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More Investors Exploring Nature-Based Growth Opportunities

Sarah Peyok headshotWords by Sarah Peyok
Investment & Markets
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Can capitalism drive environmental stewardship? That’s what Ethical Corporation is suggesting in its Restorative Climate Strategy Briefing.

In an industry driven by crunching numbers and making profits, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that investors at the top of their game are looking to the next decade—not the next quarter—and for smart, sensible narratives that resonate.

Investors wooed by bamboo

Investing in a bamboo farm in Nicaragua may make heads tilt, but this material’s potential is what EcoPlanet Bamboo sold to its investors. This example in Ethical Corp’s briefing details how a well laid out business plan compelled investors to take part in an environmental restoration project⁠—not for the sake of charity, but for profit gains.

Step one is planting bamboo on degraded land that was once rainforest—destroyed to make way for agriculture, then cattle. Step two: Set up a pulping facility the following year to make tissue and toilet paper, reducing the country’s reliance on imports. After the first year of operation, the business became self-sustaining. Bamboo is different from other agricultural and forestry commodities, where the source of revenue dries up after you chop. Bamboo grows up and out. So long as proper pruning techniques are implemented, manufacturing opportunities can scale substantially after five years.

The third part of EcoPlanet Bamboo’s plan expands into those longer-term growth opportunities. The company is piloting a closed-loop biorefinery to make moulded pulp for disposable containers to replace plastics and Styrofoam. An agreement with South Africa-based Mantis hotels equates to future expected gains when the luxury hotel group moves away from single-use plastics and begins to use EcoPlanet Bamboo products.

Large corporations are investing in nature-based solutions too

PepsiCo offers another restorative economy success story in this briefing. The restorative economy isn’t inclusive to only startups and eco-minded small businesses, Ethical Corp says—to date, more than 100 corporations have invested more than $38 million in water funds.

Water is an essential element to PepsiCo’s supply chain and production processes. The company has set a number of goals that aim to contribute to its Positive Water Impact, meaning its efforts and partnerships are designed to enable long-term, sustainable water security for its business and communities that depend on water availability. Accordingly, PepsiCo says it has established an integrated approach to watershed management through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to restore watersheds in the United States, Latin America and South Africa.

Through this partnership, PepsiCo is working directly with farmers, landowners, businesses, and communities to build efficient irrigation systems, protect upstream forests and establish water funds to replenish at-risk watersheds. In 2018, in Latin America alone, the partnership replenished more than 76 million gallons of water to watersheds.

In its briefing, Ethical Corp reports that more than 40 percent of watershed sources worldwide have been degraded by development, resulting in impaired downstream flows. Working with farmers and communities to reduce chemical runoff and conserve water creates a beneficial way to improve water quality and quantity—and secure water-dependent supply chains like PepsiCo’s.

Nature: The most proven technology to address climate risks

The prevailing takeaway in the Restorative Climate Strategy Briefing is that “companies are realizing one cost-effective way of tackling the climate crisis is by restoring and protecting the biodiversity of the planet … nature is the biggest proven technology to address climate impacts.” 

Regeneration—of agriculture, the environment and local communities—ensures that all inputs and outputs are conducive to the health of everyone: upstream and downstream, people and planet. If global carbon reduction goals are to be met by 2030, companies must implement more regenerative practices to support the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Image credit: Luca Florio/Unsplash

Sarah Peyok headshotSarah Peyok

Based in the Midwest just north of Detroit, Sarah is passionate about sustainability, storytelling and bringing to light sustainability principles that can be threaded into business strategies and communications. Formerly an editor for CSRwire and freelance writer for many organizations forwarding the principles of corporate social responsibility and circularity, she is excited to be a contributor to TriplePundit. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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