Conservation Finance Practitioner Roundtable Launches

The announcement below covers an event cohosted by Conservation Finance Network.

A new forum has emerged for discussing key issues in the rapidly growing and evolving conservation finance field: the Conservation Finance Practitioner (CFP) Roundtable. The group met for the first time on Jan. 20 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.

Conservation Finance Network will lead this cross-sectoral dialogue of leading stakeholders over the next three years to identify opportunities to build partnerships, share lessons learned, and scale up new approaches.

Eagle summit in Alaska
  This Creative Commons photo shows Eagle Summit in Alaska.

“Our overarching goals are to increase private capital flows to working lands conservation, provide a network of conservation finance projects, and build… a community of practice,” said Leigh Whelpton, program director of Conservation Finance Network.

Attendees included a diverse range of representatives from financial institutions, government agencies, nonprofit groups, foundations and universities. The CFP Roundtable will seek to leverage members’ expertise and insights in an effort to advance the field and provide support and guidance to ongoing projects.

The initiative is supported by a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS’s CIG program, which seeks to support and catalyze the adoption of innovative technologies and approaches that can effectively address national natural-resource priorities, has added a specific Conservation Finance funding opportunity track.

A significant component of the CFP Roundtable’s work will focus on sharing ideas and lessons from among the eight other CIG projects that are focused on conservation-finance activities - including efforts related to forests and grasslands, agriculture and rangeland, climate mitigation, and water quality and management.

A second key component of the CFP Roundtable’s work will be identifying strategies that more effectively counter the barriers to achieving conservation finance on a larger scale.

One leading conservation finance firm, Encourage Capital, estimates that conservation impact investments total at least $23 billion currently following a period of tremendous growth between 2009 and 2013, but CFP Roundtable participants identified a number of multifaceted challenges that remain to expanding these conservation approaches.

The group will likely address ways to reduce the financial risks of conservation projects, develop common terminology and conservation finance skills across sectors to improve communication and collaboration in the space, manage policy uncertainty or limitations, lower transaction costs and improve verification, and achieve results on a large enough scale to be attractive to mainstream investors.

The CFP Roundtable’s next meeting will be held in April in Portland, Oregon.

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