The Nature Conservancy Australia has announced the launch of a $20 million (AUS $27 million) impact investment fund aimed at balancing the water needs of farmers, communities, and nature.
The Australian Balanced Water Fund will offer opportunities to invest in permanent water rights that provide water security for agriculture and restore critical wetlands while delivering financial returns to investors. Developed by TNC's Global Water Program and its impact investment unit, NatureVest, along with the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group, the fund will work with farmers to acquire and hold a portfolio of permanent water rights. It will then sell or lease the majority of the annual temporary water allocations back to the agricultural community, while donating the remainder of the allocations to the benefit of the environment. To be managed by Kilter Rural, the fund is structured so that the majority of environmental allocations occur in years of high rainfall, when farmers need the water least.
"A water market creates important opportunities for conservation," said Giulio Boccaletti, global managing director of TNC's water program. "By allowing water to assume an appropriate financial value, all water users are incentivized to conserve because unneeded water entitlements can be sold on the market. These entitlements can be purchased by conservation interests to return water to depleted freshwater ecosystems."