Things White People Like – As Told By A Hadza Tribesman

17 June 2015 | “Those are things of your white people,” says Richard Baalow when I ask him how he plans to sell his carbon offsets to corporate leaders.

Baalow is a member of a hunter-gatherer group called the Hadza, known as the “last of the first” – the approximately 1600 remaining members of the first known people to live in what is now Tanzania. He’s traveled from his homeland, the Yaeda Valley, to Arusha to speak to me via Skype.

“Us Africans know that our side of the world is clean,” he says. “Meanwhile, you white people know that your side of the world is spoiled, because you’re destroying the environment. That’s why you bring the carbon market to us. That’s why we say, ‘Welcome, Carbon Tanzania, and bring money!’ That’s the long and short of it.”

But the long story is worth telling, too.

Yaeda Valley Under Pressure

Even before Baalow met Marc Baker and Jo Anderson of the Arusha-based non-profit organization Carbon Tanzania, he had heard about REDD through the Dutch’s government’s presence in Tanzania. The acronym stands for “reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation” of forests, and it’s applied to a broad range of activities that cut greenhouse gas emissions by saving endangered rainforest. Communities like his can earn money for the carbon they keep locked in trees, and Baalow was eager to learn how the Hadza could participate.

The Hadza, whose culture can be traced back 40,000 years, have lost about 90% of their traditional homelands. As a non-aggressive hunter-gatherer group, “their response has always been to move. Just get out of the way,” explained Baker. The Hadza moved out of the way 3,000 years ago during the Bantu expansion throughout West Africa. They moved out of the way again about 300 years ago, for the Maasai.

Yaeda valley
The Yaeda Valley. | Photo courtesy of Carbon Tanzania.

Today, pressure is coming from Sakuma farmers and Datooga pastoralists, or herders. Habitat for the mammals that the Hadza hunt with bows and arrows – everything from giraffe to zebra to baboons to bats – is dwindling. The Hadza needed a plan, and getting paid to conserve the natural resource base they live off of sounded like a good one.

“There is a new food for the world, and it’s called REDD,” Baalow said.

Land Rights for a 40,000-Year-Old Culture

Before the Hadza could earn money for the carbon stored in the Yaeda Valley, they had to prove that they owned the land they had been living off of for millennia – and establishing that ownership could provide benefits well beyond the carbon income.

“Before this project, nobody had any rights,” Baalow said.

Richard Baalow
Richard Baalow works on a map of the Hadza territory. | Photo courtesy of Carbon Tanzania.

Land reforms of the 1990s led the Hadza to formalize two “villages” so that they could secure communal land rights under the Ministry of Lands. But by 2009, so many outsiders had moved into the villages that the majority of the representatives on the Village Council were non-Hadza. Baalow began working alongside legal advisor Edward Lakita at the Ujaama Community Resource Team on a different solution.

They decided to try a legal instrument called the Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCRO) that had previously been used in Tanzania to formalize land rights for individuals. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), another partner in the project, paid for lawyers and meetings. It took years, but the Hadza eventually convinced the Tanzanian government to issue a CCRO to an entire community. In 2011, the Ministry of Lands issued the first-ever group CCRO, and the Hadza’s ownership of 20,000 hectares was finally on the books.

“Without that security of land tenure and resource tenure, you couldn’t begin to think about a 20-year carbon project, because at the current rate we’d have pastoralists moving all through this system,” said Matt Brown, TNC’s Africa Director. “The Hadza basically would have lost a lot more of their homeland, so securing the land legally through these CCROs is just absolutely critical.”

Baalow has traveled to several international indigenous peoples forums to speak about the process, and the Ujaama Community Resource Team has since worked with about 20 communities in Northern Tanzania to secure community land rights in the same way. Several of those CCROs went to the Sakuma and the Datooga – the neighboring groups who themselves were being pushed into Hadza territory partly because of insecure land rights.

“There’s this chain reaction,” said Brown.

REDD as Land-Use Planning

The CCRO serves as the first-ever land-use plan for the Hadza.

“As I see it, the CCRO has designated rights for different community user groups – the hunters, the farmers, and the pastoralists,” Baalow explained.

Group shot
“REDD is the distinction between plan and no plan,” says Marc Baker. | Photo courtesy of Carbon Tanzania.

The various land-use rights are based on practical considerations. Flat areas with higher organic soil content and less exposure to easterly winds are designated for agriculture. Wooded areas around important water sources are designated as protected. And so on. These “zones” do not impose on the Hadza’s way of life – they are still no fences, no permanent settlements – but they do guide decision-making around land-use within the Yaeda Valley, and they give the village governments parameters when granting farming areas to outsiders.

“REDD is the distinction between plan and no plan,” Baker said. “It’s about getting land use planning in place so when the wave of agriculture or charcoal hits, people have got rights, they’ve got value, and they’ve got an understanding of how the law works so you can actually plan where the deforestation is going to happen.”

The REDD-based land-use plan now covers more than 27,000 hectares. It would take a few days to walk across the project area.

Carbon Counting 

Now that the Hadza had secured their land rights, the next step was quantifying the carbon in the Yaeda Valley landscape. This was where TNC offered the most technical assistance – and where things get a little geeky.

Looking at map
Carbon Tanzania worked with the Hadza to measure the carbon content of their woodlands. | Photo courtesy of Carbon Tanzania.

The TNC team started with Landsat aerial imagery of the valley available through the U.S. Geological Survey, which captures the landscape at 30-meter resolution. For some areas, they used Google Earth to fill in gaps. TNC then sent out a team to take photographs at 100 different sites on the ground and manually classify them as different types of land uses: woodlands, agriculture, etcetera. They used the photographs to “train” a computer program to classify the entire map.

“We did that for 2013 and then we used the same points and looked at the 2000 imagery and basically were able to figure out what areas had gone from natural grassland or natural forest into some degraded state,” said Brown.

The verdict? The rate of forest loss in the Hadza territory was about on par with forest degradation in Tanzania as a whole – about 1% per year. This is the baseline for the “business-as-usual” scenario.

The Carbon Tanzania team followed up this work with a carbon stock assessment that involved going out into the field and measuring trees to figure out the amount of carbon stored in the African savannah woodland forest. It hadn’t been done before, so the team developed a new statistical program to determine the carbon stored in different tree species. The Hadza helped with the physical tree measurements and with identifying plants.

At the end of the study, they estimated that, at the current degradation rate, the landscape would release more than 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere annually. The majority of the aboveground carbon in the Yaeda Valley is stored in these acacia trees, according to Baker, so the fact that land-use planning protects and maps these trees can result in “a massive carbon saving.” Through REDD, the Hadza could earn sellable “offsets” for preventing that loss.

Offsets for Sale

The Yaeda Valley Carbon Tanzania project is developed under the Plan Vivo carbon standard, which focuses on community-led projects benefitting smallholders. To date, the project has earned 48,033 Plan Vivo certificates, each representing one tonne of CO2.

Buyers include National Geographic Travel and Abercrombie & Kent, as well as local tourism companies such as Dorobo, Map’s Edge, and Nature Discovery that do safaris or adventure treks in the region. Carbon Tanzania also works with international carbon offset retailers, including U.S.-based Native Energy and Sustainable Travel International and Sweden-based ZeroMission. The not-for-profit is in the process of hiring a business development manager who will focus full-time on sales now that the project is up and running.

“For the vast majority of projects, like ours, the sales element is critical,” Baker said. “If we can’t make payments, then of course the model starts to disintegrate.”

Under the Plan Vivo standard, at least 60% of revenues from the carbon sales go directly to the community. The remaining 40% is split between project monitoring and overhead. REDD payments reach the Hadza through M-PESA, a mobile phone money transfer system used widely in Tanzania. The most recent revenue of 21,550,000 Tanzania shillings (about $10,200 USD) from carbon offset sales between May and October of 2014 was split evenly between the two villages in the project area – Domanga and Mongo wa Mono. Going forward, Carbon Tanzania expects to generate $60,000 for the communities annually.

The Hadza use the money to pay the wages of 20 scouts that patrol the protected area, gathering data and documenting any illegal poaching or land incursions, as well as two village coordinators. Between 2013 and 2014, these scouts dealt with nine instances of cattle incursion and seven instances of poaching – though poaching instances involving guns have been reduced to zero. Aside from the scout salaries, the communities meet every six months to decide how to collectively spend the remainder from the carbon payments – usually on maize meal and school fees. They’ve also set up a medical fund that acts as community insurance, covering medical expenses for first-time mothers.

“The biggest benefit to come from Carbon Tanzania is that the communities have seen the value of environmental conservation and are able to earn money by conserving nature,” said Baalow.

The Future

Now that the project is in its fourth year, the Hadza have gained confidence that REDD payments actually will flow – and that monetizing carbon has led to many other outcomes that have non-monetary values such as land security, biodiversity protection, and a reduction of conflict between farmers and pastoralists, according to Baker.

“The money has value to the Hadza in terms of reducing stress on the culture,” he said, comparing it to a pension fund in Western terms. “They feel secure.”

Carbon Tanzania is in the process of expanding the Yaeda Valley project to cover more land area and is also working on a new REDD project in the Makame Wildlife Management Area, with the Maasai.

“We are not sitting around waiting for some global agreement to emerge,” he said, referring to the international climate talks coming up in Paris this December. “It’s far too important to wait for governments to do anything.”

 

Tabitha Muriuki contributed to this story.

High-Risk African Nations Ratcheting Up Support For Results-Based Finance

21 April 2015 | Africa generates very little in the way of greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s especially vulnerable to droughts and flooding from climate change, which threaten to disrupt food and water supplies. Poor infrastructure, high poverty rates and little access to capital only enhance the continent’s vulnerability, the United Nations says.

To avert disaster, African countries are already gearing up for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which takes place in Paris at the end of the year. At last week’s Africa Carbon Forum (ACF), delegates called for stronger emphasis on results-based climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and they reiterated their support for market-based mechanisms like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows emissions-reducing projects to earn certified emissions reduction (CERs) that can be traded to meet overall national reduction goals.

“Participants particularly highlighted the usefulness of the CDM’s established rules in measuring, reporting and verifying results and its possible role to help define and clarify the content of INDCs,” the UNFCCC said in a press release. “The workshop also concluded that African countries could look at how best to link and leverage finance through the Green Climate Fund at the same time as increasing use of the CDM.”

“I agree with Ministers that the last 10 years in the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism is a very valuable asset and that market mechanisms can play a significant role in raising the level of ambition, and supporting climate action,” said Hakima El Haite, the Delegate from Morocco’s Ministry of Environment.

Clean Energy, Green Agriculture

Roughly 730 million people across Africa rely on traditional forms of cooking using wood, which harms health and destroys forests, according to the International Energy Agency Africa Energy Outlook 2014. This report also found 625 million Africans lack secure access to electricity. ACF participants urged addressing this issue with the CDM, along with other tools that leverage private sector money.

“There is a great opportunity for the private sector to invest in a low carbon future for Africa, using market forces to bring innovative technologies so that the continent can develop in a sustainable way,” said Dirk Forrister, the President and CEO of International Emissions Trading Association, a business organization focused on greenhouse gas emissions trading. “The Paris agreement can help facilitate this by setting the right parameters for business to invest, including rules and guidelines for carbon markets.”

Preserve and Improve the CDM

Delegates repeatedly called for the CDM to not only be preserved, but improved to include climate-smart agriculture and urban development and build a more sustainable economy overall, according to the UNFCCC’s summary of the event. Forum participants noted the importance of addressing these key issues in African countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the post 2020 climate action plan each nation intends to take. The plans are submitted to the UNFCCC ahead of COP 21.

“In these last eight months before Paris, the focus must shift from restating negotiating positions to finding common ground solutions,” said UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Richard Kinley. And according to another participate at the ACF, John Christensen of UNEP (United Nation Environment Programme). “African countries are ready to contribute and agree to a fair and balanced international agreement.”

 

As DRC Emerges from Civil War, Government Seeks Funds To Protect Forests From Surging Development

6 October 2014 | The forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) do not get nearly as much attention as those in Brazil and Indonesia, even though the DRC’s forests rank right in the middle of those countries on the list of the top three forested areas in the world. The DRC holds 155 million hectares of forests, more than 50% of all of Africa’s forests, and the country’s iconic Congo Basin is second only to Brazil’s Amazon forest in size roughly 540 million hectares and is larger than the 90 million hectares of forests in Indonesia. Brazil and Indonesia are both beneficiaries of pledges potentially valued at up to $1 billion from Norway to support their efforts to conserve their forests. But the DRC has yet to receive that level of commitment from either donors or the private sector, in large part because the civil war that led to the deaths of six million people in the country also perversely protected the DRC’s forests from widespread destruction. In late 2013, however, the main armed rebel group agreed to a peace treaty, which paves the way for increasing political stability in the country. With that political breakthrough comes much-needed development, and with development come increased risks to the DRC’s forests, which, if destroyed, could potentially release 140 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. Now, donors and investors have a unique opportunity to prevent widespread deforestation before it occurs. To counteract potential forest destruction, the DRC government is launching a new pilot program to safeguard nearly nine million hectares 10% of the DRC’s forests in an area the size of England in the districts of Mai Ndombe and Plateau using the UN REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) mechanism. The area to be protected from deforestation is home to more than 1.8 million people and endangered species some living in Salonga National Park such the bonobo, the great ape that is the closest relative to humans and lives only in the DRC. It is also the site of the largest wetlands on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, which originates from the global convention governing the sustainable use of wetlands. The area is the closest forest area to Kinshasa, the capital city, meaning it is also under threat from the growing charcoal, timber and food needs of nearly 10 million people, in part because of transportation infrastructure improvements making the forests more accessible. “Our country believes with good regulation we can participate fully in the solution to climate change, Minister N’sa Mputu Elima, Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said during a Climate Week NYC 2014 event. Continue reading (for free) on the Forest Carbon Portal. Follow EcoMarketplace on Twitter

Gloria Gonzalez is a Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at ggonzalez@ecosystemmarketplace.com.
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This Week In V-Carbon…

This article was originally posted in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

14 August 2014 | The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), known as one of the leading carbon standards in the voluntary markets, is ready to move into California’s regulated market in a major way. VCS announced last week that it has been authorized by the state’s Air Resources Board (ARB) to pre-screen coal mine methane and other types of offset projects for California’s carbon trading program.

The VCS just became the third voluntary registry, following the American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), to be designated as an offset project registry, which allows the VCS to help administer parts of the ARB’s compliance offset program.

“The California system is on the cutting edge of figuring out how to tackle climate change,” said David Antonioli, Chief Executive Officer of the VCS. “We feel it’s time to be part of the game and part of the solution.”

In addition to evaluating currently eligible projects, the VCS has set a specific goal of helping California welcome REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects into the program. The VCS jurisdictional and nested REDD+ (JNR) requirements were the first framework for accounting and crediting REDD+ programs implemented at either the national or subnational level. The Brazilian state of Acre with which California and the Mexican state of Chiapas have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was the first jurisdiction to pilot the JNR framework and is “really quite close” to becoming the first jurisdiction-wide program to deliver compliance-grade REDD+ offsets, Antonioli said.

The VCS has a vision of its toe-hold in California evolving into other compliance markets throughout North America and potentially worldwide.

Meanwhile, officials in California and Mexico in late July signed a MOU and formally agreed to work together on a range of actions to address climate change, including pricing carbon pollution. The most obvious area of cooperation would be for California to recognize REDD offsets generated by projects located in Mexico in its program, he said.

“I think there are great opportunities for making things happen across the border,” Antonioli said.

These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!

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Every year, Ecosystem Marketplace relies wholly on offset market participants to financially support the State of research. In return, sponsors ($7.5k+) and supporters ($3k) benefit from the report’s growing exposure, early insight into our findings, and opportunities to engage directly with Ecosystem Marketplace in report-related outreach and events. Interested organizations should contact Molly Peters-Stanley.

The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Driving the carbon away
Volkswagen (VW) and Audi have partnered with 3Degrees to purchase offsets covering the emissions associated with the car and battery manufacturing, distribution, and warranty miles for the VW eGolf and Audi A3 e-tron automobiles. VW selected offsets from the Garcia River and Big River and Salmon Creek Forests afforestation/reforestation projects in California and the methane capture project at the McKinney Landfill in Texas among others. Audi will also source offsets from the McKinney Landfill and the Garcia River projects, plus the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya. The initiative is scheduled to last for the next three model years.Read more here

 

Brown gets greener
UPS has set a new goal of a 20% reduction in carbon intensity from transportation by 2020 after meeting its previous goal of reducing its air and ground fleet’s emissions intensity 10% by 2016.The shipping firm’s carbon reduction strategies include alternative fuel vehicles, route optimization, and carbon neutral shipping options for customers. The UPS carbon neutral shipping program purchased 48,467 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) offsets in 2013, according to its most recent Sustainability Report, up from 43,575 tCO2e in 2012. The offsets were purchased from the Garcia River and Kasigau Corridor forestry projects, as well as methane destruction projects in Thailand and China. Read more here

 

Offsetting in the Great White North
Toronto-based CO2EXCHANGE has officially launched a website inviting individuals and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. The offsets featured on the new online platform are currently sourced from several projects located in Canada including the Darkwoods forestry project the subject of a damning and controversial audit by British Columbia officials in 2013. Other Canadian projects supplying offsets on the platform include a composting facility verified by the VCS and a landfill methane avoidance and a biomass project verified by International Organization for Standardization. The platform also features offset projects outside of North America, including an Australia-based solar project, and an India-based wind energy project. Read more here

COMPLIANCE CARBON

Staying home with the Kiwis

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report on its national emissions trading system (ETS) shows that compliance entities utilized imported offsets, such as those from the European Union Emissions Trading System, to fulfill nearly all of their obligations under the domestic carbon cap. A change in the program will prevent the use of international offsets after this year, forcing companies to rely on domestic New Zealand Units. But the entire ETS could be in jeopardy as some New Zealand legislators want to replace it with a carbon tax while others want it completely scrapped. Read more here

 

The list just keeps growing
The Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved 33 new projects for use in the countrys seven pilot ETS programs. The new projects could produce up to six million offsets annually, equivalent to about half of the number of offsets traded in the pilots thus far. About 2,000 companies that face restrictions on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under pilot ETSs can use the offsets, known as Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCER), to cover 5-10% of their annual emissions. The new projects bring the total approved by the NDRC to 49, mostly wind and hydro power stations. According to IDEAcarbon, the first issuances of CCERs are expected this fall. Read more here

 

Speaking the same language
On July 28, California and Mexico signed a MOU to enhance cooperation on climate change. The agreement calls for the participants to formally share their design expertise on climate change policies, including ETS programs, and to discuss the potential for future alignment of policies and programs. The voluntary carbon markets have already established a presence in Mexico through the CAR’s Mexico Forestry Protocol and this agreement could represent another step towards bringing REDD+ into the California offset mix. Separately, Mexico signed a deal allowing Japanese companies to invest in Mexican GHG reductions through Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism. Read more on California/Mexico
Read more on Mexico/Japan

 

For the birds
The Audubon Society has sold half of the 450,000 offsets from its Beidler Forest project in South Carolina to companies in California’s cap-and-trade program. The 5,200-acre forest conservation project is registered through Blue Source and the offsets are selling at a minimum of $8/tCO2e. The Audubon Society receives 80% of the proceeds and directs the funds towards an endowment that will support the forest in perpetuity. Jeff Cole, the vice president of portfolio development for Blue Source, expects additional offsets to be generated in the future as the forest grows.
 Read more here

 

The beavers need something to chew on
Cap-and-trade programs such as the one in California could help conserve and grow forests in Oregon, which cover nearly half of the US state 62 million acres, according to Christine Yankel, a senior project analyst at The Climate Trust. Forestry offsets overtook ozone-depleting substances projects as the largest source of offsets issued by California regulators earlier this summer. The improved forest management projects allowed in California program provide a path to sustainable forest management that facilitates both timber harvest and conservation, she said. But the challenge for Oregon is that 60% of the forest land in the Beaver State is owned by the US federal government and therefore ineligible to contribute offsets to the California program, Yankel acknowledged. Read more here

 

Joining the carbon pricing party?
A taskforce in the US state of Washington has begun evaluating the possible implementation of a price on carbon in the state. Governor Jay Inslee has instructed the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce to look at an ETS or a carbon tax that could help meet the Evergreen State’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, 25% below 1990 levels by 2035 and to 50% below by 2050. Inslee plans to use the taskforce recommendations due in November to draft and propose bills for legislative consideration in 2015.Read more here

 


Carbon Finance

Breakthrough Or Backslide?
Everyone loves “results-based finance at least in the abstract because they like to get what they paid for. Quantifying those results and packaging them for buyers, however, has proven elusive once you get beyond payments for ecosystem services. Ecosystem Marketplace provides a look back at how results-based finance has developed along with the benefits and challenges it presents. Read the story at Ecosystem Marketplace

 


Science & Technology

Offsets by the mile
A new study from Montana State University conducted for the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that active management of roadsides within public lands and US highways could significantly boost their carbon sequestration capacity and generate carbon offsets. The FHWA is currently funding research on the potential along New Mexico’s 7,500 miles of state roads. Results range from a 35% to 350% increase in carbon sequestration in the test areas. New Mexico estimates that revenue could reach $1 million annually, based on current offset prices. Read more here

 

Calculating the carbon
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a report that provides uniform scientific methods for quantifying changes in GHG emissions and carbon storage from land uses including cropland, grassland, livestock and agroforestry. The new methods and the accompanying website, COMET-Farm, will help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners calculate potential GHG reductions from using practices that qualify for carbon offsets. Read more here

Featured Jobs

Director of North American Compliance Markets – Verified Carbon Standard
Based in San Francisco, California, the Director will lead the organization’s efforts to work with existing and emerging compliance frameworks throughout North America. Eligible candidates will have at least 10 years of relevant work experience and expertise in carbon markets. Read more here

 

Carbon Sales Manager Carbonbay
Based in Hamburg, Germany, the Carbon Sales Manager will manage a large carbon project portfolio focusing on South and Central America. Successful candidates will have a masters or a bachelor’s degree in business administration or similar field. Fluency in English and Spanish is required. Read more here

 

Congress Assistant, Resilient Cities – ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
Based in Bonn, Germany, the Congress Assistant will support the Resilient Cities team with the Resilient Cities congress series, as well as related regional events. Ideal candidates will have interest and experience in event organizing, as well as an interest in the areas of cities and local government as an asset. Read more here

 

Communications Manager – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, Inc.)
Based in New York City, New York, the Communications Manager will be responsible for development and implementation of communications related to all aspects of RGGI, Inc., including auctions, allowances tracking and engagement with stakeholders. Eligible candidates should have at least two years of work experience in communications, with demonstrated experience related to sustainability, environmental policy or energy. Read more here

 

Program Manager, Environment and Health – Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Based in Washington, DC, the Program Manager will provide programmatic and administrative support to the research program at the intersection of its environment, climate, and health portfolios. Successful candidates will have a master’s degree or higher in a relevant area and at least five to seven years of relevant research or work experience. Read more here

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACEEcosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.
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This Week In Water: New Loan Fund For Conservation

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

1 August 2014 | Greetings! We’ve got just over a month to go before our latest market report, the State of Watershed Investment 2014, is launched. 2012 and 2013 have been the biggest years ever for funding for natural infrastructure projects – this year, we’ve inventoried more than 400 programs around the world and tracked movements in financing structures, project design, and outcomes. We’ll be holding a report launch event at World Water Week in Stockholm on September 1st. Stay tuned for an announcement including event details.

In California, state officials are debating whether to allow projects curbing tropical deforestation into the state’s carbon cap-and-trade system. What caught our eye this week was the argument that Brazilian deforestation may be driving California’s current drought: researchers found that total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall in the Pacific Northwest by 20% and cause a 50% reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for California.


We usually think of water as a local issue, but it connects us all in surprising ways. That includes bringing together people and organizations to solve water problems collectively: in this month’s Water Log we have news of public-private partnerships in Tanzania and China to address watershed risk.


We also have coverage of an new collaborative mechanism for finance, a revolving loan fund (RLF) in Costa Rica’s San Carlos basin. The RLF provides zero-interest loans to community groups to protect important source water areas. Operating in rural areas where the state-run water company has little or no presence, the RLF reports that communities are eager to finance watershed protection – and so far, borrowers have a 100% repayment rate.

On a final note, be sure to take a look at the ‘Jobs’ section below – there are lots of interesting positions this month.

Cheers,

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact newsletter@ecosystemmarketplace.com


EM Headlines

GENERAL
The Nectandra Institute: Making it rain

In rural areas worldwide, watershed protection is desperately needed, but project developers are stymied by a lack of water users with deep enough pockets to pay for it. In Costa Rica’s San Carlos watershed, the non-profit Nectandra Institute has come up with a solution: a self-replenishing revolving loan fund (RLF) that lets borrowers pay back money over time as benefits from conservation accumulate. RLFs have been used in many places, including the United States, to finance big infrastructure projects. Now, the model’s supporting investments in “natural” infrastructure: the forests and grasslands that recharge the aquifer, trap erosion, and filter out pollution.

Keep reading.

 

Forest Trends renews partnership with Peru on national ecosystem services incubator

On Thursday, July 17 Forest Trends signed a second MoU with the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM), to continue its collaboration with the Ministry on the national Ecosystem Services Incubator. During the first two years of is existence, the Incubator has played a fundamental role in providing technical support and securing significant financial support for watershed services projects throughout the country, as well as building bridges between MINAM and other Peruvian institutions such as SUNASS, the national water regulator, and ANA, the National Water Authority.

Read a press release (in Spanish).

 

Does Brazilian deforestation drive drought in the United States?

California regulators overseeing the state’s cap-and-trade program now have one more reason to recognize offsets generated by saving endangered rainforest in Latin America. This week, they learned that the destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest will probably slash rainfall in the United States, depriving drought-choked California of even more drinking water.

Read more from EM.

 

Three images that illustrate the challenge of life on a managed planet

You can’t separate people from climate change. We caused it, and we will suffer from it. The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, recently tried to summarize the interplay between people and the planet in one wall poster, and the result is a stark reminder of the fact that we now live on a managed planet.

Take a look here.

 

In The News

POLICY UPDATES

US gov’t enlists green infrastructure to build climate-resilient nation

The administration of US President Barack Obama is launching efforts to help build the country’s resilience to climate change. The administration recently presented its Green Infrastructure Collaborative to advance green infrastructure implementation through joint operations of several government agencies. The group will provide technical assistance to cities, as well as funding for at least 25 communities.

The NRDC Switchboard blog has the story.

 

GLOBAL MARKETS

China’s Chishui River water fund will draw on public private partnerships

Collaboration between the Asian Development Bank and China’s southwest province, Guizhou, aims to finance watershed protection and sustainable development in the region’s Chishui River, an economically significant waterway and a tributary of the Yangtze River. The duo agreed to develop a water fund that would merge investments from both public and private sources into long-term protection for the watershed.

Get coverage.

 

WWF finishes work on Water Risk Filter 2.0

This month the business analytics company Prognoz completed work on the Water Risk Filter 2.0, an updated version of the original Water Risk Filter. The Filter is a creation of the World Wide Fund for Nature; the 2.0 model offers more advanced water risk analysis that companies and investors can use in decision-making.

 Learn more.

 

Public-private collaboration to tackle Tanzania’s water worries

Public-private strategies are popping up across to help develop and finance projects addressing the country’s shrinking groundwater supplies and widespread lack of access to sanitation, the Guardian reports. That includes a water stewardship effort backed by companies like SAB Miller, Coca-Cola Sabco, and construction firm Nabaki Afrika to clean up the Mlalakua River in Dar Es Salaam. SAB Miller through the Water Futures Partnership (WFP) has put forward $257,000 for that effort. “Companies are seeing that they are beginning to face complex water risks that they can’t manage on site, like groundwater pollution across the city affecting many businesses and communities,” explains Robin Farrington, a water stewardship adviser at GIZ which is part of the WFP.

Keep reading.

 

Wetlands chosen as most cost-effective and efficient method to wastewater management

Instead of constructing new and expensive wastewater treatment infrastructure, the city of Gisborne in New Zealand has proposed building a wetland system at half the cost. The city’s wastewater committee says wetlands are the more resilient choice – they’re more likely to withstand natural disasters than grey infrastructure, have a longer life expectancy and contribute to overall restoration of the bay. Wetlands even offer the possibility of another revenue stream through the sale of carbon credits.

Learn more from the Gisborne Herald.

 

Buybacks benefit all users in dry US West

Water users in the US Southwest all suffer equally from water shortages. But in a display of water cooperation between farmers, government agencies and conservationists, some of the Rio Grande’s water will return to its floodplain providing habitat for natural species that once flourished there. The vehicle is a voluntary water trading mechanism where water rights are bought from willing sellers and used to restore riparian land.

Get the story from NatGeo NewsWatch.

 

SAB Miller boils down its thinking on water stewardship

Multinational brewery SAB Miller recently posted an update on its high-level water risk assessment process, looking at dozens of its breweries around the world to understand not just on-site water management but watershed-level risks as well. Among the findings so far: 1) We need data, data, and then some more data to understand hydrological conditions; 2) Local stakeholder engagement is key; and 3) Make the business case. “We need to express the issue in terms of business risk, not hydrological risk,” writes David Grant, SAB Miller’s Senior Manager of Water Risks and Partnerships.

 Read it here.

 

Bethlehem inks a carbon deal with Disney to protect its watershed

The Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney, which will purchase forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The four-year contract with the entertainment giant will replace a previous agreement with automaker Chevrolet. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest. For Disney long a lover of forestry projects as this Ecosystem Marketplace story noted buying offsets from this project helps the company meet its environmental goals such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2013 (a goal it achieved).

Get the story here.

 

Looking to Quito for water fund wisdom

Quito, Ecuador is home to the world’s longest-running water fund, known as FONAG. Launched in 2000, FONAG now has an endowment of $12-14 million and funds tends of thousands of dollars of watershed protection work each year in the Quito area. Farmers are paid to put up fences to keep cattle out of streams or restore degraded areas. The fund is a model for similar efforts elsewhere in Latin America, North America, and Africa – which have drawn on FONAG’s experience for valuable lessons. For example, finding the right ratio between investing capital and spending on conservation. “Almost every one of the water funds makes investments immediately to show investors results,” says Aurelio Ramos, TNC’s director of conservation programs for Latin America. “It’s a strategic move and a lesson we learned from the Quito water fund.”

Ensia has coverage.

 

Experts find forest-filtered water tastes best

Boston was once famous for its polluted waterway. But this summer, the city took first prize in a water taste test hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Getting to this point, however, cost Boston billions of dollars in cleanup. It also led to the city investing in land preservation that resulted in 400 square miles of forest surrounding its drinking water sources. Boston’s success provides more support for source water protection strategies.

Keep reading.

 

JOBS
Senior Advisor Climate Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction

Deltares – Various, Netherlands

The unit Scenarios and Policy Analysis is one of the seven units of Deltares. Our unit aims at developing methods and applying knowledge and expertise in policy development, regional processes, adaptive water management and innovation. In our unit approximately 80 persons are employed. The unit is located in Delft and Utrecht.

One of the unit’s four sections is ‘Climate adaptation and risk management’. This section focuses on adaptive delta management under the uncertainty of climate change, and the management of floods and extreme events as to contribute to disaster risk reduction, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The Senior Advisor will: Perform specialist advice and international research studies on the adaptation of water management to climate change, flood risk management and disaster risk reduction; Develop, acquire and implement projects in this field, both in the Netherlands, Europe and abroad; Liaise with knowledge institutes, private sector, governance and financing institutes as required, both nationally and internationally; Strengthen the positioning of Deltares in this field in international networks and strategic partnerships.

Learn more here.

 

Communications Manager, Ecosystems

Environmental Defense Fund – Various, United States

EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.

Learn more here.

 

Socio-Economic Postdoctoral Research Officer

Bangor University – Gwynedd, United Kingdom

Applications are invited for a three year post-doctoral research officer post in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography to work on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust called “Can Payments for Ecosystem Services deliver environmental and livelihood benefits? The project is conducted in collaboration between Bangor University and Fundacion Natura Bolivia.

Learn more here.

 

Policy Associate

Pacific Forest Trust – California, USA

The Policy Associate will provide support to PFT’s policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The position’s primary focus is research, analysis and supporting policy development for private forestland conservation incentives in California and federal policy. A secondary focus is on state policy in the Pacific Northwest. Duties include research and analysis of climate change policies, forest energy policies, forest watershed service programs, conservation tax policy, and state and federal conservation funding programs. The Policy Associate will also support PFT advocacy efforts by drafting letters, memos, representing PFT at meetings and providing support to PFT organized coalitions.

Learn more here.

 

Program Associate, Watershed Protection

William Penn Foundation – Pennsylvania, USA

The Foundation’s programmatic investments are led by the team of Senior Program Officers. The Program Associates support the work across the three funding areas (Closing the Achievement Gap, Creative Communities, Watershed Protection), as well as Research and Analytics. The Program Associates work on projects as assigned by Senior Program Officers to meet the needs of the Foundation. This specific position will focus primarily on supporting the work in Watershed Protection but will also be given assignments in other areas on an as needed basis.

Learn more here.

 

EVENTS

Reciprocal Agreements for Water School

Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia with the support of various donors has established a School for Reciprocal Agreements for Water (Acuerdos Recí­procos por Agua, or ARA). The school seeks to inspire leaders in the region through training and education, working with mayors, municipal government, leaders of indigenous organizations, farmers and producer associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The School teaches how to implement ARA schemes in various contexts, with the goal of scaling up the ARA model in Bolivia and Latin America and through ARAs ensure the conservation of water and biodiversity-rich ecosystems. This intensive six-day course reviews in detail the establishment of ARAs. Each course has twenty places open will run in August and again in October of this year. All trainings are held in Spanish. The first course will be held in the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Vallegrande, Bolivia 11 to August 16, 2014.

Learn more here (in Spanish).

 

World Water Week 2014: Energy and Water

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more here.

 

Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.

 

One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit

Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.

Learn more here.

 

16th Annual BIOECON Conference

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.

Learn more here.

 

World Green Infrastructure Congress

The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.

Learn more here.

 

ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

CONTRIBUTING TO ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.

 


Click here to view this article in its original format.

DelAgua: Delivering Emissions Reductions, Clean Water, And Hot Beans

 

30 June 2014 | DelAgua Health is in the business of emissions avoidance as well as emissions reduction. It’s a tricky but vital distinction. In addition to cutting climate-warming emissions that are already occurring, the UK-based company is focused on preventing emissions that never have to occur in the first place – especially from the 3 billion people in the world who cook food using traditional cookstoves or open fires, and the 884 million who still do not have access to safe drinking water.

Carbon finance through the sale of offsets is central to DelAgua’s business model. Its programme of activities (PoA) under the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) combines the distribution of two household devices – clean cookstoves and water filters – to Rwandan families and has been piloted in 2,000 homes so far. In addition to reducing the need for fuelwood to boil water and cook food, therefore alleviating pressure on forests, the water filters almost instantaneously reduce water-borne illnesses while the lower-smoke cookstoves relieve respiratory ailments over time.

Matt Spannagle, DelAgua’s Climate Partnerships Manager, spoke with Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) ahead of the release of EM’s full State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report about the motivation behind the double registration, some unexpected benefits of clean cookstoves, and why carbon offset sales makes more sense than other potential finance streams.

Allie Goldstein: I know that DelAgua registered this project under both the CDM and the American Carbon Registry (ACR)? What was the motivation for the double registration?

Matt Spannagle: The low prices on the CDM is mainly it. We wanted to sell on the voluntary market as well as to people who would normally buy CDM. If you talk to American buyers, particularly US buyers but also Canadian buyers, they would rather see the American Carbon Registry because it’s American or the VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) because it’s based in the United States. The idea of private-sector led or business-led initiatives that are doing good things has more traction with US buyers than a United Nations system that is somehow government mandated.

AG: Do you still have hope for the CDM?

MS: That’s kind of the billion-dollar question! It’s a pretty risky gamble to put all your eggs in that basket. But at the same time, the fundamentals are: climate change is terrible now and it’s getting worse every day. The commitment globally is for a two-degree target, though anyone who knows anything about it doesn’t really believe we’re going to meet two degrees on the current trajectory. But that is the political commitment to doing something about it, and the only thing that has been shown to work at scale so far is market-based mechanisms. And CDM is the vanguard of that market-based mechanism.

AG: Tell me a little bit about the programme of activities and how the crediting works for doing both cookstoves and water filters within one program.

MS: It’s about avoided biomass use. You use less wood for cooking [with the new cookstove], and if you have a water filter, you don’t have to boil your water. There is a bit of a cross-over factor: When we gave people cookstoves, they would use less wood to boil their water, so we had to do a calculation for that cross-over, which we had to get approved by ACR and by the CDM Executive Board. But in terms of the monitoring requirements, it’s relatively straightforward.

And if you’re going through the trouble of setting up a program to get a cookstove in someone’s house, it’s not much additional effort to also put a water filter in their house. So you get that efficiency of scale and efficiency of process. We have a pilot of 2,000 households. We have good uptake rates, high responsiveness, and villagers are getting on with their lives.

Read more from the Forest Carbon Portal.

 

Additional resources

This Week In V-Carbon News…

This article was originally published in the Voluntary Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

30 April 2014 | California has long been taking its cues from the voluntary carbon markets in developing the offset component of its cap-and-trade program. The US state has now welcomed another voluntary project type into its program, but market participants are lobbying for the addition of even more protocols to help thwart any potential offset shortages.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced on Friday that it has approved a new protocol that would generate compliance-grade carbon offsets from coal mine methane projects. This project type joins forestry, urban forestry, livestock and ozone-depleting substances protocols also originally developed in the voluntary markets as being eligible to produce offsets for entities regulated by the cap-and-trade program. ARB staffers have previously estimated that the coal mine methane protocol could produce a potential domestic offset supply of 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) in emissions reductions.

The ARB sees emission reductions from carbon offset projects, including from agriculture and forestry projects, as a vital factor in achieving California’s ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. In 2006, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) – a landmark piece of legislation that outlined the state’s efforts to mitigate climate change. The legislation featured targets for reducing California’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The cap-and-trade regulation is currently in place through 2020 but may be extended.

Market participants see opportunities for more land-based offsets – emissions reductions generated via agriculture and forestry projects – to be added to the system, including avoided grassland conversion, wetland restoration, composting, rangelands and rice cultivation projects. The ARB could add rice cultivation as a new compliance offset protocol in September, making it eligible to generate carbon offsets for the program starting on January 1, 2015.

But bringing more of these types of projects into the state’s regulated carbon market will not be an easy task, given the high costs involved, particularly the costs of monitoring and verifying these emissions reductions.

“There is a lot of potential for relatively low-cost reductions in the agriculture sector, but some of these opportunities we’re talking about can be fairly marginal at the going price of carbon offsets,” Derik Broekhoff, the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Vice President of Policy, said at the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in San Francisco last month. The prices for California-bound offsets have generally hovered around $9 per tonne.

These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!

Every year, Ecosystem Marketplace relies wholly on offset market participants to financially support the State of research. In return, sponsors ($7.5k+) and supporters ($3k) benefit from the report’s growing exposure, early insight into our findings, and opportunities to engage directly with Ecosystem Marketplace in report-related outreach and events. Interested organizations should contact Molly Peters-Stanley.

—The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

World Cup’s carbon neutral GOOOOAAAAL!!!
Brazil’s Ministry of Environment has announced that it will accept certified emissions reductions (CERs) from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects based in the country in exchange for publicity during the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Donations will be accepted until July 18 and participating companies will receive an official certificate of participation in the ‘Selo Sustentabilidade – Baixo Carbono’ program. Of the almost 150 existing Brazilian CDM projects with more than 90 million CERs issued, perhaps 14 million CERs could be eligible to offset the 2.7 million metric tonnes of emissions (MtCO2e) associated with the event’s stadium construction, local transportation, and fossil fuel electricity consumption. However, the Brazilians do not have any plans to buy offsets directly.Read more from UN RIC
Read more from Reuters

 

Flying higher and greener
A new start-up company called TripZero aims to tackle the stubborn problem of rising GHG emissions in the global travel business. Partnering with online travel agency Expedia, TripZero will earn commissions from hotel bookings made through its site, with a portion of these commissions paying for carbon offsets to cover transportation and hotel-related emissions. The carbon offsets will come from reforestation, renewable energy, and methane capture projects under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Green-e Climate Standard.Read more here

 

Not going up in smoke
Women are being sold clean-burning liquid petroleum gas (or propane) cookstoves to help reverse the deforestation and negative health impacts associated with wood and charcoal cooking in Northern Sudan. The Darfur Low Smoke Project was launched in 2007 by the Women’s Development Association Network, the international NGO Practical Action and Carbon Clear. To date, 6,000 stoves have been delivered resulting in a reduction of more than 36,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (tCO2e). The stoves are registered with the Gold Standard and the first offsets were recently sold to a United Kingdom-based insurance firm. The project hopes to save more than 300,000 tCO2e within the next decade and replant local community forests.Read more here

 

Follow the green light
Renewable Choice Energy has joined Green-e Climate, and can now provide certified carbon offsets to green building projects under the newest version of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines for green power. This certification is awarded when a building provides at least 35% of its grid-connected electricity from renewable sources. CAR registered landfill gas projects in Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas will supply the offsets. Since 2003, Renewable Choice Energy has supplied green power and carbon offsets to more than 5,000 LEED projects worldwide.Read more here

 

Hail from the Queen
ClimateCare, a project developer based in the United Kingdom, was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development on April 21, Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious awards given to UK businesses for outstanding achievement in their field. ClimateCare’s projects include the LifeStraw Carbon For Water project in Western Kenya, Gyapa Stoves project in Ghana, and Kimbale rainforest restoration in the Congo Basin. To date, the company has assisted with reductions totaling more than 16.5 mtCO2e.Read more here

 

Cleaning the friendly skies
United Airlines has become the first US carrier to offer carbon offset redemption through its frequent flyer mileage program. Customers could previously calculate and offset their travel and cargo shipments only through additional monetary purchases. After booking on the airline’s website, customers can now exchange miles to offset their emissions through partner projects such as the Garcia River Forest Conservation project certified by CAR, Capricorn Ridge Wind Project in Texas certified by VCS, and Conservation International’s Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in Northern Peru certified by VCS. Between March 2012 and December 2013, a total of 7,370 tCO2e were purchased by customers through this program. United Airlines’ carbon offset program was designed in collaboration with Sustainable Travel International.Read more here

 

Climate North America

Keep on fallin’
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently submitted its annual Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2012, total emissions of the six main GHGs in the US were equivalent to 6,526 MtCO2e. This represents a 3.4% decrease from 2011 and a 10% decline from 2005 levels. The US has committed to a targeted 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and upcoming EPA rules for existing power plants due in June aim to help the country get there.Read more here
Read the full report
Read more here from Ecosystem Marketplace

 

A carbon pie in the sky?
After signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan in 2013, California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have made progress in cooperating on climate issues but more work lies ahead. A non-partisan legislative agency is researching a carbon tax in Oregon with its final report due on November 15. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is an outspoken advocate of action on climate change and has made it a priority of his administration, but he faces challenges in the state legislature. Carbon pricing programs in these states could build on previously established voluntary offset programs such as the Climate Trust.Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace

 

A taxing discussion
In a recent editorial, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) suggests that a price on GHG emissions would be beneficial for Wisconsin’s clean energy-oriented manufacturing and research and development sectors. The organization asserts that a revenue-neutral carbon tax on fossil fuel producers is the most effective means of achieving a carbon price. In such a model, revenues from the tax are returned to the public in order to offset higher prices for consumer consumption of fossil fuels. CCL points to a recent study of California that shows growth in that state’s economy under a carbon tax when all revenue is returned to the public.Read more here

 

Kyoto & Beyond

Earning their keep
With activity in the CDM well off its 2012 peak, some are questioning the wisdom of continuing to support an administrative staff of close to 150 for the program. While the mechanism has reserves to finance operations at current levels almost until 2020, experts suggest that the surplus could be used to support the market through purchase of offsets or development of mechanisms earmarked for the anticipated post-2020 climate agreement. The CDM Executive Board has been working to make improvements in the system and promote the offsets outside the Kyoto Protocol to increase demand.Read more here

 

Global Policy Update

Peru doing the PES limbo
Peruvians have spent the last six years developing a comprehensive legal framework for the sticky issue of payments for ecosystem services (PES). The current bill is one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of its type, but it’s been stuck in committee for five years, and its future is uncertain since a recently scheduled debate was scrapped. The bill provides a legal framework to support a diverse range of ecosystem services – including GHG emissions reductions, biodiversity conservation, the preservation of natural beauty, and investments in watershed services – where land stewards are compensated to practice sustainable land use.Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace

 

Up, up, and away
Trading volumes have soared as speculative players drive up prices in China’s newest regional pilot emissions trading system. In Hubei, 1.6 million allowances were traded in the first 12 days, versus 66,000 total allowances for China’s five other pilot markets in the same period. Prices have risen modestly from the initial set amount of 20 yuan to 25 yuan in mid-April. Speculators are encouraged by the performance of the Shenzhen pilot market last year, which spiked from 30 yuan to 130 yuan, albeit on small volumes. A key difference seems to be the absence of a capital threshold to trade in the Hubei system. Trading is expected to remain volatile until compliance entities report emissions and participate in the market in 2015.Read more at Reuters

 

Is the party over?
Revenues for China’s top sellers of CERs dropped to a tenth of 2012 values. China Longyuan Power Group Corp, Huaneng Renewables Corp and China Datang Corp Renewable Power reported combined revenue of $20 million in 2013, down from more than $150 million in 2012 and almost $300 million in 2011. This presents a challenge for carbon projects seeking funding that once steadily flowed from Europe. Many independent project developers will seek opportunities in China’s burgeoning emissions trading systems – almost 60 new projects are already trying to transition to domestic funding- but it is unclear if former CDM projects will be able to participate due to contract disputes.Read more at Reuters

 

Carbon Finance

Money is everything
Thirty donor countries recently pledged $4.43 billion over the next four years for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support developing countries’ efforts in preventing degradation of the global environment. More than 140 countries will benefit from these funds for projects addressing climate change, deforestation, land degradation, extinction of species, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to oceans and freshwater resources. Since 1991, the GEF has provided $12.5 billion in grants and leveraged $58 billion in co-financing for nearly 3,700 projects in more than 165 countries.Read more here

 

Bank on Africa
The African Development Bank has started a new climate change fund for the continent, the Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF), with an initial investment of $6 million by Germany. The ACCF will begin by focusing its funds on climate finance readiness projects with the aim of securing larger amounts in the future from the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF). The ACCF is a lessons-learned response to the relatively small amount of funding that African countries received from the CDM. The GCF is scheduled to launch in May.Read more here

 

Science & Technology

China seeing green (grass)
A new methodology just approved by the VCS could help farmers in China and other countries tap into the carbon markets to help them manage their grasslands more sustainably. The methodology, developed by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, the World Agroforestry Center and the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, could be particularly useful in mitigating the impact of China’s growing population on its carbon footprint. Projects under the methodology, which helps overcome the major hurdle of high measuring and monitoring costs, could also be recognized by the China Certified Emissions Reduction offset program.Read more here

 

The grazing could always be greener
The American Carbon Registry recently released a new methodology for avoided GHG emissions on grazed grasslands for public comment. Developed by Terra Global Capital with support from the Environmental Defense Fund, Silver Lab at the University of California Berkeley, and the Marin Carbon Project, the methodology provides an accounting framework for the carbon storage achieved by adding compost to fields – both by enhancing plant growth and by diverting organic waste that would otherwise decompose in landfills, releasing methane. If approved, it would generate offsets for the voluntary carbon market. The public comment period is open through May 14.Read more here

Featured Jobs

Director of Policy and Research – Climate Advisers
Based in Washington, DC, the Director will lead major research and advocacy projects as well as liaise with policymakers and opinion leaders in the federal government, foundations, think tanks, environmental organizations, and corporations. The ideal candidate will have extensive practical experience with US and international climate and development policy making, including a network of climate and development contacts in Washington, DC. The candidate will also have an advanced degree in economics, public policy, international relations, or a related field, with a proven record of high-impact, policy-relevant reports, white papers, and memos on climate change and sustainable development that have changed the policy conversation.Read more here

 

Sustainability Engagement Associate (Financials Sector) – CDP North America
Based in New York, NY, the Associate will be responsible for engaging with corporate sustainability and investor relations professionals at a range of seniority levels to secure their annual response to CDP. The successful candidate will have superior interpersonal skills, including the ability to engage with resistant parties, and to pitch services. The candidate will also have at least two years of work experience (this can include internships), preferably in sustainability and/or with financials companies.Read more here

 

Director, Supply Chain Integrity – Rainforest Alliance
Based in New York, NY, the Director will be responsible for overseeing strategy, operations, and general management of Rainforest Alliance’s Supply Chain Integrity program through direct management of the traceability, trademarks, chain of custody, claims-based system, and related components. The ideal candidate will have a master’s degree or equivalent in professional experience; a minimum 10 years of experience; demonstrated experience in market-based conservation, change-management, certification and traceability.Read more here

 

REDD+ Finance and Carbon Market Specialist – Terra Global Capital
Preferably based in San Francisco, California, the Specialist will assist countries with ambitious REDD+ plans by building capacity within those countries to achieve long-term net emissions reductions from forests and land use and contribute to the evolving REDD+ framework. Eligible candidates must have five years of combined experience in private sector finance and REDD+, forest carbon, payment for environmental services, carbon markets (voluntary or regulatory), and/or natural resource project finance. Fluency in English and Advanced Spanish are required.Read more here

 

Carbon Footprint Assessor – Carbon Trust
Based in London, UK, the Assessor will work with the certification team to assess whether carbon footprints or other environmental claims comply with the requirements of the Carbon Trust’s proprietary standards and other certification rules or standards. Eligible candidates must have a relevant degree in environmental, economics, engineering, or other numerate discipline.Read more here

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

 


Additional resources

Althelia Climate Fund Dives Headfirst Into Kenya Project With Wildlife Works

4 March 2014 | Mike Korchinsky goes way back with Christian del Valle and Sylvain Goupille, now the heads of the Althelia Climate Fund, back to their days on the carbon desk at BNP Paribas. Wildlife Works, a developer of reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) projects that operates the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ projects, had an agreement with the French bank to provide development services for up to $50 million worth of projects.

When the two left BNP Paribas and launched the Althelia Climate Fund in 2011, Korchinsky continued to engage with del Valle and Goupille in the hopes of becoming the first developer to receive financing for a sustainable land use and conservation project from the new fund. Those conversations culminated in last month’s announcement that Althelia will make a $10 million investment in the Taita Hills project, which will cover most of the forest area in the Kenyan wilderness outside of Tsavo National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world, and home to elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and hippos.

Gloria Gonzalez: How is the project similar or different from your previous projects in Kenya?

Mike Korchinsky: The program will generate REDD+ carbon offsets from protection of the forest and savannah. The one difference between this project and our current Kasigau project is that Wildlife Works has developed an avoided conversion of grasslands system methodology in the last year and that allows us to look at a landscape in its entirety, not just at forests.

