Shearman And Sterling

News November 09, 2021

Shearman & Sterling Partners with The Nature Conservancy and Belize to Conserve Ocean Through Debt Conversion

Shearman & Sterling provided pro bono representation to The Nature Conservancy (TNC), one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, in its innovative $364 million financial transaction with the Government of Belize that will enable the country to reduce its debt burden and generate an estimated $180 million for marine conservation, in support of Belize’s commitment to protect 30 percent of its ocean, strengthen governance frameworks for domestic and high sea fisheries and establish a regulatory framework for coastal blue carbon projects. Shearman & Sterling began working on this project in August 2020.

Representing the world’s largest debt restructuring for marine conservation to-date, the deal is part of TNC’s “Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation” program, an ambitious plan to drastically scale-up durable ocean conservation around the world. This conservation model is an innovative strategy to work with governments to restructure a portion of their sovereign debt, securing long-term sustainable financing for the management of valuable natural resources. This approach helps governments unlock funds at scale to deliver on their conservation goals and support the well-being of their communities and economies. In Belize, this project will provide crucial support for the country and its people by restructuring $553 million of the country’s debt, generating approximately $4 million per year in support of marine protection and tripling Belize’s budget for ocean conservation programs over the next two decades.

For more than five years, Shearman & Sterling provided pro bono legal services to The Nature Conservancy, including transactional advice and legal research on a wide variety of topics that aid the organization’s global environmental efforts. Last year, Shearman & Sterling supported the organization by providing legal assistance for The Nature Conservancy’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, the organization creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. They are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, the organization uses a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners.

The Shearman & Sterling team below was supported by associate Ashley Shan (New York-Finance) and visiting attorney Sebastian de la Puente (New York-Capital Markets).

The Team