The Environmental Finance Center at UNC aims to increase awareness of and interest in environmental finance. To achieve this goal, the EFC has created the Literacy in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program, which will educate students and community members on environmental finance and environmental services while promoting finance as a solution to achieving environmental protection, not as a barrier. This program will allow the EFC to offer itself as a resource to schools, educators, and students looking to develop environmental projects and connect environmental finance to their curriculum.
This program is being developed through a partnership with AmeriCorps and The Conservation Trust for North Carolina. This project addresses both environmental and financial literacy among youth and community members by developing school curricula, lessons, and activities, and offering workshops that educate community members about environmental services and conservation. In addition, the EFC will support environmental projects at schools and in the community that are founded in sustainable finance.
The Importance of Environmental Finance Education
Environmental finance is an important topic that is under-addressed in the field of environmental education programs (particularly in K-12 schools). The costs of environmental protection are ever growing, while individuals, communities, and governments face significant financial obstacles in achieving their environmental protection goals. But how can we prepare students to meet the challenge of rising costs and shrinking funding?
Environmental finance education offers a solution through financial strategies that answer the core question of “How do we pay for environmental projects?” Environmental finance education has the potential to help students understand how we can integrate environmental and financial goals while emphasizing cost-effective approaches, removing barriers that raise costs, and increasing public and private investment in environmental services. Our goal is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about and practice environmental finance as an integral aspect of environmental work.
Sustainable Farming Finance Curriculum
The Environmental Finance Center created an educational unit for high school students that incorporates finance into the North Carolina School of Science and Math's Agriscience curriculum with a focus on sustainable agriculture. This course helps students develop technical solutions to ecological problems that make financial sense.
In this course, students conduct a financial analysis of a fictional farm in North Carolina and develop a business case for constructing solar panels on the farm. Students learn to view a single farm as an economic system, taking into account costs, revenue, and subsidies. Students learn to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the impact of installing solar panels on the economics of that farm and be able to use a computer spreadsheet to create a simple budget and to model the impacts. The curriculum also helps students to develop a business case and presentation that could be presented to financial institutions and other investors. View the curriculum here.