QUITO, Ecuador – In partnership with the Government of Ecuador, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Credit Suisse, Oceans Finance Company (OFC), and the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy today announced the financial close of a $656 million Galápagos marine conservation-linked bond (Galápagos Marine Bond), arranged and structured by Credit Suisse. The Galápagos Marine Bond was used to finance a debt conversion for Ecuador exchanging $1.628 billion of Ecuador’s international bonds for an $656 million loan (the Loan). Credit Suisse acted as offeror for the international bonds.
DFC is providing $656 million in political risk insurance for the Loan, while IDB is providing an $85 million guarantee. A group of 11 private insurers is providing more than fifty percent reinsurance to facilitate the project. Through this debt conversion, Ecuador will realize more than $1.126 billion lifetime savings through reduced debt service costs.
The debt conversion will generate an estimated $323 million for marine conservation in the Galápagos Islands over the next 18.5 years, including approximately $12.05 million of new funding annually and around $5.41 million annually, on average, to capitalize an endowment for the Galapagos Life Fund (GLF). The endowment, which will be a source of permanent funding for the GLF to continue supporting marine conservation projects beyond the term of the transaction, is estimated to grow to more than $227 million by 2041. Combined, the debt conversion and endowment will generate more than $450 million for marine conservation in the Galápagos Islands.
The GLF is a non-profit organization that was established to direct the marine conservation funding to the Galápagos National Park Service and to efforts to manage, monitor, and enforce marine protections for the waters surrounding the Galápagos Islands. The funds will also support Ecuador-based organizations to conduct research, advance sustainable fisheries, strengthen climate resilience, and develop a sustainable blue economy for the local community. The GLF will be governed by an 11-member board of directors that includes five Ecuadorian government ministers and six non-government representatives. The GLF will be supported by Climate Fund Managers (CFM), via its marine ecosystem manager OFC, and the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, which together provided the early-stage capital and established the GLF with Ecuador. Aqua Blue Investments provided additional technical assistance to Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy to develop the GLF and the project.
In developing conservation commitments and funding priorities, the Ecuadorian government achieved consensus by working alongside the artisanal and industrial fishing sectors and the local communities through an inclusive process that included numerous formal and informal consultations. Additionally, securing the political risk insurance depended on significant commitments to continued community engagement and transparency, and these safeguards include ongoing environmental and social impact assessments and reporting that detail engagement efforts, stakeholder concerns, and economic and ecological changes.
Gustavo Manrique Miranda, Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “This debt-for-nature exchange, the world’s largest, is another example that Ecuador, faithful to its democratic principles, has the confidence and support of organizations and countries that make biodiversity conservation possible. Conservation diplomacy, and these new resources, will enable us to work on a blue economy, promote climate resilience, and support sustainable fishing.”
Scott Nathan, CEO of DFC, said: “This transaction is a huge accomplishment and achieves benefits on multiple levels. Ecuador gets increased economic stability and the world benefits from the conservation of a critical ecosystem. DFC is proud to have worked with our partners to help make this innovative transaction happen. The Galápagos Marine Bond will generate enormous benefits for the people of Ecuador by reducing the country’s national debt and providing significant resources to protect the Galápagos Islands and its extraordinary biological diversity for years to come. DFC’s $656 million in political risk insurance investment for this transaction also underscores the power and flexibility of our political risk insurance tool to mobilize private sector capital towards investments with tangible economic and environmental benefits.”
Ilan Goldfajn, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, said: “Ecuador and the IDB are breaking ground with this debt-for-nature conversion. Not only is this the largest operation of its kind, but it is the first time that a multilateral institution is combining guarantees with political-risk insurance to mobilize resources from different actors towards conservation. It is an example of how the region is not only tackling global challenges, but is also being part of the solution – pioneering innovative approaches and instruments that can be replicated and scaled globally.”
Ramzi Issa, Global Head of Credit Investor Products Structuring at Credit Suisse, said: “This is a vital transaction for one of the most important marine ecosystems on Earth, the Galápagos, providing it with significant funding for generations while reducing Ecuador’s debt service costs at the same time. It could only have been achieved through collaboration, teamwork and leadership: we’re pleased to have worked so closely with Ecuador, Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, DFC, IDB, CFM together with OFC, and others to make this transaction possible. Ecuador, alongside its partners, is innovating for conservation, capturing the power and potential of private capital to solve pressing issues facing the environment and society more broadly.”
Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, said: “Science shows that the effectiveness of marine protections often depends on securing the funding needed for implementation and ongoing monitoring, management, and enforcement. Driven by science, inclusion, and consensus, Ecuador’s sustainable funding mechanism provides an extraordinary win for nature and people.”
Erik Wandrag, CEO of OFC, said: “There’s an ancient saying: ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children’. This is an initiative that I truly believe our children will thank us for, with deep environmental, social and economic impact. OFC and CFM view debt-for-climate conversions as a powerful tool to tackle the climate crisis, as these structures simultaneously alleviate debt burdens and advance conservation goals. The debt conversion for Galápagos sets a new precedent that we intend to replicate with other developing nations worldwide.”
The Galápagos Marine Reserve is one of the largest and most biologically diverse marine protected areas in the world. In 2022, President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso created the Hermandad Marine Reserve, expanding the marine protected areas surrounding Ecuador to increase marine conservation. The debt conversion and related conservation activities will advance Ecuador’s “30 by 30” Global Ocean Alliance pledge to protect 30 percent of its marine territory by 2030.
Reinsurance for the project is provided by AXA XL, Fidelis MGU, Chubb Global Markets, Sovereign Risk Insurance Ltd, Mosaic, Coface, and others.
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.
About Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is one of the world's leading financial services providers. The bank’s strategy is built on its leading Wealth Management and Swiss Bank franchises, with strong Asset Management as well as Markets capabilities. Credit Suisse seeks to follow a balanced approach to wealth management, aiming to capitalize on both the large pool of wealth within mature markets as well as the significant growth in wealth in Asia Pacific and other emerging markets, while also serving key developed markets with an emphasis on Switzerland. The bank employs more than 50,000 people. The registered shares (CSGN) of Credit Suisse Group AG are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at www.credit-suisse.com.
About CFM and OFC
Oceans Finance Company (OFC) was founded to create a link between the impact benefits derived from the management of natural capital and nature-based solutions on the one hand, and large-scale sources of blended finance on the other. OFC is a company incubated within Climate Fund Managers (CFM). CFM is the leading climate-centric investment firm. It designs and deploys cutting-edge blended finance funds at scale and at pace, working in partnership to co-develop, construct and own sustainable infrastructure solutions. Through its innovative model, CFM has created a blueprint for a new generation of climate financiers, whose collective impact can end the climate crisis. CFM currently manages two emerging market infrastructure funds with $1,785 million under management including Climate Investor Two (CI2) focused on water, sanitation and oceans that invested in OFC. Established in 2015, CFM is a joint venture between the Dutch development bank FMO and Sanlam InfraWorks – part of the Sanlam Group of South Africa.
About Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy
The Pew Charitable Trusts and Dona Bertarelli created the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, with the shared goal of establishing the first generation of ecologically significant, large, and effective marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world. Today, the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project also seeks to connect MPAs and help conserve key migratory species and entire marine ecosystems. These efforts build on more than a decade of work by Pew and the Bertarelli Foundation, led by Dona Bertarelli, to create large-scale highly or fully protected MPAs. Between them, they have helped to obtain designations or commitments to safeguard nearly 12.6 million square kilometers of ocean by working with communities, local leaders, philanthropic partners, Indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists. Since 2019, this work has included working with and alongside the government, community, scientists, and other partners in support of efforts to expand and fund marine protections in the waters surrounding the Galápagos Islands. Dona Bertarelli is a philanthropist, investor, sportswoman, and strong advocate for ocean conservation. The Pew Charitable Trusts addresses the challenges of a changing world by illuminating issues, creating common ground, and advancing ambitious projects including the need for effective marine conservation. For further information, please visit: pewtrusts.org/ocean-legacy.
This announcement does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in the United States or in any jurisdiction in which, or to any persons to whom, such offering, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any jurisdiction. The securities referred to herein have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act") and may not be offered or sold within the United States except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act. No public offering of securities is being made in the United States.