Defra unveils £10m fund for nature-based climate solutions

The Government has unveiled a new £10m fund to support nature-based projects that combat the climate crisis, in the same week that Oxford University launched a new venture studio designed to uncover similar solutions.

Defra unveils £10m fund for nature-based climate solutions

The fund will support key legislative frameworks

Delivered by the Environment Agency on behalf of Defra, the new £10m fund offers grants of up to £100,000 to projects that will create and restore natural habitats while assisting with key government frameworks.

The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund is open for applications until 28 March and will support the creation of new coastal wetlands, the restoration of river catchments that reduce flood risk and the creation of new woodlands and peatlands that support carbon sequestration.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Our 25 Year Environment Plan made clear that while the public sector will continue to be a central source of funding, it is critical that this is alongside more private sector investment to protect and enhance our natural environment.

“Investors are rightly recognising environmental factors as key drivers of value. As we look to build back greener from the pandemic, I would encourage any interested businesses, local authorities, eNGOs or other organisations to bid for a portion of this fund.”

As Pow notes, the fund will support key legislative frameworks, including the 25 Year Environment Plan, but also the Green Finance Strategy and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

The funding follows the publication of the Dasgupta Review. The landmark review outlines how businesses and policymakers can include and account for nature as part of economic decisions, with many claiming the findings could be as influential as the Stern review on climate change.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The Government are calling for a green industrial revolution at the same time that investors, including people saving for their pensions, are looking for economic returns that reverse natural decline and manage climate shocks.

“There are already examples of this happening, but the global economy needs more evidence if it is going to reach a tipping point that mobilises trillions of dollars towards nature. This fund will help, demonstrating funding models that can be replicated, providing long-term benefits for the economy and the environment, and showing UK leadership ahead of COP26.”

Oxford Ventures

In related news, Oxford University’s research commercialisation arm and Global Accelerated Ventures have launched what they claim is the world’s first conservation ventured studio,

Oxford University Innovation and Global Accelerated Ventures have created the Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio (OXGAV), which aims to combat biodiversity loss, climate change, improve energy efficiency and promote food security.

OXGAV will research viable solutions for ecological and climate issues and will also act as a thinktank on promoting solutions.

Professor David Macdonald, Founder and Director of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU, Department of Zoology) will be the inaugural Chairman of OXGAV’s Joint Steering Committee.

Professor Macdonald said: “The biodiversity crisis threatens the moving parts of Nature that sustain ecosystems and support humanity. Novel technologies expand human capacity beyond previous imagining. What more potent, then, than to combine the greatest problem on earth with the greatest source of solutions, for the shared well-being of nature and people?

“At the WildCRU we’ve been developing technologies to serve conservation since the early days of radio-tracking – most recently we’ve been using individual voice recognition to count lions, and monitoring elephants from space.”

Matt Mace

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