Their conclusion being “Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
While this research was done for the USA and can’t be readily generalised to other so-called advanced western democracies, because of differences in electoral systems and campaign financing, undoubtedly intensive investor and business lobbying on policy development has favoured shareholder and company interests in the last 30 years.
The concentration of influence and power is even more apparent when you consider three giant financial companies, used by the global elite, represent the largest ownership blocks in 88% of the companies that are currently listed on the S&P500; namely BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street. These three organisations managed US$18 trillion in combined assets in January 2021, equivalent to more than three-quarters the size of the US economy.
BlackRock alone has US$8.67 trillion in assets under management, as of January 2021, Vanguard is nearly as big, with US$6.2 trillion and State Street had US$3.1 trillion. BlackRock and Vanguard are shareholders in Kering Group, LVMH, Prada, Burberry and L’Oreal, to name just a few, Vanguard also has a stake in Hermès.
Given this level of concentration of ownership it is crucial to educate investors in the risks inherent in the trade in endangered species and the lack of transparency in supply chains today. They must take more responsibility for their role in dealing with the biodiversity loss associated with the legal trade in endangered and exotic species.
The consequences of investors being so ignorant of this issue was made clear again in recent days, with an article titled, Halt destruction of nature or risk ‘dead planet’, leading businesses warn. The article is about an open letter sent to world leaders from Business for Nature, calling on governments to take meaningful action on mass extinctions of wildlife and the collapse of ecosystems, or risk “a dead planet”.
What is telling is that while the letter states that, “Because there will be no business on a dead planet, more than 1000 companies, representing USD 4.7 trillion in annual revenue and employing over 11 million people, have signed the ‘Nature is Everyone’s Business’ Call to Action urging governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss by 2030.”; but only 9 CEO’s have signed the open letter!