Young Datooga girl carrying calabash

In the face of a global environmental crisis, our article“Understanding the ‘S’ in ESG” examines the challenges in measuring and communicating the benefits of the social impact in nature-based solutions (NBS) projects. 


While there is an increasing acknowledgment of the significance of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) in conservation, there is a notable absence of NBS initiatives actively engaging and learning from the wisdom and experience of these communities – posing a significant challenge as the sector endeavours to meet the rising demand for integrity in NBS projects.


To bridge this gap, Level has piloted a methodology with a social science approach that deeply listens to the lived experiences of individuals and their communities and adheres to specific principles and steps to measure a social impact value generated by NBS revenues. This approach aligns impact with the Social Return on Investment (SROI), showcasing diverse social and economic benefits from NBS revenues – a vital step for integrating the value of nature into the global economic system.


In 2023, Level evaluated the last six years of Carbon Tanzania’s Yaeda Valley project using the SROI methodology. The results showed a SROI of $25 for every $1 invested, alongside demonstrating that directly tangible benefits, like enhanced agriculture and livestock conditions, motivating continued community forest protection. 


This advancement is crucial for meeting the increasing demand for integrity in the NBS market, as ultimately, the success of NBS is dependent on investor confidence. 


This approach not only brings about significant transformation by predicting the social value at the project’s outset, providing real-time monitoring tools, and enabling comprehensive evaluations, but also holds the key to instilling investor confidence and ensuring the integrity and success of NBS initiatives. It gives project developers a negotiating edge by highlighting a wide range of social and economic advantages, emphasising both aspects for a more sustainable approach to nature conservation.


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