Investors Join Landmark Wildlife Conservation Bond to Support Black Rhinos and Local Communities in South Africa

Washington  – The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD) today issued the Wildlife Conservation Bond (WCB). The bond was priced on March 23, 2022. The 5-year US$150 million bond due March 2027, includes a potential performance payment funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The WCB will contribute to protecting and increasing black rhino populations in the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) and the Great Fish River Nature Reserve (GFRNR) – two protected areas in South Africa, while providing environmental and social benefits to the local communities.

Marie Françoise Marie Nelly, World Bank Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Namibia, said, “This innovative bond leverages capital markets to raise funds from private investors without adding to South Africa’s sovereign debt. It is another example of support to boost South Africa’s biodiversity economy, nature-based tourism industry, and benefits for local communities.”

Nuveen was the lead investor in this first-of-its-kind, outcome-based, financial instrument that channels private sector investments to achieve conservation outcomes. The bond was sold to a mix of other institutional and private investors including: AllianceBernstein, ASN Impact Investors, Azimut Investments, BlueBay Asset Management, INGKA Investments, Mackenzie Investments, and high net worth clients from both Credit Suisse International and Citi private banking arms. Credit Suisse served a sole conservation bond structurer and joint bookrunner with Citi.

Stephen M. Liberatore, Head of ESG/Impact – Global Fixed Income, Nuveen, said, “We are proud to be the lead investor in this innovative transaction that provided not only attractive total return potential, but also the direct and measurable outcomes we look for under our proprietary Impact Framework. We are especially hopeful that this type of public-private partnership can serve as a template for future transactions to help improve biodiversity globally.”

Konstantin Boehmer, Co-Lead, Fixed Income Team, Mackenzie Investments, said, “The inaugural Wildlife Conservation Bond is a significant step in the continued development of targeted impact-forward investments and Mackenzie is proud to have played a role in its launch. Initiatives such as this allow us to provide Canadians with even more opportunities to better align their investing with their values and to do good while doing well.”

Erin Bigley, Senior Vice President and Head of Fixed Income Responsible Investing, AllianceBernstein, said, “AllianceBernstein (AB) is honored and proud to partner with World Bank to craft and invest in this unique bond structure supporting conservation efforts in South Africa. Our team and firm look forward to using our ESG capabilities to innovate more financing structures like this, leading to improved environmental and social outcomes globally.”

Nicolò Bocchin, Head of Fixed Income at Azimut Investments, said, “Azimut Investments is proud to be involved in the first Wildlife Conservation Bond, a milestone in the impact investment universe. It perfectly fits our efforts for greener and more sustainable finance and, once again, gives us the chance to define investments’ direction.”

Karin van Dijk, Fund Manager, ASN Biodiversity Fund, ASN Impact Investors, said, “The black rhino is extremely vulnerable to extinction as poaching has intensified and pressures on their habitat increased. So much more capital is needed for conservation. The new and innovative financial instrument of the World Bank shifts the very much needed financing to an impact-based approach that people can invest in and receive financial return from. It therefore fits perfectly with our front-running ASN Biodiversity Fund as the investment aims to protect both critically endangered species and their habitat and connects that to financial return. In addition, it is another very tangible example investment for our clients. We hope the Wildlife Conservation Bond is the first of more solutions like it that can successfully protect endangered species and their habitat.”

As a World Bank Sustainable Development Bond, the WCB combines a ‘use of proceeds’ bond with an outcome-based mechanism which facilitates access to an additional source of financing for the parks which they would otherwise not have had and also transfers project performance risk from donors to the capital markets.

Investors in the WCB will not receive coupon payments on the bond. Instead, the issuer, IBRD, will make conservation investment payments to finance rhino conservation activities at the two parks. At maturity of the WCB, in addition to principal redemption of the bond, investors will receive a conservation success payment based on the final rhino population growth rate available at maturity. Conservation success payments will be funded by a performance-based grant from the GEF.

With the WCB, investors are supporting the financing of activities to protect and grow a critically endangered species with clear conservation targets, contributing directly to biodiversity by helping conserve an area of 153,000 hectares that is home to many other species, and bringing jobs to local communities in a rural region of South Africa.

 

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