Candice Stevens

Sustainable Finance Coalition

What does your company do?

The Sustainable Finance Coalition is a driving force for incubating and implementing finance solutions for conservation land and seascapes across Africa. We recognise that sustainable land and seascapes are vitally important. We provide the ecological infrastructure for biodiversity, people, and economies and underpin the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the national development priorities of many countries. Africa currently faces substantial financial shortfalls to address environmental and social challenges and secure the corresponding benefits to other sectors such as health, development, education, climate and food and water security. Global figures estimate that the environmental sector is around 700 billion US dollars short every year. This means, conservation spend currently needs seven times more than what’s available. Solving the sustainable finance gap requires coordinated efforts, the effective development of new finance solutions and importantly the assurance that finance reaches the places and people that need it the most. The Coalition addresses this with a two-pronged approach that develops finance solutions and hosts a finance ecosystem for nature in Africa. The Coalition follows a Finance Solution Approach allowing for the development of new finance solutions in a strategic and dynamic manner, whilst fostering the incubation of innovation. We provide strategic advice regarding the application of viable finance solutions to support sustainable land and seascapes at organisational, national and transboundary levels and supports the implementation of finance projects on the ground with its Strategic Partners. The Coalition is supported in its efforts by a voluntary advisory Council of thought leaders from 15 key sectors. Our interventions are supported by Specialist and Associate Contributors from across Africa offering a multi-disciplinary team of expertise and experience.

What is your biggest success?

In 2023, in partnership with The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) we successfully executed the country’s first tax incentive for threatened species, such as rhino and lion. The tax incentive allows ordinary South Africans, who are safeguarding threatened ecosystems or species, to deduct all expenses related to their conservation efforts from taxable income. It is expected to unlock finance for conservation and maintenance of threatened species and ecosystems at approximately ZAR 1.5 million (USD 80 000) per annum. The success of the incentive has resulted in opportunities to now scale its impact to include other threatened species in South Africa that have gazetted management plans – such as the southern ground hornbill, pelargoniums, cycads, and the vulture species.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Being a female in the conservation sector hasn't always been easy. It's been a journey. Traditionally, and historically, the conservation sector has been isolated from finance, with limited female-led guidance. The fact that more women are taking up leadership positions in conservation and driving the sustainability agenda is a positive change in the industry and lends itself to more compassionate leadership. It pushes the boundaries and status quo, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.