The other focus for Althelia is to really magnify the influence of alternative revenue streams in the development of the conservation program. They’re interested in more aggressively pursuing commercialization of agricultural intensification programs or sustainable charcoal programs in the area so that the program can benefit from parallel revenue streams to the carbon revenue stream. That’s always been part of Wildlife Works’ approach, but Althelia is interested in accelerating those activities with specific investments…

To continue reading this Q&A for free, please visit the Forest Carbon Portal

To respond to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 reports, please click on the following links:

Previous respondents

New respondents

 

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

A sustainable agriculture project in the Nyanza and Western Provinces in Kenya became the first to market offsets from carbon sequestered in soils, with financing flowing to smallholders. But elsewhere in Kenya, in the Embobut forest, the Sengwer people are being evicted from their homes.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

30 January 2014 | It’s only January, but 2014 has already seen much development on the forest carbon front, with a project in the Nyanza and Western Provinces in Kenya becoming the first to earn credits under the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) sustainable agriculture methodology. The Kenya Agricultural Project (KACP) engages 60,000 farmers on 45,000 hectares to, for the first time, monitor their soil carbon – a quantification that then allows them to bring those metric tons of sequestered carbon to market. The project, implemented by the Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry, has reduced 24,788 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) so far.

The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund (BCF) has committed to purchasing 150,000 tonnes of emissions reductions, estimated at $600,000, generated by the project between 2009 and 2016. Carbon-centric cropland management practices such as cover crops, rotation, mulching, and green manure can also help increase agricultural yields by 15-20%, according to the World Bank.

“This proves, yet again, that good environmental practices make good business practices, and in this case they are making for good farming practices which have tremendous ancillary benefits,” said David Antonioli, VCS Chief Executive Officer.
 

However, it’s not all good news from Kenya. From the Embobut forest, organizations such as the Forest Peoples Programme are reporting that 150 police and forest guards have been orchestrating a forced eviction of the Sengwer people, burning as many as 1,000 homes this month. The Sengwer are nonsensically blamed for threatening urban water supplies, though the ‘fortress conservation’ approach has been denounced by the international community as both unjust and ineffective.
 

On the policy front, Quebec officially linked its cap-and-trade program with California’s on January 1, opening up the possibility for forest carbon credits to flow between the state and the province. Market experts say that Quebec will be a buyer rather than a seller during the honeymoon phase of the union.
 

Other compliance markets are not doing so hot. Facing a repeal of Australia’s carbon tax, Andrew Grant, the head of the largest carbon project developer in the country, resigned last week. CO2 Group mainly developed forestry offsets, but without a market-based carbon reduction policy, demand has been, well, non-existent: “We haven’t had any investment interest in 18 months,” Grant told Reuters in October.
   

And in Europe, a recent proposal to ban the use of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) unless climate negotiators reach an international agreement in 2015 sets an ultimatum for an already crushed market.
 

However, it’s unlikely the proposal will have a large impact on the forest carbon market. The EU ETS never allowed many types of forestry credits anyway, and the BCF, the major buyer of the only eligible forestry offsets – CDM afforestation/reforestation – has backed off of those purchases. Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report unveiled a major decline in 2012, with only 0.5 MtCO2e CDM A/R offsets transacted compared to the all-time peak of 5.9 MtCO2e in 2011; the overall value dropped from $23 million in 2011 to less than $1 million in 2012.
 

These and other stories from the forest carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re getting ready to begin data collection for our 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and State of the Forest Carbon Markets reports, and we’ll also be launching a revamped survey of clean cookstoves projects in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
 

We look forward to again providing reliable and transparent market information in the New Year, with many thanks going to those organizations that support our research. Most recently, this includes Impact Carbon, ClimateCare, and the Forest Carbon Group. In addition to the gratification of helping us provide market information and insight to the world free of charge, sponsoring organizations (above a certain level) receive a few perks. To inquire, email Molly Peters-Stanley.

 

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.


News

ANNOUNCEMENT

Katoomba with us

Forest Trends is hosting two exciting Katoomba events in stunning locations this spring: Katoomba XIX in Iguazu Falls, Brazil from March 19-20 will look at scaling up sustainable commodity supply chains and Katoomba XX in Lima, Peru from April 22-25 will work towards aligning climate policy and finance with investments in forests and water. For 15 years, the Katoomba Group has convened global experts and leaders to advance the frontier of ecosystem services approaches. Our events convene government, industry, nonprofits, and communities – people who are not often in a room together, but should be – to solve problems on specific landscapes (and water-scapes!). To find out more about attending these exciting events, email Jennifer Baldwin (jbaldwin@forest-trends.org) for Iguazu Falls or Gena Gammie (ggammie@forest-trends.org) for Lima.

INTERNATIONAL POLICY

CDM knocking on death’s door?

The European Union could deal a death blow to the CDM market if it follows through on a proposal to ban the use of CDM credits in its emissions trading system. The offsets would only be allowed into the EU system if international negotiators reach a new climate agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris in 2015. The CDM market has been under significant pressure with prices dropping 98% in the past six years.

A marriage made in forest heaven

Quebec is going to eventually look to its new spouse California to supply carbon offsets, including forestry credits, to its cap-and-trade program, but demand from buyers in the Canadian province will be limited during the honeymoon phase of their linkage, listeners to a recent Climate Action Reserve webinar were told. Quebec’s compliance entities will ultimately turn to California to supply offsets as the three protocols so far approved by the province – livestock manure management, landfill gas capture, and destruction of ozone depleting substances – are expected to produce a finite number of credits, while California’s program has a greater reach since it also covers forestry offsets.

Jumping off carbon’s sinking ship

The likely dismantling of Australia’s carbon pricing scheme has claimed a major corporate casualty. Chief Executive Andrew Grant is leaving the CO2 Group, which blamed his departure and a plan to scale back the company’s carbon operations directly on the politically-charged decision by the new federal government to abolish the carbon tax regime, as well as the ongoing chaos in the carbon market. CO2 Group was the first company to generate carbon credits through creation of new forests under the Carbon Farming Initiative and to create credits from newly planted trees under the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Burkina Faso is in!

Burkina Faso has officially been qualified as a REDD country after being awarded a US$3.8 million grant to put in place the necessary policies and systems needed to effectively reduce deforestation and forest degradation. This is a significant step forward for a country where forests cover approximately 43% of the total land area, and where high forest loss rates are driven by a combination of socio-economic, political, technological and cultural factors, among others.

Urgency and reality juxtaposed

The Indonesian government has appointed Heru Prasetyo as the head of its newly established REDD+ Agency. His mission will be reducing climate-changing emissions from deforestation, accelerating tree planting and reinforcing forest protection, as well as raising more funds for this work. The agency will look at urgent reforms to the ownership and usage of forests in Indonesia. Although changes are drastically needed, these cannot happen overnight, but gradually, according to Prasetyo.

Bolivia, Costa Rica REDD-y for their close-ups

Bolivia and Costa Rica have been added to the list of REDD Desk profiles. Bolivia has always been a good candidate for REDD given its high forest cover, high deforestation rates and low opportunity costs to reduce deforestation. Nonetheless, the country has publicly opposed the implementation of REDD+ since 2008. More recently, the Peruvian government started to realign its vision on sustainable forest management with UN-REDD. On the other hand, Costa Rica contains 4.8% of the global biodiversity in only 0.03% of the world’s landmass. Although the country experienced high deforestation rates until the 1980s, it is now a pioneer in the use of market mechanisms to reduce deforestation and is well known for its environmental policies.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Finite Carbon adds another notch

Finite Carbon and Potlach Corporation rang in the New Year by registering their improved forest management project in Arkansas with the California Air Resources Board (ARB). The Moro Big Pine project covers 15,809 acres of Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat (a federally protected species) and received an initial issuance of 220,208 ARB offsets for potential sale on California’s compliance market. The project joins the very first ARB-approved forest projects – the Farm Cove project in Maine, also developed by Finite Carbon, and the Willits Woods project in northern California – which both received credit issuances in November.

SOCIAL AND HUMAN DIMENSION

Wrongful evictions

Thousands of indigenous Sengwer people are being evicted from Kenya’s Embobut forest. Despite an appeal by more than 40 Kenyan and international human rights groups to stop forced evictions, the Forest Peoples Programme reported from the ground last week that Kenya Forest Service guards have burned as many as 1,000 homes, displacing thousands of people. The Kenyan government describes the Sengwer as ‘squatters’, though their ancestral land rights are written into the Constitution. Some Sengwer were offered money to move, but most did not want it. The evictions have been likened to a ‘fortress conservation’ approach that is now largely denounced by the international conservation community.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

It gets better with age

A team of 38 international researchers published in the journal Nature discovered that trees accelerate growth as they get older and bigger, actively fixing larger amounts of carbon compared to younger, smaller trees. Since trees lose carbon back into the atmosphere as they decompose after dying, the rapid carbon absorption rate of individual trees does not necessarily translate into a net increase in carbon storage for the entire forest. Yet these results have important implications for forest management because while they are alive, large old trees play a disproportionately important role in a forest’s carbon dynamics. The finding contradicts earlier assumptions that younger trees are growing more quickly and therefore sequestering more carbon.

Sometimes less is more

Restoring pastures and agricultural plots back into functioning forest ecosystems often involves high costs and time. Typically, trees are planted in rows and cover the entire restoration site. However, a recent study by researchers from Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica and UC Santa Cruz showed that planting ‘tree islands’ – clusters of trees throughout a plot – may result in an equally effective and more economical reforestation strategy. As trees in these ‘islands’ grow, they shade out competitive pasture grasses, animals start spreading seeds, and the restoration process continues without further intervention. Soon the ‘islands’ begin to cover the entire plot, despite a much smaller upfront investment in tree planting. These results are promising, but there are still some logistical issues.

Oceans, the new climate change oracle

Scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that by measuring sea surface temperatures off the shores of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean, they could predict whether the dry season would be drier than usual in the Peruvian western Amazon. They also found that the greater the differences in temperature are between the sea surface in the northern and southern regions of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, the higher the likelihood of drought. These predictions could lead to better fire management programs during the dry seasons in the Amazon.

Too good to be true

Some doubters of the severity of climate change impacts have cited the fertilization quality of carbon dioxide (CO2) as evidence that higher concentrations of the stuff in our atmosphere will actually benefit forests by causing them to grow faster. But mounting research, including a recent study published in Nature, is showing that the negative effects of increased temperature and drought may outweigh any carbon-induced growth spurts. Compared to the same amount of warming in the 1960s and 1970s, a one-degree-Celsius rise in CO2 concentrations now releases about two billion extra tCO2e, the study found, using long-term atmospheric records from Mauna Loa and the South Pole.

STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY

Lower-carbon logging

VCS’s new Reduced Impact Logging methodology is now up for public comment, through February 13. The methodology aims to reduce emissions around the three main logging activities that release carbon: felling, skidding, and hauling. For instance, a project might earn credits for reducing the number of trees cut and then abandoned or by narrowing logging roads. This is the first land use/forestry methodology to use a performance method, with the baseline set by region rather than by project. So far, a benchmark has been set for East Kalimantan, Indonesia. If logging operations are already meeting the additionality threshold, they can earn carbon credits.

Amazonian standard in the archipelago

The Rainforest Standard (RFS) launched in January at West Bali National Park in Indonesia. RFS is the first carbon credit standard to fully integrate the requirements for carbon accounting, sociocultural and socioeconomic impact, and biodiversity outcomes. Columbia University’s Center for Environment, Economy, and Society worked with national funds in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to create the standard, taking into account the ecological conditions and social realities of the Amazon region. Adapted for Indonesia, the standard will be tested out at the West Bali National Park, which covers 190 square kilometers.

PUBLICATIONS

Highway through the forest zone

Economic growth is usually viewed positively, but not when it comes at the expense of the rainforest, as is happening in the Peruvian Amazon, according to a new CIFOR report. The country has a relatively low deforestation rate of 0.15% and the government has committed to achieving zero net deforestation, but deforestation currently accounts for nearly half of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions. And the historical deforestation rates do not reflect the impact of new activities driving economic growth – a key priority for the poverty-stricken country – such as major road and energy infrastructure projects.

Landing on community chest

The REDD+ sector can learn a thing or two from those engaged in community forestry in Latin America, according to a new report called Lessons Learned from Community Forestry in Latin America and their Relevance for REDD+. Latin America is arguably the world leader in community forestry and offers multiple advantages for REDD+, according to the report. It makes a series of recommendations that REDD+ projects can build on, including supporting land tenure, reforming sectoral policies and stopping illegal activity, a major threat to community forestry activities in the region.

Blame it on the pine beetles

The government of British Columbia should take steps to reverse the trend of provincial forests emitting more carbon dioxide (CO2) than they absorb, according to the Sierra Club. Pine beetle infestation, slash fires, wood waste and clear cutting have all contributed to an alarming rate of CO2 emissions. The forest sector accounts for more than half of BC’s total official emissions, but that figure does not include forestry-related emissions beyond those associated with deforestation and afforestation. In November 2013, the BC government dissolved the Pacific Carbon Trust following a controversial report that questioned its support of forestry and other offset projects.

JOBS

Carbon Sourcing Manager – The CarbonNeutral Company

Based in London, the Carbon Sourcing Manager will source emission reduction projects from identification, evaluation, structuring and negotiation of ERPA through close; conduct technical due diligence on projects; and work closely with a sales team in London to source credits for client portfolios. The successful candidate will have a postgraduate degree, a minimum of two to three years of experience within primary carbon origination, and a strong working knowledge of carbon market standards: CDM, VCS, and Gold Standard.

– Read more about the position here

Campaigns Assistant, Forest Program – Environmental Investigation Agency

Based in Washington, DC, the Campaigns Assistant for the Environmental Investigation Agency’s Forest Program will support its work to document and expose illegal logging and associated trade and implement policy to stem the flow of illegal timber imports to consumer countries. The successful candidate will have excellent organization and time management skills, experience in advocacy and campaigns at the national or international level, and a strong interest in natural resource conservation.

– Read more about the position here

Director, CGIAR Research Program – CIFOR

Based in Bogor, Indonesia, the director will manage the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry (FTA): Livelihoods, Landscapes and Governance, which brings together several hundred scientists from across the organization. The director will provide intellectual leadership for the FTA, facilitate the delivery of research outputs, and coordinate work plans, budgets, and reporting.

– Read more about the position here

REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning Consultant – World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Based in Washington, DC, the REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning Consultant(s) will assist WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme to share knowledge about REDD+ through a regular webinar series, online community, and other platforms. The successful candidate will have experience in the field of development-based knowledge sharing, excellent communication skills, and experience working in an international, multi-cultural environment.

– Read more about the position here

Senior AFOLU Consultant – South Pole Carbon

Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the senior AFOLU consultant will generate business opportunities in the area of REDD monitoring, support South Pole Carbon’s forestry project department in technical work, and more. The ideal candidate will be well-networked with multilateral agencies, NGOs and donors in the REDD field; have at least five years of relevant experience in project management and consultancy; and an understanding of forest biometrics and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV). English required; French, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish or Portuguese would be an advantage.

– Read more about the position here

Malawi REDD+ MRV Specialist – Terra Global Capital

Based in Malawi, the REDD+ MRV Specialist will support the upcoming USAID-funded Malawi Integrated REDD Demonstration Program. Candidates must have an advanced degree in forestry, ecology or a related field and a minimum of eight years of relevant work experience, including at least five years of experience in Africa (preferably Malawi).

– Read more about the position here

Research Associate, Greenhouse Gas Protocol – World Resources Institute (WRI)

Based in Washington, DC, the Research Associate will join WRI’s GHG Protocol Corporate Team and be tasked with capacity building for Scope 3 accounting in the financial sector. The successful candidate will have two to four years of professional work experience related to the financial sector and/or corporate sustainability, preferably with a master’s degree in a relevant field, as well as experience with corporate GHG reporting and/or corporate value chains.

– Read more about the position here

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

Additional resources

This Week In V-Carbon: Greening In The New Year

Despite the cold start here in D.C., January is blooming with carbon news. Quebec and California started off the year by officially linking markets, while a sustainable agriculture project in Kenya became the first to verify credits from carbon sequestration in soils under VCS in mid-January. These new developments only enhance 2013’s top stories, also featured in this Special 2014 New Year Edition.

This article was originally published in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

28 January 2014 | NY Times contributor Mark Bittman began the New Year by looking at all the good, bad, and ugly that has happened in Years Ending in 4. Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re not superstitious, but we do like to mark the turning of the calendar with a look back before charging forward.

Our Year in Voluntary Carbon retrospective summarizes 2013’s major milestones, and below, our reader poll revealed your Top 10 stories of last year:

 

  1. California officially launches cap-and-trade program, issues first carbon offsets: After a one-year delay, California’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions got underway in January, spurring project development and offset purchases state-side. California regulators finally started to issue ozone-depleting substances offsets in September and forestry offsets in November, paving the way for more development activity in 2014.
  2. Voluntary demand for carbon offsetting grew 4% in 2012: In June, Ecosystem Marketplace released its 2013 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report, which found that purchases of voluntary carbon offsets rose 4% in 2012 to 101 million tonnes of carbon offsets (MtCO2e), but market value decreased 11% to $523 million as offset prices fell slightly for several popular project types.
  3. UN climate negotiators reach agreement on REDD+ rulebook, defer several decisions to next COP: At the United Nations climate change negotiations in Warsaw, agreement on the so-called “REDD Rulebook” established guidelines for determining national deforestation baselines, a key step for allowing compliance-based REDD finance to flow.
  4. China launches domestic pilot carbon trading programs: China spent 2013 launching four of its seven planned subnational carbon markets. Trading in Shenzhen started in June, Shanghai and Beijing’s markets launched in November , and Guangdong commenced trading in mid-December. China could offer a lifeline to Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project developers by allowing them to re-register their credits as China Certified Emission Reductions, which would fetch higher prices on the domestic markets.
  5. Disney, Microsoft use carbon tax revenues to propel offset purchases: Some of the biggest names in the energy sector, including ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, are using double-digit carbon price projections to guide their business planning decisions. Disney and Microsoft have gone a step farther by using the revenues generated from their internal carbon fee programs to invest in a wide range of offset projects, showing a particular affinity for REDD projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  6. Clean cookstoves become all the rage, more than half use carbon finance: Carbon offsets contributed funding to half of the eight million clean or efficient stoves distributed in 2012, as high offset prices and corporate demand for the projects drove $167.3 million into the sector, according to a new report by Ecosystem Marketplace on behalf of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the report’s findings in New York in September.
  7. Costa Rica launches domestic carbon trading program: In support of domestic reforestation and conservation efforts, Costa Rica officially launched a domestic carbon market in September. Ecosystem Marketplace’s earlier coverage explores how the country’s independent carbon standard is helping it get REDD-ready.
  8. CDM market collapses, remains in limbo: Negotiators at the Conference of Parties (COP19) in Warsaw in November failed to lock in a concrete solution for the CDM market. Proposals to set a price floor and to have financial institutions such as the Green Climate Fund bail out the oversupplied market by buying up the very cheap credits both fell through. But key players such as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres still see a role for market-based mechanisms such as the CDM in a future climate agreement.
  9. President Obama pushes power plant carbon regulations via EPA: The US Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming rules to control carbon emissions from existing power plants is a landmark move to regulate climate pollutants in the United States. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is already making the federal case that its cap-and-trade program should be eligible for compliance, and many experts believe jumping on board the existing programs in California and the Northeast may be a much easier path for states than starting a new regulatory regime from scratch.
  10. EU ETS crashes to record lows, countries step in with backloading fix: EU ETS prices slumped to $2.81 euros per tonne in January and set a new record low of $2.63 euros per tonne in April after the European Parliament rejected an emergency fix for the beleaguered compliance market. After months of intense negotiations, however, EU countries finally agreed to the so-called “backloading” proposal, in which the sale of up to 900 million allowances will be postponed, a move that participants hope will prop up the market until a more permanent solution is reached.

Carbon Crystal Ball 2014

Our readers can’t exactly forecast the future, but they often come close. Last year, they (correctly) predicted that 2013 would be a year for innovation in methodologies and project development; that cookstove and water filtration projects would gain in popularity; that voluntary market players would begin to diversify their attention to compliance markets; and that buyers would continue to seek out quantifiable co-benefits to differentiate their offsetting efforts.

Roberto L. Gí³mez of Fundacií³n Natura Colombia, predicts that 2014 will be a year of consolidation in the voluntary market. “The most effort will go towards strengthening the instruments that grow demand for verified emissions reductions,” he said.

 

Martin Clermont of Will Solutions envisions an increasing presence of the voluntary carbon market beside the efforts to structure the dozens of regulated ones.

 

On the compliance side, Harold Buchanan of CE2 Carbon Capital thinks the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will approve the Mine Methane Capture protocol that they delayed last October. But, “Offset supply will fall far short of ARB/Analyst/Registry expectations due to [the] buyer liability policy,” he said.

 

Even as climate negotiators gear up for the 20th Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru in December, our readers predict that jurisdictional approaches to limiting carbon emissions will continue to move forward throughout the year.

“Jurisdictional carbon markets will continue to grow in North America,” said David Rokoss of Offsetters Climate Solutions. “We’ll see policy drafts from a number of Canadian provinces as they try to address emissions ahead of potential Canadian Federal policy (in certain sectors)…I would also expect to see movement in a few US states that have indicated carbon policy interest – particularly western coastal states.”

David Antonioli of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) predicts the issuance of the first jurisdictional REDD+ credits in 2014, as well as new issuance of AFOLU (agriculture, forestry, and other land uses) credits: “Issuance to a number of agriculture-related projects [will be] important because it will serve as demonstration and help to further the integration of agriculture and forests into broader landscape approaches,” he said.

 

Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we’re getting ready to begin data collection for our 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Market and State of the Forest Carbon Market reports, and we’ll also be launching a revamped survey of clean cookstoves projects in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

We look forward to again providing reliable and transparent market information in the New Year, with many thanks going to those organizations that support our research. Most recently, this includes Impact Carbon, ClimateCare, and the Forest Carbon Group. In addition to the gratification of helping us provide market information and insight to the world free of charge, sponsoring organizations (above a certain level) receive a few perks. To inquire, email Molly Peters-Stanley.

May this Year Ending in 4 bring you much happiness and fewer emissions. Best wishes from all of us here at Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace.

—The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

2014 So Far

2014 has already seen plenty of action on the voluntary carbon market front. Last week, a sustainable agriculture project in Kenya became the first to verify credits from carbon sequestration in soils under the VCS. The standard’s new Reduced Impact Logging methodology is now open for public comment, and more projects are beginning to work towards the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard’s new Triple Gold designation, which certifies beyond-carbon benefits such as endangered species protection and climate adaptation (more to come on this from EM).

On the compliance side, Quebec officially linked its carbon market with California’s as of January 1, opening the opportunity for cross-border offset purchases. A new Environmental Defense Fund report projects offset market growth in California in 2014, though market experts say that Quebec will not contribute much to this demand until more sectors are regulated beginning next year. Supply is also beginning to ramp up in North America’s compliance markets: Finite Carbon and Potlach Corporation registered the second-ever forest carbon project with the California ARB at the beginning of January.

Recent news from across the pond is a bit more mixed. While China has already launched subnational carbon markets in Guangdong province and four cities, a lack of transparency about the number of emissions permits issued and pricing could undermine the market, and a permit surplus could be looming, according to recent reports. And things look pretty stark in Australia, where the proposed abolition of the country’s carbon tax led the head of CO2 Group, Australia’s largest carbon project developer, to leave his position last week. Meanwhile, the EU is expected to vote todayon the backloading provision that would tighten its carbon market.

Featured Jobs

Research Associate, Greenhouse Gas Protocol – World Resources Institute (WRI)

Based in Washington, DC, the Research Associate will join WRI’s GHG Protocol Corporate Team and be tasked with capacity building for Scope 3 accounting in the financial sector. The successful candidate will have 2-4 years of professional work experience related to the financial sector and/or corporate sustainability, preferably with a master’s degree in a relevant field, as well as experience with corporate GHG reporting and/or corporate value chains.

Read more about the position here

Analyst, Climate Finance – Climate Policy Initiative

Based in Venice, Italy, the Climate Finance Analyst will join the Climate Policy Initiative’s European team, looking at issues such as the governance of international funds, their allocation and effectiveness, and the role of risk allocation within this context. The position requires performing rigorous quantitative evaluation of national and international finance mechanisms and advising policymakers on the implications of research findings. The successful candidate(s) will have a degree in a quantitatively rigorous field, 2+ years of experience analyzing climate finance, and experience in macroeconomic modeling.

Read more about the position here

REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning Consultant – World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Based in Washington, DC, the consultant will assist WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme to deliver specific REDD+ Knowledge Sharing and Learning activities through June 31, 2014. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record in providing strategy expertise in the field of development-based knowledge sharing and learning; strong writing and communication skills; and experience working in an international, multi-cultural environment.

Read more about the position here

Call for JNR Expert Applicants – Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)

The VCS is seeking practitioners with significant expertise in the development and/or assessment of REDD+ programs to serve as expert reviewers around the Standard’s new Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) Framework. These experts will review more than a dozen jurisdictional programs that are now seeking validation under VCS JNR. Experts can be based anywhere.

Read more about the position here


ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

Additional resources

Kenyans Earn First Ever Carbon Credits From Sustainable Farming

NAIROBI | 21 January 2014 | The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP) last week became the first organization to earn carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for locking carbon in soil. The credits represent a reduction of 24,788 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to emissions from 5,164 vehicles in a year. These are the first credits worldwide issued under the sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) carbon accounting methodology.

The program, which Ecosystem Marketplace profiled in 2011, works by promoting sustainable or “climate-safe” agriculture that has also proven to increase yields in some cases. The KACP involves 60,000 farmers on 45,000 hectares.

