89 countries hold 50% of the world's population, just to kind of give a sense of the scale. And they have  collectively identified a need for $4.3 trillion to implement the plans that are included in their NDCs.  

There is no requirement that NDCs contain this financial information, and we also know that countries  use a variety of different methodologies to cost out their plans and do so with varying degrees of  comprehensiveness. So we have to take this overall figure with a little bit of caution, but I think it's  important to put it forward at least as an initial estimate of what we know about what the NDCs might  cost.  

Esther Whieldon: Is there anything else that our listeners should look for or might want to think about  going into COP27, of things that might happen or nuances that are valuable to understand?  

Taryn Fransen: Yes. There's one major dimension of the negotiations this year that we haven't touched  on yet, and that relates to the subject of loss and damage. Loss and damage refers to what happens  when climate impacts exceed what countries can adapt to. So there are certain amounts of sea level rise  that you can build a seawall and you'll be okay, for example. But when climate change is too severe, and  particularly in low-lying or particularly vulnerable areas, some of the impacts are more existential. So  you can't -- an island country completely being inundated is not something that you can adapt to. That's  a loss.  

And so countries, developing countries, and vulnerable countries in particular, have prioritized having a  means to address this concept of loss and damage. And having that -- that actually was included in the  Paris Agreement. But it's been a strong point of contention with developed countries -- or some  developed countries, I should say, being quite reluctant to take on what they see as responsibility or  obligation related to this kind of impact.  

So it's been a very contentious topic, and it is being prioritized for the negotiations at COP27. We've  seen, I think, in the last few days kind of some openings among negotiators around a possible landing  zone where these discussions on loss on damage could come out, but I think it remains to be seen what  that's going to look like.  

And it's really compared to mitigation and adaptation, which are topics kind of with a long history that  are well spelled out in many ways under the Paris Agreement, this is a more nascent discussion. It's not  something that has really seen a lot of resolution before. So it's definitely something to keep an eye on.  

Esther Whieldon: To what extent do we see, at COP gatherings, the actual government officials also  interacting with the private sector and having these discussions about how the private sector can  actually be involved?  

Taryn Fransen: That's an interesting question. I mean, my observation is that they really are kind of  parallel tracks at the negotiations themselves. They're usually held in different buildings that you need a  different badge or credential to get into that might be quite a long walk or a shuttle ride apart from one  another. And negotiators, when they go into that what's called the Blue Zone, where the formal negotiations are happening, they don't tend to emerge a lot. So just the way it's set up is not necessarily  conducive to a lot of overlap.  

I think there are some exceptions to that. There are processes, for example, under the U.K. COP  presidency, we saw something called the High-Level Champions, where the U.K. COP presidency  engaged quite closely with different non-state actors about what their role could be in addressing  climate change and tried to sort of cultivate private sector commitments on climate change, that sort of  thing, in consultation with the presidency and others.  

So there are channels through which this kind of collaboration happens. And I think it's quite important,  obviously, to cultivate ambition on the part of the private sector, and also for governments and  policymakers to have a strong understanding of the types of policy conditions that will be conducive to  kind of channeling private investment in the right direction and things like that. I would say that tends to  happen more in the lead up to these events than it does at the events themselves.  

Esther Whieldon: As you just heard, Lindsey, COP27 is really divided into 2 tracks. One is where  government officials meet to negotiate; and the other, which is often in another part of the city, is  where businesses, NGOs and others gather.  

Lindsey Hall: I heard a similar observation from Mark, CEO of the Capitals Coalition. When I asked them  if he could take us behind the scenes a bit, what does it look like to be on the ground at COP27?  

Mark Gough: So the first thing is, I spent 20 years in business and strategy positions before I came to run  the Capitals Coalition. And the first thing is, is these big conferences like this are slow. If you go into the  main conference hall and you're listening to the statements from each country, they've got their  verbatim language they're going to use, they've got their red lines they can't go over, and it can feel very  slow, particularly from a business perspective.  

