More than half of global GDP is exposed to material nature risk without immediate action, finds PwC

  • New PwC research reveals a stark threat to economies from nature’s decline with $58 trillion at risk.

  • PwC launches a global Centre for Nature Positive Business ahead of Earth Day

  • Future plans include doubling number of nature specialists to 1,000 globally, and offering 328,000 staff, including 25,000 in UK, upskilling in nature positive training

  • Nearly half (47%) of companies on London Stock Exchange are highly or moderately dependent on nature, compared with 40% on the NYSE.

Businesses must place nature loss on the same level as climate change in their risk assessments, with more than half of global GDP moderately or highly dependent on nature, according to new PwC analysis.

The findings of new PwC research reveal the extent to which economic activities and natural ecosystems are linked, with 55% of global GDP—equivalent to about US$58 trillion— moderately or highly dependent on nature – up almost one-third ($14tn) since 2020.

To help mobilise a response from the business community, PwC is launching a global Centre for Nature Positive Business, which will double the number of nature specialists in the firm to 1,000, with up to 10% based in the UK. PwC is also providing nature-positive training to upskill its 328,000 strong global workforce in order to better understand nature impacts and work towards nature-positive outcomes with clients.

As companies will face increased scrutiny from investors and consumers of whether they are managing their impacts and dependencies on nature, PwC’s analysis highlights how the decline of the natural world poses significant risks to the global economy and society-at-large if organisations do not transform their practices now. All 163 economic sectors analysed by PwC have a portion of their direct operations or supply chain that is highly dependent on nature.

Business’ reliance on nature covers everything from crops grown for the food and drink industries or the use of timber in construction, to rubber in the automotive industries, and plants that are critical for the pharmaceutical industry. Well managed ecosystems also provide the safe operating conditions for business activities, for example, by reducing the likelihood of flooding, landslides, and heat stress, and natural ecosystems like forests and wetlands help remove pollutants from the air and water.

Financial markets exposed to significant nature risk 

The health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity will have far reaching implications, with more than half (50.6%) of the market value of listed companies on 19 major stock exchanges exposed to material nature risk – nearly US$45 trillion.

Of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, nearly half (47%) of the company value traded is highly or moderately dependent on nature, which is in line with the global average. Much of that comes from companies in the food, beverages, and tobacco industry (10% of the value of listings) and the mining and metals industry (10%).

The New York Stock Exchange, in comparison has a below average 40% of company value highly or moderately dependent on nature, though its scale means this represents 20% of the total across all 19 Exchanges analysed. The Euronext, in comparison, is above average with 60% of value highly or moderately dependent on nature, with a concentration of retail and consumer goods; food and drink; and tobacco companies.

Will Evison, co-author, Managing Nature Risks: From understanding to action, and Sustainability Director, PwC UK, comments:

“A number of factors have led to the increase in nature risk that we are seeing - from global economic growth since 2020 to a better understanding of how industries rely on nature to generate and protect value. 

“As economies grow, they tend to consume more natural resources, but we have reached a point where it is clear that business leaders need to move to nature-positive business models if they are to mitigate growing risks and continue to strengthen financial returns.

“Businesses may also find natural alignment between climate and nature priorities. For example, many nature-based solutions to climate change, such as reforestation, help capture emissions while also enhancing biodiversity, directing capital to developing economies, and supporting indigenous peoples and local communities.”

Lynne Baber, Sustainability Leader, PwC UK, adds:

“Nature’s rapid decline means that executives can no longer ignore either the risks stemming from ecosystem failures and biodiversity losses, or the emerging regulatory requirements and stakeholder demands which relate to nature.

“Our advice to executives is to put nature on a par with climate change when it comes to strategy and risk management. Start by measuring your nature baseline, use data to improve decision making and transparency, and set ambitions to manage risk and make the most of the opportunities that come with this.”

“The starting point for building resilience is understanding your company’s dependencies on nature. From there, you can determine what threats your company may face, as well as the value it can create, for itself and for society, by working toward a nature-positive future.” 

Zubin Randeria, ESG Leader, PwC UK, concludes:

“The launch of PwC’s new global Centre for Nature Positive Business represents an exciting opportunity for businesses to better understand and assess their nature impacts and contribute to the development of sustainable ecological futures.

“Climate change and nature are inextricably linked, and as the challenges facing the environment continue to rise, so too will the impacts felt by ecosystems around the world. By boosting our capabilities to help clients develop and implement nature-positive strategies as part of their broader sustainability strategies, we will help a growing number of businesses transform their operating models, and in doing so, help to build a net zero, nature-positive world.”

 

To access the full report please click here

 

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