Mercado Libre, one of the largest e-commerce and financial services company from Latin America by market cap, has selected the startup and Y Combinator alumni Pachama as its strategic partner in developing projects to restore ecosystems in Latin America.
The selection of Pachama is part of a program initiated by Mercado Libre, Latin America’s answer to Amazon, which is called Regenera America. The $8 million that Mercado Libre is investing will be in two reforestation projects: The “Mantiqueira Conservation Project,” organized under the auspices of The Nature Conservancy and the “Corridors of Live Project,” designed and implemented by the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas.
Both projects will focus on the reforestation of over three thousand hectares, through natural regeneration and planting over 1 million trees, restoring biodiversity corridors and protecting hydrological basins in the Atlantic Forest region of Brazil, the two companies said in a statement.
Pachama will provide satellite and machine learning technologies to verify and monitor the carbon sequestration produced by the sweeping reforestation efforts in a deal that leapfrogs Mercado Libre ahead of Microsoft as the young startup’s largest customer.
Software tools provided by Pachama will also increase the efficiency and transparency of the actual reforestation efforts on the ground, the companies said in a joint statement.
The deal between the two companies and Mercado Libre’s big buy was announced earlier today at a press conference in Argentina and the agreement marks the first time Mercado Libre has tapped money from a recently issued $400 million Sustainability Bond that was designed to finance projects of what the e-commerce giant called “triple impact” in the Latin American region. The bond was issued by JP Morgan and BNP Paribas.
“We’re taking our first steps. We have always tried to do things the hard way and go to the core of problems. We have had a very interesting debate internally about when is the right time to start buying carbon offsets and carbon credits but we also realize that the … getting up and running of projects that generate carbon credits in Latin America was potentially even more of a challenging situation and more of a long-term solution,” said Mercado Libre chief financial officer Pedro Arnt.
“This is a building block of a longer-term strategy thinking through not just what we can do for the next two or three years,” Arnt said.
The Regenera America project has four pieces, Arnt said: measuring and reporting emissions internally for the company; buying clean energy for the company’s operations; providing electric vehicles for its own fleet and assisting its last mile and logistics partners in electrifying their own transportation; and the development of reforestation efforts across Latin America.
“This is setting up an example for more traditional industries across Latin America,” said Diego Saez-Gil, the co-founder and chief executive of Pachama. Mercado Libre is the largest company by market cap in Latin America and serves as a standard bearer for the forward-thinking businesses in the region, he said. “Latin America is one of the biggest holders of biodiversity and carbon stocks in the world and should be playing a more active role in climate mitigation.”
It’s a big step for Pachama as well. The deal marks the first time the young company has involved itself in project origination and provides a new revenue stream to complement its existing lines of business.
“We are incredibly excited to start helping new reforestation projects get off the ground that have the capabilities to plant millions of trees and remove millions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. If we are to solve climate change we need more projects like these to start as soon as possible,” said Saez-Gil in a statement. “We are confident that technologies such as AI and satellite imagery are key to scaling these efforts with high integrity, efficiency and transparency. Partnering with world-class organizations such as Mercado Libre, The Nature Conservancy and IPE for our first projects represents an incredible opportunity for us.”
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