Results so far show that SALM can help increase farmers’ yields by up to 15-20%, the World Bank says. These productivity gains come from greater soil fertility and help counteract the effects of increasingly extreme weather conditions. By sequestering more carbon in the soil, SALM also helps mitigate climate change.

“This project demonstrates synergies between climate-change adaptation and mitigation strategies in agriculture,” says Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Carbon credits are creating a revenue stream that enhances the extension services provided to farmers, which are critical to the adoption of these practices and also adds to farmers’ income beyond their increased crop yields. This also improves their food security, which is now more important than ever given the vulnerability to climate change.”

KACP forms an important part of the World Bank’s efforts to extend climate finance to incentivize better land management. The Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry is responsible for implementation in Kenya, supported by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and its participants – the French Development Agency and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The Fund will purchase a part of the carbon credits generated by the project by 2017, estimated at $600,000.

“As an organization, Vi Agroforestry focuses on the benefits of improved living conditions for small-scale farmers thanks to increased yields arising from improved cultivation techniques,” says Arne Andersson, Regional Director, Vi Agroforestry. “The SALM methodology proves to be very successful in achieving this.”

The BioCarbon Fund’s SALM methodology received VCS approval in December 2011. The methodology spells out how carbon sequestration in soils are measured and engages farmers themselves in the monitoring process; for the first time they are measuring the impact of their agricultural practices on crop yields.

“This proves, yet again, that good environmental practices make good business practices, and in this case they are making for good farming practices which have tremendous ancillary benefits”, said David Antonioli, VCS Chief Executive Officer. “The exciting results in Kenya show how strategic investment by development organizations like the World Bank can truly benefit farmers in the developing world by helping them harness the power of the international carbon market.”

 

Additional resources

2013: The Year In Water

As Ecosystem Marketplace looks back over water in 2013, it finds the year was marked by events like the Katoomba meeting in Beijing and the watershed payments report launch. Watershed investment programs were on the rise in East Africa where participants include flower-growers along Kenya’s Lake Naivasha and Tanga, Tanzania’s water utility.

26 December 2013 | 2013 began with the launch of our Charting New Waters: State of Watershed Payments report. Our latest global inventory of watershed investment mechanisms found more than $8 billion in annual activity, and a doubling in the number of active programs since our previous report.

We investigated a watershed investment program in Tanzania, where the city of Tanga’s water utility is promoting sustainable agriculture in the hills surrounding the city. “The project is basically an inexpensive alternative to an investment in a more expensive treatment plant,” says Tanga Chairman Raymond Mhando. “But it should also improve food security and income security for farmers, so it’s a classic win-win.”

Clearly, watershed investments can be good for livelihoods – but what about for equality? An Ecosystem Marketplace article took a look at water funds, innovative financing mechanisms employed by downstream water users to promote upstream land conservation. Water funds may present opportunities for impoverished women to participate in economic activities long left only for men – but only if such programs truly are meritocracies, and only if women themselves are able to grab the opportunity.

Hurricane Sandy’s devastation in the fall of 2012 led to interest from public officials in green infrastructure to protect urban and coastal areas from storm surges, and where better to look for ideas than that most flood-prone of places, the Netherlands?

In New York, a “storm panel” convened by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make recommendations for preparing for future storm events like Sandy called for a range of natural infrastructure investments, like restoring oyster reefs along the city’s coastline and creating a dune system.

In February, we covered a new approach to remote sensing, using a military tool primarily deployed for surveillance work in Iraq and Afghanistan to monitor ecology instead. We also developed a primer on remote sensing for those new to the technologies.

That month, the World Resources Institute also launched its Aqueduct water risk mapping tool, while the Carbon Trust rolled out a new Water Standard.

March found us exploring watershed payment programs in Kenya in a special four-part series. We began with a look at the hydrology of the watershed and the key players on the shores and in the hills. We examined the challenge of developing a ground-breaking payments for watershed services (PWS) program that involves upstream farmers and downstream users. A third article considered the role that PWS can play in other programs underway in the watershed. And finally, we wrote about the impacts of the program on one Kenyan farmer, Chege Mwangi.

That month, the US Council on Environmental Quality initiated a commenting period on proposed new guidelines for evaluating Federal water resources investments. The proposed guidance includes an ecosystem services approach to evaluating new investments’ impacts on both the economy and the environment.

March also saw the release of a new report from Natlab on generating cash flows for green infrastructure, building on Philadelphia’s stormwater financing model.

World Water Day took place in late March. We covered a regional consultation on groundwater governance, where a fascinating conversation on the proper role of the private sector in water resource management took place.

Is the conversation about stacking – or layering multiple streams of environmental finance – becoming way too academic? That’s the question we asked in a piece exploring the real-world limits and potential of stacking.

An oil pipeline spill in Arkansas in April got us thinking about the impacts of oil on groundwater. An even bigger threat than the Arkansas spill is looming these days in Alberta, Canada, where tar sands waste is polluting water supplies with little monitoring or oversight.

That month, we also took a look at Mexico’s federal forest conservation program to protect watershed values, which began in the lecture halls of academia and today might offer some lessons to similar large-scale environmental compensation programs in other countries.

The 18th annual Katoomba Meeting convened in China in May, focusing on investments in forests and water. We were there to cover it, along with new features on watershed investments in China, including a massive program to reforest sloping lands, and support for innovative environmental incentives.

The Katoomba meeting brought together leaders in the watershed investments space from all over the world to consider China’s unique water-energy nexus challenges, the potential for South-South learning on solutions for water, and the role of green infrastructure in addressing China’s water woes.

Highlights of our live dispatches from the meeting included early signs of a shift in China toward courting private sector finance, a workshop tapping the collective wisdom of meeting attendees in designing a payment mechanism for Beijing’s Miyun Reservoir, and liveblogs capturing some of the brilliance flying around the event.

The meeting yielded recommendations scaling up watershed investments for the Miyun, within China, and at the global level, which you can view here. In June, we investigated a bi-national fisheries project between Belize and Guatemala that aims to build an organized union of local fisherfolk to manage the region’s natural resources and empower locals to meet the looming threat of oil exploitation.

The Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) began implementation of major commitments identified in the Declaration’s roadmap to 2020. The NCD is a global project that seeks to integrate natural capital – the ecological goods and services the Earth provides – into financial accounting, disclosure and reporting. It’s been endorsed by investors, insurance firms and banks; a total of 41 CEOs from financial institutions have signed the document.

In July, we kicked off the first of a series of stories focusing on the economics of ecosystem protection along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. A civil suit brought by the state’s flood protection authority against companies that have degraded coastal wetlands might have big implications for elevating natural infrastructure’s profile in the US.

Part Two: Building A More Resilient Gulf, looks at Tierra Resources’ new carbon methodology for wetland-restoration projects and explains why Entergy, the major utility in the region, has embraced the project.

We also took a broader look at Entergy’s efforts to identify and address climate-related risks in the Gulf.

Finally, Louisiana’s Wetlands: Why We Need Them, And Why Oil Companies Aren’t Alone On The Hot Seat focused on factors degrading the coast and driving the lawsuit in a Harry Shearer interview with SLFPAE vice president John Barry.

July also marked a new partnership between the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior focused on nature-based investments on western lands to protect water supplies from increased wildfire risk.

In September, a draft nutrient trading bill in Pennsylvania sparked a heated debate, with supporters anticipating a slash in the cost of Bay cleanup and opponents seeing technology that isn’t cost-competitive or compliant with state and federal regulations.

2013’s World Water Week theme was “water cooperation.” A coalition spanning the US-Mexico border offered a perfect example of that principle. The group is thinking outside the box to restore the Colorado River delta – using water rights markets, recaptured wastewater, and a groundbreaking new federal deal – that’s breathing new life into an ecosystem widely assumed to be gone forever.

An opinion piece in October asked why renewable energy projects are run through a professional combine while restoration projects receive a trophy just for playing? Instead, why not carefully evaluate output and return on investment of environmental restoration, and in doing so leverage far more private capital?

A profile on Julio Tresierra, a Peruvian sociologist dedicated to poverty alleviation, traced his work implementing investments in watershed services (IWS) projects in impoverished nations. Over the past four years, his ideas for IWS plans have been implemented in Indonesia, Peru and Guatemala benefitting hundreds of families.

Later in October, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.

November saw the launch of the CDP 2013 Global Water Report, offering businesses’ reports on their water risk management. Though awareness and onsite-management have grown, businesses still seem to be missing risks “beyond the fence.”

We covered an “Office Hour” interactive chat with Linwood Pendleton, the Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University, on marine and coastal ecosystem services. The questions were wide-ranging, but Pendleton focused on connecting with decision makers through relevant high quality data that is easily communicated.

And to close out 2013, an article on Monterrey, Mexico’s new water fund examined how the fund does double-duty water risk management, shielding Monterrey from both hurricane damage and drought effects.

2013: The Year in Water

As Ecosystem Marketplace looks back over water in 2013, it finds the year was marked by events like the Katoomba meeting in Beijing and the watershed payments report launch. Watershed investment programs were on the rise in East Africa where participants include flower-growers along Kenya’s Lake Naivasha and Tanga, Tanzania’s water utility.

26 December 2013 | 2013 began with the launch of our Charting New Waters: State of Watershed Payments report. Our latest global inventory of watershed investment mechanisms found more than $8 billion in annual activity, and a doubling in the number of active programs since our previous report.

We investigated a watershed investment program in Tanzania, where the city of Tanga’s water utility is promoting sustainable agriculture in the hills surrounding the city. “The project is basically an inexpensive alternative to an investment in a more expensive treatment plant,” says Tanga Chairman Raymond Mhando. “But it should also improve food security and income security for farmers, so it’s a classic win-win.”

Clearly, watershed investments can be good for livelihoods – but what about for equality? An Ecosystem Marketplace article took a look at water funds, innovative financing mechanisms employed by downstream water users to promote upstream land conservation. Water funds may present opportunities for impoverished women to participate in economic activities long left only for men – but only if such programs truly are meritocracies, and only if women themselves are able to grab the opportunity.

Hurricane Sandy’s devastation in the fall of 2012 led to interest from public officials in green infrastructure to protect urban and coastal areas from storm surges, and where better to look for ideas than that most flood-prone of places, the Netherlands?

In New York, a “storm panel” convened by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make recommendations for preparing for future storm events like Sandy called for a range of natural infrastructure investments, like restoring oyster reefs along the city’s coastline and creating a dune system.

In February, we covered a new approach to remote sensing, using a military tool primarily deployed for surveillance work in Iraq and Afghanistan to monitor ecology instead. We also developed a primer on remote sensing for those new to the technologies.

That month, the World Resources Institute also launched its Aqueduct water risk mapping tool, while the Carbon Trust rolled out a new Water Standard.

March found us exploring watershed payment programs in Kenya in a special four-part series. We began with a look at the hydrology of the watershed and the key players on the shores and in the hills. We examined the challenge of developing a ground-breaking payments for watershed services (PWS) program that involves upstream farmers and downstream users. A third article considered the role that PWS can play in other programs underway in the watershed. And finally, we wrote about the impacts of the program on one Kenyan farmer, Chege Mwangi.

That month, the US Council on Environmental Quality initiated a commenting period on proposed new guidelines for evaluating Federal water resources investments. The proposed guidance includes an ecosystem services approach to evaluating new investments’ impacts on both the economy and the environment.

March also saw the release of a new report from Natlab on generating cash flows for green infrastructure, building on Philadelphia’s stormwater financing model.

World Water Day took place in late March. We covered a regional consultation on groundwater governance, where a fascinating conversation on the proper role of the private sector in water resource management took place.

Is the conversation about stacking – or layering multiple streams of environmental finance – becoming way too academic? That’s the question we asked in a piece exploring the real-world limits and potential of stacking.

An oil pipeline spill in Arkansas in April got us thinking about the impacts of oil on groundwater. An even bigger threat than the Arkansas spill is looming these days in Alberta, Canada, where tar sands waste is polluting water supplies with little monitoring or oversight.

That month, we also took a look at Mexico’s federal forest conservation program to protect watershed values, which began in the lecture halls of academia and today might offer some lessons to similar large-scale environmental compensation programs in other countries.

The 18th annual Katoomba Meeting convened in China in May, focusing on investments in forests and water. We were there to cover it, along with new features on watershed investments in China, including a massive program to reforest sloping lands, and support for innovative environmental incentives.

The Katoomba meeting brought together leaders in the watershed investments space from all over the world to consider China’s unique water-energy nexus challenges, the potential for South-South learning on solutions for water, and the role of green infrastructure in addressing China’s water woes.

Highlights of our live dispatches from the meeting included early signs of a shift in China toward courting private sector finance, a workshop tapping the collective wisdom of meeting attendees in designing a payment mechanism for Beijing’s Miyun Reservoir, and liveblogs capturing some of the brilliance flying around the event.

The meeting yielded recommendations scaling up watershed investments for the Miyun, within China, and at the global level, which you can view here. In June, we investigated a bi-national fisheries project between Belize and Guatemala that aims to build an organized union of local fisherfolk to manage the region’s natural resources and empower locals to meet the looming threat of oil exploitation.

The Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) began implementation of major commitments identified in the Declaration’s roadmap to 2020. The NCD is a global project that seeks to integrate natural capital – the ecological goods and services the Earth provides – into financial accounting, disclosure and reporting. It’s been endorsed by investors, insurance firms and banks; a total of 41 CEOs from financial institutions have signed the document.

In July, we kicked off the first of a series of stories focusing on the economics of ecosystem protection along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. A civil suit brought by the state’s flood protection authority against companies that have degraded coastal wetlands might have big implications for elevating natural infrastructure’s profile in the US.

Part Two: Building A More Resilient Gulf, looks at Tierra Resources’ new carbon methodology for wetland-restoration projects and explains why Entergy, the major utility in the region, has embraced the project.

We also took a broader look at Entergy’s efforts to identify and address climate-related risks in the Gulf.

Finally, Louisiana’s Wetlands: Why We Need Them, And Why Oil Companies Aren’t Alone On The Hot Seat focused on factors degrading the coast and driving the lawsuit in a Harry Shearer interview with SLFPAE vice president John Barry.

July also marked a new partnership between the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior focused on nature-based investments on western lands to protect water supplies from increased wildfire risk.

In September, a draft nutrient trading bill in Pennsylvania sparked a heated debate, with supporters anticipating a slash in the cost of Bay cleanup and opponents seeing technology that isn’t cost-competitive or compliant with state and federal regulations.

2013’s World Water Week theme was “water cooperation.” A coalition spanning the US-Mexico border offered a perfect example of that principle. The group is thinking outside the box to restore the Colorado River delta – using water rights markets, recaptured wastewater, and a groundbreaking new federal deal – that’s breathing new life into an ecosystem widely assumed to be gone forever.

An opinion piece in October asked why renewable energy projects are run through a professional combine while restoration projects receive a trophy just for playing? Instead, why not carefully evaluate output and return on investment of environmental restoration, and in doing so leverage far more private capital?

A profile on Julio Tresierra, a Peruvian sociologist dedicated to poverty alleviation, traced his work implementing investments in watershed services (IWS) projects in impoverished nations. Over the past four years, his ideas for IWS plans have been implemented in Indonesia, Peru and Guatemala benefitting hundreds of families.

Later in October, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.

November saw the launch of the CDP 2013 Global Water Report, offering businesses’ reports on their water risk management. Though awareness and onsite-management have grown, businesses still seem to be missing risks “beyond the fence.”

We covered an “Office Hour” interactive chat with Linwood Pendleton, the Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University, on marine and coastal ecosystem services. The questions were wide-ranging, but Pendleton focused on connecting with decision makers through relevant high quality data that is easily communicated.

And to close out 2013, an article on Monterrey, Mexico’s new water fund examined how the fund does double-duty water risk management, shielding Monterrey from both hurricane damage and drought effects.

This Week In Water: A Good Month For Green Infrastructure

The past month saw movement in the green infrastructure space with an assessment on green infrastructure valuation tools and a $50 million fund slated to implement natural infrastructure upgrades in Chicago. Also this month, two papers from Forest Trends offering thoughts on the social impact assessment of investments in watershed services programs.

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.

24 October 2013 | Greetings! A new pair of papers from Forest Trends offers initial thoughts on guidance for social impact assessment (SIA) for investments in watershed services (IWS) projects. In addition to the intended environmental outcomes, IWS can have unplanned social or equity impacts. The papers include recommendations for IWS-specific SIA, and a literature review on gender and social impacts related to watershed investments. We invite you to take a look here.  

 

As far as the news, well – sometimes you just have to stop and contemplate your navel. In China, despite success in cleaning up the Xin’an River, officials are wondering whether “eco-compensation” levels were really high enough. A fascinating study of PES projects in Africa suggests that a buyer-seller structure might only work for carbon: for watershed services, perhaps it’s better to use a co-investment model that links different stakeholders and their respective assets (such finance, labor, or land). Another paper asks why valuation studies don’t seem to be influencing policy.


“Natural” or “green” infrastructure has had a good few weeks, with a new guidance report on source water protection, an assessment of green infrastructure valuation tools, and a $50 million pot announced to green up Chicago.

 

We wanted to let you know that Valorando Naturaleza, sister site to Ecosystem Marketplace, will host the second webinar in its report launch series Considering Compensations in Latin America: Carbon Management, Communities And Corporate Responsibility on Friday Oct 25th at 12pm EST. The webinar focuses on green decision making and south-south marketplace developments and will be presented in Spanish.

 

VN.org brings together private sector speakers including Keyvan Macedo of Natura (Brazil), Carlos Berner of the Santiago Climate Exchange (Chile), Valentina Lira of Concha y Toro Winery (Chile) and Sylvia Chaves of Florex (Costa Rica), to discuss how forest carbon offsets fit into their strategies and what their experience has been engaging in such deals. Register here to reserve your place.

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact newsletter@ecosystemmarketplace.com

Forest Trends’ Fundraising Challenge

Forest Trends’ work doesn’t grow on trees – we rely on readers’ generosity to help keep them standing.

Now through November 22, (and for the cost of a typical lunch!), donations to Forest Trends’ Crowdrise campaign could leverage up to $1 million in matching awards through the Skoll Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Help Forest Trends expand our vital services to communities and experts on the front lines of ecosystem conservation. $10 will go a long way!

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EM Headlines

GENERAL

Julio Tresierra: Transforming Lives With Investments In Watershed Services

Julio Tresierra has always been obsessed with change. That’s what lured him from his native Peru five decades ago, and it’s what keeps him going at 71. Since then, he’s been traveling the world – both geographically and philosophically – in search of real-world solutions to our deepest societal problems. He found the answers living with the poorest of the poor and working on over 60 social development projects with various civil society organizations and government agencies across Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Eight years ago, Tresierra went to work for the environmental NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in cooperation with CARE, a humanitarian organization specializing in assisting marginalized populations. The result is a global network of pilot projects called Equitable Payments for Watershed Services.

 

Tresierra reasoned that if farmers and ranchers improved the areas upstream of a watershed by preventing sedimentation and erosion, then residents, businesses and landowners downstream, who rely on healthy watersheds to conduct business, would be willing to pay for the service. It would help lift farmers out of poverty, he thought, and also generate a sustainable cycle: farmers in upland areas, which are usually those who live in extreme poverty and grow food for consumption, would benefit from better crops to restore water quality. This would also enable them to sell their crops to local markets or even trade with foreign buyers. Ultimately, an investments in watershed services (IWS) scheme would allow for cooperation between the water sector and other stakeholders operating in a basin, instead of conflict and competition.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Restoration vs. Renewable Energy: Amateurism Doesn’t Pay

Critics of renewable energy investments usually focus on the relatively high cost of the power they generate. New project proposals require sophisticated financial models that compare permitting, manufacturing, and operating costs against projected power generation rates and pricing over time. On the other hand, environmental restoration proposals are rarely assessed using return on investment calculations. In fact, project developers may need only a before-and-after illustration and a willing land owner to receive funding for a new project. Restoration investments may face criticisms, but not due to their estimated output being more expensive than alternatives. Output is rarely measured using metrics that the public can understand and thus frequently not valued at all.

So why is it, asks Damon Hess of Sitka Technology Group, that the requirements for funding renewable energy are so much more onerous than those for environmental restoration? Public investments in renewable energy projects are meant to spur larger private investments and thus are held to a higher standard, he writes. Public investments in environmental restoration are meant to make us feel good about our commitment to “mother nature” and thus are given treated with kid gloves.

Read Hess’s opinion piece here.

Understanding Social Impacts of Watershed Investments

A new pair of papers from Forest Trends offers initial thoughts on guidance for social impact assessment (SIA) for investments in watershed services (IWS) projects. IWS, like any intervention, likely will result in some negative social or equity impacts, as well as hopefully some positive ones.


The main paper provides recommendations for carrying out SIA in the watershed investment context. The paper draws on an extensive literature on the theory and practice of SIA, on the authors’ experiences of applying SIA in other natural resource contexts, and on discussions from a workshop with IWS program practitioners. It sets out the case for SIA as an issue of self-interest for IWS interventions. “Good practice” SIA can strengthen the design of IWS programs in terms of social sustainability, reduce risk levels, increase capacity for adaptive management, and (if done in a participative way) increase stakeholder participation and ownership of project objectives. An accompanying literature review of gender and other social impacts of IWS projects looks at what the existing literature has to say about wider social impacts of IWS, and examines gender issues specifically in greater detail.

Read the paper.
Read the literature review.

A Changing Climate: Implications for Business

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis is the most detailed assessment of climate science ever. Over 2,000 pages of scientific consensus make clear that climate change is real, that it is happening now and that human influence on the changing climate is more certain than ever.

To help the business community better understand the implications of climate change for their business model, the European Climate Foundation, which promotes energy and climate policy that reduces carbon emissions in Europe, have produced a digestible summary of the IPCC report. Published by the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and the Programme for Sustainability Leadership and supported by the ECF, Climate Change: Actions, Trends and Implications for Business distills key findings into an easily readable, but non-the-less scientifically accurate document. The report summarizes scientific basis of climate change projections and anticipated impacts and includes infographics charting the “pathway to two degrees,” i.e. the targeted maximum increase in global temperatures.

Learn more here.

In The News

POLICY UPDATES

A Post-2015 Goal on Water?

There’s a growing drumroll to include a water goal in the post-2015 development agenda’s sustainable development goals; the Millennium Development Goals noticeably lacked one. At a high-level meeting in Budapest earlier this month, a ‘Budapest Statement‘ was developed calling for a dedicated water goal. Targets would include universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation, a shift to integrated basin-level management, reducing pollution and scaling up collection, treatment, and re-use, and increased resilience against the water-related impacts of global changes. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says he supports a water goal as well: “Water holds the key to sustainable development.”

Read more from IISD News.

Judge Forces EPA’s Hand on Water Pollution Standards in the Mississippi

A decision handed down by a federal judge last month gives the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) six months to set numeric (i.e. quantitative) nutrient standards in the Mississippi River basin, or explain why standards aren’t needed. The EPA has since 2008 taken the position that numeric standards should be developed by states, as it did in the case of Florida. But the agency declined to comment on whether it believed standards were needed at all. Environmentalists challenged that in court. Now the EPA has to either find that water quality issues in the 31-state basin don’t merit pollution standards (even though the agency has long said these problems are severe), or undertake a formal rulemaking. That determination need not be limited to the scientific basis for standards, but can consider other factors such as social impacts – an outcome welcomed by farm groups who had taken the EPA side against environmentalists.

E&E News has the story.

The Fate of All Those Valuation Studies

Ecosystem services valuation methodologies are, after two decades of sustained academic attention and debate, finally (reasonably) well-accepted in the environmental economics community. But are they translating into policy change? A recent Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) project examined hundreds of journal articles on ecosystem services valuation (ESV) in search of evidence of influence on decision making. What they found: in just 2% of cases, ESV clearly influenced a decision.


Even for the “same half-dozen” examples repeatedly cited, it’s not clear that ESV drove decision-making. “The case that came up most often was New York City paying to protect the Catskills watershed,” explains Raphaí«l Billé, the project’s coordinator. “As the story goes, this was done after an economic valuation showed that it would be cheaper than letting the watershed degrade and building a sophisticated water treatment plant. There is evidence, however, that the decision was made first, and that an economic valuation was commissioned later to strengthen its legitimacy.”

Read an interview with Billé in the latest Marine Ecosytems and Management newsletter (page seven).
Read a paper on IDDRI’s findings.

GLOBAL MARKETS

World’s Largest Brewer Looks Beyond the Fence

In its efforts to manage water and energy consumption, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, has found it needs to think beyond its own walls, at both its supply chain and the watersheds in which it operates. “Access to safe water is critical for our business and the communities where we live and work, so we need to have sustainable water resources in the areas where we operate,” says Daniel Navaresse, global director of energy and fluids for the company. He says the company plans to support watershed protection efforts around its facilities in seven countries, implement best management practices in key barley-growing areas, and improve efficiencies in beermaking – all by 2017.

Read more at E&E News.

New Report Charts the Path to Natural Infrastructure Investments

A new report from the World Resources Institute, Earth Economics and Manomet Center for Conservation offers a roadmap to investing in natural infrastructure as a complement or supplement to engineered solutions. Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States sets out the economic and scientific basis for source water protection for water managers. The focus is on concrete lessons, with case examples of successful programs, a review of available tools and approaches, and additional resources for developing a source-water protection strategy in your own watershed. “Natural infrastructure has long been recognized by state drinking water administrators as a powerful and sustainable approach for protecting sources of drinking water and thereby, public health,” said Jim Taft, Executive Director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators in a press release. “This guide will be of considerable value to states by providing comprehensive information about innovative tools that will help bring the use of natural infrastructure approaches to scale.”

Read a press release.
Access the report.

Nutrient Trading Eyed in Georgia

Calhoun Utilities may be the site of Georgia’s first nutrient trading program. Plant upgrades to control phosphorus pollution in Weiss Lake would cost several million dollars upfront and another $800,000 annually, according to Jerry Crawford, the utilities’ director of water and wastewater. “With nutrient trading we find a way to remove the phosphorous a cheaper way,” Crawford said. “We would spend $800,000 a year at the waste water plant, or we can spend $200,000 dealing with the poultry farmers.” Participating poultry farmers could sell their nutrient-rich chicken litter to other agricultural producers for fertilizer, rather than letting it run off into the lake – a double win, says Crawford. The utility is currently engaging farmers in the area for pilots.

Read more at the Calhoun Times.

Florida Nitrogen Trade Awakens the Additionality Monster

A proposed purchase by the city of Jacksonsville, FL from a utility is being criticized for a lack of additionality – in other words, the trade lets Jacksonville get credit for nutrient reductions that would have happened anyway. “You’re using money to buy a credit for [pollution] reductions that have already been made. It’s not an addition,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman. “We’re not going to move the needle if we use that [money] to buy water-quality trading credits.” But the utility says under the terms of the sale, its permitted allowance for nitrogen loading will be reduced by 67,000 lbs (i.e. the amount of the trade), meaning that the pollution reductions are real. Water quality trading in Florida was just expanded statewide in June 2013, after a pilot in the Lower St. Johns River basin.

Keep reading at the Florida Current.

Are Eco-Compensation Levels in Anhui-Zhejiang Deal High Enough?

In 2011, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces in China entered into an unusual bet. If water quality in Anhui reached basic standards, then Zhejiang province would pay Anhui 100 million yuan (US $16.4 million). But if pollution persisted, then Anhui would have to pony up. The central government contributed another 300 million yuan (US $49 million) in support of efforts. An article from Xinhua News offers an update: 2012 levels exceeded water quality standards, so Anhui won the bet (though downstream Zhejiang likely considered themselves winners as well).

 

Still, some say the pilot could be improved. Many industrial facilities and agricultural producers were required to cease operations along the Xin’an River. They were compensated for doing so, but many feel the compensation was not high enough. “After two years of treatment, water quality in Xin’an River has improved a lot. But residents in the upper reaches who sacrificed their own interests to protect the ecological environment have not got substantial returns,” said Gu Jiawen, a senior political advisor in Huangshan. “500 million yuan (US $82 million) is not much and even could not pay for the costs of the current environmental protection projects,” added Lu Haining, deputy head of the Huangshan Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. “The amount of the compensation fund should be increased annually. Otherwise, it cannot be called compensation.”

Read more at XinhuaNet.

ADB Issues High-Level Guidance on Managing the Nexus

The water-food-energy nexus has gotten a lot of press recently, but solutions to nexus issues aren’t always clear. A new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) scopes the nexus in Asia and the Pacific and offers guidance on increasing water, food, and energy security. Recommendations include reforming governance, improving data and information, protecting freshwater resources, increasing agricultural water use productivity, and investing in strategic storage (including aquifer recharge). A core suggestion in Thinking About Water Differently: Managing the Water-Food-Energy Nexus – that governments need to take a much longer-term view of water management – isn’t new, but bears repeating.

Read a press release.
Read the report (PDF).

Who Needs a Buyer for PES Projects?

Recent work by the World Agroforestry Centre offers a different way of thinking about program design for payments for ecosystem services (PES). Lead researcher Sara Namirembe looked at 50 “tree-based” PES projects in Africa. She found that efforts based on a high degree of commodification of an ecosystem service, and the identification of a buyer for that service, tended to work only in the carbon space. Instead, “co-investment” models that establish partnerships between stakeholders with different assets (such as land, labor, or finance), instead of buyer-seller relationship, seem to be more successful on the continent. Namirembe suggests this is because have lower requirements for “proving” benefits, since there is no buyer: all participants are on a level playing field.

Read a blog post about the study here.

$4.5m for Marine Ecosystem Valuation in the Coral Triangle

A $4.5 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will support efforts in the Philippines and Malaysia to value mangrove, sea grass and coral reef ecosystems services and inform policies and projects aimed at protecting these ecosystems. The “Coral Triangle” that lies between the two countries is the world’s biodiversity epicenter, say project funders. “This wealth of natural capital has the potential to be a major driver of inclusive green growth in the region, if we overcome some huge challenges. We especially need better resource governance regimes, measures to adequately value the environment for current and future generations when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision making and tradeoffs,” says Marea Hatziolos, Senior Environmental Specialist and the World Bank’s team leader for the project.

The Manila Bulletin has coverage

A $50m Green Infrastructure Fund for Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced earlier this month that a $50 million fund has been dedicated to green infrastructure in the city, to be spent over the next five years. It’s welcome news, given that a previous stormwater settlement – the terms of which have been compared to Boston deciding to trade Babe Ruth to the Yankees – between the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the EPA included just $325,000 for green infrastructure. Chicago’s aging infrastructure network currently struggles to cope with even small volumes of stormwater. The fund puts Chicago back in the big league with cities like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York and Seattle – all of which are making serious investments in green installations. Work is set to start this fall.

Read more here.

Assessing Tools for Green Infrastructure Valuation

A new report from Natural England offers a useful review of valuation tools that estimate monetary benefits of green infrastructure. Nine different examples – including tools like NatCap’s INVEST and the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s ‘Guide to Valuing Green Infrastructure’ – are assessed against research standards for natural science and economics. Summaries of each tool are provided, as well as recommendations for appropriate use. The authors also report on the gaps they find: for example, the tools evaluated don’t seem to cover cultural and provisioning ecosystem services well, nor do they offer methods for valuing ponds, grass verges, or hedges.

Access the report here.

EVENTS

CDP Global Water Forum 2013

CDP’s Global Water Forum will bring together institutional investors, corporations and policy makers to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: water security. This virtual roundtable will be broadcast live online using cutting edge TelePresence technology, where leaders in their field will apply expert insights on the topic of water security. 31 October 2013. Online.

Learn more here.

Peoples, Land, and Water: The Natural Connection

Land and water has always been the immediate surroundings of peoples in all existences and continents. It has always been the base on which Man depends on for his existence. Land serves as home, a nutrient-filled and agricultural base, a thoroughfare, a religious base, et cetera. Water is all important beginning with the human body made up of water, water also serves as nourishment, used for cooking and the rivers, streams and oceans are home for very many habitats necessary for life. Wars have been fought to protect and preserve land and water space meaning that they are fundamental resource for human survival. Prevailing civilizations and epochs are chronicled with the effects these constituents have on human life. The conference therefore would like to explore these great connections from the humanities, science and social science perspectives. The hope of the conference is to discuss the interconnectedness or relatedness of these three theatres of life for existence/ living and chart a model or value system for the preservation of the resources and sustainable use by the human society. 3-6 November 2013. Contonou, Republic of Benin.

Learn more here.

Irrigation and Water Forum: Water and the Green Economy

The Irrigation and Water Forum (the new name for ICID.UK) and UEA Water Security are hosting a one day conference on Water and the Green Economy. The term ‘green economy’ implies economic growth alongside a decreasing consumption of natural capital. (UNEP’s working definition considers a green economy to be one which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities). However the conference will mainly be from an agricultural water point of view, and the interpretation of agriculture, water and the economy will be wide; including water and environmental conservation, productivity, the food chain and the role of the private sector. Guidance on attendance and pricing is given below. The final programme is subject to adjustments. The conference is followed by a complimentary networking event. The event will be available to watch on-line to registered participants using the ICE website – contact Tim Fuller for further details. Tim.Fuller@ice.org.uk. London, UK. 8 November 2013.

Learn more here.

Webinar – Green Infrastructure as a catalyst to economic growth

Over the summer Defra and Natural England published a report on the role Green Infrastructure plays as a catalyst to economic growth. This study pulled together evidence from the UK and around the world demonstrating how investment in GI encourages inward investment and attracts increased visitor spending at a local level and saves environmental costs and provides health benefits which in turn boost productivity. As part of the work of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, Natural England will be running a webinar to introduce and discuss the findings of this report. The webinar will be held on 18th of November running from 10:00 until 11:30. If you would like to join this webinar please email Tom.Butterworth@NaturalEngland.org.uk. 18 November 2013. Online.

Learn more here.

Sustainable Water Management Conference

Presenting solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing infrastructure, developing robust supply models and watershed management plans, water reuse, resource management, green infrastructure and more. 30 March – 2 April 2014. Denver CO, USA.

Learn more here.

CONTRIBUTING TO ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.


Additional resources

How Carbon Markets Save Lives And Slash Pollution

 

24 October 2013 | Some problems are complex. Others are simple. And often the twain converge.

Take, for example, the complex challenge of climate change. It’s caused by almost everything we do. It impacts us in ways that are difficult to fathom. And fixing it will require us to completely update the global energy sector.

Contrast this with the fairly straightforward problem of indoor air pollution. This one is caused by traditional stoves that burn dirty fuels inefficiently. It kills four million people every year. And fixing it will require us to replace about 1 billion traditional stoves with cleaner varieties.

Simple? Yes — but not easy, because those billion stoves are scattered all across the world, and replacing them also requires marketing, education and training. Aid agencies, nonprofits and commercial manufacturers have spent decades building up successful regional programs, but many are finding it difficult to get that extra bit of finance that can turn medium-sized efforts into larger ones and larger ones into massive ones.

Increasingly our research shows that the critical, final piece of finance is coming from a surprising source.

Stoves and fire pits, it turns out, pump hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That makes them part of the climate-change problem, which means we all have an interest in replacing them.

Over the years, standard-setting organizations like the Gold Standard and the Clean Development Mechanism have made it possible to generate carbon offsets by helping distribute clean cookstoves. In some cases, the credits provide deep discounts for poor people and aid agencies, but most of the money goes towards manufacturing, marketing, distribution and testing of stoves and fuels — activities that support a sustainable market that generates reductions many times higher than the number of credits generated.

Last year, carbon markets funneled more than $167 million into clean cookstove distribution, according to our most recent report produced in partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and unveiled by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week in New York. That’s a huge proportion of the $246 million that carbon revenues have contributed to the stove sector over time.

The Funding Mosaic: Carbon Finance Is One Piece Of The Puzzle
2013-10-04-CookstovesChart.JPG

The Alliance

The Alliance itself has more than 800 partners around the world, and its aim is to get these efficient stoves into 100 million households by 2020. Our research shows that Alliance partners distributed 8.2 million stoves in 2012 — up from 3.6 million the year before — and that carbon finance helped pay for about half of them.

That’s especially good news for women — because it not only means better health, but less time spent gathering wood and more time spent doing other things that improve their lives. Indeed, the report found that 172 of the Alliance partners had made it a priority to empower women.

Armed with this understanding, social entrepreneurs can now tap into carbon finance to attack other seemingly intractable social challenges — like women’s rights, indigenous empowerment and subsistence farming.

To promote this understanding, the Skoll Foundation supports Forest Trends, the environmental nonprofit that publishes Ecosystem Marketplace and pilots efforts like the Surui Carbon Project in Brazil. Forest Trends was created by foresters to explore the interplay between economy and ecology, and it’s been invited to participate in the Social Entrepreneurs Challenge. Launched on September 30 by the Skoll Foundation and Huffington Post, this is the largest CrowdRise campaign ever, involving scores of social entrepreneurs from around the world. You can participate by shouting us out on Huffington Post or sponsoring us on CrowdRise, where we aim is to raise $45,000 by November 22.

As in cookstoves, a little often goes a long way. If enough of us meet our goals, Skoll will step up with matching funds that we’ll use to expand our coverage into these fascinating and important mechanisms.

Donate Here

Read about cookstoves in Spanish here.

Clean Cookstoves: How They Slash Carbon Emissions

Hillary Rodham Clinton: How The Global Alliance Works



Additional resources

Credits From First African
Government Backed REDD+ Project Go On Sale

The Makira REDD+ project in Madagascar, which aims to protect 400,000 hectares of forest, announced its carbon credits are for sale becoming the first of its kind to put credits on the carbon market. Devastated by illegal rosewood logging just a few years ago, the Makira REDD+ project is part of Code REDD, a group of projects with high standards on conserving biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods.

This article was originally published on Mongabay.com. Click here to read the original.

19 September 2013 Carbon credits generated from protecting thousands of hectares of endangered rainforest in northeastern Madagascar have now been certified for sale, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the project’s main organizer. The development represents the first time that credits generated by African government-owned project have been put on the voluntary carbon market.

The Makira REDD+ Project aims to protect 400,000 hectares of forest in a part of Madagascar that has suffered from illegal rosewood logging. Backers estimate the initiative will prevent emissions of 32 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years, or roughly the annual emissions of the state of Montana. More importantly, the project will help protect some 20 species of lemurs, including more than a dozen at-risk species, while creating new economic opportunities for locals living in and around the park, according to WCS.

“Along with its benefits to wildlife, the sale will directly benefit local communities living around the protected area by allocating 50 percent of the net revenues of carbon sales to improve local infrastructure, provide health and education services, and support training, inputs, and technical assistance for sustainable agriculture,” said the group in a statement. WCS is charged with implementing the project.

The Makira REDD+ Project was conceived before the March 2009 coup that displaced Madagascar’s democratically-elected president from power. The coup cut off the flow of critical conservation funds, spurring an orgy of illegal logging and poaching in Makira and the neighboring protected areas of Masoala and Marojejy. While some of the illegal logging and rosewood smuggling was linked to political officials who took power after the coup, the activity has since slowed dramatically, offering opportunities to strengthen conservation efforts in the region, including bolstering the Ministry of Environment and Forests, whose staff made heroic efforts to stave off illegal logging during the worst of the 2009 political crisis.

Accordingly, Madagascar’s Secretaire General of the Ministry of Environment and Forests welcomed the milestone validation and verification under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

“Green growth is the fruit of a green economy within the context of sustainable development realized through the implementation of an appropriate management of natural resources and the valuing of biodiversity,” said Pierre Manganirina Randrianarisoa in a statement. “Thus, the sale of carbon stored in the protected forests of Makira Natural Park provides a significant financial opportunity for Madagascar.”

The Makira REDD+ Project is run by the Makira Carbon Company, a non-profit subsidiary of WCS. The project is part of Code REDD, a bloc of REDD+ projects that set high standards for conserving biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods. Code REDD aims to create a class of premium REDD+ offsets to set their credits apart from those generated by less stringent and more controversial projects.

WCS president and CEO Cristií¡n Samper says the Makira project sets a good example for what REDD+ can deliver for conservation in developing countries like Madagascar.

“This sale is a major step forward for the Government of Madagascar in advancing the use of carbon credits to fight climate change while protecting biodiversity and human livelihoods,” said Samper. “WCS congratulates Madagascar and is proud to partner with them on the Makira REDD+ project.”

“The sale of these carbon credits has triple bottom-line benefits; it helps wildlife, local people, and fights climate change,” added Todd Stevens, Vice President of the Makira Carbon Company.

Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999 and currently serves as its president, head writer and chief editor.
Additional resources

South Africa Aims To Blend
Carbon Tax With Offsets

Proponents of cap-and-trade argue that it creates the most efficient performance-based mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by funneling payments directly from emitters to reducers. Those who prefer a carbon tax argue that it’s a more manageable mechanism. South Africa says there’s a hybrid solution: one that blends a carbon tax with an offsetting mechanism.

5 September 2013 | To tax or to trade? That is the question countries are asking as they look for ways to incentivize the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

South Africa has pitched a tent somewhere between the two camps by proposing a carbon tax to be implemented in 2015, but floating the idea of letting companies use carbon offsets to meet up to 10% of their carbon tax liability.

During the 2009 Copenhagen climate change negotiations, the country announced it would voluntarily aim to reduce its GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 from business as usual. That triggered a series of consultations and research on the best ways to achieve those goals, with South Africa’s National Treasury department releasing a discussion paper specifically focused on the carbon tax option in December 2010.

That paper evaluated the benefits and disadvantages of implementing a carbon tax in South Africa versus an emissions trading scheme (ETS). Taking into account comments received in response to that paper, the government released an updated paper in May that settles on a proposal to implement a carbon tax in South Africa.

The paper concluded that South Africa would find it difficult to develop an effective cap-and-trade mechanism because the lack of energy industry players would likely reduce the efficiency gains that normally would result from a trading mechanism.

“In the South African context, a carbon tax is more appropriate than a cap-and-trade scheme in the short to medium term because of the oligopolistic nature of the energy sector,” the paper said. “A carbon tax can be complemented or replaced by an ETS at a later stage.”

“You can almost call it a tax-and-trade scheme rather than a cap-and-trade scheme,” says Robbie Louw, Director, Promethium Carbon.

The comment period for a planned third position paper on the carbon tax ended in early August.

What Do We Know?

The May position paper proposed the introduction of a carbon tax of R120 or about US $11.61 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent beginning January 1, 2015, rising at a rate of 10% per year until December 31, 2019. The paper provides other useful high-level information about the proposed carbon tax, including the covered GHGs, the sectors to be included and the thresholds above which the tax would apply, but stakeholders are anxious for more clarity about the role of offsets.

“The May position paper did give some broad guidelines around carbon offsetting, but not enough for us to really plan or really start developing projects while waiting for the carbon tax,” says Duncan Abel, Senior Transactor of Forestry Carbon at Nedbank Capital in Johannesburg.

At least one critical detail has emerged about the planned offset program. Firms would initially be allowed to use verified offsets developed under specific international offset standards: the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which is eligible for use in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) compliance market; and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Gold Standard that guide voluntary carbon offset projects. Development of a South Africa-specific standard would be considered at a later stage, according to the position paper.

Another key detail is that offset usage would be restricted, at least initially, to domestic projects, which would have a major impact on pricing given that South Africa has a fairly low number of carbon projects.

“There’s potentially a significant supply shortfall,” Abel says. “There’s not much of an existing offset market.”

South Africa has 41 registered CDM projects and an additional 93 projects are at different stages of the project cycle, according to the National Treasury paper. VCS has six registered projects in South Africa in various sectors: agriculture, forestry, land; transport; energy; waste handling and disposal and fugitive emissions from industrial gases. The Gold Standard has 21 projects in the country – 6 Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) and 15 Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VER) – with 19 energy efficiency projects, one wind project and one biomass project.

There are many unanswered questions about what the offset component will look like in the proposed South Africa program. It is unclear, for example, exactly what project types will qualify. In the May position paper, the government offered potential categories of project types that could be included: agriculture, forestry and other land uses, waste, community-based and municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy, electricity transmission and distribution efficiency, small scale renewable energy (up to 15 MW) and transport projects. But the expectation is that industrial gas projects barred by the EU ETS will be ineligible.

The market already has a pipeline of existing project activities, Abel says.

“The pipeline’s just been put on hold,” he says. “Once we have certainty around the carbon tax, we’d move pretty quickly into a development stage with a number of projects.”

Promethium Carbon is working on reforestation projects in South Africa, where there are large tracts of impacted and degraded land available for these projects, Louw says.

“In that respect, we think it’s very good that the carbon tax will allow the use of VCS credits because VCS gives you a little bit more of a suite of methodologies when you look at especially land management practices as opposed to pure afforestation and reforestation,” he says. “We also believe those projects have a larger community and social impact than standard CDM projects and therefore we think they should get a lot of support from the government side.”

How Low Can You Go?

A practical implication of the R120/tCO2e tax level is that it essentially puts a ceiling on the price of the carbon tax because the probability of a company paying more than that for a carbon credit is very low, stakeholders say.

“The European price went down with brute force, but it might just as well have gone up,” Louw says.

A carbon price that is too high becomes a burden on the economy and would stimulate negative consequences such as carbon leakage, he says. Leakage refers to the issue of industry and emissions moving out of a country because of its carbon price mandate.

“But with the ceiling that is set by the carbon tax, it will stop the price from going too high,” Louw says. “At the moment, everybody worldwide is worried about low carbon prices, but in the design of a system you must also worry about the opposite. So we believe that the fact that there is a ceiling in this scheme is also very good.”

In contrast, a potential floor price is not as much of a consideration because choosing to use offsets would be strictly a voluntary decision by emitters, according to some stakeholders. In addition, the depressed price of international offsets is not expected to be much of a factor in South Africa, where regulated entities will be restricted in their use of offsets to lower their compliance obligations and will be competing for a limited number of domestic offsets.

“The market price of CDM credits under the EU ETS will not have an influence on the price in South Africa, as only South African credits will be allowed and it is expected that there will be a shortfall in supply across all three standards,” Abel says. “As soon as there is certainty around what credits are allowed into the tax, then those credits will re-price in value upwards and the excluded credits will remain cheap, but not saleable in South Africa.”

If carbon prices in South Africa are low, regulated entities will maximize use of the offsets up to the 5-10% limit, but will avoid using the full allotment of potential offsets if the price gets too high, says Harmke Immink, Director, Promethium Carbon.
If the carbon tax program allows both CDM and voluntary program credits and the European market recovers significantly, developers will sell their CER credits to Europe, but the voluntary credits could still be sold locally, she adds.

The carbon tax as currently proposed makes room for the use of both compliance credits from the CDM and voluntary offset projects under the Gold Standard and VCS, a smart recognition of existing schemes, stakeholders say.

“There is always a danger that government is trying to reinvent the wheel,” says Adrian Rimmer, CEO of The Gold Standard Foundation.

Back to the Future

Although the National Treasury is still indicating the tax will be implemented on January 1, 2015, there are some concerns that the government will not be able to meet that deadline and the implementation of the tax will be delayed. But there is also a school of thought saying the tax may not be implemented at all amid significant pushback from industry.

“There’s pretty strong opposition to the tax from various different sectors,” Abel says. “Obviously, there are concerns around the impact it will have on competitiveness, the impact it will have on electricity pricing, the impact it will have on job creation, etc.”

In a broader sense, there is also some debate over whether South Africa, as a developing country, should be taking the lead in addressing climate change, he says. South Africa is ranked among the top 20 countries measured by absolute carbon dioxide emissions.

Stakeholders are awaiting the government’s next budget speech in February. If the speech details how the carbon tax revenues will be spent, that is considered a fairly strong indication that the tax will be implemented. Rimmer wonders if the carbon tax revenues will be devoted to low-carbon development or directed toward the general fund.

But if the speech lacks details about the tax, then that would indicate there will be a delay from the planned January 2015 start date. The carbon tax has been discussed several times by government officials, as have other environmental taxes mentioned in a 2005 paper.

“It is a consistent message that the carbon tax is coming,” Immink says.

“Except for the size of the market, we feel that will really make a difference in reducing emissions and helping South Africa move towards a low-carbon economy, even though we’ve got a heavy fossil fuel- grid,” she says.

REDD+ Finance: What You See
Isn’t Always What You Get

Transparency International is monitoring Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation (REDD+) financing flows in a number of recipient countries. Here, they discuss challenges to transparency encountered in Mexico and Kenya, and call on the general public to take a more active role in policing their governments.

Previous Coverage

Last year, we launced another series built on the findings of REDDX alone. Learn more about the initiative HERE

Part One: Tracking REDD+ Finance: Separating The Payers From The Posers provides an overview of the project and laysout its objectives.

Part Two: REDD Funding: The Horror Story That Isn’t examines the cumbersome accounting behind international aid in general and REDD finance in particular.

Part Three: Germany Beats Fast Start Finance But Sees Need For More Scale reviews the results of Germany’s Fast Start Finance period and reasons why they failed to meet their REDD+ commitment targets but succeeded in other areas.

Part Four: REDD+ Finance Leaves Pilot Projects In Limbo tells the story of a Ghanaian businessman seeking to launch a pilot project but is struggling to find funding from both international donors and private investors.

Part Five: The World Bank And The UN-REDD: Big Names, Narrow Focus provides a detailed overview of the biggest funding efforts of REDD+ as well as their interactions with each other.

Part Six: The Congo Basin Forest Fund Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting in DRC describes how the Congo Basin Forest Fund functions, who are the funders and lessons learned.

Part Seven: Brazil, Indonesia, And DRC Cooperate On Deforestation, See Future In REDD takes a high-level view of the impact of multilateral financing efforts on Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to date, and examines the prospects for REDD moving forward.

1 August 2013 | A colleague recently likened his experience tracking climate and REDD+ money in Mexico to an archaeological dig. Little by little, fragments of your object begin to reveal themselves, but not without a significant amount of time, resources and tenacity.

At Transparency International (TI) we have been monitoring climate finance flows in six countries – of which four are REDD+- recipients. Gaining clarity over what money is going where is a first step to ensuring that the money does what it should, where it should, and doesn’t surreptitiously slip into the wrong bank account, or get lost among the myriad of climate finance projects currently proposed or underway.

Transparency is like a prophylactic against negligent or corrupt spending. The trouble with REDD+ is that – in experience – transparency has been fairly poor. Often this is due not to REDD+ systems or institutions per se, but broader issues such as access to information and budget classification.

Take the situation in Kenya. The Kenya Forest Service is responsible for managing a combined grant of US $400,000 from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and UN-REDD to develop Kenya’s REDD+ Readiness Plan. Information provided on the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife’s website confirms this and provides an outline of the activities to be undertaken under the readiness plan. The plan itself is missing from the site though, as is a more detailed breakdown of expenditure lines.

The missing parts of the puzzle are hard to come by. Access to information is provided for in Kenya’s 2010 constitution, but in the absence of accompanying laws it remains somewhat of a hollow promise – requests for information can be met with silence or long delays. At times our team found it easier to look for information through other means such as identifying informers in the relevant ministries.

Mexico, meanwhile, boasts one of the world’s strongest access to information laws, with an institutional architecture on-hand to enforce it. The problem TI staff encountered there, however, was that while government bodies responded to their information requests, they simply didn’t have the relevant information. This is due in large to an inadequate system of budget classification. There is no single database to distinguish REDD-related expenditure from other categories of public money, including adaptation finance and development aid. This means that it is hard to trace the journey that REDD+ money takes through the national budget, let alone its impact.

Hurdles like these are not exceptional, they are to be found in a great deal of climate finance-recipient countries. Many donor states also have a poor track record for accounting for REDD+ finance in a clear, timely and accessible way. One has to wonder – if an anti-corruption organisation like Transparency International struggles to ascertain where and how this money is being spent, how do its beneficiaries stand a chance of holding their leaders to account for it?

Opacity can be explained by many things. Sometimes it’s born of habit – the continuation of a historical culture of privacy. Often it is a capacity issue, with government agencies lacking the staff or the resources to consolidate data and make it publicly accessible. Regardless of cause or intent, however, a lack of transparency can serve to shield behaviour that is irresponsible, illegal or corrupt.

REDD+ money is a scarce resource. Ensuring that it is spent fairly and wisely will require carefully watching the movement of money, scrutinising the rationale for its allocation, and raising the red flag when things go awry. There is a great deal of untapped potential in citizen monitoring. If members of the public are given access to better data on REDD+ spending, they can act as watchdogs to help ensure its effectiveness.

Before this can happen, we need national registries that disaggregate REDD+ from other monetary flows. We also need full transparency of information for all projects, and proactive as opposed to reactive disclosure. Without this, there is greater risk that REDD+ won’t work.

Read more about Transparency International’s work tracking climate finance here, and its REDD+ risk assessments in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam here.  

This series of blogs on REDD+ finance intends to create a forum for debate and exchange of ideas, this blog reflects the opinions of Alice Harrison of Transparency International, and should not be understood to reflect the views of ODI, REDDX or Climate Funds Update.

Alice Harrison is advocacy and communications coordinator on Transparency International’s Climate Finance Integrity Programme, a multi-country programme aimed at preventing corruption in the climate sector.

South Africa Aims To Blend Carbon Tax With Offsets

Proponents of cap-and-trade argue that it creates the most efficient performance-based mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by funneling payments directly from emitters to reducers. Those who prefer a carbon tax argue that it’s a more manageable mechanism. South Africa says there’s a hybrid solution: one that blends a carbon tax with an offsetting mechanism.

5 September 2013 | To tax or to trade? That is the question countries are asking as they look for ways to incentivize the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

South Africa has pitched a tent somewhere between the two camps by proposing a carbon tax to be implemented in 2015, but floating the idea of letting companies use carbon offsets to meet up to 10% of their carbon tax liability.

During the 2009 Copenhagen climate change negotiations, the country announced it would voluntarily aim to reduce its GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 from business as usual. That triggered a series of consultations and research on the best ways to achieve those goals, with South Africa’s National Treasury department releasing a discussion paper specifically focused on the carbon tax option in December 2010.

That paper evaluated the benefits and disadvantages of implementing a carbon tax in South Africa versus an emissions trading scheme (ETS). Taking into account comments received in response to that paper, the government released an updated paper in May that settles on a proposal to implement a carbon tax in South Africa.

The paper concluded that South Africa would find it difficult to develop an effective cap-and-trade mechanism because the lack of energy industry players would likely reduce the efficiency gains that normally would result from a trading mechanism.

“In the South African context, a carbon tax is more appropriate than a cap-and-trade scheme in the short to medium term because of the oligopolistic nature of the energy sector,” the paper said. “A carbon tax can be complemented or replaced by an ETS at a later stage.”

“You can almost call it a tax-and-trade scheme rather than a cap-and-trade scheme,” says Robbie Louw, Director, Promethium Carbon.

The comment period for a planned third position paper on the carbon tax ended in early August.

What Do We Know?

The May position paper proposed the introduction of a carbon tax of R120 or about US $11.61 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent beginning January 1, 2015, rising at a rate of 10% per year until December 31, 2019. The paper provides other useful high-level information about the proposed carbon tax, including the covered GHGs, the sectors to be included and the thresholds above which the tax would apply, but stakeholders are anxious for more clarity about the role of offsets.

“The May position paper did give some broad guidelines around carbon offsetting, but not enough for us to really plan or really start developing projects while waiting for the carbon tax,” says Duncan Abel, Senior Transactor of Forestry Carbon at Nedbank Capital in Johannesburg.

At least one critical detail has emerged about the planned offset program. Firms would initially be allowed to use verified offsets developed under specific international offset standards: the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which is eligible for use in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) compliance market; and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Gold Standard that guide voluntary carbon offset projects. Development of a South Africa-specific standard would be considered at a later stage, according to the position paper.

Another key detail is that offset usage would be restricted, at least initially, to domestic projects, which would have a major impact on pricing given that South Africa has a fairly low number of carbon projects.

“There’s potentially a significant supply shortfall,” Abel says. “There’s not much of an existing offset market.”

South Africa has 41 registered CDM projects and an additional 93 projects are at different stages of the project cycle, according to the National Treasury paper. VCS has six registered projects in South Africa in various sectors: agriculture, forestry, land; transport; energy; waste handling and disposal and fugitive emissions from industrial gases. The Gold Standard has 21 projects in the country – 6 Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) and 15 Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VER) – with 19 energy efficiency projects, one wind project and one biomass project.

There are many unanswered questions about what the offset component will look like in the proposed South Africa program. It is unclear, for example, exactly what project types will qualify. In the May position paper, the government offered potential categories of project types that could be included: agriculture, forestry and other land uses, waste, community-based and municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy, electricity transmission and distribution efficiency, small scale renewable energy (up to 15 MW) and transport projects. But the expectation is that industrial gas projects barred by the EU ETS will be ineligible.

The market already has a pipeline of existing project activities, Abel says.

“The pipeline’s just been put on hold,” he says. “Once we have certainty around the carbon tax, we’d move pretty quickly into a development stage with a number of projects.”

Promethium Carbon is working on reforestation projects in South Africa, where there are large tracts of impacted and degraded land available for these projects, Louw says.

“In that respect, we think it’s very good that the carbon tax will allow the use of VCS credits because VCS gives you a little bit more of a suite of methodologies when you look at especially land management practices as opposed to pure afforestation and reforestation,” he says. “We also believe those projects have a larger community and social impact than standard CDM projects and therefore we think they should get a lot of support from the government side.”

How Low Can You Go?

A practical implication of the R120/tCO2e tax level is that it essentially puts a ceiling on the price of the carbon tax because the probability of a company paying more than that for a carbon credit is very low, stakeholders say.

“The European price went down with brute force, but it might just as well have gone up,” Louw says.

A carbon price that is too high becomes a burden on the economy and would stimulate negative consequences such as carbon leakage, he says. Leakage refers to the issue of industry and emissions moving out of a country because of its carbon price mandate.

“But with the ceiling that is set by the carbon tax, it will stop the price from going too high,” Louw says. “At the moment, everybody worldwide is worried about low carbon prices, but in the design of a system you must also worry about the opposite. So we believe that the fact that there is a ceiling in this scheme is also very good.”

In contrast, a potential floor price is not as much of a consideration because choosing to use offsets would be strictly a voluntary decision by emitters, according to some stakeholders. In addition, the depressed price of international offsets is not expected to be much of a factor in South Africa, where regulated entities will be restricted in their use of offsets to lower their compliance obligations and will be competing for a limited number of domestic offsets.

“The market price of CDM credits under the EU ETS will not have an influence on the price in South Africa, as only South African credits will be allowed and it is expected that there will be a shortfall in supply across all three standards,” Abel says. “As soon as there is certainty around what credits are allowed into the tax, then those credits will re-price in value upwards and the excluded credits will remain cheap, but not saleable in South Africa.”

If carbon prices in South Africa are low, regulated entities will maximize use of the offsets up to the 5-10% limit, but will avoid using the full allotment of potential offsets if the price gets too high, says Harmke Immink, Director, Promethium Carbon.
If the carbon tax program allows both CDM and voluntary program credits and the European market recovers significantly, developers will sell their CER credits to Europe, but the voluntary credits could still be sold locally, she adds.

The carbon tax as currently proposed makes room for the use of both compliance credits from the CDM and voluntary offset projects under the Gold Standard and VCS, a smart recognition of existing schemes, stakeholders say.

“There is always a danger that government is trying to reinvent the wheel,” says Adrian Rimmer, CEO of The Gold Standard Foundation.

Back to the Future

Although the National Treasury is still indicating the tax will be implemented on January 1, 2015, there are some concerns that the government will not be able to meet that deadline and the implementation of the tax will be delayed. But there is also a school of thought saying the tax may not be implemented at all amid significant pushback from industry.

“There’s pretty strong opposition to the tax from various different sectors,” Abel says. “Obviously, there are concerns around the impact it will have on competitiveness, the impact it will have on electricity pricing, the impact it will have on job creation, etc.”

In a broader sense, there is also some debate over whether South Africa, as a developing country, should be taking the lead in addressing climate change, he says. South Africa is ranked among the top 20 countries measured by absolute carbon dioxide emissions.

Stakeholders are awaiting the government’s next budget speech in February. If the speech details how the carbon tax revenues will be spent, that is considered a fairly strong indication that the tax will be implemented. Rimmer wonders if the carbon tax revenues will be devoted to low-carbon development or directed toward the general fund.

But if the speech lacks details about the tax, then that would indicate there will be a delay from the planned January 2015 start date. The carbon tax has been discussed several times by government officials, as have other environmental taxes mentioned in a 2005 paper.

“It is a consistent message that the carbon tax is coming,” Immink says.

“Except for the size of the market, we feel that will really make a difference in reducing emissions and helping South Africa move towards a low-carbon economy, even though we’ve got a heavy fossil fuel- grid,” she says.

Credits From First African Government Backed REDD+ Project Go On Sale

The Makira REDD+ project in Madagascar, which aims to protect 400,000 hectares of forest, announced its carbon credits are for sale becoming the first of its kind to put credits on the carbon market. Devastated by illegal rosewood logging just a few years ago, the Makira REDD+ project is part of Code REDD, a group of projects with high standards on conserving biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods.

This article was originally published on Mongabay.com. Click here to read the original.

19 September 2013 Carbon credits generated from protecting thousands of hectares of endangered rainforest in northeastern Madagascar have now been certified for sale, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the project’s main organizer. The development represents the first time that credits generated by African government-owned project have been put on the voluntary carbon market.

The Makira REDD+ Project aims to protect 400,000 hectares of forest in a part of Madagascar that has suffered from illegal rosewood logging. Backers estimate the initiative will prevent emissions of 32 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years, or roughly the annual emissions of the state of Montana. More importantly, the project will help protect some 20 species of lemurs, including more than a dozen at-risk species, while creating new economic opportunities for locals living in and around the park, according to WCS.

“Along with its benefits to wildlife, the sale will directly benefit local communities living around the protected area by allocating 50 percent of the net revenues of carbon sales to improve local infrastructure, provide health and education services, and support training, inputs, and technical assistance for sustainable agriculture,” said the group in a statement. WCS is charged with implementing the project.

The Makira REDD+ Project was conceived before the March 2009 coup that displaced Madagascar’s democratically-elected president from power. The coup cut off the flow of critical conservation funds, spurring an orgy of illegal logging and poaching in Makira and the neighboring protected areas of Masoala and Marojejy. While some of the illegal logging and rosewood smuggling was linked to political officials who took power after the coup, the activity has since slowed dramatically, offering opportunities to strengthen conservation efforts in the region, including bolstering the Ministry of Environment and Forests, whose staff made heroic efforts to stave off illegal logging during the worst of the 2009 political crisis.

Accordingly, Madagascar’s Secretaire General of the Ministry of Environment and Forests welcomed the milestone validation and verification under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

“Green growth is the fruit of a green economy within the context of sustainable development realized through the implementation of an appropriate management of natural resources and the valuing of biodiversity,” said Pierre Manganirina Randrianarisoa in a statement. “Thus, the sale of carbon stored in the protected forests of Makira Natural Park provides a significant financial opportunity for Madagascar.”

The Makira REDD+ Project is run by the Makira Carbon Company, a non-profit subsidiary of WCS. The project is part of Code REDD, a bloc of REDD+ projects that set high standards for conserving biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods. Code REDD aims to create a class of premium REDD+ offsets to set their credits apart from those generated by less stringent and more controversial projects.

WCS president and CEO Cristií¡n Samper says the Makira project sets a good example for what REDD+ can deliver for conservation in developing countries like Madagascar.

“This sale is a major step forward for the Government of Madagascar in advancing the use of carbon credits to fight climate change while protecting biodiversity and human livelihoods,” said Samper. “WCS congratulates Madagascar and is proud to partner with them on the Makira REDD+ project.”

“The sale of these carbon credits has triple bottom-line benefits; it helps wildlife, local people, and fights climate change,” added Todd Stevens, Vice President of the Makira Carbon Company.

Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999 and currently serves as its president, head writer and chief editor.
Additional resources

Cookstoves Program Aims To
Spread Devices Across Africa And Asia

29 July 2013 |The Bonn International Cooking Energy Forum in Germany was the site for the unveiling of StovePlus, a program to provide residents of developing countries in Africa and Asia with alternatives to inefficient cookstoves. GERES, the French non-profit organization behind the new program, aims to distribute 2 million improved cookstoves in these regions by 2017 through StovePlus.

Nearly 3 billion people in the world rely on solid biomass for cooking and heating on a daily basis, but most of them use inefficient devices and open fires, leading to 4 million premature deaths every year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study commissioned by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Reliance on biomass also puts great pressure on natural resources, putting the world’s forests at risk, GERES notes.

The StovePlus program aims to strengthen the clean cooking sector and provide technical support to project developers in South-East Asia and West Africa, with the support of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (the Alliance). The Alliance provides funding to the GERES Biomass Energy Lab in Cambodia, one of the services offered in StovePlus. In 2012, the Alliance released a request for proposals (RFP) to enhance capacity for a global network of centers to provide testing, cookstove development, and capacity building services. Thirteen centers were selected for awards in Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda (lab and field). Under the RFP, $1.6 million was made available to support these centers.

Cookstove projects can provide significant health benefits and empower women – who often walk long distances to collect the necessary wood fuel for heat or cooking purposes – by freeing up their time and increasing their household income, says Jennifer Tweddell, Manager of Carbon Finance and Impact Investing for the Alliance. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the projects also have the impact of reducing deforestation, she says.

Clean cookstoves have become all the rage in the voluntary carbon markets, with voluntary buyers funneling $80 million toward offsets from these and water filtration projects last year, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report. These household devices that burn fuel more efficiently or not at all (thus reducing GHG emissions while sparing households from harmful smoke inhalation) were the voluntary market’s fourth most popular mitigation activity – transacting 5.8 MtCO2e, or 80% more than in 2011. These projects have so far delivered at least 4 million cookstoves from 45 projects to developing country households with the aid of carbon revenues, the report finds.

In 2012, carbon finance for clean cookstove distribution reached 15 country locations on three continents, according to the report. The most prominent project locations included Peru, Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya.

Developers of cookstove projects are determined to secure buy-in from stove users, with only 2% of clean cookstove projects engaged in stove giveaways and the majority of projects charging users between $2 and upwards of $140 per device, a finding that pleased Tweddell.

“We’re very much in favor of a market-based approach so we’re glad that there aren’t a lot of free giveaways because we really feel that to be sustainable and to reach universal adoption, which would be 500 million households, you can’t do that on donor dollars and (corporate social responsibility),” she says. “You do that through having a thriving marketplace where people at the base of the pyramid are consumers who go out and actually purchase these products from social enterprises that are also making a profit doing that.”

Transactions of clean cookstove offsets were valued at $65.3 million in 2012 – 54% more than in 2011. Over time, the value of private sector support for clean cookstove carbon projects is estimated to be $145 million.

The average price for offsets from clean cookstove projects was $11.3/tCO2e in 2012, representing a 15% fall in price from 2011’s $13.2/tCO2e. The price decline was attributed to the growing volume of available cookstove project offset supply and a lack of clarity regarding certified emissions reduction demand in the European Union Emissions Trading System – a source of demand for some clean cookstove offsets. But the price for cookstove projects was well above the volume-weighted average price of $5.9/tCO2e of all project types seen in 2012.

“I really do think it’s because of all the additional benefits that these projects bring,” Tweddell says. “Certainly, you can tell a really great story about having a health benefit, improving the lives of people in developing countries, as well reducing your carbon emissions.”

In trying to attract investment, the Alliance often hears people talk about the crash of the carbon markets, but the report is very useful because it provides evidence of the higher prices commanded by these charismatic projects, she says.

“That helps us to demonstrate the value to potential buyers, but also to investors who often don’t understand the carbon markets and are a little bit leery of businesses that are reliant on carbon revenues,” she says.

For more findings on cookstoves and other voluntary carbon projects, read the Ecosystem Marketplace report here.

 

Additional resources

This Week In V-Carbon: Alternatives In Africa

At the African Carbon Forum earlier this month, Ecosystem Marketplace presented its findings from the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report in Cí´te d’Ivoire. While African nations have historically focused on CDM projects, interest in voluntary carbon projects has grown, showcased by a record $66M in offsets occurring in 2012 alone.

This article was originally published in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read this article in its original format.

23 July 2013 | Ecosystem Marketplace writers recently returned from the Africa Carbon Forum in Abidjan, Cí´te d’Ivoire where we presented Africa-relevant findings from the  regional section  of our State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report.

Here, we find that growing interest from voluntary buyers in supporting charismatic offset projects in the region raised the value of transacted offsets in Africa to a new high of $66M in 2012, as the average price for the region’s record activity (8 MtCO2e of transacted offsets) rose 6% to $8.30/tCO2e.

That said, the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) market still dwarfs the voluntary carbon market, by transacted volume. Some project developers we surveyed in the clean cookstoves market continued to gravitate toward the CDM instead of (or in addition to) going straight to a voluntary market-only standard, hoping to keep a foot in both marketplaces in case compliance market CER prices recover, and attracted by larger-volume demand at any price.

 

Acknowledging that Africa’s carbon strategy can tap into but not rely on the voluntary markets alone, a new  Ecosystem Marketplace article  investigates opportunities and challenges for Africa under the CDM.  While African countries have traditionally been overshadowed as potential hosts for offset projects, the region could face expanding opportunities under the CDM given the European Union’s sharpened focus on least developed countries – most of which are located in Africa.

 

As always, opportunity comes with a grain of salt. Many LDCs will have access to the European market, but the current CER spot “is not a great price that you get for your natural resources,” cautions Andrei Marcu, Senior Advisor at the Center for European Policy Studies and Advisor to Poland. He says African countries will need to ensure that they have access to more markets, including those not necessarily inside the Kyoto Protocol.

 

These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading! Also, a reminder that Ecosystem Marketplace continues to collect data describing clean cookstove  and  forestry projects. Respondents to either survey can choose to be publicly recognized alongside a link to your website – and no individual data points are publicly reported. Both surveys close at the end of this month, so act fast!

 

And if you value what you read in this news brief, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program as a Supporting Subscriber.

Readers’ contributions help us keep the lights on and continue to deliver voluntary carbon market news and insights to your inbox biweekly and free of charge. 

For a suggested US$150/year donation, you or your company can be listed as a V-Carbon News Supporting Subscriber (with weblink) for one year (~24 issues). 
 


Reach out to inboxes worldwide and make your contribution  here  (select “Support for Voluntary Carbon News Briefs” in the drop-down menu). You will receive an email from the V-Carbon News team confirming your sponsorship listing and weblink information.

 

—The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Simpler, sleeker, and more simpatico

Last week, the Ecologica Institute formally launched Version 5.0 of the SOCIALCARBON Standard, a co-benefits standard that debuted in 2008 with a focus on sustainable livelihoods. The new version features simplified templates and improved metrics, with a “temporary nature rule” that streamlines processes with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) by mandating an overlap of at least 50% of the VCS accounting monitoring period with the SOCIALCARBON monitoring period. Divaldo Rezende, one of the standard’s original creators, says the rule will help secure social benefits of a project before it is certified and lower costs to project developers by ensuring that the monitoring is harmonized with VCS. SOCIALCARBON will continue to accept Version 4.0 guidelines for all reports certified until December 31, 2013.

   – See Version 5.0
   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace coverage

 

What wood Markit do?

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) – launched in 2011 to encourage domestic afforestation activities in the United Kingdom – has just gone live on the Markit Environmental Registry. Until now, the UK Forestry Commission which oversees the standard had operated an internal register of WCC projects. The move to Markit is intended to enhance transparency and accountability in the trade of Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs) by enabling the tracking of project registration and credit listings, ownership, and retirement. In addition, Markit’s registry provides an introductory mechanism to convene buyers and sellers of WCUs.

   – Read press release

 

Just like that

JustGreen, an initiative of Just Energy – a publicly traded provider of energy solutions based in the US – has purchased two billion pounds (about 907,185 tCO2e) through its carbon offset and renewable energy credit programs. The purchase corresponds to cutting about 190,000 cars off the road and planting 4.5 million trees.  Just Energy buys carbon offsets certified to standards including VCS, IOS, and the Climate Action Reserve in response to customers subscribing to JustGreen Natural Gas or JustGreen products. JustGreen Lifestyle is carrying out a Facebook campaign to offset more greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of covering 10,000 pounds for every new ‘like.’ If and when the campaign achieves 10,000 pounds, the goal will be doubled to 20,000 pounds.

   – Read more

 

Newcomers take a stand

In support of its expansion into forestry and land use, the Gold Standard Foundation has appointed three new members to its Technical Advisory Committee. Newcomers include Jacqueline Gehrig-Fasel of TREES Forest Carbon Consulting in Switzerland, Tony Knowles of the Cirrus Group in South Africa, and Asep Suntana of Surya University in Indonesia, who together offer decades of land use and forest carbon experience to the standard. Requirements for afforestation/reforestation projects under the Gold Standard are anticipated for public release in August.

   – Read more

 

Carbon couple dreams big

A recent article profiles the Rabieys, the entrepreneurial couple behind The Carbon Farmer, a tree-farm business in Alberta, Canada that converts previously tilled land into forests with native trees, shrubs and grasses in support of biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Customers have the option of paying $2 to have a tree planted on their behalf, or $15/tCOwe for carbon credits. Started as a project on a Rabiey family farm, the couple has expanded to partner with other landowners and landtrusts to afforest and reforest across Alberta. To date, they have planted over 300,000 trees, within plans to plant another 330,000 this year, expected to offset the annual footprint of 25,000 Albertans.

   – Read more

 

Judgment day for co-benefits

The following Climate Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Alliance projects, Abote Community-Managed Reforestation Project, Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project, REDD+ de la Concesií³n para Conservacií³n Alto Huayabamba Project, and the New Leaf CarbonProject are now accepting public comments on whether their project documents meet CCB requirements. The first two projects will accept comments through July 24, while the latter two will accept comments through July 28.

   – Provide comment

 

Climate North America

ROW recommendations see ripple effect

After two years of consultations with indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and government representatives, the REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW)  has just released its final recommendations  on how to work international REDD+ offsets into California’s cap-and-trade program. The recommendations account for indigenous rights, calling on California to ban credits that don’t conform to international principles and to retain the right to suspend recognized credits if they are later found to be out of compliance.  More than four dozen representatives of major corporations, NGOs, and indigenous communities  have signed a letter of support  for the recommendations.

 

Of the two states considering to feed REDD+ credits into California’s cap-and-trade scheme – Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil – the State of Chiapas  was inaccurately reported to have canceled its REDD+ program. The Chiapas state government has released a response reaffirming its commitment to jurisdictional REDD+.

 

The momentum of the broader movement to recognize forestry within compliance carbon markets is building not only in California but also at a national level. With US President Barack Obama’s recent pledge to REDD+ in his Climate Action Plan, the US joins a number of nations and corporations committed to using the UN mechanism to curb tropical deforestation and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Read Ecosystem Marketplace coverage  here.

   – Read ROW recommendations

 

Easy does it

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released proposed changes to its cap-and-trade program, to be considered by the board in October. On the list is a mechanism that prevents carbon allowance prices from overshooting a set threshold, and the offering of additional allowances for sale at a price-containment reserve auction before the November 1 deadline of each compliance period. In order to ease the burden for emitters, another major item seeks to grant free allowances covering 100% of emissions in both the first and second compliance periods to industrial sectors at risk of moving out of California due to compliance costs.

   – Read more about proposed changes
   – Read NRDC reaction to proposed changes

 

Kyoto & Beyond

Africa looms large on CDM map

The Clean Development Mechanism recently passed its 7,000 project mark, with 1,000 new projects accepted since February despite still-despondent CER prices. A new Ecosystem Marketplace article scopes out the potential for CDM offset project development in Africa, a continent that has been traditionally overshadowed as a potential host of CDM projects but faces increasing opportunities given the European Union’s sharpened focus on least developed countries – most of which are located in Africa  – away from emission reductions in countries like China, India, and Brazil.

   – Read more about CDM milestone
   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article

 

EU ETS on the operating table

European Union member states recently resuscitated the “backloading” proposal, giving the green light to a revised draft regulation that limits the number of international credits that emitters can use to comply with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The revised proposal assures that backloading will only be a one-time affair, with allowances to be put back on the market starting the year after the year in which allowances have been withheld, instead of waiting until 2018-2010. It calls for 600 million of the 900 million backloaded allowances to be made available to create a fund supporting innovative low-carbon technologies and demonstration projects, alongside measures to cut costs and carbon emissions of energy-intensive industries.

   – Read more from UPI
   – Read more from Argus

 

Global Policy Update

The double-edged lifebuoy

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced last week that the country’s controversial national carbon tax will be replaced by an emissions trading scheme in July 2014, a year ahead of schedule. The advance launch is anticipated to cut the cost of carbon from a projected AU$25.40/tCO2e in July next year to around AU$6/tCO2e. While the lower price tag on carbon is expected to reduce pressure on both polluters and consumers, it would also mean less income to support projects developed under the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and funds like the Biodiversity Fund which currently rely on carbon tax revenue.

   – Read about price float decision
   – Read about impact on CFI/Biodiversity Fund

 

Kazakhstan ETS: business may stall great success

In January of this year, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet state to launch a national carbon trading pilot, with plans to transition to a fully operational “second phase” emissions trading phase in 2014. In the current pilot phase, businesses are allowed to buy an unlimited amount of allowances from the government, and face soft penalties for noncompliance. Despite strong backing from President Nazarbayev, the country’s planned move to an ETS has caused ripples of discontent among the business community – in particular with KazEnergy, an alliance of energy producers. Even within the government, some officials have voiced doubt about the readiness of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to administer the ETS, and suggest the 2014 date could be pushed back further.

   – Read more

 

Russian politics

High-level meetings held recently could indicate a new future of Russia’s carbon markets. At the first, held by Russia’s inter-ministerial Working Group on Climate Change and Development, a proposed draft decree endorsing a 25%-below-1990 target was rejected by the president’s administration a second time, potentially resulting in up to six months’ delay for decree approval. At a different meeting held at the Economic Ministry, attendees agreed to develop a blueprint for a future national carbon mechanism, to be launched as early as 2014. Despite converging interest in a carbon market, the two proposals are pursuing two different tracks: with the Climate Change and Development group favoring a project-based approach and the Economic Ministry backing broader market-based initiatives.  

   – Read more

 

Featured Jobs

Technical Specialist – Plan Vivo Foundation

Based in Edinburgh, the Technical Specialist will select and prepare approved methodologies for projects to use under the Plan Vivo Standard 2013 and coordinate and conduct technical reviews of project documents. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in ecosystem services or a related discipline such as environmental management or forestry.

   – Read more about the position here

 

Carbon Markets Specialist – Ecodit

Based in Kazakhstan, the Carbon Markets Specialist will be the lead technical expert for support to the Government of Kazakhstan and regulated community on the ETS. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in an environmental- or climate change-related field, such as public policy, economics, law, science or international development and 7+ years of experience in the design and implementation of carbon market mechanisms. Read more about the position here.  

   – Read more about the position here

 

Intern – China Beijing Environmental Exchange

Based in Beijing, the Intern will research existing international and domestic carbon markets and track and manage cooperation projects with both international and domestic carbon trading institutions. Candidates should have a Master’s Degree related to policy, environment, economics or finance and be fluent in both English and Chinese.

   – Read more about the position here

 

Local Expert, LOME – myclimate

Based in Kampala or Nairobi, the Local myclimate Expert (LOME) will identify suitable projects for the myclimate project pipeline, conduct screenings and due diligence of projects and coach project partners throughout the entire carbon cycle. Candidates should have a degree in engineering, renewable energy, environmental science or related field and 2-5+ years’ work experience in related relevant fields.

   – Read more about the position here

 

Project Director, Conservation Investments – The Nature Conservancy

Based in San Francisco, the Project Director will support the California chapter’s work in conservation finance, environmental economics, and conservation assets such as carbon credits. Candidates should have an M.B.A. or other graduate degree and outstanding analytical and project management capabilities.

   – Read more about the position here

 

2 Positions – Terra Global Capital

Based in San Francisco, the AFOLU Carbon Quantification and Development Senior Specialist will review technical aspects of AFOLU carbon projects and provide guidance to project developers regarding project typology, eligible methodologies and mechanics of carbon monitoring, reporting and verification. Candidates should have a PhD in applied natural sciences such as forestry, ecology or natural resources and 5+ years’ experience. Also based in San Francisco, the Natural Resource Climate Change Project Manager will support the carbon development process for international forest and land-use carbon projects and jurisdictional programs. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s in environmental science or natural resource management and 5+ years’ experience.  

 

 

Executive Director – The Climate Trust

Based in Portland, the Executive Director will oversee and direct growth of the offset portfolio and provide visionary and strategic leadership to advance the organization’s mission, revenue deployment, impact and growth. Candidates should have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and 10+ years’ experience as a senior executive in a an environmental or energy-related organization.

   – Read more about the position here

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


Additional resources

Africa Looms Large On CDM Map

The future of the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism offset program lies in Africa as the European Union’s sharpened focus shifts to least developed countries and away from projects in China, India and Brazil. But market players say the continent needs to take control of its own destiny in upcoming climate negotiations.

11 July 2013 | ABIDJAN| Ivory Coast | Africa has traditionally been overshadowed as a potential host of carbon offset projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) program. Instead, project activity and investment have been focused on least-cost emission reductions in Asia and Latin America.

But the European Union recently instituted a ban on CDM offsets (CERs) from non-LDCs (least developed countries) that are registered post-2012, a move that has pushed some traditional CDM heavyweights out of the market. That leaves the door open for Africa, which is in a good position right now because most of the LDCs are located on the continent and because the price of CDM offsets could recover, says Marie-Claude Bourgie, Climate Change and Finance Expert for Quebec City-based consultancy and project developer ÉcoRessources.

“It’s a good idea to really take advantage of that position,” she said at the Africa Carbon Forum in Abidjan, Cí´te d’Ivoire last week. “We do believe that CDM has not reached its full potential in Africa.”

Of the 8,866 projects in the CDM pipeline, 81.3% of them are located in the Asia and Pacific region, followed by 13.5% in Latin America. In contrast, only 260, or 2.9%, of CDM projects are based in Africa, according to the latest data from the UNEP Risoe CDM/JI Pipeline Analysis and Database. There has, however, been a roughly 90% increase in CDM projects in Africa since 2011 – building from a small base, of course – amid progressive economic development, increased technical capacity and growing interest in the CDM.

“The common notion is that the CDM is not meant for Africa,” says Kurt Lonsway, African Development Bank’s Environment and Climate Change Division manager. “However, considering achievements in other parts of the world, including China, India and Latin America, it may be truer to say that Africa was not prepared for the CDM. It’s also clear that the so-called new market-based mechanisms whose design will be based on the CDM will be targeted especially for middle-income countries,” he says.

The Africa Carbon Forum took place against the backdrop of a struggling CDM market, with certified emissions reductions (CER) prices hovering around the $0.40/tCO2e mark. The primary market for offsets in the CDM was valued at nearly $1.05 billion in 2012 compared to $4.31 billion in 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data reported in Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report.

“The current international market situation is less than desirable, but we do see some strong domestic market activity,” Lonsway says. “But our hope and expectations are that the carbon market will improve.”

Peer Stiansen, Chair of the CDM Executive Board, says he believes that CDM prices will rise again because the fundamentals mandate decisive action to address climate change. “I trust that countries in Africa and elsewhere do see the necessity to respond to climate change,” he says.

The participating countries will come to a legally binding agreement at COP21 in Paris in 2015, an agreement that will include the use of market mechanisms, he predicts, which will instigate a pricing rebound if the response is adequate.

“The prices are ridiculous (at) $0.40/tCO2e (ton of carbon dioxide equivalent), which proves that the market works unfortunately in a way,” Stiansen says. “Personally, I want to believe that prices will pick up. When? I don’t know. I think we can be quite confident that they will because we will have to respond to climate change.”

The CDM has “faced some hard knocks to investor confidence” at an unfortunate time because Africa was at an inflection point where a number of initiatives it was engaged in were starting to bear fruit and leading to growth in CDM investments on the continent, says Glenn Hodes, Senior Advisor, UNEP Risoe Centre. “To the extent CDM has a future, it’s very clear that that future is in Africa,” he says.

The interest being shown in the CDM in Africa is not misplaced because the mechanism has a great future, says John Kilani, Director, Sustainable Development Mechanisms, UNFCCC. “Africa has great potential in showing that CDM does indeed contribute to sustainable development,” he says.

Where’s the CDM demand?

The CDM is currently at a crossroads because the bottom has dropped out of the market, says Dirk Forrister, President and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). “Pricing is not very attractive right now and it’s hard to see exactly where the demand is going to come from,” he says.

But an encouraging sign came in the form of last week’s EU Parliament vote to approve the backloading amendment by a 344-311 margin, a first step at improving the European Union Emissions Trading System by allowing the altering of auction schedules, he says.

“It was a good, sizeable margin, but it was a lot harder to get that increase in interest and increase in ambition than many of us thought because of the challenges of the European economy, the challenges of exactly what are other countries doing, the realization that the international policy community is on a negotiating track that won’t settle all of this until 2015,” he says. “It really makes you wonder exactly how the market is going to meander through the next couple of years, unless it does get a burst of energy from some new places.”

“If the international policy community is serious about limiting warming to two degrees and if they’re serious about holding atmospheric concentrations in that 450 parts per million range, then you’re going to need a revitalized CDM, you’re going to need a new market mechanism that works for more advanced economies more efficiently than what we’ve been utilizing and you’re going to need a system of linked emissions trading markets,” Forrister continues.

Demand could increase as the European economies rebound and industrial and energy production rises, Forrister says. A survey of IETA members released in May found that they expected the average price between now and 2020 to be about €10/t (US $13)for allowances and €5/t (US $6) for CERs in anticipation of additional demand. Europe has also been a leader in terms of national programs purchasing CDM offsets and that type of activity could rebound again as the European economies recover. “I think sovereign purchases are still ones that could matter,” he says. “It’s obviously going to be tempered by government budgets. Many of those are under stress and strain right now, but still I think it’s an area to keep an eye on.”

In terms of new demand, new projects in LDCs in Africa still have a home in the EU market whereas projects from other jurisdictions that have not already registered are “kind of in trouble,” Forrister says. “They need a new market mechanism, I suspect, to meet their future needs,” he says. “That side is not clear. CDM is clear so there may be one ray of hope there that (Africa) can take advantage of.”

In addition, the Australian compliance market can be a source of new demand for CDM credits, Forrister says. Australian suppliers transacted 90% of Oceania’s offset volume in 2012, partly in anticipation of Australia’s $23/tCO2e federal fixed price carbon scheme, which launched in July 2012 and will transition to a market-set price after three years, according to the Ecosystem Marketplace report. But new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is considering potential changes to the system, including a quicker shift to an emissions trading scheme from the current system.

The voluntary carbon markets grew last year and can be a source of new demand as companies try to show leadership in corporate social responsibility, Forrister says. In 2012, voluntary actors contracted 101 million tonnes of carbon offsets (MtCO2e) globally – 4% more than in 2011, according to the Ecosystem Marketplace report.

The primary voluntary emissions reductions market was valued at $184 million in 2012, about 18% of the size of the primary CER market, and only half that value was relevant to CDM developers, according to the report. “It is not large enough to absorb all of the CDM credits, but it’s an area where projects that have particularly attractive side benefits can often find a home,” he says.

In Africa specifically, offsets benefitted from intensifying buyer interest in supporting projects with strong additional benefits to the region’s ecology and communities, according to the report. In 2012, African project offset transactions were valued at $66 million as the average price for the region’s record activity (8 MtCO2e transacted) rose 6% to $8.30/tCO2e.

The World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) program is particularly encouraging for IETA members, with the PMR assisting a number of countries interested in and exploring building emissions markets with the technical capacity to do so. “That may ultimately produce additional demand for CDM credits, but I think particularly for the larger, more advanced economies, that program is of vital importance in helping us understand what new markets are going to look like in the future,” Forrister says.

Controlling your own destiny

But Africa must take control over its own destiny when it comes to the negotiations on a new international climate agreement, says Andrei Marcu, Senior Advisor at the Center for European Policy Studies and Advisor to Poland, which is hosting the UN climate negotiations this year.

“I think it’s important that Africa is ensured that it has access to any mechanism it wants to use,” he says. “What mechanism you use for whatever contribution African countries are going to make to the 2020 agreement is going to have to be the choice of African countries. I don’t think they should be imposed on you and I don’t think you should be limited in your choice.”

African countries should negotiate in a bloc to ensure that its collective voice is heard, Bourgie says.

“We encourage African countries to participate in the negotiations,” she says. “Often we see that countries don’t step up to speak during the negotiations. I think it’s a good platform for Africa to have a voice.”

The CDM currently offers very limited access to markets, Marcu notes. In Africa, there are enough LDCs that will continue to have access to the European market, but at current CER prices, “that is not a great price that you get for your natural resources.” African countries will have to ensure they have access to more markets, including those not necessarily inside the Kyoto Protocol, he says.

Africa will have to make sure there will be an international crediting mechanism, whether a continuation of the CDM or a successor to the CDM/JI, that this mechanism is widely available to African countries – unlike the current EU ETS, which is not accessible throughout Africa – and that it is competitive to other mechanisms that are emerging around the world, Marcu says. The mechanism must also provide an incentive to the host country, perhaps in the form of a portion of funds that could be directed to adaptation initiatives, he says.

“Africa is not indifferent to this framework,” Marcu says. “It is not something for a bunch of people who sit in Bonn or in Brussels. It is important for you.”

The new market mechanism will most likely build on the CDM so Africa should leverage its existing infrastructure and engage in its own analysis to determine which sectors offer the best reduction potential so that its countries know where to focus when the markets come into play, Bourgie says.

“It’s a good idea to keep looking into developing more CDM projects,” she advises.

REDD+ Finance: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

Transparency International is monitoring Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation (REDD+) financing flows in a number of recipient countries. Here, they discuss challenges to transparency encountered in Mexico and Kenya, and call on the general public to take a more active role in policing their governments.

Previous Coverage

Last year, we launced another series built on the findings of REDDX alone. Learn more about the initiative HERE

Part One: Tracking REDD+ Finance: Separating The Payers From The Posers provides an overview of the project and laysout its objectives.

Part Two: REDD Funding: The Horror Story That Isn’t examines the cumbersome accounting behind international aid in general and REDD finance in particular.

Part Three: Germany Beats Fast Start Finance But Sees Need For More Scale reviews the results of Germany’s Fast Start Finance period and reasons why they failed to meet their REDD+ commitment targets but succeeded in other areas.

Part Four: REDD+ Finance Leaves Pilot Projects In Limbo tells the story of a Ghanaian businessman seeking to launch a pilot project but is struggling to find funding from both international donors and private investors.

Part Five: The World Bank And The UN-REDD: Big Names, Narrow Focus provides a detailed overview of the biggest funding efforts of REDD+ as well as their interactions with each other.

Part Six: The Congo Basin Forest Fund Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting in DRC describes how the Congo Basin Forest Fund functions, who are the funders and lessons learned.

Part Seven: Brazil, Indonesia, And DRC Cooperate On Deforestation, See Future In REDD takes a high-level view of the impact of multilateral financing efforts on Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to date, and examines the prospects for REDD moving forward.

1 August 2013 | A colleague recently likened his experience tracking climate and REDD+ money in Mexico to an archaeological dig. Little by little, fragments of your object begin to reveal themselves, but not without a significant amount of time, resources and tenacity.

At Transparency International (TI) we have been monitoring climate finance flows in six countries – of which four are REDD+- recipients. Gaining clarity over what money is going where is a first step to ensuring that the money does what it should, where it should, and doesn’t surreptitiously slip into the wrong bank account, or get lost among the myriad of climate finance projects currently proposed or underway.

Transparency is like a prophylactic against negligent or corrupt spending. The trouble with REDD+ is that – in experience – transparency has been fairly poor. Often this is due not to REDD+ systems or institutions per se, but broader issues such as access to information and budget classification.

Take the situation in Kenya. The Kenya Forest Service is responsible for managing a combined grant of US $400,000 from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and UN-REDD to develop Kenya’s REDD+ Readiness Plan. Information provided on the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife’s website confirms this and provides an outline of the activities to be undertaken under the readiness plan. The plan itself is missing from the site though, as is a more detailed breakdown of expenditure lines.

The missing parts of the puzzle are hard to come by. Access to information is provided for in Kenya’s 2010 constitution, but in the absence of accompanying laws it remains somewhat of a hollow promise – requests for information can be met with silence or long delays. At times our team found it easier to look for information through other means such as identifying informers in the relevant ministries.

Mexico, meanwhile, boasts one of the world’s strongest access to information laws, with an institutional architecture on-hand to enforce it. The problem TI staff encountered there, however, was that while government bodies responded to their information requests, they simply didn’t have the relevant information. This is due in large to an inadequate system of budget classification. There is no single database to distinguish REDD-related expenditure from other categories of public money, including adaptation finance and development aid. This means that it is hard to trace the journey that REDD+ money takes through the national budget, let alone its impact.

Hurdles like these are not exceptional, they are to be found in a great deal of climate finance-recipient countries. Many donor states also have a poor track record for accounting for REDD+ finance in a clear, timely and accessible way. One has to wonder – if an anti-corruption organisation like Transparency International struggles to ascertain where and how this money is being spent, how do its beneficiaries stand a chance of holding their leaders to account for it?

Opacity can be explained by many things. Sometimes it’s born of habit – the continuation of a historical culture of privacy. Often it is a capacity issue, with government agencies lacking the staff or the resources to consolidate data and make it publicly accessible. Regardless of cause or intent, however, a lack of transparency can serve to shield behaviour that is irresponsible, illegal or corrupt.

REDD+ money is a scarce resource. Ensuring that it is spent fairly and wisely will require carefully watching the movement of money, scrutinising the rationale for its allocation, and raising the red flag when things go awry. There is a great deal of untapped potential in citizen monitoring. If members of the public are given access to better data on REDD+ spending, they can act as watchdogs to help ensure its effectiveness.

Before this can happen, we need national registries that disaggregate REDD+ from other monetary flows. We also need full transparency of information for all projects, and proactive as opposed to reactive disclosure. Without this, there is greater risk that REDD+ won’t work.

Read more about Transparency International’s work tracking climate finance here, and its REDD+ risk assessments in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam here.  

This series of blogs on REDD+ finance intends to create a forum for debate and exchange of ideas, this blog reflects the opinions of Alice Harrison of Transparency International, and should not be understood to reflect the views of ODI, REDDX or Climate Funds Update.

Alice Harrison is advocacy and communications coordinator on Transparency International’s Climate Finance Integrity Programme, a multi-country programme aimed at preventing corruption in the climate sector.

Cookstoves Program Aims To Spread Devices Across Africa And Asia

29 July 2013 |The Bonn International Cooking Energy Forum in Germany was the site for the unveiling of StovePlus, a program to provide residents of developing countries in Africa and Asia with alternatives to inefficient cookstoves. GERES, the French non-profit organization behind the new program, aims to distribute 2 million improved cookstoves in these regions by 2017 through StovePlus.

Nearly 3 billion people in the world rely on solid biomass for cooking and heating on a daily basis, but most of them use inefficient devices and open fires, leading to 4 million premature deaths every year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study commissioned by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Reliance on biomass also puts great pressure on natural resources, putting the world’s forests at risk, GERES notes.

The StovePlus program aims to strengthen the clean cooking sector and provide technical support to project developers in South-East Asia and West Africa, with the support of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (the Alliance). The Alliance provides funding to the GERES Biomass Energy Lab in Cambodia, one of the services offered in StovePlus. In 2012, the Alliance released a request for proposals (RFP) to enhance capacity for a global network of centers to provide testing, cookstove development, and capacity building services. Thirteen centers were selected for awards in Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda (lab and field). Under the RFP, $1.6 million was made available to support these centers.

Cookstove projects can provide significant health benefits and empower women – who often walk long distances to collect the necessary wood fuel for heat or cooking purposes – by freeing up their time and increasing their household income, says Jennifer Tweddell, Manager of Carbon Finance and Impact Investing for the Alliance. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the projects also have the impact of reducing deforestation, she says.

Clean cookstoves have become all the rage in the voluntary carbon markets, with voluntary buyers funneling $80 million toward offsets from these and water filtration projects last year, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report. These household devices that burn fuel more efficiently or not at all (thus reducing GHG emissions while sparing households from harmful smoke inhalation) were the voluntary market’s fourth most popular mitigation activity – transacting 5.8 MtCO2e, or 80% more than in 2011. These projects have so far delivered at least 4 million cookstoves from 45 projects to developing country households with the aid of carbon revenues, the report finds.

In 2012, carbon finance for clean cookstove distribution reached 15 country locations on three continents, according to the report. The most prominent project locations included Peru, Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya.

Developers of cookstove projects are determined to secure buy-in from stove users, with only 2% of clean cookstove projects engaged in stove giveaways and the majority of projects charging users between $2 and upwards of $140 per device, a finding that pleased Tweddell.

“We’re very much in favor of a market-based approach so we’re glad that there aren’t a lot of free giveaways because we really feel that to be sustainable and to reach universal adoption, which would be 500 million households, you can’t do that on donor dollars and (corporate social responsibility),” she says. “You do that through having a thriving marketplace where people at the base of the pyramid are consumers who go out and actually purchase these products from social enterprises that are also making a profit doing that.”

Transactions of clean cookstove offsets were valued at $65.3 million in 2012 – 54% more than in 2011. Over time, the value of private sector support for clean cookstove carbon projects is estimated to be $145 million.

The average price for offsets from clean cookstove projects was $11.3/tCO2e in 2012, representing a 15% fall in price from 2011’s $13.2/tCO2e. The price decline was attributed to the growing volume of available cookstove project offset supply and a lack of clarity regarding certified emissions reduction demand in the European Union Emissions Trading System – a source of demand for some clean cookstove offsets. But the price for cookstove projects was well above the volume-weighted average price of $5.9/tCO2e of all project types seen in 2012.

“I really do think it’s because of all the additional benefits that these projects bring,” Tweddell says. “Certainly, you can tell a really great story about having a health benefit, improving the lives of people in developing countries, as well reducing your carbon emissions.”

In trying to attract investment, the Alliance often hears people talk about the crash of the carbon markets, but the report is very useful because it provides evidence of the higher prices commanded by these charismatic projects, she says.

“That helps us to demonstrate the value to potential buyers, but also to investors who often don’t understand the carbon markets and are a little bit leery of businesses that are reliant on carbon revenues,” she says.

For more findings on cookstoves and other voluntary carbon projects, read the Ecosystem Marketplace report here.

 

Additional resources

Can REDD+ Drive
Change In The DR Congo?

After decades of war, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is struggling to get back on its feet. A new study says implementing a REDD+ program to curb the nation’s forest loss could help improve governance by triggering policy change and reform as well as provide much needed financial assistance.

This article was originally published on the CIFOR  blog. Click here to read the original.

21 May 2013 | Implementing a U.N.-backed scheme to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be difficult, a new study says, until the government addresses corruption, a lack of state authority in some regions, and intermittent fighting between rebels and government forces in the country’s east.

Despite these challenges, the authors say that the scheme could actually help improve governance in the country.

The report, The context of REDD+ in the DRC: drivers, agents and institutions (publication in French), to be launched at a forestry conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, contains an in-depth review of the governance, socio-economic and environmental situation in the central African nation.

The CIFOR research – carried out with the local non-governmental Council for Environmental Defence through Legality and Traceability (CODELT) – adds to comparative studies carried out in other tropical countries and draws from the existing literature on forestry and extractive industries in the DRC as well as from interviews and observations collected in the country in 2011 and 2012.

Two decades after the country experienced a succession of wars, the DR Congo has taken significant steps to rebuild institutions and maintain stability. International organizations remain cautious, however: Last year, a European Union high representative described the country as a “fragile state.”

Against this backdrop of caution, there is hope that protecting Congo’s forests could attract financial assistance under a scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), which sees funds channelled from developed to developing countries to keep their trees standing.

The authors believe that REDD+ itself has the potential to trigger policy change and reforms in the DRC.

“REDD+ should inititate the coherent re-shaping of principles, norms and strategies for land use, forests, mines, agriculture and infrastructure development in the DRC, paving the way for practices that would be increasingly compatible with the need to combat climate change,” said Samuel Assembe, post-doctoral researcher at CIFOR and co-author of the report.

In addition, it seems that REDD+ has brought a variety of new actors from civil society into the arena, and has seen new policy coalitions emerge, the authors said.

The report is frank about the challenges, however: “With regard to the current situation in DR Congo, it appears difficult or quasi-impossible to implement REDD+ at the grassroots level,” Assembe said.

The report highlights shortcomings in the Congolese administration, leading to “the virtual absence of State authority in some regions” and insufficient resources and capacity to manage REDD+ programmes. Chronic conflict that flared up in the eastern part of the country a year ago has only compounded existing difficulties.

“Popular discontent against the established political regime and its action poses a risk of accelerated social exclusion, which could not be prevented from affecting REDD+,” Assembe said.

Though the DRC has the second-largest tropical forest area after Brazil, the lack of infrastructure development, investment and demographic growth during successive wars since the mid-1990s reduced pressure on the environment. Yet an informal – sometimes criminal – exploitation of forest resources has developed in the meantime. Moreover, the researchers found that most progress to date has been confined to the capital, Kinshasa, with few links to local communities.

Progress must begin somewhere, and to that end, NGOs and ministries in Kinshasa could be used as a springboard to develop the REDD+ process, Assembe said, though this would require significant technical expertise.

“The monitoring of forests and their evolution is one area where the DRC needs to grow its capacity. From the generation of satellite data to the training of scientists to analyze them, much more could be done to help keep track of deforestation,” Assembe added.

There are signs that such expertise might not be far off. A project being implemented by CIFOR and several partner institutions in the DRC is currently training the next generation of Congolese forest researchers. The REFORCO (Congo Forestry Research) project, funded by the European Union, is supporting the training of home-grown Master’s and PhD students in forestry; several dozen students have recently graduated.

Even with an influx of new ideas and expertise, political will is required. According to Augustin Mpoyi, Executive Director of CODELT and co-author of the study, the DRC’s problems are surmountable, but it could take years yet before the country is able to implement efficient and transparent REDD+ programs.

“Mentalities need to change,” Mpoyi said, “and our political leadership must understand that everyone would benefit from better governance.”

This issue will be one of the topics of discussion at the two-day conference Sustainable forest management in Central Africa: Yesterday, today and tomorrow Yaounde, Cameroon. 22-23 May, 2013.

