What is NatureVest?

NatureVest is The Nature Conservancy’s conservation investing unit. NatureVest creates and transacts investable deals that deliver conservation results and financial returns for investors. Most of these deals happen alongside philanthropic and/or public capital, to deliver conservation outcomes while also generating financial returns. The Nature Conservancy launched its impact capital strategy in 2010 with support from the Robertson Foundation that continues today, and built a global deal pipeline with subsequent support from the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust.

In early 2014, with founding sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase & Co., NatureVest was launched to transform the way we protect natural capital—the soil, clean air and water, and other valuable resources that nature provides.

What is impact investing?

Impact investments are investments made in projects, companies, organizations, collaborations or managed funds, with the intention to generate measurable environmental and social impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments target a range of returns from concessionary to market-rate, depending on the circumstances.

Interest in impact investing has been growing in recent years, as more and more investors seek to align their portfolios with their personal values. Building on this interest, NatureVest expects to develop a variety of investment options—from start-up social enterprises to investment grade bonds—in many sectors, from urban green infrastructure to fisheries to forests.

What is a conservation investment?

Conservation investments are investments intended to drive positive impacts on our natural resources and ecosystems—specifically, decreased pressure on a critical ecological resource and/or the preservation or enhancement of critical habitat—while also providing a financial return.

Why did The Nature Conservancy launch NatureVest?

We need more resources for conservation. Current sources, including philanthropic support, government funding and policy tools for conservation are stable, but unlikely to grow significantly. In contrast, the marketplace for investment capital for social and environmental impact is large and growing rapidly.

Investment capital represents a new source of funding for conservation, and sources seeking social and environmental impact include pension and retirement investment funds, concentrated pools of individual and institutional savings, private and corporate foundations and mission-oriented institutional endowments.

Conservation investment capital rarely stands alone. Rather, it can complement, amplify and strengthen existing sources of support, and is often deployed for conservation in concert with philanthropy, government funding and conservation policies.

What does NatureVest do?

NatureVest team members work with our colleagues in The Nature Conservancy’s operating units, as well as with conservation collaborators around the world, to source and structure investment products that support the Conservancy’s mission.

NatureVest also engages investors and sources impact capital in effective, scalable ways—using the Conservancy’s deep insights in science, policy and practice and its relationships with the capital markets, businesses and government.

We share our knowledge and experience broadly to build a stronger community of support for investing in nature.

What are NatureVest’s goals?

NatureVest plans to source and put to work at least $1 billion of investment capital for measurable conservation outcomes in the next three years.

NatureVest will design investment opportunities with the potential to be emulated across different geographies and program areas and will develop a broad and deep dialogue with investors looking to support this replication and growth.

NatureVest will tell the story of its projects and investors as it replicates deals and increases activity in order to strengthen awareness and support for impact investment in conservation.

What are the criteria for a NatureVest deal, or project?

The NatureVest team manages a pipeline of opportunities across regions and strategies. The deals in the NatureVest pipeline need to meet five criteria in order to be allocated NatureVest staff resources. The criteria are the following:

  1. Support for The Nature Conservancy’s mission. Does the deal help achieve a critical conservation priority of a region and a global priority?
  2. The ability to generate dependable cashflows that create a critical role for impact capital. Does the conservation activity generate economic value? Does the transaction’s success rely on the participation of impact capital? Does the participation of such capital allow for more efficient deployment of other capital resources (e.g., philanthropy or government funding)?
  3. Size of the conservation impact and investment opportunity. If successful, will we move hundreds of millions of dollars toward conservation outcomes through this deal and related efforts?
  4. Replicability of the individual deals. Can we replicate the transaction using similar legal structures, capital structure and collaborators to quickly get similar deals done in different places?
  5. Readiness to deploy capital. Can we get the deal done in the near-term without major policy, political or investment barriers? What needs to be accomplished to close the deal (e.g., fundraising, stakeholder approvals, structuring)?

How big are NatureVest deals?

Deal size varies. What is more important is that the deal meets our five deal criteria outlined above.

Does NatureVest only do deals with The Nature Conservancy?  Or is NatureVest investing in deals outside of the Conservancy?

No, we are also interested in collaborating with other organizations on investments that align with The Nature Conservancy’s mission, as well as meets the five criteria that comprise a NatureVest deal (criteria listed above).

Is NatureVest the first attempt at impact investing for conservation by The Nature Conservancy?

The Conservancy has a long history of financial innovation, from purchasing and retiring fishing quota to accessing New Markets Tax Credits for land conservation, to launching one of the first private equity funds exclusively focused on environmental businesses.

In early 2012, the Conservancy created its first broad impact investing product when it launched its Conservation Note. The $25 million offering was the first investment-grade retail product focused on conservation and was backed by the full faith and credit of the Conservancy, which carries an Aa2 Moody’s bond rating. With a minimum investment of $25,000 and terms of 1, 3 and 5 years, the small offering has consistently sold out to investors looking to generate a financial return as well as deep conservation impact. To learn more visit nature.org/invest.

Who are NatureVest investors? 

NatureVest investment opportunities have a range of risk/return profiles and therefore appeal to an expansive audience of conservation impact investors, including, but not limited to, individuals, foundations, family offices, pension funds and development finance institutions. Currently, the Conservation Note represents NatureVest’s main offering for unaccredited investors. For more information, please visit nature.org/invest. If you would like to learn about investments for accredited investors, please contact NatureVest.

What is JPMorgan Chase’s role in NatureVest?

JPMorgan Chase played an instrumental role in the development of NatureVest and provided founding sponsorship for the initiative in early 2014. The firm has also engaged senior-level professionals across the bank for strategic guidance, market insight and support for the development of NatureVest transactions, as well as input for our thought leadership pieces, and reports, such as the The State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016.

The Social and Sustainable Finance team at the bank collaborates regularly with NatureVest. Doug Petno, CEO of Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase, serves as Vice Chair of NatureVest’s Advisory Board.

The Nature Conservancy launched its impact capital strategy in 2010 with support from the Robertson Foundation that continues today, and built a global network with subsequent support from the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. In early 2014, with founding sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase & Co., NatureVest was launched as a concerted effort to change the way we invest in nature.

Does NatureVest have any exclusive funding/investing relationships? 

No. NatureVest welcomes investment participation from a broad range of interested organizations and accredited investors.

Does NatureVest have a fellowship or internship program?

We do not currently have a formal fellowship or internship program. Please feel free to share your resume with us at naturevest@tnc.org and we will contact you if we have an opportunity.

 

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Top image: © Nick Hall.