The Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund quietly raised $27m late last year to buy and lease water rights while protecting culturally significant wetlands that support threatened species in the Basin.
Now with the backing of the Australian arm of the $US6 billion American conservation group The Nature Conservancy, whose local advisory board includes former Reserve Bank director Graham Kraehe and Folkestone CEO Greg Paramor, the fund wants to raise a further $75m from high net worths, institutions and superannuation funds.
“This is the first time in the world where a water fund has been established to achieve the multiple objectives of providing secure water for agriculture, returns to investors and wetland restoration at scale. We are fortunate we have the largest and best regulated water market in the world in Australia that allows us to do this, ” said The Nature Conservancy Australian Country Director Rich Gilmore.
Mr Gilmore said the new Water Fund was also the first so-called social impact investment for conservation in Australia, where investors have sought both economic and social returns.
Investors have long looked at the potential of water as an alternative investment to traditional commodities such as wheat or oil and Australia has developed one of the most sophisticated markets for trading water rights in the world.