According to a recent UN report, an estimated one million species are at risk of extinction, many within decades and a number in Asia.
The report also warns that climate-induced mass migrations, conflicts over resources, and more pandemics will be unavoidable.
While completing an advanced postgraduate research degree in wildlife management, Shana Gavron recognized that there were limited financing options for biodiversity and set out to find a viable solution.
Drawing on her background in investment banking, Gavron in 2019 established Endangered Wildlife OÜ, a “technology for good” (tech4good) fintech firm specializing in the valuation of biodiversity.
At the recent Singapore Fintech Festival, Gavron talked to The Asset about her company’s activities, including Biodiversity Solutions International (BSI), which is the “software as a service” (SaaS) brand of Endangered Wildlife OÜ.
The BSI consists of the Biodiversity Valuator, which integrates multidisciplinary valuation techniques to calculate a financial value for biodiversity, and the Environmental Footprint Calculator (EFC), which is an environmental and biodiversity footprint rating solution for both private and corporate use. Here are excerpts from that exclusive interview:
Has Endangered Wildlife OÜ worked with any global institutional asset managers yet?
We are still relatively new in the market and are in the process of raising awareness about the work we are doing. We are the first to be offering such a service, and, with financial institutions only starting to consider biodiversity reporting, we are at the stage of educating institutions about the fact that it is possible to value biodiversity. That said, we have had discussions with several institutions who have expressed interest in how to apply our services to their portfolios.
Have you been commissioned on any projects/services in Asia?
Endangered Wildlife OÜ has been working with an NGO operating out of Cambodia to value three of the species that they work with. We are also in discussions with several Asian organizations regarding potential short- and long-term projects.
Family offices around the world are making more sustainability investments. Are you working with them?
Similar to the asset managers, we have been educating family offices about the services we provide. We do work with one family office operating out of the Baltic states that is motivated to leave a positive, lasting impression for future generations. Other family offices that we have spoken to have enquired specifically about biodiversity opportunities, as it is expected to be the next layer following climate change.
Is the valuation of biodiversity a standalone service or a bolt-on/add-on to existing solutions?
We are effectively building a standalone solution that we plan to offer as a software solution that, using machine learning, would give a user the ability to assess and value their biodiversity impact (positive or negative). We are also planning to provide the service so that it can be integrated with other existing products. For example, we have been approached by ESG data providers who would like to incorporate our data and valuations into their platforms.
What is the most important component you need to provide the service?
The most important component is data, as it is a data-driven valuation. This can be a challenge to access, but we believe new technologies are being continually developed that will improve data accessibility. Additionally, we are integrating machine learning into the software to facilitate this process and we are building the option to allow users to upload results from biodiversity surveys into the software to be processed.
How are you generating revenue? And how can you scale the business?
We currently offer the valuation service on a bespoke, consulting basis. However, the plan is to launch the Biodiversity Valuator software within the next 12 months, with SaaS and licensed product options. The development of the software will allow for the scaling up of the business and our aim, within five years, is to have the capacity to complete 2,000 species’ valuations a month.
Where do you see Endangered Wildlife OÜ in five years’ time?
Within five years my plan is that Endangered Wildlife OÜ will have the machine-learning software up and running and will have established itself as a leading innovator in terms of biodiversity valuations and solutions.
The company’s mission is to help create as great a positive impact for biodiversity as possible. As everyone interacts with and is dependent on biodiversity, we believe that there is a world of stakeholders who would be able to benefit from our solution. Within five years I would want the Biodiversity Valuator to be already leaving this positive footprint.