As more and more exchange-traded fund (ETF) issuers launch their own ESG products, it's gotten harder for investors to sort the real impact investments from those that make an impact in name only. Enter green bonds. This special category of debt allocates dollars toward specific eco-friendly projects, making it one of the most concrete ways for investors to make an impact with their money.
As the investment community in the United States, particularly within the fields of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing, shows an increasing appetite for investing in sustainable agriculture and food systems across asset classes, a subset of investors is demonstrating growing interest in financing not simply “sustainable” agriculture but agriculture that is deemed explicitly “regenerative.”
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.
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has created six new “impact portfolios” of publicly traded investment options to reach a wider swath of investors who want to create environmental and social impact alongside financial returns.
A new Southeast Asia forestry fund launched by Australia-based New Forests includes a tranche aimed at impact investors with specific reforestation, biodiversity and community livelihood goals. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation helped negotiate the impact tranche and has approved a $10 million equity investment in the planned $300 million fund.
By linking payments to outcomes, pay-for-success has an opportunity to make capital more efficient, and positively affect social and environmental factors. Pay-for-success fills in gaps in existing funding by forging creative connections to additional beneficiaries who may be incentivized to help pay if they can enjoy the financial and social outcomes.
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.