Promise and Peril: Design and Application of Conservation Finance Models to Biodiversity Conservation, Human Well-being and Sustainability
This roundtable will explore current initiatives and strategies needed to successfully scale-up conservation finance. A comprehensive understanding of barriers and benefits to private sector conservation finance requires engaging researchers from multiple disciplines, jurisdictions and perspectives. Despite much evidence that private investment has the potential to transform biodiversity conservation and support sustainable livelihoods, many aspects of this emerging field remain poorly understood. This roundtable will engage thought-leaders in ecology, finance, policy, law, and social sciences to identify knowledge gaps, overcome existing hurdles and potential pitfalls. For example, it remains unclear how the outcomes of conservation projects should be articulated; i.e., at what point is re-claimed land 'restored'? A lack of a common framework for monitoring and evaluating such projects points out a critical need to ensure accountability and transparency. It is also unclear at what scale projects must be implemented to deliver sustainable environmental, social and financial outcomes. Likewise, how can accountability frameworks assure investors that projects avoid negative outcomes or externalities sometimes associated with protectionist approaches to land conservation, such as by creating parks that dispossess Indigenous people of land or natural capital. Strategies to minimize costs and overcome hurdles linked to transaction size, market volatility, and risk mitigation are also needed to scale up conservation investment.