The £1 Billion Challenge: Scottish Conservation Finance Project aims to drive significant investment into Scotland’s natural environment

Led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Scottish Conservation Finance Project aims to generate new forms of investment in Scotland’s stocks of natural capital in ways that will deliver significant environmental, social and economic benefits, as well as returns for investors.

The project brings together a dynamic mix of organisations from the private, public and non-profit sectors to develop cutting-edge investment and funding models for large-scale nature conservation activities, for example planting native woodlands, restoring oyster reefs and creating urban green spaces.

The London launch of the £1 Billion Challenge took place at the Natural Capital Investment Conference at the Royal Society on Thursday 28 February.

This event follows a successful Edinburgh launch earlier this month which included speakers such as Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist at the Scottish Government; Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage and Richard Mattison, Chief Executive of Trucost, a part of S&P Global.

Jonny Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said:

“Globally, investment in nature needs to increase substantially to meet the growing challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Scotland was among the first nations in the world to pledge support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals and has been at the forefront of a number of pioneering environmental initiatives, including the World Forum on Natural Capital.

“The aim of this new initiative is to provide a practical opportunity to come together, exchange ideas and collectively achieve a lasting impact. Ultimately we want to begin to drive billions of pounds of investment into Scottish conservation in the coming years.”

According to a 2016 report by Credit Suisse AG and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment an estimated USD$300 – $400 billion per year is needed globally to preserve healthy ecosystems on land and in the oceans. Currently only around $52 billion is available per year, mostly in the form of public and philanthropic funds.

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: 

“In Scotland, we currently use the resources of three planets, but only have one. Good leaders say – there’s only one planet, we have to work within it. But great leaders say – how do we turn this from a threat into an opportunity for our organisation? The Scottish Conservation Finance Project is an exciting opportunity to bring the right people together to meet this challenge.”

John Rowan, former Group Treasurer of Virgin Money adds:

“The Scottish Conservation Finance Project should offer a variety of sustainable investment opportunities. It is well understood that these can provide good diversification opportunities for investors.”

A diverse range of organisations has helped shape the early stages of the project. These include Conservation Capital, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Confor, Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Crown Estate Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Water and Virgin Money, alongside project initiators SEPA and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

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