ETFs for the Amazon? LBOs for Biodiversity?

It was great to see the world pay close attention to the climate crisis during the UN’s Annual Climate Summit held last month in Glasgow. We have a long way to go, but the various pledges, commitments, and new coalitions are reasons for cautious optimism.

But now is not the time to relish in our accomplishments (modest as they were). Let’s turn our attention to the equally pressing and urgent biodiversity crisis.  

There’s a COP for this challenge too: the Convention on Biological Diversity set to take place in Kunming, China in April 2022. The headline goal here is “30 x 30” — aiming high to protect 30% of our planet’s lands and oceans by 2030 (vs current protection levels at about 14% and 7%, respectively).  

Success will not be easy, but we know what we need to do.  

Now let’s talk about the money.  

Take it from me, having served as CEO of The Nature Conservancy for 11 years: protecting nature is a very capital intensive endeavor. There are never enough dollars – whether from government grants or philanthropic donations – to do everything we need to do.  If we’re going to protect a full 30% of the planet, we’ll need to be very strategic in how we deploy the capital we have. 

We’ll also need to ramp up our understanding of which conservation strategies work best and why.

How do we do this?  

One move I recommend: ask for help from the private sector’s best deal-makers and financial engineers. These pros are great at creatively structuring deals. They do this every day. Let’s get them to also structure deals on behalf of Mother Nature too.