“Investing at landscape level requires us to look at our world through a different lens. An investment in landscape restoration is not just an investment in the environment, it is an investment in our shared future.”Margaret Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Gold Standard
Amsterdam, Netherlands November 24th, 2023– Today, a new report details how EU financing of developmental projects should redirect funds to projects that focus on the inherent connection between people and nature in order to achieve necessary climate targets such as those laid out in the EU restoration law. The report, co-authored by a coalition of 19 environmental organizations including the World Resource Institute, Gold Standard, The Nature Conservancy, EIT Climate KIC, Rainforest Alliance, and Commonland, focuses on the application of an investment concept called “Landscape Finance” as a financing approach for supporting holistic landscape restoration to aid the implementation of initiatives such as the European Green Deal.
Combining grey and green infrastructure
The approach considers, among other recommendations, a reevaluation of the traditional ‘grey infrastructure’ investment approach, which constitutes human-made development foundations and already amasses a large average amount of EU-level funding- 97 billion for roads, railways, inland waterways, maritime ports, airports, and 27 billion on existing transport infrastructure.
Landscape finance includes a holistic landscape perspective in infrastructure investments and aims to combine grey infrastructure with green, otherwise known as natural infrastructure. The combination of these two types of infrastructures provides not only financial returns but returns on the social, inspirational, and natural levels of the communities that it is applied within. Further, the combined infrastructure approach is more climate resilient and cost-effective than entirely grey infrastructure which is less future-proof and has higher maintenance costs.
Blending different finance sources to derisk climate investment
The report lays out how landscape finance as a framework can provide a solid platform, comprising a mix of activities and funding, that enables the development and scaling of restoration activities and drive down risks for investors. Taken together, the activities and funding of a landscape partnership, ecosystem restoration, and early-stage businesses can form a foundation that enables the mobilisation of private investment capital to scale activities to the landscape level. These core elements create an environment with aligned stakeholders, reduced business and investor risks and investable restoration activities.
- As Landscape Finance addresses key finance barriers to investing in green infrastructure, it is an effective way to finance nature restoration.
- In Europe, the restoration of biodiversity-rich land protected under the Habitats Directive is estimated to cost EUR 154 billion but generates benefits valued at EUR 1,860 billion, resulting in a cost-benefit ratio of 1:12.3. Landscape restoration investments are often compared to traditional agriculture investments but have more in common with infrastructure investments.
- Economic studies show that the financial benefits of restoration are on average 8-10 times greater than the initial investment costs across all types of ecosystems. These include benefits like enhanced food production, carbon sequestration, and storage, as well as improved water quality and cycling.
The report concludes with Key Policy Recommendations to EU actors:
- Landscapes and landscape partnerships need to be recognized in policy frameworks for transformative change and multiple targets.
- Public finance can play a crucial and catalytic role in advancing Holistic Landscape Restoration.
- Within Holistic Landscape Restoration, infrastructure investments should adopt a long-term holistic perspective, incorporating the restoration of green infrastructure to enhance climate resilience.
A clear pathway forward for restoring Europe’s landscapes
Long-term financing for large-scale nature restoration in Europe is possible and within sight. This report provides key policy recommendations to create an enabling environment for holistic landscape restoration, offering a clear pathway towards the development of large-scale landscape finance structures to advance holistic landscape restoration across the continent.
“With up to 40% of land globally considered degraded, we urgently need to redirect subsidies away from activities that encourage further environmental damage and towards those, like holistic landscape restoration, that generate benefits for nature and people.”
MEP César Luena
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialist & Democrats
European Parliament, Rapporteur for the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 Initiative Report and the Nature Restoration Law