News & Articles: Geographic Africa

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Forest Footprint aims to Reward Companies that Save Trees

The Carbon Disclosure Project has arguably reduced greenhouse gas emissions by creating an incentive for companies to examine and disclose their carbon footprints – an act that often leads them to realize how easy and economical reductions can be. Can the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project do the same for deforestation?


Special Report: Carbon Payments and Ghana

Cocoa is one of Ghana’s most important exports, but current farming techniques wreak havoc on both soil and surrounding forests.  This is not only unsustainable for cocoa, but also contributes to global warming and biodiversity loss. EM examines efforts to promote sustainable cocoa farming by tapping into the global carbon markets.



Special Report: Carbon Payments and Ghana

Cocoa is one of Ghana’s most important exports, but current farming techniques wreak havoc on both soil and surrounding forests.  This is not only unsustainable for cocoa, but also contributes to global warming and biodiversity loss. Can payments for ecosystem services help reverse this trend?



CDM in Africa: Facing the Hurdle of Conventional Finance

Climate change threatens the world as a whole – and Africa in particular, because increases in droughts and floods mean more on a continent where the population is already struggling to make ends meet. The continent therefore has more than most to gain from financing schemes that promote sustainable development and slow climate change – but will Africa be in a position to benefit?

Second in the Series: The Road to Accra, leading up to the October Katoomba Meeting in Accra, Ghana.


Methodologies Tame Forest Carbon Jungle

As forests convert carbon dioxide in the air to carbon stored in woods, leaves and roots, a range of organizations are, in turn, working to convert forests into carbon offsets. The ‘exchange rate’ of this conversion — or the amount of value brought by intervention — is determined by specific standards’ methodologies, which are technical, but critical, tools shaping the rules of the game.


UN Aims to Streamline Cost of Developing Forestry Offset Projects

It’s expensive to develop carbon offset projects that reduce emissions by capturing carbon in trees, and one reason is that every project has to develop its own methodologies for measuring results. The UNFCCC is asking for help in streamlining that process.


Waste-to-Energy Plant is Ivory Coast’s First CDM Project

French carbon dealer ecosur has registered a waste-to-energy carbon-offset project in Cote d'Ivoire under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. It's the first CDM project in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), and one of the few in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa.


EM Cheat Sheet: The Additionality Debate

If you want to sell carbon offsets in exchange for action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, you first have to prove that the money you’re earning is what makes the action you’re taking possible. That, in a nutshell, is "additionality" – a simple concept, but one that’s proving difficult to put into practice.


EKO-ECO: the Ecosystem Services Blog

When Ecosystem Marketplace launched in 2005, the idea of preserving nature by incorporating its value into our economic system was mostly an academic exercise. Today, it’s the cornerstone of a fast-moving and innovative branch of finance. To keep our readers up-to-speed on the latest developments, EM and EKO Asset Management Partners have launched the EKO-ECO blog.


Bonn Talks Open with REDD Agenda

Deforestation accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and the UN bodies charged with mapping out the role of forestry offsets in a post-Kyoto climate-change regime are meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week and next to continue the process of hammering out their differences. The groups will meet at least three more times before gathering in Copenhagen at the end of the year.


New V-Carbon “Stamp of Approval”

Buyers of voluntary carbon offsets have no shortage of projects to choose from, but where is the line between choice and information overload? The Environmental Defense Fund says we crossed it long ago, and aims to simplify the whole process with an online list of eleven projects whose offsets it believes will stand the test of time. The Ecosystem Marketplace gives it a click.


How Much for this Mountain Forest?

The downward flow of water from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa generates up to half of Tanzania’s power and provides nearly all of Dar es Salaam’s drinking water. As logging and agriculture move up the slopes, however, they destroy the natural ecosystems that support the ancient catchments – resulting in torrents in the wet season and trickles in the dry. Can valuing those ecosystem services lead to their salvation?


Making Wildlife Pay in Northern Tanzania

Ecotourism and sustainable trophy hunting have delivered verifiable conservation benefits in parts of Africa, but scaling up has proven difficult. Now, an innovative pilot scheme in Tanzania is trying an alternative approach: paying communities directly to protect wildlife habitats. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines this promising new model for wildlife conservation.


The Matrix: Mapping Ecosystem Service Markets

The once-radical concept of saving the environment by documenting the economic value of environmental services and then getting industry to pay is finally catching on – but how is one to keep track of all the new methodologies and concepts? The Ecosystem Marketplace presents The Matrix, a new tool for surveying the ecosystem services landscape.


Payments for Ecosystem Services: Download the Primer

Payments for Ecosystem Services encourage entities that benefit from ecosystem services to pay for maintaining those ecosystems – but how? At the Biodiversity Conference (COP 9) in Bonn, Germany, Forest Trends, the Katoomba Group and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have jointly unveiled a nuts-and-bolts primer designed to answer that question.


