Valuing Nature: A Handbook for Impact Investing
A new book by William J. Ginn, business strategy consultant and founder of NatureVest at The Nature Conservancy.
To address the climate and biodiversity crises, we must invest trillions in renewing large-scale infrastructure, from energy production to water delivery systems. Only the private sector has the ability to meet that extraordinary level of funding. While the business world has often exploited nature, NatureVest founder William J. Ginn argues that its entrepreneurial talent and financial capital are critical resources for developing solutions to global issues while protecting natural systems.
In Valuing Nature: A Handbook for Impact Investing, Ginn examines the scope of nature-based investing opportunities while presenting a practical overview of their limitations and challenges. With this strategy, the private sector can invest in the sustainable, equitable management of natural capital while earning financial returns.
Ginn presents a new set of nature-based investment areas to help conservationists and investors work together, including green infrastructure, forests, soils, and fisheries. He shows how investing in agriculture can improve the sustainability of our food and how we can use new land conservation tools, such as private investment partnerships, to meet large-scale conservation goals.
He acknowledges critiques of putting financial value on natural assets’ ecosystem services. However, Ginn argues that doing so is crucial to incenting new investments. With natural systems playing a critical role in mitigating climate change, the lack of proper recognition of these systems’ value leads to overuse and underinvestment – the opposite of the work we must due to preserve and restore them.
In the second half of the book, Ginn presents tools for investors and organizations to consider as they develop their own projects and provides tips on how nonprofits can successfully engage with nature-based impact investing. He covers lessons that impact investors can learn from other sectors, such as microfinance, about how to build the case for investing in natural capital. Ginn also offers guidance about raising capital for investment projects, covering key topics including business plans that generate returns, the right corporate structure, and the types of capital needed. Ginn argues that to continue attracting investors, organizations must measure the outcomes of impact investments. Acknowledging the difficulty of measuring results, he analyses the strengths and weaknesses of various metrics. Ginn covers five important legal issues for nonprofits and foundations that sponsor or offer impact investments, including adhering to your organization’s charitable purposes and managing investments from foundations and endowments.
Throughout Valuing Nature, Ginn highlights successful examples of nature-based impact investing in action. Case studies include the water-trading system in Australia’s Murray-Darling River Basin and the stormwater credit market in Washington, DC.
Valuing Nature provides a roadmap for those seeking to improve the management of natural systems through market-based strategies. With the environment degrading, Ginn shows how we can utilize private capital to achieve more sustainable uses of our resources.
William J. Ginn, is a business strategy consultant who has served in senior leadership positions in both nonprofit organizations and businesses. During his tenure at The Nature Conservancy, Ginn served as Chief Conservation Officer and then Executive Vice President, founding NatureVest, a partnership with private investors that has brought over $200 million of investment into conservation projects worldwide. He is the author of the 2005 Island Press book Investing in Nature: Case Studies of Land Conservation in Collaboration with Business.