Katharina Cavano l Palladium - Oct 26 2021
Valuing Nature: Palladium Announces Challenge Fund Winners

For the past 20 years, Palladium has committed 1.5 per cent of its profit to the company’s global giving platform, Let’s Make it Possible. Through this platform and in partnership with the Kyeema Foundation, Palladium funds humanitarian relief efforts, supports community projects nominated by employees, and runs an annual Challenge Fund to tackle a major global problem.

As the 2050 deadline of a net zero planet looms ever closer, climate experts and scientists around the world are calling for a shift in focus to nature and nature-based solutions for addressing the climate crisis. While there’s still time to mitigate and adapt to address climate change, it will require innovative solutions, partnerships, and perhaps most importantly, a shift in how we value and assess natural assets.

In that spirit, Palladium launched the 2021 Challenge Fund with the theme ‘Valuing Nature’ in April and is now announcing the three winners of grant funding.

“We were honestly blown away by how many applications we got this year,” says Sinéad Magill, Palladium Managing Partner. “We received over 85 applications from 26 different countries with a huge diversity of projects from all over the world.”

The Palladium Challenge Fund brings in ideas from across the company’s network and partnerships to source innovative responses to global challenges. This year, the call was for proposals from organisations with innovative and scalable solutions to the climate crisis by placing value on nature and natural assets.

“Despite the huge response, we were laser focussed on our theme of ‘Valuing Nature’ and for projects that were monetising the services provided by nature,” Magill adds. “But another part of the ethos of the Challenge Fund is choosing projects that don’t look like our normal projects, or those that a bank or government donor could fund.”

“A lot of innovative projects spend the first two years fundraising instead of innovating, and we wanted to try and find those inspiring projects that may struggle to garner other types of funding,” she explains.

This year, three projects were chosen to receive funding from Let’s Make it Possible. According to Magill, they were chosen in part because if they succeed, they could make a huge impact in the fight against climate change, and because she and the selection team know that Palladium employees will truly connect with their missions.

Oyster Heaven

Overfishing and disease have killed about 85 percent of oysters reefs globally and upwards of 95 percent of those located in the North Sea, where Oyster Heaven will be primarily focussed. The team plans to utilise the funding to develop and test a key innovative technology, biofilm, which will resolve a significant bottleneck in oyster reef regeneration.

Oyster reefs have proven conservation benefits and potential for commercial opportunities. One of the key benefits of oyster reefs lies in their ability to sequester carbon, nitrogen, and phosphates from water at far lower cost than some land-based ecological interventions. By addressing the loss of these critical reefs, Oyster Heaven also hopes to improve biodiversity, commercial fishery health, and defend coasts from erosion and flooding.

“A lot of innovative projects spend the first two years fundraising instead of innovating."

Nakau Programme

Erromango Island, located in southern Vanuatu is one of the most remote and environmentally unique islands in the Republic of Vanuatu. Erromango has been identified as a critical ecosystem and a key biodiversity area in the East Melanesian Island Biodiversity Hotspot due to its unique and abundant biodiversity that is under threat.

The indigenous population living on Erromango have few opportunities for sustainable development due to limited market access, placing pressure on natural resources to meet their needs. Logging and forest clearance for sandalwood plantations have led to a loss of the ecosystem services that are vital for local climate change resilience and global mitigation of carbon emissions. Forest carbon is a promising nature-based solution that offers a new way of valuing natural assets. It creates a financial incentive to protect ecosystems, which can then deliver a pathway for sustainable development and livelihoods, as well as co-benefits associated with ecosystem services.

The Nakau Programme plans to support landowners on Erromango Island to establish a sustainable and equitable business model to manage their project, register it with a certified carbon standard and assist them to take their forest carbon product to market, with financial benefits flowing back to the community.

Rebalance Earth

Rebalance Earth plans to commercialise keystone species’ ecosystem services, including carbon offsets, to reduce climate change and regenerate biodiversity, assign a clear monetary value for living keystone species, and support UN Sustainable Development Goal One, No Poverty by linking investments in local communities to the welfare of keystone species.

Keystone species are those species which have a disproportionate effect on ecosystems, and the conservation and restoration of those species can have catalytic effects on improving biodiversity. Rebalance Earth aims to make keystone species, such as elephants, worth more alive than they are dead, incentivising both species and habitat protection, as well as ecosystem regeneration activities.

As Magill adds, the theme of ‘Valuing Nature’ is one that is and will continue to be important to Palladium. “We chose it because it’s one of the biggest issues facing our environment and inspiring our staff, and we’re left feeling optimistic with the level of innovation we saw from the applicants.”

“We were struck by how much work is going on beyond the forests and in the blue economy that we hadn’t seen before and we’re excited to see how these projects will continue to make an impact,” she concludes.

Learn more about Let’s Make it Possible and contact info@thepalladiumgroup.com for more information.