November 19, 2020

1000 Landscapes Workshop on Transforming the Financial System for Investment in Sustainable Landscapes

Sara Scherr (EcoAgriculture Partners), Daniel Zimmer (Climate-KIC) and Juan Carlos Ramos  (EcoAgriculture Partners)

One of the objectives of 1000 Landscapes for a Billion People (1000L) is to increase financial flows to support the essential work of landscape partnerships and regenerative investments across the world. A key milestone in the design research of 1000L was a workshop held virtually on November 5th on ´Transforming the Financial System for Investment in Sustainable Landscapes’ workshop. The 60 participants included financial actors who have been early innovators in integrated landscape finance, across the capital continuum–from philanthropic foundations to impact investors to development banks to institutional investors.

The workshop’s co-conveners opened the meeting by highlighting the promise of local landscape partnerships to scale critical investment in regeneration.  Midori Paxton, Director of Biodiversity and Ecosystems of the United Nations Development Programme, represented the seven Lead Partners of 1000L and linked the landscape agenda to the future of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. Sara Farley of The Rockefeller Foundation highlighted integrated landscape management as central to sustainable food systems. Petra Hans of the IKEA Foundation emphasized the central role of sustainable landscapes to agricultural livelihoods. 

The workshop followed six months of investigation by a 1000L Task Force including finance experts from EcoAgriculture Partners, Climate-KIC, the Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, WWF’s Landscape Finance Lab, IUCN-Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Government of the Netherlands, and Conservation International.  This research involved more than 40 interviews with over 66 financiers about their experience and perspectives from lending, investing and grant-making to commercial, non-profit and public investments in local landscape portfolios. 

A draft report synthesizing their inputs provided a focus for the workshop. The Task Force co-leads, Sara Scherr of EcoAgriculture Partners and Daniel Zimmer of Climate KIC, presented an overview of the 1000L initiative and its finance agenda, and the findings of the study. Discussions then centered on understanding the key opportunities and barriers to scaling landscape finance. A key message espoused by participants was the importance of collaboration and partnerships among public, philanthropic, civil society and private sector finance in a landscape to reduce risks and achieve impact. 

Small group sessions deepened the conversation among landscape finance innovators and refined ideas for action identified in the interviews. Proposed actions included organizing a community of practice for landscape finance innovation; assisting financial actors to incorporate landscape finance in their programs; generating, and connecting investors to, a greater pipeline of investable landscape projects; and promoting national and state government policies and programs that support integrated landscape investment. 

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