So that's why you've got to be involved in some of the events around those. That's where the deal is  made. So within the Nature Zone, for example, that we're helping to run, there will be lots of events  there talking about actual practical ways that businesses can find solutions to deliver on some of the  things that are being talked about in the main hall.  

Lindsey Hall: I asked Mark if there are any wins at COP26 last year that he hopes to see repeated at this  year's COP27.  

Mark Gough: Definitely there were wins. And I think that we got some clear direction of where we  wanted to go to. The difficulty is then going there. Only 24 out of the 193 parties submitted nationally  determined contributions at the moment for how they're going to cope with it. That isn't enough.  

I think that we really -- with the war that we've seen in Europe, more recently with the cost of living  crisis, et cetera, we know that there are challenges around that, that have been overshadowing some of  these steps here.  

One of the really challenging bits with that is that I took a delegation of businesses yesterday into the  European Commission for the negotiators that are going into these COPs coming up. And they both  raised the point, that this is about the climate crisis, but it's also about food security. It's also about  energy security as well. 

And with those things that we've got there, we took in an energy company and a food company. Both of  them said the way that we get out of this is by investing in climate solutions, by investing in nature.  

And I think that is a change, that when we go back to 2008, and we saw the downturn then, the  economic downturn, people just threw sustainability to one side and focused on the problems. I think  the positive thing is now, and this came out in Climate Week in New York quite recently, that people are  realizing the way out of this is to invest more in the sustainable solutions. And I think that's key.  

There were some downsides to last time. I think one of the big things was the rights issue about access  to who's going to benefit sharing, that sort of thing was never really grappled with. I really don't think  that's going to be grappled with this year either, unfortunately. I think that's a shame.  

I think we've got to work out how do we fairly do the climate transition as well, and that hasn't been  addressed. And that's because we're still separating climate and technological solutions from actually  bringing in the people and the nature to all of that as well. So I think that was a missed opportunity that  we didn't achieve last time and probably won't this time either.  

Lindsey Hall: And just so I'm clear, when you say the rights issue, can you explain a little bit more for our  listeners, what you mean by that?  

Mark Gough: Sorry, yes. So what we mean here is one of the biggest debates I was involved in, in  COP26, where a lot of people were pulled in towards the end of it. Was this discussion around, well,  who actually should benefit from these investments that are going into the transition, into how we're  going to change the -- address the climate problem? But also, who's paying for it? So it's where the  money flows, but also where those solutions end up.  

Is it that actually with these things, there should be creative comments created, where everyone has  benefits that come from these things? Is there technologies that have advancements that should be  kept commercial? Or are there things that should be shared with people? What is the role of local  indigenous peoples within this? What is the role of women and children and others sometimes  marginalized groups in some of these conversations? How do we address that? And I don't think that  has been really picked up in the conversations fully enough yet.  

Lindsey Hall: You heard Mark just mention Climate Week. And one thing I heard a lot during Climate  Week NYC, which I'm also hearing increasingly in conversations across the sustainability world, is this  idea about how different stakeholders need to come together across silos to make real progress on both  climate change and nature.  

Basically, you can't just have a private sector talking to private sector or public sector talking to public  sector. So I asked Mark, what's your response to this idea? By the way, you'll hear him mention Nigel  Topping, and that's the UN's High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26.  

Mark Gough: So when we first set up the coalition many years back now, the idea was to try and create  that radical collaboration, as Nigel Topping calls it, and bring these people together. So we spent a lot of  time trying to get the businesses sitting down with their financial institutions that are funding them. And the different people in the teams, the people that are actually thinking about this, not just the people  doing the deals, but the people that are actually on the ground working on it, get them together with  the policymakers, get them all in the same room. We need to have that conversation. 

