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Nefco launches biodiversity action programme for clients

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Published: 1 September 2022

Nefco, the Nordic Green Bank, hopes its new Biodiversity Pilot Programme will encourage creative thinking to develop impactful biodiversity strategies

Nefco:“Financial institutions are in a key position to prevent biodiversity decline and conserve and restore nature through their activities.” | Alenka Skvarc on Unsplash

Nefco is launching a Biodiversity Pilot Programme designed to encourage its client companies to incorporate positive impacts for nature into the projects it funds. 

The two-year programme, which is open to existing Nefco client companies in the Nordic countries, will be launched this autumn.  Selected companies will participate in programme activities tailored to their size and needs. Directed by Nefco, the programme will be run by AFRY, a Stockholm-based engineering, design and advisory service company. 

“Financial institutions are in a key position to prevent biodiversity decline and conserve and restore nature through their activities. As a pioneer in green financing, we want to set an example to other financial institutions that are still considering their nature-positive impact strategies,” Trond Moe, Nefco’s managing director said on announcing the pilot.  

Nefco was established in 1990 by the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, since when it has financed over 1.500 projects. The financial institution invests in a variety of relatively small-scale green transition projects run by Nordic SMEs with the aim of helping them scale up.

It also provides municipal financing for transition projects in Eastern Europe and manages results-based financing programmes for international development initiatives. Sectors in which it is active include agriculture and forestry, energy efficiency and renewable energy, among others. At end-2021, it had €534m under management. 

Impactful biodiversity strategies

Katariina Vartiainen, Nefco’s senior manager, environment and sustainability, told Impact Investor the pilot was intended to establish a platform where both Nefco and its clients, could develop impactful biodiversity strategies. Nefco’s clients are predominantly SMEs with limited resources, so the programme will provide access to expertise which they may otherwise lack.  

“We are bringing in the innovative companies we work with, so we can all get more experience on biodiversity. We want to look at ways that companies could take nature-positive measures, and start piloting some of those measures, where they are suitable for our clients. Hopefully these ideas can be scaled up and we can also inspire others and provide replicable solutions that can be used more widely,” she said. 

The nature of those solutions will be up for discussion in the pilot programme and will vary from company to company. As Nefco tends to invest in specific projects operated by its clients, biodiversity measures will also be focused initially on those projects but could also be applied to the investee companies’ wider activities.  

The institution also plans to follow up with clients to assess the impact of implemented biodiversity schemes, with methods of measuring impact also to be developed within the programme.    

“It could be planting flowers, adding green roofs to buildings, putting in beehives, making forest buffers, building ponds to hold stormwater, or many other things. We also have clients involved in energy efficiency projects in public buildings such as schools, so there may also be the possibility of encouraging biodiversity activism in local communities,” she said. 

The programme will also look at what European Union efforts to implement legally binding nature restoration targets may mean for companies, as well as the impact of a global biodiversity framework up for discussion by world leaders at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference, to be held in Montreal, Canada in December 2022. 

“The best result from the pilot programme would be that we can continue it and use what we learn about best practice to ensure that companies we fund in the future also incorporate biodiversity measures into their work,” Vartiainen said. 

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