The new Nature Finance Certification Alliance (NFCA) is an independent industry-led membership organisation, working in co-ordination with key partners to help establish a holistic set of practical and plain English tools to support UK Nature Finance transactions. Fife Coast and Countryside Trust is one of its founding members.
A UK-wide organisation, the NFCA has been founded by nature finance experts collaborating to support landowners, project developers, corporates and investors interested in blended financing arrangements for UK nature restoration activity.
While the UK Nature Market is in its infancy, it is critical for potential buyers and investors of nature-based solutions to be able to cut-through the complex world of ‘natural capital markets’ and have greater confidence to invest time towards the goal of restoring UK nature. The hope is that this will accelerate the growth of a high-integrity UK voluntary carbon and biodiversity credits market, while delivering social, health and economic impacts in the process.
Georgie Nelson, Head of ESG, Real Estate at abrdn, a global investment company and asset manager explained: “It is essential nature restoration is done properly in the highest integrity manner to ensure wide ranging benefits for nature, climate, and society. By being a member of the NFCA, we look forward to contributing to providing guidance and standards for best practice nature restoration which will not only help further attract private investment into the sector but also provide those investors with reassurance that the highest sustainability standards are being upheld.”
The NFCA is delivering on three key industry-led workstreams, linked to work by UK government agencies and the British Standards Institute. Together, the idea is to develop a high integrity nature market framework and supportive regulatory environment for natural capital transactions in the UK.
These workstreams benefit from the crowdsourcing of a highly advanced, multi-disciplinary team of individuals, who sit behind the organisational membership structure of the NFCA. They are busy developing practical industry tools, including a set of universal investment data-points for natural capital projects and a voluntary biodiversity credit mechanism, focused on ecosystem integrity, that can bring together a range of ‘ecosystem services’ under a single auditable framework.
Through their Community Benefits Standard project, NFCA are also developing a guide for projects to achieve community benefits through inclusive and participatory co-design processes. This guide will be distilled into an auditable certification process, for follow-on testing of the potential uplift in private investment that can be achieved by embedding community voices into natural capital projects.
Simon Herko, Co-Chair of the NFCA, added: “If we want to realise the nature investments at scale here in the UK, green finance experts need to adapt their language into plain English, that empowers local agents and landowners to weigh up their options for accessing nature markets, and take positive action.”
The NFCA is proud to list over 20 founding members that include investment companies abrdn, Federated Hermes, Greenbank Investments and Oxygen Conservation. They are collaborating with a range of market infrastructure experts, with a footprint in the UK. These include CreditNature, Kana, Future Forest Company, Palladium, Finance Earth, Highlands Rewilding and Soil Association Certification.
The NFCA is launching publicly after a 12-month incubation process supported by the Scottish Wildilfe Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund, thanks to Fife Council and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.