Gabon secures first Debt for Nature Swap in mainland Africa

According to Carbon Pulse and Reuters, Gabon’s debt has been restructured under a Blue Bond, in the world’s second largest debt for nature swap. It follows the debt for nature swap agreed to between Portugal and Cabo Verde earlier this year. According to the deal, $436 million of sovereign debt will be refinanced by Bank of America, with the US International Development Finance Corporation providing political risk insurance. The Bond will generate an estimated $163 million in financing for new marine conservation efforts over a 15 year period. In return for restructuring debt, government contributions will be made to an independent Conservation Fund and an endowment used to fund conservation after the initial 15 year payback period. At their simplest, debt-for-nature swaps see a country’s debt bought up by a bank or specialist investor and replaced with cheaper loans, usually with a development finance “credit guarantee” or “risk insurance” helping bring the cost down. The savings are meant to fund conservation. Head of sustainable debt at The Nature Conservancy, a. non-profit that advised Gabon on the deal, said it addressed at once biodiversity, climate and debt problems.

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