Commonland Foundation

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1. John D. Liu:

Commonland "has defined four returns from restoration. These are: Inspiration, Social Capital, Natural Capital, and finally be-cause of the other three, a Return on Financial Investment. This is a sophisticated way of engaging the current economic capacity to focus on restoration. This is renal growth so it is aligned with a sustainable future. This is leading thought on how the society can peacefully reach the goal of restoring the Earth." (


"Commonland believes that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development. To demonstrate this potential, we develop landscape restoration projects that are based on business cases.

Multidisciplinary teams actively involve investors, companies and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users. Long-term commitment is important as it takes approximately 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape. Our holistic restoration approach combines and connects natural and economic landscape zones and delivers 4 returns®.

Our goal is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts, based on sustainable 4 returns business cases. Our mission is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines.

Commonland contributes to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020.

Commonland consists of a foundation and two impact companies: 4 Returns Projects and 4 Returns Partners. The foundation guards and develops the 4 returns restoration approach and works in close cooperation with scientific institutions, business schools, and experts from non-governmental organizations. We are also creating an Academy for Business and Landscapes with our mission partners to educate the next generation of business leaders.

4 Returns Projects develops local companies’ and farmers’ initiatives that grow landscape restoration projects. We work on sustainable business cases with different stakeholders in the field, taking all interests into account. To build on their present strengths, these local companies partner with existing initiatives.

4 Returns Partners provides advisory services to third parties that wish to implement long-term restoration projects. This way, we can share our lessons with others who want to accelerate the process towards a restoration industry.

Both 4 Returns Projects and 4 Returns Partners benefit from Commonland’s strong network which gives access to a variety of investors and banks.

Commonland is stimulating the development of dedicated funding structures." (


John D. Liu:

"A very important problem we must overcome is that now the economy creates a perverse incentive for the Earth to be degraded by rewarding the behavior that increases energy consumption, extraction, production, consumption, pollution, and degradation. The neo-classical economists believe that this is the way wealth is created. The truth is that this is not wealth at all. The only thing that is happening in the existing economy is that we are rapidly exhausting the resources of the Earth. If we continue to plunder the Earth, the ecosystems we depend on will eventually collapse and human civilization as we know it will fail. This has happened before to other civilizations but now we face this together on a planetary scale.

Recognizing that the ecological outcomes are not inevitable but are the result of mistakes in economic thinking suggests the solution. Essentially, the economy is inverted. Things produced by human beings are derivatives of the Earth’s ecosystems. They have been inflated and the Source of Life has been said to be worth nothing. This is simply fundamentally untrue. In order to get a different result, we must invert the economy again. Putting the source of life at a higher value that the derivatives. If we invert the existing economy to recognize the value of natural ecosystem function, the economy will be much larger than it is now. Then growth in the economy will be increased biodiversity, biomass and accumulated organic matter, which is also what nature wants. It will also be impossible to pollute or degrade as to do this would reduce wealth." (

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