The £1 Billion Challenge is an initiative from the Scottish Conservation Finance Project that aims to pioneer new ways of funding nature conservation in Scotland.

A growing network of Scottish Conservation Finance Pioneers are collaborating to identify innovative ways of scaling up nature conservation activities in a way that will deliver environmental, social and economic benefits as well as financial returns for investors.

We are looking at nature conservation activities such as expanding native woodlands, restoring oyster reefs and creating urban greenspaces. A range of ‘spotlight’ projects are currently in development and progress will be shared through our email updates. In March 2020, we will also share our ‘Route Map to £1 Billion’.


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“Investing in our nature for the long term has benefits not only for our economy but just as importantly our environment and society as a whole – and a nature-rich future is our best insurance against climate change.”

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive, Scottish Natural Heritage


Whilst the global value of nature-based services has been estimated at £117 trillion a year, the planet is currently facing a biodiversity crisis. In the UK alone, over half of all species have suffered declines over the last 50 years, and in Scotland, 1 in 11 species are at risk of disappearing altogether.

To combat this alarming loss of biodiversity, we must safeguard vital government funding, grow philanthropic support and unlock new and innovative sources of finance.


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“Climate change and biodiversity loss are existential threats; we must respond and act now. We have the right ingredients, but must develop a new recipe to wake the sleeping giant of institutional investment. This challenge will do just that.”

James Stuart, Convener, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park


At a time when many public bodies are facing substantial budget cuts, there is enormous potential for nature-based solutions to address some of the issues that currently cost the economy billions of pounds each year.

Air pollution alone costs the Scottish economy more than £1.1 billion annually, while mental health problems are estimated to cost more than ten times this. Investing in urban greenspaces and green infrastructure such as street trees and green roofs could result in a significant reduction of these costs and at the same time provide important habitats for wildlife.


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Conservation finance is an investment in the long-term health of natural ecosystems, which subsequently creates value for society and investors.

For the purpose of the Scottish Conservation Finance Project, conservation finance is any kind of innovative mechanism that brings new investment into nature conservation, for example through green bonds, infrastructure funds and accelerator programmes for environmental enterprise.

A healthy natural environment is the foundation of our prosperity and wellbeing. Many of the services that nature provides, such as clean water, flood protection and carbon storage are valuable in monetary terms. This provides the foundation for the design of a range of financial mechanisms that will help us deliver
the £1 Billion Pound Challenge.


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Initiated by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the project brings together a dynamic mix of organisations from the private, public and non-profit sectors.

A diverse range of individuals have helped shape the early stages of the project from organisations including Conservation Capital, Scottish Natural Heritage, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Confor, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Crown Estate Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Trucost and others.

This network of Scottish Conservation Finance Pioneers will leverage the expertise and passion of organisations in Scotland who have a genuine interest in seeing this project succeed. We are also learning from a wide range of international partners undertaking similar work.

The project is being supported by the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital through its Innovative Finance Sub-Group. This group brings together people with a wide range of specialist skills and knowledge in finance and investment. Its purpose is to develop and assess innovative finance models, with options to be investigated ranging from green and social impact bonds, private equity funds, voluntary levies, environmental enterprises, the sale of conservation credits and more. We will also draw on the work being done by the international Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation, on developing the blueprints for delivering risk-adjusted returns from specific types of investment in natural capital.