Ugandan Water Markets: What Businesses Know (and Don’t)

Water markets can help provide a solution to Uganda’s looming water crisis – but only if buyers understand the stakes and the dynamics. Alice Ruhweza, East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group Coordinator, says Ugandan water users understand the crisis but haven’t yet explored market-based solutions. The Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes her findings.


Water Trading: The Basics

Water trading has been hailed as the "next carbon", and schemes for valuing and trading both water usage and water "inputs" are proliferating across North and South America, Asia, and Africa. The Ecosystem Marketplace reviews the fundamentals of this promising ecosystem market.


Ecosystem Farming

Following its success with an innovative "Working for Water" program, South Africa has begun experimenting with a whole new approach to conservation and restoration; an approach that has scientists "mapping" ecosystem services and land-users "farming" them. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes a closer look at these recent developments and considers whether or not "trading" will be the next new verb for ecosystem services in the RSA.


Carbon Sinks and Emissions Trading: Room for Optimism?

On May 11, 2005, in Cologne, Germany, the Ecosystem Marketplace, in conjunction with its various partners, held the second in a series of "Katoomba Dialogues" on markets for ecosystem services. The dialogue, entitled "That Sinking Feeling; Carbon Sinks and Emissions Trading," highlighted the arguments both for and against the inclusion of forestry-related carbon sinks in emissions trading schemes. A number of interesting issues were raised during the discussion and the lively conversation ended, for the most part, on an optimistic note. Below is an edited transcript of the dialogue. The Ecosystem Marketplace will be holding more dialogues in the months and years to come; always around a contentious or controversial issue surrounding markets for ecosystem services.


The Five Keys to Constructing Successful Water-Quality Schemes

Scores of water quality trading schemes are up and running around the world, and the World Resources Institute has published a 16-page study designed to identify what works, what doesn’t, and why. Mindy Selman is the lead author, and Ecosystem Marketplace caught up with her in Washington.


Getting Paid to Keep Trees Standing

On the surface, the upcoming meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seems like an ocean of acronyms. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out why this particular book might prove more interesting than its cover would suggest.


More Corporations Seek Solutions to Global Water Crisis

More and more corporations have come to realize that their economic survival relies on nature, and a growing number are investigating market-based tools for meeting the looming global water challenge. Many of these tools are on display at World Water Week, which runs through Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden.


eBay Shoppers and Subsistence Farmers Meet on Virtual Ground

The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST) is a standout carbon project based on a mix of poverty alleviation and cutting edge technology. The Ecosystem Marketplace highlights TIST's efforts to make the world's carbon markets work for the rural poor and asks the curiously related question: Have eBay shoppers just stumbled across the sustainable development deal of a lifetime?

What is the Katoomba Group?

The Katoomba Group is an international working group composed of leading experts from forest and energy industries, research institutions, the financial world, and environmental NGOs dedicated to advancing markets for some of the ecosystem services provided by forests—such as watershed protection, biodiversity habitat, and carbon storage. The Katoomba Group seeks to address key challenges for developing markets for ecosystem services, from enabling legislation to establishing new market institutions, to developing strategies for pricing and marketing, and monitoring performance.


Water Tops Environmental Concerns Worldwide: Survey

A new survey released this week at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, shows that water pollution and a shortage of fresh water top the list as the most important water-related issues worldwide.


Maori farmers look to environmental markets in New Zealand

In the midst of New Zealand's urbanizing economy, indigenous Maori landowners are looking to environmental markets and conservation easements to help maintain their livelihood and culture in the rural hill-country of New Zealand's North Island. The Ecosystem Marketplace spotlights the challenges and opportunities associated with paying for ecosystem services on communal lands.


EM Cheat Sheet: The Biochar Debate

Land-use practices – including forestry and agriculture – are responsible for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is why accounting for land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) is a key point of contention in climate-change talks leading up to December’s Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes the latest findings.


Voluntary Carbon Market Doubles in Size

Volume on the world’s voluntary carbon markets surged from 65 million tonnes in 2007 to 123 million tonnes in 2008, according to the most recent State of the Voluntary Carbon Market. The real news, however, isn’t the numbers – but the drivers. Ecosystem Marketplace asked market participants what the report means for them – and for the environment at large.


Blog Update: New REDD Text Thursday!

With just four weeks of negotiating time scheduled before the year-end Climate Conference in Copenhagen, negotiators are scrambling to trim the 300-page negotiating text for a post-Kyoto accord down to a more manageable 80. Tony La Vina, who is overseeing the portion of negotiations dealing with reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), has taken matters into his own hands.


