How To Invest With Social, Environmental, And Economic Impact

Christine Susanne Mueller and Nastassia Ostrowski

Many companies, including SAP, are participating in the new Livelihoods Carbon Fund to help protect the climate, restore ecosystems, and improve people’s lives.

Peru: At night, temperatures in the Andes plummet, and it is bitterly cold. Fireplaces can produce toxic smoke, which can have disastrous effects on people’s lungs and eyes. They also consume a lot of wood, which accelerates deforestation in the region. Since the Livelihoods Carbon Fund’s collaboration with the Instituto Trabajo y Familia (Institute for Work and Family, or ITYF) in 2016, 30,000 families have been given more efficient stoves, enabling them to heat their homes and cook meals using 60% less wood while also reducing smoke and emissions. The 14-year project will help approximately 150,000 people, save 1 million tons of CO2, and create jobs. Arqímedes Huamani, project supervisor and bricklayer for ITYF, says, “It makes me proud to improve the daily lives of so many families.”

Indonesia: During the last 20 years, wide areas of the coastal forest in North Sumatra been cleared for palm oil plantations and rice fields, making the coastal villages vulnerable to climatic hazards like the tsunami in 2004. The Livelihoods Fund supports reforestation of the mangroves, which provide natural shelter from cyclones, tidal waves, and floods. The ecological benefits of the project – to plant trees that absorb CO2 and protect biodiversity – are complemented by educational activities and credits for locals to set up businesses that use products derived from mangrove plants. The project has planted 5,000 hectares of mangrove forest and 18 million trees, to capture 2 million tons of CO2 over 20 years. The local economy benefits from the increase of shrimps, fish, and crabs. The project has improved the lives of 20,000 people in 39 villages, whose incomes have grown by around 20%.

Kenya: The region around Mount Elgon is home to 2 million people. Deforestation and farming have increased erosion of fertile land. Farmers are caught in a vicious cycle, applying ever more exhaustive methods while continuously earning less with lower yields. The Livelihoods Fund has partnered with Vi Agroforestry and Brookside Dairy to train farmers in agroforestry and crop diversification, leading to a 30% rise in crop yields. The effort also anticipates a 30x increase in the amount of milk produced after five years. Brookside, a major dairy in the region, has committed to purchase the milk during the next ten years. Farmer Christine Musasia says, “In the future, I expect big things. To educate my children and become self-reliant.”

Projects in agroforestry, mangrove restoration, and rural energy not only help reduce carbon emissions, they also bring income and meaning to the lives of thousands of people in the regions most affected by climate change.

1 million beneficiaries; 130 million trees planted; 10 million tons of CO2 eliminated; 9 active projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and 40 million euro invested: These are only some of the successful numbers of the Livelihoods Carbon Fund. Created by 10 European companies, the fund aims to finance large-scale development projects, improving livelihoods of communities directly exposed to the consequences of climate change and helping them restore and preserve their ecosystems.

The Livelihoods Fund’s innovative business model connects communities by creating win-win situations for both investors and fund beneficiaries. It leverages the carbon economy to create social impact and thus contributes to the 17 United Nation Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including “Good Health and Well-Being” (UN SDG 3), “Decent Work and Economic Growth” (UN SDG 8), “Live Below Water” (UN SDG 14), and others.

Companies involved in the fund, such as Crédit Agricole SA, Danone, La Poste, Hermès, Michelin, and SAP, do not receive a financial return on investment, but rather carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions. Livelihoods Carbon Fund, therefore, is a great opportunity for companies to compensate those carbon emissions they can neither avoid nor reduce and become a carbon-neutral company. It also is a great way for companies to contribute to UN Global Goals such as UN SDG 13: “Climate Action,” UN SDG 7: “Affordable and Clean Energy,” UN SDG 15: “Live on Land,” and UN SDG 10: “Reduced Inequalities.” Because of its high social and environmental value, the projects funded are also supported by many governmental and nongovernmental development organizations, such as the French Development Agency (AFD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Motivated by the outcome of the first fund, eight companies involved in the Livelihoods Carbon Fund decided to establish a second Livelihoods Carbon Fund. Partnering with other companies has always been key to the Livelihoods concept, as it helps to scale the impact and share investment risks – heading for long-term success and even bigger impact. The new fund aims to improve another two million lives in developing countries in Africa, South America, and Asia, and prevent 25 million tons of CO2 within the next 20 years. It will also encourage other companies and investors to join, with the goal of collecting 100 million euro starting in 2018. Like the first project, the resulting carbon credits will be certified by the Gold Standard (created by the WWF) and the Verified Carbon Standard.

At the launch of the second Livelihoods Carbon Fund on December 11th, 2017, Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the French Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, highlighted the great solitary and environmental value of the innovative investment model, “giving sense to money” and accelerating the combat of climate change.

To learn more about Livelihoods Funds, visit
Twitter: @livelih00ds

About Christine Susanne Mueller

As Global Sustainability Transformation and Change manager at SAP SE, Christine Susanne Müller is responsible for sustainability related change initiatives, stakeholder management and employee engagement. She coordinates and aligns SAP's contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2001, Christine Susanne has worked in various change management and communications roles at SAP on a local, regional, and global level.

Nastassia Ostrowski

About Nastassia Ostrowski

Nastassia Ostrowski joined the sustainability team as an intern in October 2017. In her role, she co-organizes the Sustainability Champions Network and supports change management and communication activities linked to SAP’s engagement for the 17 United Nation Global Goals. For more information, see also