This blog was first published by EcoAgriculture.
Seth Shames and Manon Koningstein – EcoAgriculture Partners


Each day we read about a new social, economic, ecological or health crisis somewhere on earth. We’re learning more and more about how these crises relate to each other: climate change stresses food and water supplies; COVID-19 in turn has brought unemployment and social unrest, which are exacerbated by stressed food and water supplies (etc, etc). However, our strategies for investing to create a sustainable, prosperous and healthy world are often not integrated. A shift away from siloed and short-sighted investment thinking will require change not only at the individual farm, enterprise, supply chain, and community level, but also holistically at the landscape scale—a scale at which interconnected problems can be effectively addressed.

EcoAgriculture Partners, along with WWF’s Landscape Finance Lab, the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation and the 1000 Landscapes for One Billion People initiative, has just published a pioneering report which details models of financial mechanisms that can enable integrated, landscape-scale transformations (for the summarizing brief, please see here).

An integrated investment portfolio

A central concept in the report is that of the integrated landscape investment portfolio. (See the figure below for an example.) This is a set of investments across sectors that contribute to landscape-scale objectives as defined through an integrated landscape management (ILM) process. This portfolio approach can address shortcomings of project-based, sector-focused finance, reduce investment risks and costs, increase revenues and improve ecological and social conditions in landscapes. By coordinating investments at a landscape scale, each individual project can achieve a higher rate of return, a lower risk profile, and increased social and ecological benefits.

An integrated investment portfolio for regenerating an ecologically degraded and economically impoverished landscape. Shames & Scherr, 2020

Institutional innovations in integrated landscape finance

Integrated landscape finance mechanisms are fairly new, and they had never before been identified, organized and described. This report reviews 40 innovative models, split between landscape investment service providers (“service providers”) and integrated landscape finance vehicles (“vehicles”).

Service providers develop landscape action plans, translate those ideas into investment portfolios and eventually projects and businesses. They may be landscape partnership organizations, other non-profits organizations, or for-profit landscape development companies. For example, one service provider, the Netherlands-based Commonland, has demonstrated success with large-scale landscape restoration by developing companies in multiple landscapes, ranging from almonds in Spain to regenerative aromatic oil in South Africa.

The vehicles provide large-scale, long-term investments and may provide technical assistance and partnership support. They come in the form of landscape funds, bonds, place-based investment programs and landscape-focused development finance institutions. For example, one vehicle, the newly-forming Loom Capital’s Mesoamerican Landscapes Fund, will use a venture capital approach, work closely with landscape partnerships, and invest in a diverse range of landscape activities throughout Mexico and Central America. This will not only create financial synergies for the landscape and firm but also enhance the fund’s ability to achieve its social and environmental goals.

While we are encouraged by the wide range of models identified in this review there is still much more to learn about how the models work, how they can work better, and how to scale them up. We will be building on this work in the context of the 1000 Landscapes for One Billion People initiative as well as the CPIC Landscapes and Seascapes working group.

For more information, contact Seth Shames at sshames@ecoagriculture.org.

Click here for the full report

Click here for the brief