Systems Financing for a Regenerative Economy
Regenerative Economy Lab (REL) has been developing a regenerative blue/green economy model and systems financing approach to conservation and sustainable development in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, since 2014 to learn how to create a thriving economy and community that is dependent on the health of the rainforest and marine ecosystems.
The Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, is at an important juncture. It houses 2.5% of the world's biodiversity and is facing a critical choice between rapid unsustainable growth or steady sustainable development. There are many threats: unsustainable palm oil expansion polluting the ecosystem; poverty driven wildlife poaching and illegal logging and mining; historical lack of effective governance and public services due to corruption; lack of jobs and land insecurity due to inadequate conservation policy and regulations and poor education; ill advised, mass tourism development projects including a recently built large marina, a Hilton resort underway, and a proposed international airport; and siloed actions and funding of most stakeholders. These are all symptoms of systemic challenges. What are the root causes? What are the leverage points for collective action? How can systems financing reduce risk in the market and create enabling conditions for systems-wide savings and reliable, if not higher performing, triple bottom line returns?
Systemic challenges need systems solutions. REL aims to address these questions together with local stakeholders, pre-existing donors, and investors. To date, a detailed systems map has been prepared in conjunction with local residents, governing bodies, and private interested parties. This map shows the system dynamics of the Osa & Golfito cantons and various stakeholder groups that need to be engaged for any comprehensive systems change model to be adopted. In this process, REL has gained support and cooperation from these stakeholders and as a result a preliminary plan for developing a model for a regenerative economy on the Osa Peninsula has been adopted by the local governing bodies.
In this next phase we will identify key impact projects that meet systems leverage criteria and create a collective systems financing strategy with pre-existing and new donors and investors in the region. There will be a particular focus on integrating diverse financing tools, together with systems awareness, for optimized outcomes and returns. This will ensure that collective and cohesive action is being taken to adequately finance critical impact projects in the effort to actualize a vision of a thriving community, ecosystem, and economy.
Our premise is that silo financing leads to incremental change and sub-optimal returns. Systems financing leads to systems change and systems returns. If we desire true systemic change that brings humans into balance with nature, we need to design our financing in a holistic and systemic way; therefore, “systems financing.”
To learn more about the Regenerative Economy Lab please contact: