Abstract

As the latest iteration of leveraging private resources to protect and sustain our natural resources, the environmental impact bond (EIB) reflects the growing trend in sustainable development that makes financing available to projects based on the verifiable results of an intervention. These new instruments in global environmental governance are not actually bonds but pay-for-success contracts, in which the risk of success is shouldered by the investor, and financial savings, pegged to the intervention outcome, are prioritized. This examination of EIBs through the lens of accountability aims to elicit debate on some areas of concern and consideration for the design and implementation of outcome-based financing for global environmental governance, including the prioritizing of private over public accountabilities and potential perverse incentives these instruments create. As both public and private accountability goals are evident in EIB, this governance tool runs the risk of exacerbating the paradox of increased accountability but decreased environmental gains.

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