Impact Investment

A key challenge for driving sustainability in the West is to increase investment in sustainable natural resource investments. With declining public funding for natural resource management and infrastructure, private investment has a role in filling the gap to address the region's infrastructure and natural resource management needs. However, there are few existing models of public-private partnerships and environmentally-focused "impact" investments that have brought private capital successfully to bear. The growing challenges around water scarcity, water quality, landscape health, and infrastructure deficits present an opportunity for impact-focused private investors who care about environmental and social returns to drive investment towards innovative solutions that can lead the American West away from crisis to sustainability. 

These new kinds of investments can demonstrate the technical viability and ecological and social value of private or public-private investment solutions. Impact investment could also help to increase comfort with innovative environmentally sustainable approaches and unlock public funding for these types of solutions, together with supportive policy changes that incentivize sustainable approaches to water and natural resource management.

Our attorneys are at the leading edge of efforts to develop and drive impact investment approaches to solve water and natural resource management challenges, including the design and deployment of new impact investment models, the advancement of water markets and water banks to promote beneficial water trading, and the development of water trusts, mitigation banks, and other approaches to promote investment in sustainable natural resource management.  

Representative Experience

  • In partnership with a leading impact investment firm (Encourage Capital), designed and developed 13 impact investment blueprints to facilitate the deployment of private capital to solve water scarcity problems in the western United States, and produced the first comprehensive report on water-related impact investment - Liquid Assets: Investing for Impact in the Colorado River Basin.
  • Participating as part of the core deal development team on the Liquid Assets Project, a multi-organizational effort to develop impact investment deal pipelines related to agricultural water use and sustainable ranching, the deployment of green bonds and pay-for-performance contracts to support municipal water infrastructure, investor-driven forest health treatments to aid wildfire prevention, and investment-friendly water trusts.
  • Working with NatureVest and the Nature Conservancy to develop a model for an investment-friendly water trust to address environmental water needs and manage systemic water risks at the watershed scale.
  • Advising the Water Funders Initiative on the development of a funding action plan to support water-related impact investment and the development of water markets in the western United States.
  • Advising a state trust land manager on the design of Section 404 mitigation banks and ESA conservation banks to generate new revenues on state trust lands.
  • Designing and developing a public-private partnership among private investors, private landowners, public landowners, and municipal water interests to hedge water risks via the joint development and management of a large aquifer in Central Arizona.
  • Advising several leading agricultural and water investment firms on strategies for investment in agricultural districts supported by the Colorado River.