An Incubator for Sustainable Landscapes

There has never been more money and political will for conservation and sustainabilitythan in this decade.  Yet investors and land managers are struggling to originate high-quality, de-risked, land use projects.  The Landscape Finance Lab bridges this gap. It is a system to structure, de-risk, launch, and fund sustainable land use deals at landscape scale – covering millions of hectares, mobilising hundreds of millions of dollars and catalysing major impact – including carbon sequestration, food security, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation.

Maximum Impact: The Landscape Approach

If climate change and loss of natural capital are our core environmental challenges, then integrated landscape management is a key solution**.  This approach engages stakeholders across the landscape to create large scale programs that link land, water and coastal resource management.

Recent innovations in the finance space have enabled a quantum leap in landscape program funding and design.  The opportunities for financing these programs have jumped from a range of $1-10 million (M) from traditional donors to $50-250M from a new generation of funds.  These funds include the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a global initiative which is resourced with billions of dollars to respond to climate change, and the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, which supports large-scale rehabilitation of degraded land.

For example, the Mai Ndombe Emission Reduction Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – initiated by WWF – was approved by the World Bank Carbon Fund for $170 M financing in June 2016.  Its goal, to save moist tropical forests over 12 million hectares. This is WWF’s single largest investment in any one location.

The Lab: An Incubator for Sustainable Landscapes

Established in April 2016, the WWF Landscape Finance Lab is incubating a portfolio of landscape programs.  We are focused exclusively on programs covering over a million hectares, million tonnes of traded goods, million tonnes greenhouse gases, and $100 million investment size. How we work is detailed in our short Lab Brief 2019

Our purpose is to:
 Enable high quality landscape programs in global biodiversity priority places – using jurisdictional REDD+, land degradation neutrality, catchment management and landscape sourcing approaches.

 Test innovative financing mechanisms – including private sector investment funds, impact investing platforms and public sector grant funding windows.

 Build sector learning, capacity and impact. We are growing a global online learning community and producing tools, guidance and learning publications for them.

A partner-centered approach

The Lab is nimble, agile and flexible –these traits are among our most unique strengths. As part of the WWF Network, we draw upon some of the most experienced landscape and finance experts in the world to spur innovation and share knowledge to fine-tune our landscape methodology.  

We also engage with external partners on every programme we develop and implement to ensure that the Lab produces outcomes that are collaborative and inclusive.

Committed to results

In the Lab’s short history, we have cultivated and generated a series of meaningful results. Our portfolio of work includes projects that are at least 1 million hectares in size, can attract investments of $100 million or more and are able to run sustainably for decades. As of 2019, we have been engaged with landscape teams in Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Paraguay, Russia, and Zambia.

2019 Annual Report

Annual Report 2019

Our 2019 Annual Report details the active landscapes we are currently incubating and the successful experiments we have run so far. The WWF Landscape Finance Lab works on the belief that restored landscapes will provide sustainable returns for people and nature.

Key Benefits

Maximized Benefit. Landscape programs are holistic. They simultaneously address issues such as carbon sequestration, water availability, food security, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation – as well as providing market rate investment opportunities. And they can be delivered at scale.
Decreased Risk. By combining sectors, stakeholders, governance levels and diverse types of finance in the design and implementation process this greatly decreases implementation risk.


* The Paris COP signaled over $20B of public investment while the private finance for green bonds has reached almost a trillion dollars with $250B of new bond issuances expected in 2019 (CBI). Impact investment reached $502B (GIIN) this year and is rapidly accelerating.

**   Landscape approaches are being incorporated into global climate and SDG a practice through jurisdictional REDD+, landscape sourcing, sustainable production landscapes, forest restoration areas and integrated catchment and coastal management.


The Lab is an initiative of the WWF (the Worldwide Fund for Nature) and made possible through support from Climate-KIC and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) from 2016-19.