Conservation Investments aim to generate both a financial return and a verifiable environmental benefit, and impact investors funneled more than $8.2 billion into them between 2004 and 2015. They also, however, left $3.1 billion on the table. Could small farmers generate the returns they’re looking for?
Conservation investing is on the rise and experienced dramatic growth after 2013 as total committed private capital climbed from $5 billion to just over $8 billion, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest report, State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016. It’s recognition of forests, wetlands and reefs as smart investments, authors say, and signals growing interest among even mainstream investors.
The “Low-Carbon USA” movement continues to gain traction as over 600 private sector entities including well-known consumer giants such as Nike and IKEA recently reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. The group is also urging the incoming administration of US President-elect Donald Trump to advance low-carbon policies and investments.
Ecosystem Marketplace published more than 200 stories last year, and most of those focused on forests or forest carbon finance. Today we wind down the year-end retrospectives with a look at the pivotal stories in forests and forest carbon.
Private sector engagement on sustainable supply chains and reducing deforestation was in ample supply in 2016 as the world started to mobilize behind the Paris Climate Agreement. However, greenwashing and unfulfilled corporate pledges remain valid concerns as the 2020 deadline for many companies looms ever closer, and much remains to be done.
North America’s Sioux People caught the attention of the world this year by defending their drinking water at Standing Rock, North Dakota; but indigenous people have been defending Mother Earth for centuries, and the Sioux weren’t the only ones to make gains in 2016.
As drought, flooding and pollution made headlines year-round in 2016, some experts and organization pushed for a return to the basics, solutions that mimicked nature or protected water at its source, while also developing innovative new finance models to fund the mounting costs water management requires.
In 2016, proponents of mainstreaming biodiversity pushed for further integration during international talks and elsewhere while new research found serious declines in global biodiversity. But user-friendly maps, also published this year, revealed that markets dealing in wetlands and endangered animals are growing and have been growing for some time signaling their potential to help reverse the dismal trends on wildlife loss.
After years of negotiations, the global climate community has aligned behind efforts to protect and restore forests, which has enormous potential for fighting climate change. Here, Jason Funk of the Center for Carbon Removal explains how 2016, while not a year of high-profile decision-making, may still be a year for the history books.
Conservationists have roundly slammed most of US President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, but the nod to Ryan Zinke for Secretary of Interior is something of a mixed bag. Some working in species conservation are focusing on the economic benefits derived from ecosystem markets in order to promote securing a proper balance between ecosystems and the environment.
Everything, it seems, comes from the rainforest – from the leather in your shoes to the wood fibers in your flannel shirt. Some are harvested sustainably, but many aren’t – and until recently, it was nearly impossible to tell the difference. Here’s why that’s changing, and how you can accelerate the process.
Mayors from cities across the United States are exploring nature-based infrastructure – such as mangroves for coastal protection and wetlands for flood management – as protection from rising sea levels. Funding for green city projects, however, remains elusive even as more than $25 billion flows into such projects worldwide.
As the global water crisis mounts, countries, cities and businesses funneled billions of dollars into market-based investments that conserve and restore forests, mangroves, wetlands and grasslands to secure reliable and clean water, says Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest report tracking watershed investments, released today.
Veteran Chicago hydrologist Don Hey has been arguing for decades that his region could slash its water control costs by taking better care of swamps and floodplains. Local politicians are finally listening – and supporting him on a massive market-based wetland restoration effort that could help ratchet up the scale of mitigation banking across the United States.
Corporate exposure to “forest risk commodities” like soy and timber is murky and opaque, but new research shows it could top $900 billion per year. Now, as institutional investors push companies in all sectors to come clean on their climate-change liabilities and exposure, their impacts on forests could become clearer as well.
In China, Peru, the United States and elsewhere, nature-based interventions to manage water supplies is on the rise, and governments, companies and water providers are establishing some innovative ways to finance it. Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest State of Watershed Investment report tracks global payments for green infrastructure for water, and report authors will present key findings during a December 15th launch webinar.
Rex Tillerson heads up the world’s largest publicly owned oil and gas company and, as the President-Elect’s choice for secretary of state, may lead the United States in climate change negotiations over the next four years. Tillerson’s record on climate action is a mixed bag, and policy experts say backtracking on the Paris Agreement would have adverse effects on the Trump administration’s international goals.
