Investing in climate-conscious enterprises to protect Latin America’s biodiversity

by Livia Fry
Monday, 24 April 2023 18:44 GMT

This impact story is part of a new series to celebrate the extraordinary pro bono projects undertaken by legal teams to support NGOs and social enterprises with the support of TrustLaw. All projects mentioned in this series are nominated for this year’s TrustLaw Awards. Find out more. 

Latin America is home to more than 30% of Earth’s available fresh water, nearly 60% of all terrestrial life, and nearly 50% of our tropical forests, making it the most biodiverse region of the planet. This biodiversity supports roughly 64 million jobs, forming a critical component of the region’s economy. 

Alarmingly, Latin America’s biodiversity is seriously endangered by climate change and a widespread prioritisation of economic growth over other concerns. In just 36 years, from 1970- 2016, the region’s biodiversity declined by 94%. The Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world, has been seriously degraded, but deforestation continues unabated. Further loss of biodiversity would be a devastating cultural and economic blow to Latin America, but this is not a localised issue – it also endangers global health, food security, and social and political stability.  

This problem has no simple answer; it is entrenched, multi-faceted and extremely complex. The situation, therefore, calls for a solution that is innovative, that is creative, and that supports the health and preservation of both the environment and the economy in Latin America. 

Calvert Impact Capital, Inc. is addressing this issue by investing in high-impact mission-driven organisations that have a social and environmental focus. By providing its investors and partners with positive financial, social and environmental returns, Calvert Impact Capital offers holistic solutions to problems of environmental degradation. One recent project completed in collaboration with TrustLaw shows the value of this approach. 

Finance in Motion’s Fund has been providing financing and technical assistance to financial institutions throughout Latin American to promote business and consumption practices that contribute to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. This assistance aims to mitigate climate change and help the region adapt to its impact. Calvert Impact Capital has supported Fund activities by directly investing in the fund since 2018.  In 2020 Calvert began work with the Fund to co-finance via loan participations, an approach they sought to expand in 2021.  To explore expanding this initiative, Calvert Impact Capital approached TrustLaw for help in understanding the legal and regulatory frameworks that would apply in the various jurisdictions in which they were planning to partner with Finance in Motion.     

TrustLaw connected Calvert Impact Capital with law firms in 10 Latin American countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Paraguay) to advise them on navigating the region’s complex legal and regulatory frameworks. 

With the bureaucratic burden of regulatory compliance safely in the hands of the experts, Calvert Impact Capital was free to place its focus where it belongs – on getting vital capital to businesses committed to biodiversity conservation, the sustainable use of natural resources, and mitigating climate change.  

“As a nonprofit, we rely heavily on our pro bono partnerships since we have an extremely limited legal budget; without our pro bono partners we would be very limited in the types of transactions we could enter into” said Emmeline Liu, General Counsel at Calvert Impact Capital. “Because of this project we will be able to expand our partnership with Finance in Motion going forward and invest in funds such as Fund and certain direct participations.”    

For stories about the businesses that Fund supports, visit this website. 

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