And when we first started up, there was 2 sides of the room. You had the policymakers on one side, the  businesses on the other. No trust in the room. I was at a meeting yesterday where we were bringing  more businesses, like I said, into the room with some of the negotiators. And there was laughter, was  collaboration that was slapping each other on the back. Literally, it felt like a community.  

So we have to have that collaboration across these communities here. We have to have those  connections between the different parts of the system. Academics have been talking about this for  many, many years, about what the challenges are. We've got the WWF Living Planet Report and all of  those things that give us the problems. They've got some of the bits. Their business has a lot of the  solutions. Finance has a lot of the money, obviously, to help to make sure they're oiled to keep this  running. We need the policymakers as well.  

All of these parts need to be interconnected. And that's really the job, in many ways, not just of the  coalition. And that's where we see our role, as being part of that curation of bringing this community  together.  

Lindsey Hall: Okay. So what do you expect at COP27 in terms of public-private collaboration?  

Mark Gough: There's going to be a lot more. And I think one of the lovely bits in the middle weekend of  COP26, I saw several businesses that we were there with starting to make deals. They were starting to  talk to some of the other people in the room and say, "You know what? I heard you talk about in this  session earlier on, this challenge that you've got. I think I've got a solution for it." And we saw that  happening over the middle weekend. I'm quite sure that there's going to be a lot more of that  happening here.  

We know that we're not going to have quite the same number of high-level leaders at COP27 as we did  at COP26., We know that there's not going to be as many businesses actually as we saw at COP26. But  there is going to be a lot more opportunity for public-private collaboration. And I think that there's a  massive opportunity here for both public and private in this process.  

Lindsey Hall: When you say fewer businesses at COP27, why is that?  

Mark Gough: I think it's more of a challenging venue to get to. I mean, Sharm-El, if you've ever been, is a  lovely place. But it's -- obviously, where it is situated in the world is a little bit more challenging for some  of the global leading businesses. We're hoping we'll see a lot more Middle Eastern businesses, African  businesses there. In fact, I'm doing some sessions with some African businesses while we are there.  

But I think a lot of the big global 500 companies, definitely, the leaders will be there, but I don't think  we're going to see as many. And in fact, I'm talking to several of them, they were going to go. They're  now wondering whether they will be there, they're not so sure.  

A lot of them though have signed up to go to COP15, the biodiversity conference. I think we're going to  see a big influx of businesses there that we wouldn't normally see at a biodiversity COP. So having these  2 back-to-back, you've got only so many hours in the year that you've got to be able to fill.  

There will be a big business contingent. I'm not saying there won't be. There will be a big business  contingent in COP27. It just doesn't feel to me it's going to be as big as we had a COP26 when it was in  the U.K. 

Lindsey Hall: Mark said is looking to COP27 as a chance to connect the climate and nature agendas.  

Mark Gough: So one of the things that we'll be doing there. I'm on the Board of the Global Climate  Alliance. And with them, we are going to be running the Nature Zone. So what we're going to be really  trying to do is continue to link up these narratives.  

So there is a big opportunity here. We haven't got far enough. We thought we'd put a marker in the  sand, maybe, last year at COP26. This year, we really need to make sure that these things are  interconnected. Maybe marker in the sand when we're going to Egypt is a good analogy there. I didn't  realize. I made a joke and didn't know it.  

So the -- but we've got to be able to connect those narratives up. And I think that's going to be the key  thing. So the Nature Zone that we'll be running. We'll be doing lots of events showing how biodiversity  agenda and climate change are going to connect, which then leads us on to the COP15 which comes  after it. So a stepping-stone moment.  

Lindsey Hall: In our conversation, Mark pointed to big changes in the way companies and investors are  approaching nature.  

Mark Gough: So first of all, the financial institutions are stepping forward in a way that we've never seen  before. Back in 2017, we launched a financial sector supplement on nature. We launched it in Hong  Kong. We had about 13 people turn up to a massive venue. No one was interested. No one wanted to be  there. I thought it was the biggest failure I'd ever done.  

