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On September 27, 2023, environmental law organization ClientEarth released a report highlighting the growing potential for legal risk associated with biodiversity loss in the agriculture and seafood sectors, the currently applicable legislation, and ways to help mitigate risk. In a statement released alongside the report, ClientEarth explained that legal risk in those sectors is a consequence of a dependence on ecosystem services, such as raw material, clean water, pollination and a regulated climate to produce goods and services.
According to the report, biodiversity loss in the seafood and agriculture sectors, biodiversity dependencies and negative impacts can lead to legal risks in various areas, including:
To avoid or mitigate legal risks related to biodiversity loss, the report advises agriculture and seafood sector companies and their investors to conduct appropriate due diligence to identify and disclose their dependencies and negative impacts on biodiversity, and any actions taken, in accordance with recently adopted and upcoming legislation. Earlier this year, the European Parliament adopted amendments to the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which requires large companies to identify, prevent, mitigate or end negative impacts on pollution, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, among other areas. The final text of the CSDDD is subject to ongoing negotiations, but in order to help companies mitigate the financial risks associated with biodiversity loss, due diligence obligations should explicitly include biodiversity impacts.
Taking the Temperature: As we have noted regularly, nature and biodiversity are increasingly the focus of sustainability discussions across industries and sectors, as governmental agencies, NGOs, investors and industry participants recognize the risks that nature-related biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation pose. Litigation over biodiversity loss on land and in the water is also an emerging area of climate-related litigation, as evidenced in suits filed by ClientEarth itself. In May, the organization sued Cargill, seeking disclosure of Cargill’s due diligence policies and procedures with respect to its soy operations in Brazil. The organization and others also sued French food-products company Danone earlier this year under France’s Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law. ClientEarth argues that Danone must develop an adequate plan to reduce its production of single-use plastic, including social and environmental due diligence measures across the company’s entire supply chain.
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