When people take the time to read my b-card they’ll sometimes ask “What’s a whitepaper?” I quote the verbiage on my site, which turns on the lights for about 2% of people.
With Google-driven marketing everyone should know what a white paper is and how they can use one.
I had an “aha moment” this morning. I decided to build a repository of white papers I like in different categories for general perusal. First up, The Prince’s Rainforests Project Report, which I thank my Twitter follower, Dan Tefft for bringing to my attention.
This post suggests changes to the paper that would make it more engaging, discusses its core idea of Rainforest Bonds, and then offers writing prompts for professionals in environmental and financial services.
Reading like an editor
Professionally, I prefer minimizing passive voice and maximizing design to help the reader navigate a dense document such as this (52 pages). Certain professions prefer passive voice (government and academia top the list) so I suppose a report on behalf of a Cambridge-educated Royal conforms to expectations.
The summary as written: “Reducing tropical deforestation will be vital if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change and preserve important ecosystem functions. An Emergency Package is needed to provide substantial funding to Rainforest Nations to help them address the drivers of deforestation and embark on alternative economic development paths. Rainforests cool the planet, regulate the water cycle and provide a home to countless species; it is right and essential that the world pays for these services.”
I’d rewrite: Rainforests cool the planet, regulate the water cycle and provide a home to countless species. To preserve the world’s ecosystem functions and avoid catastrophic climate change, we must reduce tropical deforestation. The world should provide funding to Rainforest nations to help them address the drivers of deforestation and embark on alternative economic development paths. Since the rainforests provide “services” essential to planetary life, justice dictates that those services be compensated.
Writing Prompts for Environmental, Financial Services
The Prince’s Report outlines a plan for “Rainforest Bonds,” a fixed-income security, issued in private capital markets. Such bonds typically offer investors a fixed rate of return, normally an annual coupon, together with the repayment of the principal on maturity. Over US$400 billion of Sovereign, Supranational and Agency Bonds were issued in 2008. The Project has held discussions with pension funds and the insurance sector (through The Prince of Wales’ P8 and ClimateWise initiatives) which indicate that there would be significant demand for AAA-rated bonds with long-term maturities.
“Rainforest Bonds could be issued by the World Bank, or by an independent entity with support from the World Bank. The bonds would be guaranteed by developed country governments, which would be responsible for payment of the coupon and repayment of the principal.
“However, it may be possible to mitigate the financial calls on these governments, for example by channelling some of the money into green investments that would generate financial returns – this would have the added benefit of supporting broader clean development goals. Private sector bonds provide a way to raise large amounts of finance for tropical forests in the nearterm, while allowing underwriting governments the time to generate revenues for repayment from clean development investments, domestic carbon permit auctions or other schemes. The Prince’s Rainforests Project is working with the World Bank to develop this bond concept further.”
- Is the World Bank the right entity? Or the only entity?
- In light of current global financial priorities, how would these bonds perform financially?
- Environmentally, are these bonds a powerful incentive to change economic development and human behavior?
- Any better options on the table?