10 June 2021
Environmental Finance's Oceans and Blue Economy Briefing Afternoon ended after half-day of presentations, a panel, and a live discussion group. It was the second in a series of thematic briefing afternoons that Environmental Finance is running throughout the year on the topic of Natural Capital Investment.
The event started with a panel on how different financial products are catching the blue wave.
The panel featured Jens Hellerup, head of funding and investor relations at Nordic Investment Bank, which issued a blue bond in 2019, Eva Mayerhofer, principal advisor, lead environment and biodiversity specialist at the European Investment Bank (EIB) – one of the founding partners of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles – and Øistein Jensen, chief sustainability officer at Odfjell, who oversaw the issuance of the shipping industry's first sustainability-linked bond.
Stephen Liberatore, managing director, head of ESG/impact – global fixed income at Nuveen, provided the investor perspective on the panel, as one of the three private investors that had invested in the Republic of Seychelles' first-of-its-kind sovereign 'blue bond'.
He called the issuance a "template-like" transaction that could be utilised for similar issuances, saying it had been set it up in such a way that other sovereign issuers could translate the structure to future transactions.
Later, a panel looked at how more investment can be driven towards the blue economy. Jenn Pryce, president and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital and Rolando Morillo, co-portfolio manager of Rockefeller Asset Management's Climate Solutions, painted an optimistic picture for the investment opportunities across blue economy asset classes.
The last panel of the day discussed a blended finance fund aiming to invest $500 million to conserve coral reefs. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) was formally launched in September, to blend public and private funding "to make coral reefs more resilient".
Terry Tamminen, senior adviser at Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private markets impact investor accredited by the UN Green Climate Fund, said the GFCR could surpass its initial target as the rising interest in climate-themed investments has not yet been matched by large-scale investment opportunities in the 'blue economy'.
"I have a feeling that [it will grow larger than $500 million]. Unlike other funds talked about in climate, which are becoming more frequent and familiar, this is something unique," he said.
The next event in the Natural Capital Investment series will be on Water on 6 July 2021.
Quotes from the conference
Terry Tamminen, senior adviser at Pegasus Capital Advisors: "When you think about what conventional institutional investors invest in, it can be hard to work in some of the challenging geographies of the world. It can be difficult sometimes to work on things that people may not understand as well in terms of ... renewable energy or electric cars, or waste to energy projects. you have to overcome geographical biases, you have to overcome risk-reward concerns, you have to overcome technology challenges."
Katherine Stodulka, programme director of the Blended Finance Taskforce for Systemiq: "If you are talking about pension funds coming into a transaction that's only $100,000, it doesn't work ... We are seeing more funds like the GFCR help aggregate projects, so that you can suddenly start to see the scale that those investors are looking for."
Rolando Morillo, co-portfolio manager of Rockefeller Asset Management's Climate Solutions: "The awareness [of the blue economy] has evolved in the past couple of years and a number of funds have been launched as a result...and there is real demand across asset classes from investors."