What is "Conservation Finance"?

Conservation Finance is an innovative and emerging investment sector, that seeks to leverage large-scale financial investment into nature. It aims to provide both a market-rate return on the investment, but also offer other economic, environmental and social benefits, helping us move towards a well-being economy with a positive conservation impact. It seeks to address a fundamental gap that exists between the levels of finance required for large scale conservation programmes, and the currently available levels of funding.

"Route Map to £1 Billion" publication

There has been considerable focus on conservation finance recently in Scotland. This culminated in the recent launch of the Route Map to £1 Billion in May. Led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and SEPA, the Route Map was developed with a broad collaboration of stakeholders and experts from both conservation and finance sectors over a two year period. The Route Map plotted a path towards unlocking new investment for nature conservation, highlighting nine potential investment opportunities, or “pillars”. These pillars represent different financial product structures and mechanisms, each with the potential to establish conservation finance in investment markets. 

The role of the Scottish Forum 

The Scottish Forum had an important role to play in the project’s development, principally through our working group, the Innovative Finance Subgroup, which was a useful meeting space for project stakeholders to help drive the project forward. Since the launch, we have also been receiving follow-up enquiries, and are hugely gratified to have received a fantastic response, both within Scotland and the UK, as well as internationally.

With the initial project aim to create a Route Map now successfully completed, thought has now turned to how best to maintain the momentum and interest generated. The Scottish Forum secretariat has recently been in discussions with our partners and members to examine how we can manage demand, and support collaboration, around the conservation finance agenda. 

Next steps? 
We believe the Scottish Forum is well-placed to play a facilitating and enabling role, to increase connectivity around conservation finance in Scotland. 
With this in mind, our members and partners have recently been invited to join a new Conservation Finance Pioneers’ Group in an online forum. The idea is that individuals and organisations will be able to contribute and collaborate through the site with enquiries, ideas and comments.
We are also proposing evolving our Innovative Finance Subgroup into a "Conservation Finance Pioneers’ Group", under the auspices of the Scottish Forum, open to anyone with an interest in Conservation Finance in Scotland to join.

The launch of the Route Map and spotlight on conservation finance in Scotland comes at a critical time, as society plans a green recovery from the social and economic upheaval caused by Covid-19. There is an opportunity to foster a "Team Scotland" approach with public, private and voluntary sector collaboration, supported by Scottish Government. Leveraging increased finance into ecosystem management will be key ultimately, to achieving a truly green and transformative recovery, that also responds to the urgent climate and ecological emergencies. As the recent AGER report emphasised, "The green economic recovery is central to recovery overall".