According to the UN’s inaugural ‘State of Finance for Nature’ report of 2021, if the world is to meet the necessary climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation targets, it needs to close a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap by 2050. To do so, investments in nature-based climate solutions (NBS) need to triple by 2030 and increase four-fold by 2050.
At Signature, we take a direct approach to closing this finance gap and restoring our planet’s health. The Signature team has created a dedicated entity, Natural Capital, to develop and implement nature-based solutions (NBS) to the climate crisis. NBS include a diverse set of restoration, conservation and improved land management activities that improve ecosystem health, soil fertility and overall health, increase biodiversity and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The solutions are always grounded in and inspired by natural processes, whereby they achieve resilience and societal, environmental and economic co-benefits. Examples of NBS include regenerative agricultural practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping or zero tillage, or forest conservation or restoration measures. These are approaches that work with, and not against, nature.
The key is to use the solutions offered by nature to reverse the damage caused by humankind and enable nature to help itself.
Despite the significant benefits that these approaches provide, accessing funding is one of the key barriers to scaling up the use of nature-based solutions for adaptation. Natural Capital takes on this challenge through its focus on responsible landscape management; we rehabilitate or conserve large-scale areas of land in order to mitigate climate change and its impacts as well as create more resilience of land and people by sequestering carbon, restoring ecosystem health and biodiversity as well as optimizing ecosystem services. This creates a marketable form of value creation, underpinned by the strong institutional capacity offered by the Signature team and portfolio, which can be used to attract capital to these projects. We focus also on creating partnerships between private and quasi-public institutions in order to make our efforts as catalytic and inclusive as possible.
Our first initiative is in Malawi, where we are initiating the conversion of non-arable areas of our Gala estates into species-rich native forests to build knowledge and capacity that will then be applied on a much larger scale in the years to come. The engagement of the local population plays a crucial role in the implementation of the planned solutions. Local people will act as custodians of the newly regenerated ecosystems and enhance the positive impacts through the application of nature-based land management practices. To create a symbiotic relationship between the communities and ecosystems, we envision non-consumptive use programmes like controlled access to the forests for beekeeping, the creation of agroforestry landscapes and elements of sustainable consumption such as sustainably harvested woodlots. The ecosystem restoration practices envisioned will moreover create an optimal farming environment, with an improved water cycle and reversed desertification that will ensure improved resilience of the local communities. These benefits of investing in ecosystems and their stewards sit alongside the intrinsic values of a thriving ecosystem with its high cultural significance for local communities and flourishing wildlife.