David Hall, Senior Researcher at The Policy Observatory, is engaged in a workstream of projects related to the low-emissions transition, especially on issues of forests, land use and sustainable finance. This draws on his academic research background in geography, political theory and public policy, as well as earlier work for Pure Advantage, Trees That Count, and IGPS, Victoria University of Wellington.
Urban forest strategy
Throughout 2017, David consulted on Auckland Council’s strategy for urban ngahere (forest), particularly its overarching vision and the framework for evaluating the urban forest’s ecosystem services. On 20th February 2018, the Environment and Community Committee approved this draft strategy, which can be found on the agenda and minutes here. David has also advised on the Mayor of Auckland’s Million Trees Programme
David co-authored (with Sam Lindsay) New Zealand’s first ever report on domestic climate finance flows – that is, investment flows into assets and activities that contribute to climate mitigation, climate adaptation, or both. Climate Finance Landscape for Aotearoa New Zealand: A Preliminary Survey was prepared for the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), and launched by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, on 13th April at Europe House in AUT.
The report is available on MfE’s website here. It is also cited substantially in the Productivity Commission’s Low-emissions Economy draft report (particularly Chapter 6) which is available here. Associated media includes an op-ed for the Dominion Post (see here); coverage by the New Zealand Herald’s Business Editor, Liam Dann (see here), and Science Reporter Jamie Morton (see here); and further coverage in Stuff, Carbon News, and Voxy.
Native Forest Bond Scheme
Along with collaborator Sam Lindsay, David is also applying climate finance ideas to tackling the challenge of establishing forests on highly erosion-prone pastoral land in Aotearoa New Zealand. Establishing forest on this vulnerable land would create multiple benefits, including land resilience through avoided erosion, carbon sequestration, reduced sedimentation, biodiversity benefits, and meaningful regional jobs.
However, planting and maintaining forest requires upfront investment that few landowners can afford. So, David and Sam are designing an environmental impact bond, an example of results-based financing, to mobilise private investment through a government guarantee to pay for outcomes (for a description of environmental impact bonds, see David’s article for Policy Quarterly). With funding support from Foundation North’s GIFT fund, they have developed and distributed a business case for this proposal, informed by input from key stakeholders.
The concept note for the Native Forest Bond Scheme can be downloaded below: