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The Next Economy
L'Oréal, Apple Continue to Cultivate Nature-Based Climate and Biodiversity Solutions

The two companies have expanded the scope and scale of their respective nature-focused impact-investment funds.

Since the twin clarion calls from COP15 and the latest IPCC report to renew our focus on the earth’s biodiversity, the corporate and finance worlds have mobilized millions in resources to scale on-the-ground, nature-preservation and -regeneration projects and nature-based climate solutions around the world. Two companies that launched nature-restoration funds prior to this year’s groundswell have recently expanded their efforts.

L'Oréal names 3 new recipients of Fund for Nature Regeneration

Biochar is recognized by the IPCC as a viable solution with the potential to remove 1-2 billion tons of CO2 emissions from the planet’s atmosphere each year. | Image credit: NetZero

According to a 2019 UN report, one million species are already threatened with extinction and 75 percent of the earth’s surface has been significantly altered. With the IPCC calling for more global cooperation in biodiversity-preservation efforts, L’Oréal is accelerating its longstanding commitment to biodiversity beyond its own value chain. The cosmetics giant has chosen three new recipients of its Fund for Nature Regeneration — for their innovative approaches to carbon capture in soils, reforestation and mangrove restoration; and for their potential to have a far-reaching, positive impact on the environment and local communities.

“At L’Oréal Groupe, our environmental duty goes beyond our business. It is our responsibility to address today’s most pressing challenges, like the erosion of biodiversity and its social and ecological impact,” said Rachel Barré, Environmental Leadership Director at L’Oréal Groupe. “The L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration is an important vehicle in our efforts towards a more sustainable future for all. With the new projects signed, our aim is to help restore the planet’s biodiversity and preserve its abundant ecosystems.”

The L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration was created in 2020, endowed with €50 million for impact investment. In 2021, the company announced the first two recipients of funds: the Real Wild Estates Company, the UK’s first rewilding business; and RIZE carbon financing, which helps accelerate France’s farming sector towards sustainable practices. The fund is managed by Mirova Natural Capital — a pioneer in natural capital investment.

Through the fund, which has committed €22 million in projects to-date, L’Oréal is engaging with partners with proven expertise to support in the regeneration of degraded lands and mangroves, as well as the restoration of marine areas and forests. The latest projects were selected following due diligence and based on key criteria including business model readiness, economic viability, and positive environmental and social impacts:

NetZero is a French climate venture operating in tropical areas such as Cameroon and Brazil that specializes in long-term carbon removal from the atmosphere by turning agricultural residues into biochar. Biochar is a stable, non-polluting carbon that can be added to improve degraded soil. It is recognized by the IPCC as a viable solution with the potential to remove 1-2 billion tons of CO2 emissions from the planet’s atmosphere each year.

ReforesTerra aims to restore 2,000 hectares of land degraded by pastures — one of the greatest challenges facing the Amazon — in one of the largest Afforestation, Reforestation and Revegetation (ARR) projects in Brazil. The project will engage with smallholder farmers to directly plant new trees and create a favorable environment for natural regeneration in the lower Rio Jamari basin of Rondônia, covering 75 percent of the project area. The remaining 25 percent will benefit from strategic planting in small clusters that attract wildlife to naturally propagate new forests.

Mangroves.Now will facilitate community-based mangrove-restoration projects in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka — the region that has been the most affected by mangrove deforestation in the last 30 years. Mangroves.Now will provide access to financing for small-scale projects with local NGOs, with a goal to restore approximately 20,000 hectares of previously degraded land and provide equitable benefit-sharing with local communities.

“Our vision for value creation is one where financial performance and environmental and socio-economic impact are inextricably linked,” said Muriel Atias, Chief Investment Officer at L’Oréal Groupe. “The L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration is a catalyst for sustainable value creation through private capital, enabling the acceleration of environmental solutions with long-term benefit. Through our impact-investing strategy, we can play an important role in tackling biodiversity loss with expert local partners.”

Apple expands Restore Fund for carbon removal

A Restore Fund project in Paraguay aims to generate income from a sustainably managed timber farm on one side of the road, while preserving the surrounding natural forest on the other. | Image credit: Arbaro Advisors

Meanwhile, Apple recently announced a major expansion of its Restore Fund — doubling its total commitment to advancing high-quality, nature-based, carbon-removal projects. First launched in 2021 with an up to $200 million commitment with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs, the Restore Fund is now set to grow with an additional investment from Apple and a new portfolio of carbon-removal projects. Apple created the Restore Fund to encourage global investment to protect and restore critical ecosystems and scale natural carbon-removal solutions. This approach also helps address residual emissions businesses cannot yet avoid or reduce with existing technologies.

As part of the expansion, Apple will invest up to an additional $200 million in the new fund, which Climate Asset Management — a joint venture of HSBC Asset Management and Pollination — will manage. The new portfolio also aims to remove 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year at its peak, while generating a financial return for investors. For Apple suppliers that become partners in the fund, it will also offer a new way for them to incorporate high-impact carbon-removal projects as they decarbonize.

“The Restore Fund is an innovative investment approach that generates real, measurable benefits for the planet, while aiming to generate a financial return,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “The path to a carbon-neutral economy requires deep decarbonization paired with responsible carbon removal, and innovation like this can help accelerate the pace of progress.”

Apple and Climate Asset Management are taking a broadened approach with prospective projects, pooling two distinct types of investments: nature-forward agricultural projects that generate income from farming practices, and projects that conserve and restore critical ecosystems that remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. This unique, blended fund structure aims to achieve both financial and climate benefits for investors while advancing a new model for carbon removal that more fully addresses the global potential for nature-based solutions. All Restore Fund investments are subject to rigorous social and environmental standards.

Already carbon neutral for its corporate operations, last year Apple called on its suppliers to become carbon neutral across all Apple-related operations by 2030 — including all of their direct and electricity-related emissions (Scope 1 and 2). High-quality carbon removals will help achieve this goal by offsetting any direct emissions that cannot be avoided or reduced in the short term. Suppliers are first expected to reduce emissions by transitioning to renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and abating direct emissions. Earlier this month, Apple announced over 250 manufacturing partners have committed to power their Apple production with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Located in Brazil and Paraguay, Apple’s three initial investments with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs aim to restore 150,000 acres of sustainably certified working forests and protect an additional 100,000 acres of native forests, grasslands and wetlands. Together, these projects are forecast to remove 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year by 2025. Carbon removal is critical to addressing climate change and achieving global climate goals, as leading scientific bodies like the IPCC have emphasized.

To monitor and measure the impact of Restore Fund projects, Apple is deploying remote-sensing technologies — including Space Intelligence’s Carbon Mapper and Habitat Mapper, Upstream Tech’s Lens platform, and high-resolution satellite imagery from Maxar — to construct habitat and forest carbon maps of the project areas to quantify and verify the projects’ carbon-removal impact over time. Apple is also further exploring the use of the LiDAR Scanner on iPhone to enhance monitoring capabilities on the ground.

The Restore Fund is part of the company’s comprehensive roadmap to become carbon neutral for its entire supply chain and life cycle of every product by 2030. Apple’s plan is reduce 75 percent of all emissions by 2030 and balance the remaining emissions with high-quality carbon removal.

Controversy continues to swirl around the carbon-offset market — due to questions about its efficacy in its existing form to help abate catastrophic climate change, and also due to companies’ and countries’ overreliance on offsetting vs working to eliminate their emissions at the source. Regardless, replenishing the world’s biodiversity in and of itself is critical to ensure our own sustainability in the long term.