NatureVest Announces Winners of First Conservation Investment Accelerator Competition To Promote Environmentally Sustainable Solutions
Competition focused on development of innovative solutions to advance conservation
New York | July 13, 2017
NatureVest, the conservation investing unit of The Nature Conservancy, announced today the inaugural awards from its new Conservation Investment Accelerator program. In this pilot round of the program, a combined $625,000 will be awarded to four winners, each with an innovative project that has the potential to leverage investment capital to realize meaningful and scalable conservation results. In addition to financial support, recipients will be offered technical assistance, training and mentorship from the NatureVest team and members of the Accelerator Advisory Committee, including NatureVest founding sponsor JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“We are truly impressed by the sharp thinking and quality found in the applications we received,” said Marc Diaz, NatureVest’s Managing Director. “Today’s four winners represent the best of the best, with exciting business models that can bring investment to conservation in a variety of important places. They are demonstrating first-hand the great progress that can be made when capital is put to work addressing problems that affect people and nature.”
Recent research by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace shows that investor commitments to conservation are growing rapidly – a 62% increase between 2013 and 2015 – yet investors continue to face fundamental challenges finding deals that meet their guidelines, including size, track record, and risk/return parameters. While NatureVest itself works to source and structure investments directly, the Accelerator was created as part of the group’s mission to support promising ideas across the broader field.
Providing important input on the program and feedback on applications, the Accelerator’s Advisory Committee includes representatives from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Enterprise Community Partners, FB Heron Foundation, Lyme Timber Company, Rare, The Nature Conservancy, Treehouse Investments, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Walmart.
“We are extremely proud to support the work that NatureVest is doing to build the field of conservation finance,” said Advisory Committee member Camilla Seth, Executive Director of Sustainable Finance, JPMorgan Chase. “Having provided guidance on the programs and research that NatureVest has undertaken over the years, we are excited to build on our engagement by offering formal mentorship to the winners of the first Conservation Investment Accelerator competition. We look forward to working with the winners to refine and scale their innovative conservation work.”
Applicants’ submissions ranged from early-stage or proof-of-concept projects to later-stage projects that are close to launching and securing investment commitments. The program is open to external applicants as long as projects are aligned with The Nature Conservancy’s broad conservation priorities and operating geographies, as well as to employees of The Nature Conservancy itself.
The winners announced today are:
- Terras App Solutions – Sustainable Rural Credit for Agriculture Development and Zero Deforestation
Terras is a Brazilian technology company that develops apps for land management, socioenvironmental risk monitoring and traceability of rural properties. Accelerator funding will support a pilot program intended to expand access to credit for smallholder cacao farmers along the Trans-Amazonian Highway who comply with zero deforestation policies.
- Environmental Defense Fund – Louisiana Coastal Wetland Restoration and Resilience Environmental Impact Bond
EDF is a US-based non-profit environmental advocacy group. Accelerator funding will support the development of a pilot bond that brings together government, corporate and non-profit resources to accelerate Louisiana’s coastal restoration and resiliency plans.
- The Nature Conservancy in Washington – Yakima Basin Water Sharing Investment Partnership
The Accelerator will fund work by the Conservancy’s Washington State program for conservation and business assessments for water rights investments that will be managed to support watershed restoration, water use mitigation and long-term water provision for sustainable economic development.
- The Nature Conservancy, Mexico and Northern Central America – Sustainable Intensification of the Dairy Industry in Chiapas, Mexico
The Accelerator will fund work by the Conservancy’s Mexico program for development of a business plan to convert one of the largest dairy cooperatives in Chiapas to sustainable intensification via silvopastoral cattle ranching.
“These first round winners are indeed emblematic of the recent growth in start-ups that are poised to harness private capital and philanthropic resources to create durable and positive natural resource conservation strategies and investments,” said Advisory Committee member Peter Stein, Managing Director, Conservation Strategies, Lyme Timber Company. “The NatureVest team established a strong program in the Accelerator and attracted many outstanding applicants for this initial round. We’re all eager to see great work result from it.”
The Nature Conservancy launched its impact capital strategy in 2010 with support from the Robertson Foundation that continues today, and built a global network with subsequent support from the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. In early 2014, with founding sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase & Co., NatureVest was launched as a concerted effort to change the way we invest in nature. Visit NatureVest on the Web at www.naturevest.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.