Across the political spectrum, most Americans have favorable opinions of farmers and are happy with the idea that the federal government provides financial assistance to help pay for crop insurance. If they knew crop insurance's full cost, that might change. This system, while well-intentioned, leaves out the majority of farmers and encourages the degradation of precious soil and water reserves by rewarding consolidated monoculture crop production.
Blue carbon could be crucial in facilitating both private and public capital investment in coastal and marine ecosystems. The blue carbon market is, at present, still nascent. Governments and international institutions are revising methods of monitoring carbon to include blue carbon and develop structures to encourage private investment in blue carbon offsets.
Environmental credit trading programs have gained traction for pollutants like carbon emissions, at least in concept. Is water quality trading the next frontier? The mechanism offers the possibility of more flexible and cost-effective water quality control, but in contrast to some environmental credits, markets have struggled to gain momentum.
The traditional water fund model, which has been used around the world, pools philanthropic and donor capital to support upstream restorations. The Revolving Water Fund innovates on this model by also aiming to quantify the pollution reductions from these restoration activities, then packaging and selling the reductions to municipalities in the watershed seeking to cost-effectively comply with water quality standards enforced under the Clean Water Act.
As food companies look to lower supply chain risk and reduce their ecological footprint, new strategies are emerging to increase adoption of sustainability practices among farmers. Several companies have begun using long-term contracts — purchase agreements guaranteeing offtake beyond an annual time horizon — to stabilize costs and allow both grower and buyer to plan further into the future.
The city of Atlanta has new funds for green infrastructure. In January 2019, the city — in partnership with impact investing intermediary firm Quantified Ventures — closed a $14 million environmental impact bond (EIB) for stormwater management in the city’s Proctor Creek watershed.
The rise of aquaculture may hold promise to mitigate the environmental pressures of overfishing wild populations, and the food scarcity issues resulting from the rising global consumption of fish. However, to achieve these benefits, the aquaculture industry’s growth must be coupled with an increase in sustainable practices.
Accelerators provide a formal way for startups to access expertise. They can also help provide capital for organizations and companies in the early phases of their growth. This is a growing approach that allows organizations to take the tools from traditional startup systems and apply them toward the growth of conservation entrepreneurship.
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.