16 Mar Natural Capital Investment Conference Highlights need for Collaboration between Stakeholders
Following our recent work with water companies on the use of natural capital methods to prioritise investments and identify the value of wider benefits, we attended the first Natural Capital Investment Conference earlier this month. Organised by the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, the event sought to identify the best ways of securing much-needed investment in the UK’s natural environment.
The event attracted nearly 200 attendees from the finance, property, government and environmental sectors, discussing investment and natural capital projects. Speakers from a range of environmental and financial organisations involved in natural capital investment attended, including Defra, Triodos Bank UK, Quantified Ventures, Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd, WWF UK and Peel Group.
The Rt Hon. John Gummer, Lord Deben, Chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, provided the opening address and discussed the need for environmental and financial communities to collaborate to create feasible models for a sustainable future. Shirley Trundle CBE, Director for Natural Environment Policy at Defra outlined how it’s 25 Year Environmental Plan has prioritised policies to focus on accountability and measurement, which will help build a pipeline for investable projects.
The sessions discussed why investment should be made into Natural Capital. Speakers looked at the benefits and obstacles already identified, and reinforced the need collaboration and partnership working to ensure success. Talks covered discussions surrounding short-term actions to move Natural Capital forward and outlined plans for the next 2-3 years.
The speakers also discussed Investment mechanisms. Dan Hird, Head of Corporate Finance, Triodos Bank UK looked at Social Capital schemes as template for Natural Capital, following their growth over the last 10 years. He reviewed lessons learnt, and explored the idea of developing an Environmental Impact Bond, similar to the successful Social Impact Bond, which would attract tax relief for investors.
Eric Letsinger, CEO at Quantified Ventures went into more detail on Environmental Impact Bonds and their successful use in the USA. He looked at an example from Washington DC in relation to storm water management and a sustainable drainage solution, explaining the outcome proved that evidence need not be at a high academic level to give investors enough confidence, usually just enough evidence to satisfy a bank’s due diligence process is sufficient.
Dr Dominic Hogg, Chairman of Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd spoke on The Natural Capital Trust, discussing ideas on how the difference in value of agricultural land compared to building land could provide opportunities to maximise environmental benefits from site development, or even to the local area.
Dr Bevis Watts, Managing Director of Triodos Bank, reinforced the need for structure and collaboration to stimulate Natural Capital investment, “There must be government support for targeted market development and removal of barriers; we need a collaborative system between the multitude of sectors and stakeholders involved.”
Read the organisers press release following the event.