Island Press’ publication of Valuing Nature: A Handbook for Impact Investing by William Ginn comes 15 years after his first book helped launch what became the Conservation Finance Network. While the lessons captured in prior works still ring true, the conservation finance field has experienced rapid growth in recent years. In the new volume, Ginn reflects on decades of personal experience alongside that of his peers and colleagues to highlight recent deal activity and the broader context of conservation investment. The book works across geographies and ecosystems, incorporating insight from sectors like community development while raising future challenges. i
In the words of the great agricultural philosopher Liza Minnelli, “Money makes the world go round.” Most stakeholders RAI interviewed across agricultural supply chains, especially farmers, want to grow crops and raise livestock in a sustainable way. Yet this desire to minimize environmental harm is not feasible if it creates a financially unsustainable operation. Farming profitability is essential for affordable food production, long-term solvency, and accessible financing.
Achieving the transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture will require a major shift in the strategy and behavior of many of America’s two million farmers. For a farmer, farming for healthy soils, ecosystems, communities and climate conflicts at many points with conventional agriculture practice. Wider success comes only from the cumulative impact of individual farmers changing their on-farm practices, and resetting how they keep data,
The traditional landscape of farmland ownership and financing in the United States thwarts the adoption of regenerative agriculture. First, farmland is expensive. Farm real estate prices have doubled in the last decade. But models have emerged to power regenerative practices forward. These include concessionary capital, financing from real estate investment trusts, and dollars from larger investors who treat farmland as a hedge to other asset classes.
This article is the second of a two-part series focusing on the challenges and opportunities of incorporating conservation finance into traditional investment portfolios. CFN spoke to investment advisors about strategies for overcoming major barriers. Increased interest in impact opens opportunities for greater incorporation of conservation finance into traditional investment portfolios across a variety of scales, from small retail to large institutional.
Traditionally, conservation efforts raise funding for projects and actions in the hope that those activities will result in desired outcomes. This Toolkit explores Pay-for-success financing, an alternative approach. This model ties funding for conservation to project outcomes, incentivizing the achievement of objectives and shifting risk away from public agencies and conservation organizations that implement on-the-ground work.
Impact Capital Managers (ICM), a network of impact-focused venture capital and private equity funds, is out to disprove the notion that investing for impact requires sacrificing financial return. On the contrary, ICM members aim to match or exceed the overall performance of the market, and they believe social and environmental objectives contribute to their success.
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.
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.