Meet Dr. Stephanie Terreni Brown of the Landscape Finance Lab. Stephanie is an academic and corporate expert in the fields of climate change, environment and sustainable investment. The Landscape Finance Lab leads WaterLANDS WP4 Mobilising Finance which explores sustainable finance mechanisms for large-scale wetland restoration. Read Stephanie's interview for the first WaterLANDS external newsletter below.
Hi Stephanie, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me! My first question is where are you based and what WaterLANDS partner institution are you part of?
No problem! I'm based in Edinburgh, Scotland and I work with the Landscape Finance Lab, an organisation that bridges the gap between conservation and investment to generate landscape-oriented solutions for impacts at scale.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to work on financial mechanisms for restoring landscapes?
As an academic, I was working on water and sanitation projects in East Africa, and then got involved in off grid research in rural Scottish communities, where it turns out many of the challenges faced by communities were not that dissimilar at all to those I’d spent my time with during my PhD in Uganda. I left academia and worked for a large global corporate, where I was really thrown into the deep end about financial modelling and working with investors. I learned a lot very quickly! I realised that this commercial expertise could be usefully applied in the third sector, and via a circuitous route involving founding a community enterprise and researching pharmaceutical pollution in the environment, I became involved in the Flow Country work in the north of Scotland. The Flow Country, ca 400,000ha, stores twice the carbon of all UK forests and woodlands - so the opportunity to work on this scale restoration to help Scotland reach its net zero targets, was just too good to miss - I had to be involved!
What are you working on as part of the WaterLANDS project?
Work Package 4 is my primary involvement: this is the financial heartbeat of WaterLANDS and is bringing together best practices, how to avoid common pitfalls and sharing what does not work when trying to finance restoration projects and helping to bring together the investment package to undertake restoration work across the sites.
What has been your favourite wetland to visit?
I sadly wasn’t able to attend the visit to Ireland in May 2022, so missed out on the field trip to Abbeyleix. I have visited the Great North Bog in England, which has spectacular countryside and is the project's UK Action Site. The Scottish Flow Country is mind-blowingly beautiful too.
While the project is still in its first year, what has been your highlight so far?
Meeting all the amazing people involved: It’s just super to see so many people who are committed to restoration on a large scale and are actually making it happen. WaterLANDS brings together a very action-oriented group of interesting people, and that is totally my vibe!
What do you think is the most important consideration when designing financial projects for landscapes?
The three Cs: Collaboration, communication, clarity. Good communication and a collaborative approach help to promote clarity: Financial investors need to know what they're investing in (i.e., this isn’t just another asset, but rather is science-based, data-driven restoration involving long term benefits for people and planet), and communities and project partners need to understand who their investor partners are and what the expectations are on all sides.
Thanks for the great insights Stephanie! If you are interested in contacting Stephanie or learning more about the work of the Landscape Finance Lab, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Lab's website, Twitter or LinkedIn below.