On Sept. 15, 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $20.5 million through its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program for 45 projects that will develop and advance the conservation of natural resources. One of the projects selected for funding was submitted by Partners for Western Conservation, Environmental Incentives, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and several other partners and advisors, including the states of Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Montana, and Environmental Defense Fund, Holsinger Law, Troutman Sanders. This project will create and demonstrate the use of pay-for-success investment instruments for five Western states, which allow them to purchase conservation outcomes, leverage private impact investor capital, and increase demand and participation in nascent conservation incentive systems such as the Nevada Conservation Credit System and Colorado Habitat Exchange.
Traditional government and philanthropic project funding approaches invest in actions, opposed to outcomes, and impede the ability for private impact investor capital to invest in conservation and realize a return on investment. These approaches result in the funders solely holding the risk of project failure and cost overruns, significant private impact investor capital sitting on the sidelines, and limited adoption of conservation incentive systems.
This project helps address these limitations by developing pay-for-success investment strategies, template request for proposal and performance contract templates that work within state procurement processes and attract private impact investment capital. The project will work with the partner state wildlife and water quality funding programs to demonstrate the innovative investment instruments by using them to acquire habitat and water quality credits, including a subset funded by private impact investor capital.