Today we are delighted to announce that the European Investment Bank has provided Rewilding Europe Capital with a 6 million euro loan finance contract. This represents the first project of the “Bank on Nature Initiative”, set up by the European Commission. The signing ceremony took place in the Berlaymont Building, headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels.
The loan was effected through the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), of which Rewilding Europe Capital (REC), Europe’s first conservation and rewilding enterprise financing facility, is the first beneficiary. REC will use the loan to support around 30 nature-focused businesses across Europe. Rewilding Europe has incorporated a specific company, named Rewilding Europe Capital B.V., for this purpose.
The Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) is a financial instrument that combines investment funding by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Commission funding through the LIFE Programme. It is intended to facilitate the achievement of LIFE Programme objectives, with a focus on nature, biodiversity and climate change adaptation. The “Bank on Nature Initiative” builds on the NCFF by recognising and fostering the business case for investing in natural capital.
“Nature is essential for our lives, well-being and also underpins our economy,” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at the signing ceremony. “The recent evaluation of the EU Nature Directives has shown that creating new means to attract investment in nature protection and its sustainable use is more important today than ever before. I am particularly pleased that the first project signed under the NCFF will directly contribute to the implementation of our EU Nature Directives and also boost our rural economies and create jobs.”
Rewilding Europe Capital (REC) was established by Rewilding Europe in 2014 to create and grow nature-based economies in Europe. Today it directly supports a growing number of businesses involved in conservation and rewilding. By boosting the investment potential of REC, this NCFF loan will help to strengthen natural processes and revive socio-economic dynamics in rural areas across the continent.
REC provides loans to small and medium-sized enterprises that catalyse, support or achieve positive environmental outcomes. Examples are natural forest regeneration, natural water systems, natural grazing, safe corridors for wildlife, natural habitat extension, reduced hunting and fishing pressure, operational support of wildlife breeding areas including spawning sites, and direct natural comeback of wildlife.
“In places like Namibia and Costa Rica, significant nature-based economies have been developed by stimulating private sector involvement and investment,” says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. “In Europe, where such economies are still in their infancy, we can learn a lot from these countries. The Bank on Nature Initiative has the potential to stimulate the development of nature-based economies and I am excited that Rewilding Europe Capital can help facilitate it. Both nature and people will benefit.”
Between 2014 and 2016, in its early years, the REC loan portfolio focused on nature-based tourism, natural products, natural resource management and promotion of wildlife comeback. The scale of loans were constrained both in terms of the amount of financing that could be offered, and in the limited number of locations considered for investment.
As a result of the EIB loan, investees operating in all 28 EU member states are now eligible for a REC loan. Larger loan sizes are also now possible, including new nature-related business models in sectors like forestry, water management and tourism. This will allow a wider range of businesses to be considered, including larger enterprises than those financed in the current portfolio.
“Signed today, this contract with the EIB is a great step forward for Rewilding Europe Capital,” says Ilko Bosman, Executive Director of Rewilding Europe Capital B.V. “It will allow us to really scale up our efforts and beneficial outcomes. But more than this, it also throws a spotlight on the ability of commercial finance to contribute positively to nature conservation and rewilding.”
The long-term goal of Rewilding Europe Capital is to create 250 jobs through the businesses which it supports. Going forward, it will continue to stimulate and underpin wildlife and nature-based businesses in rural areas, thereby making an essential contribution to the comeback of wild nature and wildlife in European landscapes.
Rewilding Europe Capital was established and developed with business and financial expertise from Conservation Capital, an initiating partner of Rewilding Europe, and who will also support the investment management of the portfolio. Legal advice in relation to the EIB/EU loan agreement with REC was managed by Rewilding Europe’s corporate partner, on a pro bono basis. Clifford Chance LLP is one of the world’s pre-eminent law firms with significant depth and range of resources across five continents. It prides itself on an outstanding pro bono and community outreach programme delivering effective assistance to chosen charitable and not-for-profit partners.
Those interested in finding out more about Rewilding Europe Capital, and how it supports new and existing businesses, can do so here. If you are interested in applying for Rewilding Europe Capital funding, please contact the Investment Manager Matthew McLuckie.