Looking for a solid investment? How about conservation?

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Ensia

Between 2009 and 2013, impact investors poured close to $23 billion into conservation projects such as water quantity and quality conservation, sustainable agriculture, and habitat conservation around the world.

That’s according to a report, Investing in Conservation: A landscape assessment of an emerging market, from EKO Asset Management Partners and The Nature Conservancy. The $23 billion valuation comes from surveys conducted with 56 investors — five for-profit and nonprofit development finance institutions and 51 private investment organizations.

“[The] report puts real numbers to what we’ve long suspected: private investors are deploying more capital than before toward investments that lead to both greater conservation and bring a definable financial return,” said Ricardo Bayon, EKO Asset Management partner and an author of the report, in a press release. “But more needs to be done.”

The report, which also included guidance and analysis from representatives of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., doesn’t include investments by governments, multilateral agencies and philanthropic sources, which currently total about $50 billion annually. And the report’s authors acknowledge that the total amount is a far cry from the $300 billion annually that a recent Global Canopy Programme report says is needed to help address the world’s conservation challenges.

There are efforts, such as NatureVest (launched earlier this year by The Nature Conservancy with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co.), that attempt to broaden investments in conservation projects around the world and help close this gap. Specifically, NatureVest pools investment capital and provides long-term funding support to help move conservation projects from the early stages through to completion.

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