September 18, 2023 – 05:15 – 06:30 PM (CEST)
To join in person, just come to the room O 129 (i.e., in the castle, building Ostflügel, level 1, room 29). To join virtually, please register in advance using this link.
Caroline Flammer is a Professor of International and Public Affairs and of Climate at Columbia University with joint appointments at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Climate School. She is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Research Member at the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI). Caroline is an expert in sustainable investing and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. Her research examines whether and how sustainable finance and impact investing can help finance a more sustainable world. Moreover, her research examines how, and under which conditions, firms can incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their activities to enhance their competitiveness while strengthening – instead of undermining – the very system in which they operate and hereby play a critical role in addressing climate change, inequality, global health, and other grand challenges related to society and the natural environment. The Web of Science ranked her among the top-100 Highly Cited Researchers in the economics and business profession in terms of impact over the past 10 years. Among other roles, Caroline serves as the President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), a global multi-disciplinary network of scholars fostering rigorous academic research on corporate sustainability, and as the Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the largest network of responsible investors to date. She is an Associate Editor for both Management Science and the Strategic Management Journal.
The use of private capital to finance biodiversity conservation and restoration is a new practice in sustainable finance. This study sheds light on this new practice. First, we provide a conceptual framework that lays out how biodiversity can be financed by i) pure private capital and ii) blended financing structures. In the latter, private capital is blended with public or philanthropic capital, whose aim is to de-risk private capital investments. The main element underlying both types of financing is the “monetization” of biodiversity, that is, the extent to which investments in biodiversity can generate a financial return for private investors. Second, we provide empirical evidence using deal-level data from a leading biodiversity finance institution. We find that projects with higher expected returns tend to be financed by pure private capital. Their scale is smaller, however, and so is their expected biodiversity impact. For larger-scale projects with a more ambitious biodiversity impact, blended finance is the more prevalent form of financing. While these projects have lower expected returns, their risk is also lower. This suggests that the blending – and the corresponding de-risking of private capital- is an important tool for improving the risk-return tradeoff of these projects, thereby increasing their appeal to private investors. Finally, we examine a set of projects that did not make it to the portfolio stage. This analysis suggests that, in order to be financed by private capital, biodiversity projects need to meet a certain threshold in terms of both their financial return and biodiversity impact. Accordingly, private capital is unlikely to substitute for the implementation of effective public policies in addressing the biodiversity crisis.
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