WASHINGTON (Landscape News) – More than 250 financial experts, policymakers and environmentalists will meet in Washington to tackle the challenge of funding the restoration of more than 2 billion hectares of degraded land worldwide, a footprint larger than South America.
Land degradation is estimated to cost the global economy from $2 to $4.5 trillion a year, while economic benefits of restoration efforts are an estimated $84 billion a year, according to a 2017 research paper published in Environmental Research Letters, and statistics from World Resources Institute.
At least 7 million hectares of tropical forest landscapes are cleared and degraded each year, putting livelihoods, biodiversity, and food security at risk, exacerbating climate change, conflict and human migration.
Delegates at the third annual “Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Investment Case Symposium: Building the Investment Case for Sustainable Landscapes and Restoration,” hosted by the World Bank, will explore the investment potential contained in millions of hectares of degraded land.
“We aim to demonstrate that the financial system can profitably work in tandem with and towards the achievement sustainable development goals,” said Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
“Profitable ‘green’ investments should meet the triple bottom line – meaning that they feature not only the capacity to offer economic returns, but they also demonstrate social and environmental benefits.”
Investment vehicles with mechanisms to limit the tendency toward land exploitation and degradation already exist, including green bonds, asset class investments, blended public-private-philanthropic finance, and fintech, the application of technology to improve economic efficiencies.
Experts at the GLF, which is jointly coordinated by CIFOR, UN Environment and the World Bank, will demonstrate how to benefit from land restoration investments that discourage degradation and encourage reforestation, discussing real life wins and losses. Specific deals will be presented to show how businesses and communities create business plans, which support environmentally sustainable and socially responsible resource based and agricultural enterprises.
At a “Dragons’ Den” competition, entrepreneurs will present investment ready projects valued at up to $250 million in landscape management or restoration to top-level investors for feedback. Discussion Forums will focus on various scenarios in which investors, businesses, and land users have created commercially viable projects.
Two previous Investment Case forums included experts from the financial services industry, corporate sector, academia, indigenous communities, nongovernmental organizations, government and private banks.
Delegates from leading commercial and investment banks will have the chance to exchange ideas with government policymakers, small landholders, nongovernmental organizations and philanthropists.
The ideas at the conference to be held at World Bank facilities in Washington, D.C., will be underpinned by the goals of the GLF, which include accelerating the achievement of emissions reduction goals set by the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and the multiple targets of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 restoration goals.
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