Consumer-facing companies like Danone and Mars have pledged to slash their greenhouse-gas emissions, in part by purging deforestation from their supply chains – a process that requires helping hundreds of thousands of farmers change the way they grow their crops. In this series, we’ll take a deep dive into the Kenyan milk market, and see how the revival of agroforestry is restoring soils – and may slow climate change.
Environmentalists across the political spectrum have exhibited everything from anger to puzzlement over US President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Some in the restoration economy, like those in renewable energies, say the move could hobble a vibrant part of the US economy.
US President-Elect Donald Trump is inheriting a healthy system of ecosystem markets, thanks in part to measures implemented by the Obama administration, but the exact growth has been difficult to quantify and understand. A new “Atlas of Ecosystem Markets” aims to change that by distilling data from several sources into a clear, simple, mapping tool for regulators, researchers, and users.
Two new reports show that global corporations are both victims and perpetrators of deforestation. One report shows they could lose nearly $1 trillion per year if current trends continue. The other shows that nearly 60% of the roughly 250 companies most responsible for deforestation have no viable strategy for fixing the problem.
For practitioners working in the biodiversity conservation space, the global biodiversity talks getting underway in Mexico will be one of implementation and for figuring out the tools and methods to save the world’s flora and fauna rather than for eye-catching political decisions and commitments. Participants agree that one method to save biodiversity, mainstreaming conservation, will dominate the talks.
When Donald Trump won the US presidential election, climate optimists said US cities and states would fill any leadership gaps that opened at the federal level. Now six US states have agreed to track and disclose greenhouse gas emissions under the Global Compact of States and Regions, and to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
If a Trump presidency neuters the US federal government’s efforts to combat climate change, as many expect, then “non-state” actors like cities and companies – as well as consumers and watchdogs – must fill the gap. A new platform called “Trase” aims to help, by introducing “radical transparency” to global supply chains.
Over 100 nations identify forest conservation and restoration as part of their strategy to fight climate change, something Forest Trends’ founding President and CEO Michael Jenkins considers a major milestone. And as 2016 winds down, Jenkins reflects on the 17 year history of Forest Trends, the progress the organization has made and the work that it still intends to do.
The 30 year old marketplace for ecological assets, recently valued at $100 billion, may be changing the face of real estate in the United States. A long-time market analyst says these changes fit perfectly with streamlined government programs catering to rural America, business and industry – constituencies poised to realize both revenue opportunities and higher property values derived from eco-assets.
Real social and economic dislocation led nearly half of US voters to reject the political establishment and elect Donald Trump as the nation’s next president despite racist and xenophobic rhetroic, says EcoAgriculture Partners’ Sara Scherr. Here, she reflects on what the results mean for those working in sustainable agriculture landscapes domestically and abroad.
Two weeks after the US presidential election, the US role in the Paris Climate Agreement remains foggy. While few expect the US to continue its leadership role in the fight to slow climate change, many believe a Trump administration will treat the Agreement with benign neglect rather than kick up a storm trying to withdraw from the deal. Here is an audio mosaic distilled from interviews we conducted during the talks.
In a first-of-its-kind case, Swedish Administrative Courts ruled certification through the Myanmar Forest Products Merchans’ Federation did not prove that wood imported into Sweden was harvested legally. The ruling has a host of implications for timber regulation in the European Union, and likely will raise the bar in the United States regarding Due Diligence on imported timber, Forest Trends’ Jade Saunders explains.
The Climate Trust recently secured a $5.5 million Program-Related Investment to seed its carbon investment fund, which launched earlier this year with funding from a Conservation Innovation Grant. With this funding secured, the group is now ready to invest in US-based carbon offset projects.
The large floodplains and broad vegetated buffers of a stream restoration site near Raleigh, North Carolina significantly reduced flooding when Hurricane Matthew tore through the state. As the frequency of extreme weather events is only expected to rise, developing with nature in mind is increasingly critical, says Environmental Defense Fund’s Paxton Ramsdell.
During UN climate talks on Wednesday, business leaders stressed the importance of aligning business and policy goals in order to deliver the best results for both sectors. The business community also reaffirmed their pledge to reduce emissions and meet the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, and called on global political leaders to do the same.
A new online tool charts a commodities’ journey from production to consumption, and can aid companies and practitioners’ efforts to cleanse deforestation from supply chains. The sector is calling for more transparency tools as it faces greater policy uncertainty with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Climate talks are continuing here in Marrakesh, with world leaders vowing to either reach out to the new US administration or continue without them. Investors, meanwhile say the business case for renewables and sustainable agriculture remains strong, but corporate leadership on climate remains elusive.
