How might the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) better leverage private capital to support its mission? Could certain conservation practices generate financial returns and attract investment? In this interview, Ricardo Bayon and Alex Eidson, a partner and an analyst at Encourage Capital, share insight and ideas from their new report, “NRCS and Investment Capital: Investing in America Together.” This is the second article of a two-part series.
How might the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) better leverage private capital to support its mission? Could certain conservation practices generate financial returns and attract investment? In this interview, Ricardo Bayon and Alex Eidson, a partner and an analyst at Encourage Capital, share insight and ideas from their new report, “NRCS and Investment Capital: Investing in America Together.” This is the first article in a two-part series.
Funneling money toward forest conservation in the developing world may sound easier than it is. Once one gets into the weeds of implementing sustainable-forestry-finance frameworks like REDD+ at an international level, the challenges of climate finance come to the surface. This year, the game plan is changing to expand this financing space. United States nonprofits and investors will have new opportunities to help rainforest conservation flourish.
What if the development of these approaches could be responsibly accelerated? What if we could shorten the time it takes for environmental markets and investment vehicles to be defined, piloted, scaled, and matured—without cutting corners? The Conservation Finance Network’s recent report, “Private Capital and Working Lands Conservation: A Market Development Framework,” responds to these questions by translating practitioner insight into a framework and common language in the hope of speeding solutions to market development. The report attempts to describe how stakeholders could better delineate their roles and focus their money and authority. It is meant to help stakeholders set realistic goals, expectations, and timeframes to see more capital deployed faster.
Conservation professionals have a challenging path ahead, but resilience finance makes it easier. Out of the carnage that Hurricane Andrew caused in 1992, a market for catastrophe (‘cat’) bonds was born. While ordinary bonds pay buyers interest to cover the risk of default by the issuer, cat bonds compensate buyers with higher interest rates for taking on the risk of extreme events. In the event that disaster hits, investors lose their principal.
In 2018, the Farm Bill will be up for renewal. It will shape the future of federal conservation finance. The bill, initially enacted in 1933, is the defining legislation on agricultural law in the United States. A number of organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, actively work to find ways to maximize environmental gains that can be made through its policies.
There is a high level of uncertainty about federal funding for land conservation over the next four years. The recently passed 2017 budget has kept many conservation-related programs and funds intact, but 2018 may be a different story. The administration’s proposed budget calls for broad cuts to conservation funding, but Congress makes the final decision on appropriations.
Investors and bond issuers must improve communication in order to meet each other’s needs as the green-bond market expands rapidly. Green bonds have the potential to enhance transparency, mitigate risk, and stimulate the market toward reaching a low-carbon economy. The green-bond market is estimated to total $150 billion in 2017. This is an 85 percent increase above 2016, according to data from Climate Bonds Initiative.
Unexpectedly, Root Capital and Kiva have joined forces to create an unprecedented referral system that will cross-pollinate their sustainable-agriculture-finance programs. Root Capital is routing approved applications in the $10,000-$50,000 range to Kiva for zero-percent-interest financing. Once these businesses grow, they can apply for larger amounts of financing at competitive interest rates from Root Capital.
On Jan. 20, the day before Credit Suisse’s 2016 Conservation Finance Conference, Credit Suisse and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment published a new report aiming to catalyze the expansion of conservation finance. The field has grown substantially in the past two years, according to reports from Credit Suisse.
How do investment funds build social and environmental priorities into agricultural financing? Several investment funds showcased their strategies for investing in smallholder value chains at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on Dec. 5-6. While continuing to seek financial returns, investors are supporting and measuring a broader set of environmental, social, and commodity-based outcomes tied to supply chain sustainability.
As conservation finance gains more traction among mainstream investors, discussions about how to evolve early-stage environmental marketplaces to provide more conventional investment opportunities have taken over the halls of conferences. Integrated capital funds may offer one solution.
There has long been a perceived tradeoff between the economic benefits of agriculture and the environmental benefits of conservation. Large-scale implementation of climate-smart agriculture holds promise to harmonize these objectives by integrating crop production with conservation efforts.
We are pleased to announce that the Conservation Finance Network’s 2016 Boot Camp training course is being held in partnership with the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University from June 6 to 10.