Thomas Hubert is a journalist based in Paris covering issues ranging from human rights to farm policy to the environment.
Additional resources

Congo Basin Forest Fund
Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting In DRC

Developed countries have pledged billions to get REDD up and running around the world, but very little of that has resulted in actual projects being implemented on the ground.   The Congo Basin Forest Fund is an exception, but it’s also not without growing pains. Here’s a look at the fund, its funders, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Sixth in a series.

4 December 2012 | Doha | Qatar | The Democratic Republic of Congo introduced its National REDD+ strategy at climate talks here today (see “DRC REDD Strategy”, right), just weeks after heavily-armed insurgents surrounded and stormed the capital of the country’s North Kivu province, sending thousands fleeing into the countryside and putting even more pressure on the fragile ecosystem of the Virunga National Park.

It’s in the turbulent area around Goma that WWF Belgium is launching the Geographically Integrated EcoMakala REDD+ Pilot Project, which aims to protect forestland in part by providing clean cook stoves and planting a buffer of fast-growing trees so that locals can harvest them for charcoal (or “makala” in the local dialect) instead of chopping down the forest.

“We know that 80 percent of the charcoal comes illegally from the park,” says Mone Van Geit, WWF Belgium’s Project Manager, African Program.   “So, if the charcoal from our [plantations] gets on the market, that is avoided deforestation.”

It’s an innovative project testing new methods and, if successful, it could be replicated across Africa. Until those methods are tested and refined, however, private-sector investors are reticent about putting money on the line. That’s where the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) comes in.

Funded jointly by Norway and the United Kingdom, the CBFF aims to both alleviate poverty and address climate change by “reducing and eventually reversing the rate of deforestation in the Congo Basin forests.” It was established in the spring of 2008 with an endowment of £100 million – half from the UK and half from Norway. Fourteen percent of its portfolio currently goes to REDD projects, and the REDD+ phase of EcoMakala is being funded by a €2.5 million grant from the CBFF.

Administered jointly by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the United Nations, the CBFF is one of the few initiatives that is actually delivering on its promises, albeit slower than many had hoped, according to REDDX, Forest Trends’ REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project, which is tracking REDD+ commitments to 13 countries around the world.

Lessons Learned and Growing Pains

For the AfDB, the REDD initiatives are a way to pilot both new REDD methodologies and new administrative procedures for overseeing them.

“The inclusion of REDD projects in the Bank’s portfolio will enable its technical staff to enhance their knowledge in new areas such as community forestry and REDD in moist dense forest,” reads an early AfDB assessment report.

Already, the program has yielded hard lessons on the challenge of administering community forestry programs, which is proving to be something like herding cats.

“(The Bank is) a big organization, and their processes are meant for projects worth $100 to $500 million,” says Bruno Hugel, the first project manager for EcoMakala who now works as a Kinshasa-based Technical Advisor for DRC’s REDD Coordination Nationale.   “Applying those procedures to small projects is very difficult for them.”

After initially stumbling, the Bank streamlined its procedures, but is now working through a backlog of more than 30 small forestry projects scattered across the country. EcoMakala, as a result, is more than a year behind schedule, and that means key milestones necessary to advance the project have not occurred. A biomass map and a system for identifying and tracking carbon stock, expected to be completed by the end of this year, have not yet started; an established and validated “base case” necessary for the eventual generation of carbon credits also missed its original 2012 deadline.

The CBFF, too, has faced challenges in administering so many small projects. Of the $103 million pounds pledged and funded to the CBFF, just $7 million had been disbursed as of July 2011.

The issue came to a head as far back as February 2011, when outside agents were brought in to advise the CBFF Secretariat on decisions about the fund portfolio. At the time a “fund management agent” –– comprised of both Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the Dutch Development Agency (SNV) –– was appointed with the approval of the UK and Norway, to assist the CBFF with the administration and oversight of projects under €2.5 million.

But as recently as August 2012 the CBFF conceded in a performance report that “…disbursement procedures are still tricky for some beneficiaries and something needs to be done in order to solve this issue.” CBFF donors Norway and the UK have made a total of three visits to the CBFF’s Tunis offices in the last two years to “…identify bottlenecks and solutions…to improve the performance of the CBFF portfolio,” according to the fund’s performance report.

Both the CBFF and the Bank say they’ve learned from the early setbacks, and projects are moving forward.

“We hope the project will get started in the next couple of months,” says Van Geit, “but we’re not sure exactly when yet.”

Why It Matters

Goma lies along the border with Rwanda – a flashpoint in numerous insurgencies since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It is also DRC’s most populous region and home to the 7800 square km Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and crown jewel in a vast tropical rainforest spanning 1.6 million square km of the Congo Basin. The park spans six countries, and is a last respite for numerous endemic species including the Mountain gorilla.

The Virunga rainforests are the planet’s second largest remaining tropical rainforests after the Amazon, supporting at least 40 million people; the DRC accounts for over 60 percent of what’s left. Protecting the Congo Basin rainforest has become both a local and international priority, as countries like the DRC work to develop REDD+ capacity and pilot projects on the ground.

Two Phases

EcoMakala is coming in two phases. The initial phase of the project began in 2007 with a vision of reducing deforestation in the Virunga Park by creating 1000 hectares of “micro-forest plantations” on private land outside of the park boundaries. Small plot farmers, organized by local farmer associations, were enlisted to grow super fast-growing perennial tree species like eucalyptus, which are ideal for making charcoal. Not only would the plantations create a self-sustaining market for charcoal, enriching the small farmers and protecting the park, but the project would also distribute 4000 clean-burning stoves serving at least 20,000 people.

This phase was funded with €2.4 million from the EU, including multiple smaller contributions from WWF Belgium and others, and a second infusion of €1.9 million from the International Fertilizer Development Centre and the Dutch Cooperation Agency. Between 2007 and 2012, this combined funding allowed EcoMakala to realize 5000 hectares of new plantations.

The second phase is the one the CBFF is funding, and it’s a more formalized REDD+ initiative that involves extensive education campaigns to educate people on the value of the forest and the concept of ecosystem services, and the creation of a detailed measurement of carbon stocks, as well as the testing of other methodologies that could be part of a carbon offset program in the future.

Complex Funding Arrangements

Both Norway and the UK have input into how the CBFF operates: the CBFF is managed by a Secretariat at the African Development Bank, with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). A Governing Council includes representatives from DRC civil society, the Convergence Plan of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and both the UK and Norwegian governments.

Funds will flow from the CBFF to the African Development Bank, to be transferred to a bank account accessible by the DRC’s Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation & Tourism. The money will then be directly transferred to the project participants.

Norway and the International Climate and Forest Initiative

The Norwegian funds that reach the CBFF originate from the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

In December 2007 Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg launched the NICFI, which pledged up to $500 million US per year to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.

In addition to pledging billions to forests in Brazil, Indonesia and Guyana, the NICFI is providing funds supporting REDD methodology development and pilot projects to multilateral institutions like the UN-REDD Programme, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Program and the Congo Basin Forest Fund.

A spokesperson for the Norwegian Ministry of Environment told Ecosystem Marketplace that REDD+ pilot projects supported by Norway are “mainly supported” through the Congo Basin Forest Fund, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)’s Climate and Forest Funding Scheme for Civil Society, and the Norwegian embassy in Tanzania.

United Kingdom’s International Climate Fund

The UK’s support for Congo Basin forests dates back to at least March 2007, when the government pledged 50 million pounds for “sustainable management” in the Congo Basin to a special fund that would be officially launched as the CBFF in 2008.

This initial pledge came from a UK government fund that evolved into the International Climate Fund (ICF) in 2011, which is now the primary channel of UK climate change finance. It has been created to help developing nations adapt to climate change, tackle deforestation and kick start low carbon growth.

The ICF’s latest implementation plan shows a commitment to disburse 2.9 billion pounds of “official development assistance” to the ICF for the period 2011/12-2014/15. Funding for “forest finance” – 100 million pounds – will originate from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

“REDD+ is one of the priorities for the ICF, so a significant portion of the ICF is expected to be made available to support REDD+ activity in forest nations,” reads a July 2011 UK government-commissioned review of the country’s current and future REDD funding efforts.

In addition to funding projects through the CBFF, the UK currently supports the REDD+ process in DRC through the World Bank-administered Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Forest Investment Program.

The State of DRC’s REDD Readiness

In addition to government and non-government projects funded through the CBFF, Hugel says there are also DRC REDD projects developed and led by conservation NGOs and the private sector, although the government has been cautious with such projects.

“We need to develop the framework where we can control the kind of project developers and projects selected, because if bad developers mess up, this can endanger the whole international process and credibility of REDD+.”

To weed out the bad players and address concerns about corruption and money laundering – two issues that are very real in the DRC – a National REDD+ registry will be online by mid-2013. The registry will post the details of project approvals, and will eventually include on-the-ground info from approved carbon offset projects. “We have a strict understanding that a project that has not been validated or approved by government with all info provided, will not be allowed to get carbon credits in DRC.”

Some say much more fundamental issues need to be addressed before DRC can ponder the sale of carbon offsets from REDD+. Baudouin Michel, Director of the University of Kinshasa’s ERAIFT (a postgraduate tropical forest management program launched by UNESCO), says the DRC has virtually no policies to support rural development or agriculture for poor farmers. The DRC currently invests just one percent of its budget on agriculture and rural development, and it needs to address this deficiency before anything else.

“If you’re putting only one percent of your total budget into supporting 80 percent of the national population, that’s not a clear commitment from government,” says Michel. “Without clear policy supporting the small rural [farmers] in the field, you will never have the impact of REDD on deforestation going down. It’s impossible.”

EcoMakala Continues Amid Insurrection

As the insurgency continues, Van Geit and her WWF Belgium colleagues are busy working on a project design document for EcoMakala, and will apply for carbon finance through the afforestation/reforestation Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.

Meanwhile in the northeast of DRC, the rebel group known as M-23 continues to hold Goma in defiance of both the international community and DRC government forces.

Hugel, who started the EcoMakala project, says the first phase has gotten remarkable results in spite of repeated insurgencies over the last five years. As the project leader based in Goma from 2006 to 2010, he had to evacuate the city three separate times, including one instance when a different rebel group encircled Goma (on this occasion, they did not attack).

EcoMakala has continued to function, he says, because the conflicts are often isolated to specific areas, while the project is dispersed across a wide area – the thousands of plantations average just one square hectare in size, so even if fighting limits access in one area, the project continues elsewhere.

“It’s been very important to spread our activities and spread the risk,” he says. “We were still able to have thousands of planters and over 4000 hectares of tree plantations, all with a very strong monitoring system, which is impressive in this context of conflict.”

Kenyan Farmers Boost Yields With Payments For Watershed Services

This is the fourth in a four-part series examining the interplay between economy and ecology in the Lake Naivasha Watershed. The earlier stories explore the more technical aspects of the PWS program.

 

18 April 2013| NAIVASHA | Kenya | Chege Mwangi looks out over his small patch of farmland on this steep incline high in Kenya’s Abardares Hills and smiles. His cabbages are bursting, and his potatoes are ready to be harvested. Then he glances across the valley.

“Mine used to look like those,” he says, pointing to the dusty hills where farmers haven’t yet joined the Payments for Watershed Services (PWS) program that’s reshaping the landscape around him. “But since the strips came in, my soil isn’t disappearing.”

The “strips” are rows of Napier grass spaced every ten meters. Embedded in each strip of Napier grass, Mwangi has three rosewood trees, which hold the soil and pull nitrogen from the air. They can even provide timber when he needs it.

“See that stump?” he asks. “That’s from the one tree I had before, but I harvested that for KSh 5000 ($60) to pay school fees for my children. Soon, I’ll have plenty of trees.”

The grass and trees were provided by WWF and CARE as part of a massive PWS program that aims to help farmers reduce their runoff into Lake Naivasha. The tree roots reinforce the grass strips, which will capture soil washing downhill, causing the earth to gradually rise upward until it forms terraces. That process won’t be complete for another six years, but the change has already begun; the uphill side of each grass strips is already higher than the downhill side, albeit it just by a foot or so.

“All this would have become unwanted silt if it got to the river, but here, it’s valuable soil” says Mwangi, adding that the cabbages began to grow faster just weeks after the Napier grass was planted. Down the middle of the cabbage patch, however, some of the heads are smaller than the others, and the leaves are yellow. “Before I got the grass, they all looked like that,” he says.

Peter Mungai says the smaller, yellow heads are coming in where the water ran the hardest before Mwangi joined the program.

“This is what happens when you have a depletion of nitrogen,” says Mungai, the WWF community outreach officer in charge of this region. “That means this was a waterway before PES. This was all rutted here, and the topsoil got washed away.” He suggests Mwangi plant peas next year – they fix nitrogen, he says.

The contrast between the farms on Mwangi’s side of the valley and those across from him is what convinced James Waweru to join the program as a buyer last year.

“The difference between those who subscribed to PWS and those who didn’t was quite apparent,” says Waweru, who runs the Flower Business Park Management Ltd., which coordinates activities of several flower-growers along the lake’s shore. After that visit, he persuaded FBP members to become buyers as well.

The sellers were all small farmers like Mwangi, whose plots range in size from a quarter-acre to 15 acres. Most are too small for rotating, and instead rely on intense management to keep them going.

In addition to the grass and trees, each received a $17 voucher that they could use for their own inputs. Mwangi used his to buy medicine for his cow and anti-fungal spray for his potatoes.

Interestingly, it’s the potatoes – which lie below the last strip of Napier grass – that have benefitted the most.

“I used to get just four bags from this lot,” says Mwangi. “Now I get ten.”

For Muigai, that’s something he can use to pitch the program to other farmers.

“Even though the potatoes are down at the bottom, they benefits because the water doesn’t gush like it used to,” he says. “So, his neighbors are benefitting from his actions as well, and have become quite receptive to our message.”

Planning For The Future

Mwangi keeps a dairy cow on community land above the farm, and says he’s now thinking of getting a second one and maybe keeping it on his small farm.

“The potato patch is too small to make a go of it commercially,” he says, “but if I can get enough potatoes to feed the cows, then I can earn money off the milk, and the cabbage can be my subsistence crop.”

Alternately, he’s thinking of replacing the potatoes with Napier grass and building a shed and stall for the dry season. Then he’ll have a continuous supply of grasses for additional cows uphill.

But there’s a complication: climate-change has disrupted the long-reliable rain patterns. It’s normally dry now, for example, but the region has been experiencing unseasonable rains. That’s led to something of a bounty, but it’s also unpredictable for the rest of the year – with higher highs during the day and also more frequent frosts due to the lack of cloud cover at night. The amount of rain is about the same, but it’s coming in massive gushes followed by long dry spells.

“Last year’s draught was incredibly severe,” says Daniel Koros, who oversees the project for WWF. “It resulted in total crop losses, some trees dried up and we were told by some residences that bats and some small animals died during that period.”

This all makes farming even more uncertain than it was before, says Muigai.

“He’s got to plant with uncertainty and frost in mind,” he says. “That probably means more cabbages, which have the advantage of being frost-resistant because they have big, waxy cuticles – unlike potatoes, which are more susceptible to frost.”

Even though the tuber is underground, the leaves that support it freeze easily. When that happens, the tuber that’s growing below dies as well. The Napier grass is a frost-resistant type called Kakamega 1, but there is no equivalent for potatoes.

So far, the project is paying off financially for participating farmers, but the effects have not yet trickled down to Lake Naivasha itself – although water samples show dramatic reductions in sediment up in the catchment.

All buyers have already renewed for this year, and most have upped their payments, but Mwangi says the program has to scale up – and fast – if it’s to have the impact needed.

“We’re dealing with 785 farmers now, but there are 5,000 households up there,” he says.

The Farm

Chege

Chege Mwangi (right) and neighbor Muigai Mwathi stand between two rows of Napier grass.


The Contrast

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Mwangi’s lush farm (foreground) contrasts sharply with those across the valley – which are not participating in the program.


Can REDD+ Drive Change In The DR Congo?

After decades of war, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is struggling to get back on its feet. A new study says implementing a REDD+ program to curb the nation’s forest loss could help improve governance by triggering policy change and reform as well as provide much needed financial assistance.

This article was originally published on the CIFOR  blog. Click here to read the original.

21 May 2013 | Implementing a U.N.-backed scheme to slow forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be difficult, a new study says, until the government addresses corruption, a lack of state authority in some regions, and intermittent fighting between rebels and government forces in the country’s east.

Despite these challenges, the authors say that the scheme could actually help improve governance in the country.

The report, The context of REDD+ in the DRC: drivers, agents and institutions (publication in French), to be launched at a forestry conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, contains an in-depth review of the governance, socio-economic and environmental situation in the central African nation.

The CIFOR research – carried out with the local non-governmental Council for Environmental Defence through Legality and Traceability (CODELT) – adds to comparative studies carried out in other tropical countries and draws from the existing literature on forestry and extractive industries in the DRC as well as from interviews and observations collected in the country in 2011 and 2012.

Two decades after the country experienced a succession of wars, the DR Congo has taken significant steps to rebuild institutions and maintain stability. International organizations remain cautious, however: Last year, a European Union high representative described the country as a “fragile state.”

Against this backdrop of caution, there is hope that protecting Congo’s forests could attract financial assistance under a scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), which sees funds channelled from developed to developing countries to keep their trees standing.

The authors believe that REDD+ itself has the potential to trigger policy change and reforms in the DRC.

“REDD+ should inititate the coherent re-shaping of principles, norms and strategies for land use, forests, mines, agriculture and infrastructure development in the DRC, paving the way for practices that would be increasingly compatible with the need to combat climate change,” said Samuel Assembe, post-doctoral researcher at CIFOR and co-author of the report.

In addition, it seems that REDD+ has brought a variety of new actors from civil society into the arena, and has seen new policy coalitions emerge, the authors said.

The report is frank about the challenges, however: “With regard to the current situation in DR Congo, it appears difficult or quasi-impossible to implement REDD+ at the grassroots level,” Assembe said.

The report highlights shortcomings in the Congolese administration, leading to “the virtual absence of State authority in some regions” and insufficient resources and capacity to manage REDD+ programmes. Chronic conflict that flared up in the eastern part of the country a year ago has only compounded existing difficulties.

“Popular discontent against the established political regime and its action poses a risk of accelerated social exclusion, which could not be prevented from affecting REDD+,” Assembe said.

Though the DRC has the second-largest tropical forest area after Brazil, the lack of infrastructure development, investment and demographic growth during successive wars since the mid-1990s reduced pressure on the environment. Yet an informal – sometimes criminal – exploitation of forest resources has developed in the meantime. Moreover, the researchers found that most progress to date has been confined to the capital, Kinshasa, with few links to local communities.

Progress must begin somewhere, and to that end, NGOs and ministries in Kinshasa could be used as a springboard to develop the REDD+ process, Assembe said, though this would require significant technical expertise.

“The monitoring of forests and their evolution is one area where the DRC needs to grow its capacity. From the generation of satellite data to the training of scientists to analyze them, much more could be done to help keep track of deforestation,” Assembe added.

There are signs that such expertise might not be far off. A project being implemented by CIFOR and several partner institutions in the DRC is currently training the next generation of Congolese forest researchers. The REFORCO (Congo Forestry Research) project, funded by the European Union, is supporting the training of home-grown Master’s and PhD students in forestry; several dozen students have recently graduated.

Even with an influx of new ideas and expertise, political will is required. According to Augustin Mpoyi, Executive Director of CODELT and co-author of the study, the DRC’s problems are surmountable, but it could take years yet before the country is able to implement efficient and transparent REDD+ programs.

“Mentalities need to change,” Mpoyi said, “and our political leadership must understand that everyone would benefit from better governance.”

This issue will be one of the topics of discussion at the two-day conference Sustainable forest management in Central Africa: Yesterday, today and tomorrow Yaounde, Cameroon. 22-23 May, 2013.

Thomas Hubert is a journalist based in Paris covering issues ranging from human rights to farm policy to the environment.
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Tying The Knot:
Buyers And Sellers In Kenyan PWS

This is the third in a four-part series examining the interplay between economy and ecology in the Lake Naivasha Watershed.

15 March 2013 | NAIVASHA | Kenya | It’s almost a year since that day in May, 2012, when Abigael Tamooh drove James Waweru to the steep slopes of Kenya’s Abardares Hills

“We wanted to show him directly how the payments for watershed services (PWS) were changing farmers’ behavior,” she says. “Because that’s the only way we’re going to get buy-in.”

Waweru runs the Flower Business Park Management Ltd., which coordinates activities of several flower-growers along the lake’s shore. He says he was sold within ten minutes of getting out of the car.

“The difference between those who subscribed to PWS and those who didn’t was quite apparent,” he says. “But then I had to convince our board as well.”

It’s a decision-making process that will be replicated around the world as cash-strapped governments turn to payments for ecosystem services (PES) in general and PWS in particular to promote good land stewardship – but it actually began four years earlier, when WWF and CARE started looking for partners in their ground-breaking PWS program.

 

Partnering to Find Buyers

During the feasibility studies that WWF and CARE carried out in 2007, three groups said they’d act as buyers in the pilot phase. The first was the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (LNRA), an 80-year-old property-protection group that has been at the forefront of efforts to balance business and ecology. The second was the Lake Naivasha Growers Group (LNGG), which represents 19 flower growers and began working on water protection in the late 1990s. The third was the Lake Naivasha Association of Hotels.

With commitments totaling US $10,000, WWF and CARE set a target of 500 participating farmers. That would mean just $20 per farmer – not enough to cover the cost of the trees and Napier grass, but enough to provide a concrete incentive.

Partnering to Find Sellers

CARE and WWF came up with standardized criteria to make sure they were targeting those farmers most likely to deliver results, but rather than reach out to farmers themselves, they reached out to local Water Resource User Associations (WRUA).

“We wanted to make this sustainable,” says Peter Muigai, who was working with CARE at the time. “That meant getting local people involved in the administration of the program as soon as possible.”

One of the first people he approached was David Mbugua, Secretary of the Upper Tarusha Water Resource User Association (UTWRUA).

“They asked us to coordinate the outreach and also the verification and validation,” says Mbugua. “In exchange for this, they offered us 15% of the income from payments to cover our costs.”

 

The Criteria

Some of the criteria were based on hydrology: because steep land is more susceptible to erosion, for example, they restricted the first tranche of farms to those on gradients steeper than 20 degrees.

Other criteria were socioeconomic: to prevent inadvertently incentivizing more degradation, they required the land already be cultivated; and to make sure the people they targeted had a vested interest in the success of the project, they required that all participating farms either me managed by the owner or have the full mandate of the owner.

To create a baseline, they eliminated land that already had conservation structures like terraces and retaining walls.

 

The Proposition and the Uptake

To prime the pump, WWF and CARE offered to provide trees and Napier grass to farmers free of charge and show them how to install the grass in strips, with the trees behind it. If farmers implemented it correctly, they’d be rewarded with vouchers worth $17 that they could use for any agricultural inputs they wanted.

Of more than 700 farmers in both the Upper Tarusha and Wanjohi catchments, 565 agreed to implement the changes.

 

Drought and Default

The program was slated to begin in 2008, but a devastating drought prevented farmers from planting the grass. By 2009, however, the rains were back and the project was underway.

By early 2010, 470 of the 565 participating farmers had upheld their end of the bargain – but then came another surprise: when they went to collect the money from the buyers, only one of them – LNGG – honored its commitment.

“Once we realized we’d only get the one buyer, we were afraid of losing credibility with the sellers,” says Muigai. “So we went to the donors, and they agreed to cover any shortfall, so that we could still maintain the confidence of the farmer as we continue to negotiate with more buyers.”

The Dutch Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) covered the shortfall, and the project continued. In late 2010, Muigai took a team from LNGG to the upper catchment to see the steep slopes and hear their plan.

“They were impressed,” says Muigai. “And they decided to pay the full amount: $10,000.”

Then came yet another setback: CARE announced that it didn’t have enough money to continue after 2010, so it was up to WWF to carry the load from there on in.

“Fortunately, CARE had laid a good foundation, and we were able to keep going without too much additional funding,” says Daniel Koros, a 20-year WWF veteran who came in to oversee the project in 2011. “We were able to hire Peter, and he continued doing for us what he had been doing for CARE.

 

Buyer Objections

Also in 2011, the Lake Naivasha Water Resource Users Association (LANAWRUA) hired Abigael Tamooh as a technical officer. Part of her job is to persuade flower-growers, hoteliers, and geothermal power providers to join the program – which isn’t always easy.

“LANAWRUA members use more water than the farmers in the catchments do, but they also pay nearly all the water fees,” she explains. “They often don’t see why they should be paying more on top of what they already pay.”

The FBP’s Waweru encountered that objection when he went to pitch the program to his board.

“The main objections were that we already paid for water charges – and that’s an objection I agree with,” he says, adding that several members argued that LANAWRUA should only participate if the upper-catchment WRUAs agreed to bring unregistered water users into the system. “But in the end, we decided that if we waited for everyone to come in, it wasn’t going to happen. So in June – one month after our tour – we made our first payment unconditionally.”

 

Moving Forward

In 2011, 504 farmers qualified for the bonus, and 785 farmers have joined the program this year. LNGG has pledged a whopping Ksh 1.3 million ($15,000).   FBP says it will also up its contribution from last year’s Ksh 250,000 ($3,000), but hasn’t settled on an exact amount yet.

Tamooh, meanwhile, is still working on the other potential buyers.

“Hotels are more concerned with the appearance of the water than with actual quality,” she says. “But the invasion of water hyacinths has shown that quantity and quality go hand-in-hand.”

Another potential big buyer is the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which runs geothermal plants that depend on clean subterranean waterways.

“They are open to the idea, but they also have a very bureaucratic decision-making structure,” says Tamooh. “But to achieve the scale we need, they’d have to join at some point.”

Next Week: Taking Stock: Environmental Benefits, Economic Challenges