The indigenous people of Peru’s Amarakaeri Communal Reserve are conserving 400,000 hectares of forest while also feeding their families – in part by sustainably harvesting Brazil nuts. To do so, however, they’ll have to forge relationships with trusted suppliers outside the territory and also find the sweet spot where they harvest enough to make a living but not so much that they deplete the ecosystem.
The indigenous people within the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve live along the border between Brazil and Peru, and they also act as a buffer between uncontacted people of the Amazon and the outside world. At climate talks in Marrakesh, they reiterated their openness to forest carbon projects that support their way of life – but only if that support is assured.
What does the election of Donald Trump mean for climate policy? For now hope is shifting to individual US states and the corporate sector within the US. Internationally, the Obama administration has proven adept at “leading from behind”, and some see Canada or the European Union filling that gap.
The Paris Climate Agreement created a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in part by funneling money into programs that promote better management of forests, farms and fields. Negotiators will refine that agreement in Marrakesh this week and next, but it won’t mean a thing if businesses are welcomed – or cajoled – into the process, and in a big way.
Just days after the Paris Agreement enters into force, UN climate talks resume in Marrakesh, Morocco, where negotiators will focus on charting a roadmap to fully operationalize the historic global pact. And while there is no official agenda for REDD+ at these talks, Forest Trends’ Gustavo Silva-Chávez says discussions on markets and transparency among other topics will heavily impact its implementation.
The global narrative on agriculture expanded after Rio+20 to “sustainable intensification” and is now moving towards a vision, laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals, of sustainable agriculture systems and landscapes that secure food, ecosystem services and climate resilience, says Sara Scherr of EcoAgriculture Partners.
Twenty percent of the forests and farmland of Latin America and the Caribbean have been degraded by over logging, overgrazing, and overplowing, according to the World Resources Institute, which says that restoring just 20 million hectares can generate $23 billion in net benefits over the next 50 years and slow climate change.
In the lead-up to last year’s Paris Climate Talks, thousands of companies pledged to slash their greenhouse-gas emissions – hundreds of them by reducing their impact on forests. One year on, companies that publish progress reports seem to be keeping their promises – but progress is only reported on half of all commitments.
While it isn’t without policy uncertainty, the relative stability of California’s carbon cap and trade scheme has strengthened both compliance and voluntary carbon markets, says The Climate Trust’s Dick Kempka. Here, he explains the program’s positive effect, and pushes for more states and regions in the US to adopt cap and trade in order to meet national climate change goals.
While most agree forests have a critical role to play in curbing climate change, forest protection programs continue to struggle to attract capital. But a new investment mechanism could help bridge the finance gap through a unique component that gives investors the option of receiving interest payments in the form of environmental impact. Called the Forests Bond, it supports a REDD project in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor.
Watershed investment programs can reduce the costs of managing water while delivering community benefits but they’re underused because mobilizing support is difficult and funding can be hard to come by. The World Resources Institute is attempting to ease the burden with a new one-stop resource that offers detailed guidance on what it takes to create a successful watershed investment program.
The Yawanawa tribe of the Amazon rainforest are in the midst of a rebirth, one that involves access to education, leadership roles for women and economic projects that sustainably utilize forest resources. The Yawanawa people’s journey back from the brink involves a life plan that guides them in preserving their territory and traditions, and fighting climate change in the process. At a TEDWoman talk today, the Yawanawa people tell their story.
Companies that focus only on the bottom line often can’t see over the horizon, and they certainly can’t see how their activities impact others. That impact, long recognized as a looming risk, is increasingly being seen as an opportunity to both secure sustainable supplies of raw materials and win the loyalty of discerning consumers.
Year-end climate talks begin on November 7, and the latest State of Forest Carbon Finance Report, to be released Wednesday, documents a massive uptick in forest-carbon finance – an uptick that still falls far short of the amount needed to end deforestation, which pumps 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere yearly. Join us to learn how the Paris Agreement might change this equation.
As degraded watersheds drag California into its sixth year of drought, a new law makes forests, farms, and fields eligible for infrastructure funding – and the state is hardly alone, according to new research by Ecosystem Marketplace, which shows a dramatic surge in payments for watershed services across the United States and around the world.