Cargill, Mars and Walmart pioneer new finance model for sustainable fisheries with WWF and Finance Earth
28 Apr 2023 --- Cargill, Mars, Walmart, Costco, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Finance Earth are among the major players jointly launching what they describe as an innovative concept to finance the transition to more sustainable fisheries worldwide. The goal is to catalyze more than US$100 million in investment in fisheries improvement by 2030.
The new financing model focuses on reversing the trend of fisheries decline while scaling global fisheries improvements toward nature-positive outcomes, including healthier marine ecosystems, thriving fishing communities and an environmentally sustainable blue economy.
Finance Earth, a leading impact investment advisory and fund manager with a track record in breakthrough social and environmental financing models, will establish and manage this new mechanism, known as the Fisheries Improvement Fund (FIF).
“At scale, this approach has the capacity to attract a range of investors from the public and private sector to support fishery improvement worldwide. This is a unique opportunity for all of us to protect our oceans and invest in a sustainable blue economy,” says James Mansfield, co-founder and managing director at Finance Earth.
WWF and Finance Earth worked with major industry players to conceptualize and design the model, which they believe can be impactful, scalable across fisheries and supported by companies working to transition fisheries in their supply chains to more sustainable resources.
Drawing on Finance Earth’s expertise in this field, the concept tests innovation in how to finance conservation projects by creating a model that has the ability to blend different sources of capital together, thereby increasing the availability of funding for fisheries recovery.
“Through this blue finance mechanism, sustainable financing will be ensured for projects that are critical to scaling fishery reform over the coming decade for people and nature, through an efficient, equitable and cost-effective model,” says Johan Bergenas, SVP of Oceans at WWF US.
Julie Gehrki, VP and COO of the Walmart Foundation, adds: “At the heart of this initiative is the increasingly compelling case that sustainability and resource viability must be embedded in business models in order to transition to a regenerative future.”
Participating companies will commit to a volume-based fee that enables the FIF to pay back upfront costs for the Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and create a long-term revenue stream. The partners say this innovation changes how long-term sustainability is funded, recognized as a cost of doing business and embedded into product costs.
Pilot and beyond
Feed companies Cargill and Skretting brought their expertise to the concept’s development and have agreed to participate in a pilot project to showcase and prove the new model. Large-scale seafood buyers and philanthropic foundations, including Mars, Costco, Sodexo and Walmart, are also supporting the fund’s launch.
“Cargill sees a clear and compelling business case for companies to invest in the long-term viability of their marine ingredients used for aquaculture products, especially as aquaculture production continues to grow exponentially,” says Helene Ziv-Douki, president of Aqua Nutrition business at the global food corporation.
The pilot project – more details of which will be released soon – has secured a capital commitment to pay for the upfront costs of the transition through a Program Related Investment instrument. Testing the concept in the real world using these types of highly concessionary capital will create a blueprint for the FIF to scale.
Beyond the pilot, the fund will be able to attract capital from a wider range of sources beyond philanthropy, reducing transaction costs and enabling funds to be deployed at speed and scale to target FIPs.
Finance Earth is now seeking proposals for fisheries worldwide that may be interested in seeking funding through the new FIF and is open to opportunities brought forward by any relevant stakeholders, including NGOs, local fishing groups, industry actors, off-take or trading companies, buyers or retailers and local or national governments.
The fund can support both industrial and small-scale fisheries and is open to fisheries currently in a FIP or not yet in FIP.
Edited by Joshua Poole
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