Financial intermediaries can make new markets come alive, according to a key discussion from CFN's 6th Conservation Finance Practitioner Roundtable. From April 25-26, conservation, agribusiness, and impact investing experts gathered at the McKnight Foundation offices in Minneapolis, to share how they are building financing for conservation practices into mainstream agricultural systems.
Bordered by beautiful wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana is a hub of transportation and industry. A pilot environmental impact bond could seed a set of wetland-restoration projects for the state. Environmental Defense Fund, Quantified Ventures, and their project partners are proposing to draw on funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill settlement to make this happen.
Greenprint Partners is field-testing a green infrastructure-financing approach that could help make communities healthier and safer in a small group of Rust Belt cities. In an interview, Nicole Chavas, the company’s CEO and cofounder, and Rose Jordan, its marketing director, said the models have expansion potential. If adopted on a larger scale, they could improve the quality of life in many low-to-moderate-income urban neighborhoods.
In a few Rust Belt cities that are seeking economic and social benefits, Greenprint Partners – formerly known as Fresh Coast Capital – is breaking new ground by financing fresh solutions for green stormwater infrastructure. It is using a combination of municipal, private and government resources. Its goals are to create a replicable model and expand the market.
The Washington, DC Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE)’s Stormwater Retention Credit Program takes a unique approach to attracting private capital to effectively leverage public funds. DOEE’s financial commitment to managing its stormwater challenges and proactive transparency in working with investors have created an attractive opportunity for private investment.
The National Philanthropic Trust’s 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report found that the capital housed in donor-advised funds across the United States exceeded $85 billion in 2016. This represents an almost 10-percent increase since 2015 and a 28-percent increase since 2012.
In this episode of "Voices of Conservation Finance," our guest was Bethany Olmstead, Conservation Manager with Working Forest Fund, a program of The Conservation Fund. She shared how her background in land conservation guides her work with The Conservation Fund to finance the acquisition and protection of forestland in the United States. She discussed how her passion for protecting land for wildlife habitat and public access can also provide economic benefits for local communities.
Sustainable forestry represents a major portion of conservation finance’s investable landscape. According to a 2016 Forest Trends report, “State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016,” sustainable timberland investments accounted for approximately 34 percent of all private conservation investments from 2004 to 2015.
Conservation managers and entrepreneurs who are looking to make their projects stand out as investment opportunities should be sure to supply the information that investors want. Impact investing experts interviewed by Conservation Finance Network expressed a surprising lack of interest in most impact metrics and measurements aside from carbon sequestration. They instead indicated that they prioritize honest assessments of risk. They also value an understanding of how an investment opportunity can fit into a larger portfolio.
There is a growing gap between available impact capital and conservation investments. This has become a major focal point for investment professionals in the field. One reason for this trend may be that conservation investments are not meeting investor expectations due to a lack of quality opportunities.
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.
The White House has issued a directive to point federal agencies toward building ecosystem services valuation into their plans, investments and regulations. This directive, released on Oct. 7, will help agencies synthesize conservation’s ecosystem benefits with its value to society.
A new forum has emerged for discussing key issues in the rapidly growing and evolving conservation finance field: the Conservation Finance Practitioner Roundtable. The group met for the first time on Jan. 20 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.