Instructor: Jim Tolisano
Sustainable finance measures offer a highly promising opportunity to reduce or avoid adverse impacts from public and private land development projects. Banks and other financial institutions are now adopting safeguards to ensure that all development actions include essential conservation measures. Banks and other impact investors are also incentivizing environmentally certified natural resource uses; conservation banking; offsets and compensation plans; and emerging ecosystems service markets. Benefits for landowners could include direct payments for products or services, tax deductions or deferrals, or other compensations or property improvement measures. The WCS Sustainable Finance Initiative (SFI) responds to all of these challenges through a multi-phased effort that engages banks, impact investors, and corporations in the use of safeguards and sustainable principles in the financing and development of emerging environmental markets. Our work in the ES capstone class specifically examined opportunities for WCS to test these principles in the rapidly emerging economy of Vietnam.
Expected Outcomes from the NYSFP Capstone Experience
The students in the capstone experience will carry out the research necessary to describe the characteristics of a sustainable finance program: Students in the class will divide into three teams, with each team researching, documenting, and reporting on one of the following topics:
- How can Sustainable Banking and Investing make a difference for nature?
- What are the options for making money work for conservation?
Lending – e.g. commercial finance, trade finance
Asset Management – e.g. social responsible investing
Alternative Investment – e.g. private equity, hedge funds?
Capital Markets – e.g. green bonds, sustainable stock exchanges
- How can “Impact Investing” make a difference?
- How can financial institutions support microfinance and smallholder finance
- What is “Conservation Finance” and how would we create a finance strategy to incubate “green businesses”? that could protect important ecological and biological values like those in the Catskills or Adirondacks?
2. How can we best implement sustainable finance measures?
- Voluntary frameworks (e.g. Equator Principles, Banking and Environment
- Regulatory frameworks (e.g. Green Credit Policy)
- Trade frameworks (e.g. FLEGT and others)
3. What are the potential benefits from sustainable finance measures and what are the critical factors that influence success?
- Factors that will influence success:
- Biodiversity conservation benefits (e.g. reduced deforestation/
- A framework of success factors
- Factors affecting policy and planning
- Factors affecting technical implementation
- Factors affecting stakeholder engagement habitat loss)
Watch this capstone presentation on YouTube.