The 2016 Global Landscapes Forum: Climate Action for Sustainable Development event “Unlocking Private Finance in Forests, Sustainable Land Use and Restoration,” held during COP22 in Marrakech on Nov. 16, brought landscape and finance experts together to discuss ways to advance private investment in sustainable use of land and forests.
Farmers need to pool their resources to collaboratively strengthen water quality in California’s Lower Salinas Valley. A team received a $1,300,695 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) for this purpose from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) this fall. This project can also improve habitat for birds and marine species.
With the rise of impact investing, there has been a jump in investment strategies promoting sustainable
agriculture. This project attempts to understand the subset of farmland investors employing sustainable
agriculture strategies by focusing on the following questions. Do sustainable farmland investments deliver financial, environmental and social returns? If yes, to what extent? How are those returns realized?
When the quality of land degrades, environmental, social and economic opportunities evaporate. The United Nations is working to prevent land degradation globally. In this interview, Simone Quatrini, Land Degradation Neutrality Fund coordinator and team leader at the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said his program is attempting a worldwide conservation finance effort. There is massive work to be done.
Innovation has its roots on the farm – where each day farmers adapt, balance and experiment, doing the most with less while striving for the best yields and healthiest landscapes. As the world’s population grows, farmers have less arable land available but more mouths to feed, while they also face challenges like drought and other climatic extremes. Farmers have their work cut out for them.
The current conservation finance gap is estimated to be $200-300 billion per year. As public and philanthropic investment in conservation are in decline, private investment has the potential to bridge it. That was the key message conveyed by the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation launched at the International Union for Conservation of Nature 2016 World Conservation Congress on Sept. 2, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Who is there to provide financing when small farmers in the Northeast are trying to secure the futures of ecological farms? Dirt Capital Partners has set up a business model to support its goals by working with 11 mission-oriented investors. It has now purchased and leased nine farms in New England, New York, and New Jersey.
The new Natural Resource Investment Center at the United States Department of the Interior is making strides toward using market-based approaches and innovative public-private partnerships to tackle natural resource and conservation issues. For years, the nation has been slowly coming to terms with aging water infrastructure, dealing with water shortages in the West, and attempting to revamp species and landscape conservation efforts.
Environmental NGOs and banks are both increasingly interested in conservation as a business opportunity. However, in the past, they have sometimes had an adversarial relationship. Their approaches to financing have also differed. In this interview, John Tobin-de la Puente, former managing director and global head of sustainability at Credit Suisse, said that partnerships between banks and NGOs are evolving toward mutual exploration of business opportunities. However, a substantial rift remains between these two types of organizations. The divide is political, pragmatic, and programmatic. To reach large-scale solutions, Tobin said, NGOs must work with profit-motivated businesspeople.
A tentative new relationship between Cuba and the United States, which were formerly at odds, may help build conservation finance and research opportunities in Cuba. Cuba, the “Pearl of the Antilles,” is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots worldwide, being the most biologically dense and diverse island in the Caribbean – with some of the most pristine beaches, the largest and densest forests, and the healthiest reefs.
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.