Athelia Sustainable Ocean Fund reaches first close as it eyes $100m target


Ecosphere Capital Ltd announces first close of fund aimed at unlocking impact investments for marine and coastal projects in developing countries

A new green investment fund aimed at unlocking finance for projects which build resilience in coastal ecosystems and create sustainable economic growth in developing countries has reached its first close, asset manager Ecosphere Capital Ltd announced today.

The company said the new Athelia Sustainable Ocean Fund plans to deploy “at least” $100m across a portfolio of investments in sustainable marine activities and coastal projects, with an initial focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.

The fund has already attracted investment from several large European institutional investors, including the European Investment Bank, AXA Investment Managers and FMO Investment Management, in addition to US-based foundations such as The Caprock Group and the Inter-American Development Bank, Ecosphere said.

Returns from investments in the impact investment fund projects are generated from loan interest, profit shares or the sale of equity, explained the green asset management firm, which is majority owned by investment manager Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers.

“In addition to seeking to provide investors with market returns in fisheries, aquaculture, seafood supply chains, the fund’s investments will be required to deliver substantial positive conservation impacts,” explained Ecosphere Capital.

Target impacts outlined by the firm include improved food and climate security, stabilisation or increases in fish stocks, improved livelihoods and economic value for local stakeholders, prevention of marine waste and plastic pollution, as well as ecological biodiversity and conservation gains.

Simon Dent, Athelia Sustainable Ocean Fund principle, said significant private investment was needed to meet ecological and climate change challenges faced by the world’s oceans.

“This fund will allow us to direct meaningful investment at scale to support sustainable business models, projects and enterprises in the marine sector within developing countries and small island states while also addressing some of the most pressing issues in ocean conservation,” he said.

The fund, which had originally aimed to reach its first close in 2016, is open to additional investors for a further 12 months. It is the second fund within Mirova’s newly-launched Athelia Funds product line, which is focused on scaling natural capital investments.

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