Cumberland Forest Project Wins Environmental Finance ‘Impact Fund of the Year’ Award

June 30, 2020

The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Cumberland Forest Project, in which Cleary Gottlieb represented TNC pro bono, has won Environmental Finance’s 2020 Sustainable Investment Awards “Impact Fund of the Year” for generating a positive measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

TNC worked with Cleary to develop the project, using an innovative private equity-style fund structure. It is one of TNC’s largest-ever conservation efforts in the eastern United States, protecting 253,000 acres of forest landscapes across Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Cleary team helped develop a fund and regulatory framework to allow TNC to facilitate impact investing and focus on executing its conservation, carbon sequestration, and economic development mission, while helping to make the fund’s overhead expenses more competitive and maximizing resources for the conservation purposes of the fund. Cleary and TNC attorneys helped develop a blended finance structure that leveraged state government and private foundation financing with equity investor commitments. Conservation was “hardwired” into the fund’s documentation by including mandatory conservation criteria and conservation strategies in the fund’s limited partnership agreement.

The 2020 Sustainable Investment Awards recognizes asset managers, analysts, and data providers incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance factors across all asset classes: fixed income, listed and private equity, debt funds, multi-asset funds, infrastructure funds, and fund of funds. Winners are selected by an advisory panel consisting of industry experts and the Environmental Finance editorial team. For more information about the recognition, visit the website.