But what I realized since then, it was just a sense of timing. At that time, in 2017, there were very few  financial institutions that were actually starting to think about nature or biodiversity and how that  should be brought into the way that they were making financial decisions, investments or asset  managers, et cetera.  

So there just wasn't a market out there. There wasn't the pull. So we were pushing with this criteria,  saying this is something you should start thinking about, but there wasn't a pull from the market to pick  up on it. That, like I say, has changed.  

And I think one of the key reasons is the connections we are seeing between these agendas between  climate change and nature. We know that actually nature-based solutions are going to be almost 40% of  the solution to the climate problem we've got. We can't disaggregate these issues. If you're going to  start looking at climate, you have to start looking at nature because that's what's going to help to drive  the changes.  

Only 2% of the finance is going into nature-based solutions in the transition planning, et cetera. That's  just not enough if it's going to be 40% of the solution. And yet we've got a lot of money going into  technical solutions, like electrification of cars, which is only going to be a small part of the solution we  need for climate change.  

So we need to tip that on its head, but that's why I think financial institutions are interested because  they've now got the links up much more strongly between not just climate to nature, but nature and  people as well. How do we bring the equity question into all of this. 

Lindsey Hall: For our listeners who might not be so familiar with nature-based solutions, can you  provide just a couple of examples? What do you mean when you're talking about nature-based  solutions?  

Mark Gough: Yes, a very good point. We all use these sort of phrases that become verbatim, sort of how  we talk. So a nature-based solution is the idea that actually rather than -- so a good example would be a  water filtration plant.  

So we all know we all need clean water for drinking. What we do is we tend to build a concrete  structure, put the water through that. And then what we do with that is we all then clean the water up  with chemicals and then put it into the pipes to come to our houses. That's what we've been doing for at  least the last 30 or 40 years, majoring on that sort of gray infrastructure to be able to do it.  

But we know that reed beds, we know that nature itself filters that water to a very high degree. So if we  built in, instead of a big gray concrete structure, we let the reed beds work on that, we invest our money  into that, what we will have is lower cost of maintenance, so we don't have to keep on replacing the  concrete and all the materials. We get clean water out of it.  

We get a natural habitat, which means that the biodiversity -- and biodiversity, just to be clear, is the  diversity of life. Nature is all of those green things and all those good things out there on the planet.  Biodiversity is how diverse it is, so it's the quality of nature when we start thinking about biodiversity.  

If we can get that to come through as a byproduct of actually getting clean water, well, that's a win-win  that we're starting to get across all of this. And there's lots of opportunities. That's just one of them.  There's lots of opportunities to start doing this.  

Obviously, tree planting is a very common one. But with that, we've got to look at the integrity of the  forest. We don't just plant any tree that's going to absorb carbon. We've got to make sure we're  planting the right trees in the right place that is creating biodiversity as well as absorbing carbon.  Otherwise, we'll get an unintended consequence there.  

So those nature-based solutions are going to be key. But in order to set out a nature-based solution, you  have to first understand the impact and dependency. And that's where the work that we've been doing,  natural capital, social capital, human capital, produced capital, which includes all of those financial and  intellectual capital, et cetera. All of those together create a holistic model that we can start seeing how  those investments are really going to make integrated returns across more than just financial returns,  but returns on nature, returns on social capital and people as well.  

Lindsey Hall: This theme of connecting the dots between the climate and nature agendas, that's one of  the big topics we're focused on heading into COP27, and also the Conference of the Parties focused on  biodiversity, or COP15 in Montreal in December. How do you weave together these agendas and also  understand how these goals can be achieved in a just and equitable manner?  

Esther Whieldon: These questions are something we'll continue to track in upcoming episodes.  

Lindsey Hall: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of ESG Insider. And a special thanks to our  producer, Kyle Cangialosi. Please be sure to subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our weekly  newsletter, ESG Insider. See you next time. 

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