BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — More than 900,000 people living off the electrical grid now have improved access to renewable energy through solar panels and clean cookstoves due to an impact investment campaign, says a non-profit investment firm that supports businesses with a socio-environmental focus.
Calvert Impact Capital, helmed by Chief Executive Jennifer Pryce raises capital from private investors – over the past 20 years to the tune of about $1.5 billion – then channels it to mission-driven organizations worldwide.
Calvert’s community investment notes, which start at $20, are debt securities that feed capital into community development initiatives. Since 1995, investments into the notes, which pay purchasers a fixed rate of interest for a fixed term, have ranged from $20 to $20 million.
“With our investors, the reason they want to engage their capital with us is because they want it heart and head connected, they want a social and a financial return, says Pryce, who will speak at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Investment Case Symposium in Washington on May 30.
Impact investing finances organizations working to benefit disadvantaged communities that typically cannot access financing through traditional means. The money Calvert Impact Capital raises is generally channeled either to funds or intermediaries that then onlend directly to businesses.
Ultimately, the aim is to lead communities to economic self-sufficiency by promoting affordable housing, small business development, job creation, environmental sustainability, energy access and efficiency, gender equity, economic and social development of disadvantaged communities.
Calvert Impact Capital’s committed portfolio focused on renewable energy for off-grid communities stands at $35 million to nine borrowers, including organizations like Off-Grid Electric, an intermediary that provides financing for solar businesses serving off-grid communities in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Women especially benefit from access to clean energy, as they make up roughly 50 percent of the global population, but account for almost 75 percent of the energy poor worldwide.
Access to clean energy provides improved indoor air quality, avoid arduous trips to collect firewood, creating a time-saving initiative with socio-environmental benefits.
ON THE AGENDA
Other innovative enterprises — both large and small — will deliver presentations at the Investment Case Symposium hosted by the World Bank, where 250 delegates will tackle the challenge of funding the restoration of more than 2 billion hectares of degraded land worldwide, a footprint larger than South America.
Bas Ruter, director of sustainability and lead on the Forest Protection and Sustainable Agriculture Fund at Rabobank, a $1 billion combined public-private funded facility launched with UN Environment in 2017 to finance sustainable agriculture, will also speak at the symposium.
Through the facility, the Dutch bank provides grants, de-risking instruments and credit to clients involved in smallholder sustainable agricultural production — including processing and the trade of soft commodities — who follow forest protection and restoration guidelines. The World Wildlife Fund is also involved in the initiative, which started in Brazil and Indonesia last year.
Chris Brown, vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability at global commodities trader Olam International Ltd, will also speak. Olam recently signed a collaborative pact with non-governmental organizations, farmers’ groups and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park Authority in Indonesia to reduce deforestation, ensure coffee is legally cultivated and that reforestation initiatives are implemented.
The agreement, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Louis Dreyfus Company and Nestle represents more than two thirds of the coffee supply chain. It recognizes that the coffee trade and other forms of agricultural development have contributed significantly to deforestation, forest degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change. It notes that “business-as-usual” coffee production will further reduce forest cover.
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 report in Environmental Research Letters, and statistics from World Resources Institute.
The purpose of the GLF conference is to discuss how to align the financial system with sustainable goals — to determine how profitable investments can meet the triple bottom line – meaning that they should feature not only the capacity to offer economic returns, but they also demonstrate social and environmental benefits.
Experts at the GLF, which is jointly coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), UN Environment and the World Bank, will demonstrate how to benefit from land restoration investments that discourage degradation and encourage reforestation. Specific deals will be presented to show how businesses and communities create business plans supporting environmentally sustainable and socially responsible resource based and agricultural enterprises.
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.
Through a Dragons’ Den competition, the International Woodland Company (IWC) company managing almost $5 billion in land assets will make a $150 million pitch to venture capitalists and policymakers at a sustainable investment symposium in Washington this month in a bid to secure business financing and partnerships for its 15-year Treenewable Climate Fund. The fund will invest in early forest value chain projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa, a region where 65 percent of land is degraded and 3 million hectares of forests are lost each year.
Presenters will demonstrate how ownership and exclusionary rights provide incentives for communities to proactively manage resources, leading to equitable distribution of benefits and sustainable environmental outcomes. The devolution of land tenure rights to forest-dwelling communities over the past 25 years has been proven to lead to the development of entrepreneurial initiatives with substantial positive socio-economic outcomes for livelihoods.
For more information on the GLF Investment Case Symposium, click here
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