Immersive lab at Milan Expo to discuss channeling $1bn into land restoration – update

Impact investment firm Aurora Impact and the Savory Institute are launching the Future Ready Now project in June to attract investment into a grasslands restoration fund. Pension funds and sustainable clothing companies are among the attendees.

*The meeting has been postponed until September due to timings changes at the Milan Expo. Celebrities lined up to attend, which have reaffirmed their support for the later September event, include Al Gore; Zero Waste advocate, Enrico Derflingher; Message from Pope Francis; Founder of Slow Food movement, Carlo Petrini; International Ambassador of Peace, Prem Rawat; Human rights activist, Baroness Scotland of Asthal; and an array of international performers including Lenny Kravitz.

Impact investment firm Aurora Impact, with the regenerative agriculture organisation Savory Institute, is organising a meeting at the Milan Expo in June to start discussions around a $1 billion grassland restoration fund.

The wider aim of the project Future Ready Now is to be working on the restoration of 1 billion hectares of degraded grasslands globally by 2025.

This incubation stage of a project will attract high-profile celebrities to a launch gala event on June 22 followed by three days of meetings of the so-called Investors Co-design Lab.

This “immersive” lab is expected to be a meeting of between 30 to 40 people including large landowners, long-term capital such as pension funds and insurers, family offices, conservation organisations including the Nature Conservancy and the Savory institute, wool trade organisations and clothing brands interested in sourcing sustainable wool and materials for their products.

The lab will focus on how to invest into the restoration of grasslands as a means to sequester carbon, improve water retention, increase resilience to climate change and improve food production

“From organising this event, we have discovered that there are some very large fund managers that are already working on pooling capital together for this purpose,” said Aleks Blumentals, partner at Aurora. “There is one group looking at restoring 12 million hectares a year which would translate into investments in the $1.5 billion to $2 billion range.”

This is the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund which will be presented at the Global Landscapes Forum in London in June.

The Future Ready Now lab attendees will also form the Founders Group of any investment project resulting from the meeting, according to a press release.

“We are connecting multiple revenue streams and risk/benefit profiles, enabling long-term private capital to figure out how to become a driving force generating wellbeing for nature, communities and financially,” reads the release. “This is attracting long-term capital, pension funds and special purpose funds targeting the land degradation issue for example.

Some 12 percent of the earth’s surface is degraded and the world is losing 12 million hectares a year, according to Blumentals. “We are losing this battle,” he said. “This is a level that farmers alone cannot do anything for. So we are talking about promoting huge investment into land to help the many issues that lead to land degradation and create a sustainable system for companies that use agricultural products.

Aurora would manage any fund that came out of the meeting alongside financial institutions and conservation organisations, which would all play their own role, according to Blumentals.