Environmentalists Clash Over Carbon Offsets

A spate of articles in the media recently focused on quality concerns in the voluntary carbon market. The Ecosystem Marketplace surveys the issues involved in the debate over voluntary carbon offsets


Environmentalists, Financiers Commemorate Decade of Forest Trends

Former US Vice President Al Gore and a diverse group of conservationists, indigenous people, financiers, policy-makers, and civil servants met in Washington, DC, at the end of April to commemorate the first decade of Forest Trends, which was launched in 1999 to help preserve the world’s ecosystems by fostering an understanding of nature’s true value to our global economy.


Green Goal: Soccer Enters the Carbon Markets

Organizers of the World Cup Soccer tournament are looking to a voluntary 100,000-ton carbon offset agreement to help them achieve their "Green Goal" for the world's most-watched sporting event. The Ecosystem Marketplace gets the details.


US-Based Voluntary Offset Projects: Coming of Age?

There seems to be ever growing market demand for carbon neutral services in the United States. But with voluntary carbon offsets under attack, can America's fledgling market deliver the kinds of high-quality offsets that sophisticated global players demand? The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the issues framing the debate in the US market.


Carbon Volume up, but Reform Needed to Ensure Enviro Benefits: World Bank

Anyone looking to earn carbon credits by funding clean development projects has to prove that the carbon income made the project possible. This is “addititionality” in a nutshell, and it's a cornerstone of carbon finance. The World Bank's State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2009, however, says that existing tools for proving additionality are clunky and counterproductive.


Payments for Ecosystem Services in Rural Africa

More and more agencies are expressing interest in the concept of payments for ecosystem services (PES) in rural Africa. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out whether or not they are on to something.


Conservation and Biodiversity Banking

We are pleased to announce the release of Conservation and Biodiversity Banking: a Guide to Setting up and Running Biodiversity Credit Trading Systems. Conservation and Biodiversity Banking is the first comprehensive book on species mitigation banking. It provides practical guidance, tools, case studies, analysis, and insights into endangered species banking in the United States and abroad, and serves a handbook for a broad audience including private landowners, complying industries, regulating agencies, policy makers, bank developers, and interested general public.

South African Company Lists Carbon Credit Notes

South African company, Sterling Waterford Securities today became the world's first to list a structured financial product based on Certified Emissions Reductions of GHGs on a recognized securities exchange. According to the offering brochure, the product, known as a carbon credit note, is basically a "fully underwritten obligation to deliver a carbon credit (a CDM registered Certified Emission Reduction) to the purchaser, at a date in the future (in this case three years)."


EM Podcast: Making Biodiversity Offsets Work

The Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) has published an exhaustive library of resources four years in the making and designed to support progress in the fight to save biodiversity by embedding its value in our economic system. EM Audio speaks with BBOP Director Kerry ten Kate.


Watershed markets get a dose of myth-busting science

From Mexico to Malaysia, payments for watershed service schemes are at a critical juncture right now as watershed managers work to transform them from publicly funded pilot programs into privately funded markets. Will watershed markets be able to make this all-important leap? The Ecosystem Marketplace looks at this question and highlights the importance of getting the science right when it comes to markets for watershed services.


Developed and Developing Countries Split on Accounting for “Ecosystem Carbon”

Bad farming and forestry accounts for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and UNEP says the bulk of this could be eliminated by 2030 if we just treat our peatlands, forests, and farms better. But the land-use debate is only now gaining traction in climate-change talks, where negotiators from the developed and developing world have split on how to account for it.


Capturing the Value of Natural Beauty

Aesthetic beauty has long been touted as an ecosystem service. But what is it and how do you capture its value? Ryan Booth of Forest Trends tells the Ecosystem Marketplace why he thinks one Maasai community in Kenya might have some answers to share.


Bonn ‘Informals’ Dedicate New REDD+ Subgroup

Deforestation accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and sloppy agriculture accounts for another 18%. Improving land-use practices could thus be one of the quickest and easiest ways to slow global warming – if the world can agree on ways of measuring and paying for these improvements. That’s a central theme of informal talks this week in Bonn, Germany.


South Africa Makes Gas Liquid

Beating others to the punch, a South African financial services company introduced the world's first structured instrument for carbon trading. The Ecosystem Marketplace investigates Sterling Waterford Securities' sophisticated new offering and finds out why some of the carbon market's most influential players got involved in the deal.


EM Scientific Insights – Issue 2

The Ecosystem Marketplace is happy to announce the second in an ongoing series of reports about the science of ecosystem services. Interested in hearing what the scientists have to say? Watch this space for our regular update on what you should know about the latest reported findings in journals around the world.


Bonn Talks Close With Clarity on Land Use

The Bonn climate talks haven’t achieved the kind of progress that generates headlines, but they have come up with an extremely clear summary of all proposals related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as well as movement towards a consensus on how to account for other land-use issues. Unfortunately, that consensus will probably not be achieved in time for the next commitment period.