Mobilizing Capital for Natural Infrastructure in Canada
A guide for project champions and funders
Natural infrastructure is an area or system that is either naturally occurring or naturalized and then intentionally managed to provide multiple benefits for the environment and human well-being. They range from wetlands and grasslands to floodplains and forests.
Natural infrastructure systems differ from just "plain old nature" in that they are specifically designed and optimized to generate greater benefits than they would otherwise if just left unmanaged.
Potential sources of capital for natural infrastructure projects include private, public and philanthropic funding and public financing. Projects are most likely to be funded via a combination of early philanthropic catalyst grants and larger, long-term sources of public funds.
Despite increasingly compelling evidence in support of natural infrastructure projects, large-scale investment is still lagging.
In this report, we provide a template and guidance for project champions and funders specifically to fund natural infrastructure projects.
Rather than starting with general categories of nature-based projects and their overall benefits, this report outlines a path to investment based on identifying specific drivers and project champions for nature-based solutions and then aligning the design of natural infrastructure projects with available financing tools.
Research highlights the value of natural infrastructure projects by focusing on their broad benefits. This report focuses on providing guidance to project champions and funders to bridge the gap between early-stage valuation and feasibility studies and project finance.
The research highlights that natural infrastructure champions are most likely to succeed in developing innovative and pragmatic finance solutions when they focus on identifying a driver, identifying a lead beneficiary or project implementer, developing a pitch, establishing a partnership, and securing catalyst/predevelopment funding.
Recommendations for funders and investors in natural infrastructure include funding targeted research to fill data gaps and develop performance metrics, convening and aligning potential natural infrastructure beneficiaries, supporting efforts to achieve scale, and providing dedicated pre-development support.
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