This Week In Biodiversity: It’s Climate Time!

Environmental risk has been brought to the fore with a new tool that assesses climate change risk as well as a report examining ecological risk in sovereign credit.  Meanwhile, Forest Trend’s Business and Biodiversity Offset Program has helped develop the first-ever lender-required biodiversity offsets in Costa Rica.   

Environmental risk has been brought to the fore with a new tool that assesses climate change risk as well as a report examining ecological risk in sovereign credit.   Meanwhile, Forest Trend’s Business and Biodiversity Offset Program has helped develop the first-ever lender-required biodiversity offsets in Costa Rica.      

This article was originally published in the Mitigation Mail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

3 December 2012 | With the latest round of UN climate talks commencing next week in Doha, climate change seems to be on everyone’s mind. This month’s MitMail brings you a slew of articles on environmental and climate risk – including a new tool for assessing it and a report asking why we don’t consider ecological risks in sovereign credit ratings.

Biodiversity sometimes feels like carbon’s poor cousin – often getting a lot less attention and finance. That’s why we’re happy to bring you a new piece from Dr. Jonah Busch of Conservation International, who argues that biodiversity benefits might be the key factor in communities embracing carbon projects. Busch’s research looks at the impacts of adding biodiversity payments to the carbon mix. “Payments for biodiversity had a surprising effect,” he writes. “In many cases, supplemental biodiversity payments actually resulted in more carbon storage than an equal amount of money spent only on increased carbon payments!”

Let’s hope REDD+ negotiators read his latest scientific article – or at least an overview of his findings at Ecosystem Marketplace. And if you need an update on what’s on the table for REDD+ at Doha, we’ve got that too.

We also bring you the latest news on biodiversity and wetlands finance from around the world, including the new TEEB for Business coalition, an update on Ecuador’s Yasuní­ experiment, and the first-ever lender-required biodiversity offsets for a hydroelectric project in Costa Rica, developed with Forest Trends’ very own Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) Standard.

On a final note, if you value your monthly MitMail dispatch, consider supporting us with a donation! It allows us to keep the lights on and our news briefs to keep coming, free of charge. Individuals or organizations donating $150 or more are listed in the newsletter sidebar as “Supporting Subscribers” for a year. Many thanks to those who have already supported MitMail. Get in touch with us here.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


EM Exclusives

Study Says Bad Environmental Policy Turns Nations Into Credit Risks

 

Erik-Jan van Bergen has long seen parallels between the economic crisis that rocked the world two years ago and the overuse of environmental resources, but until recently it was little more than an intuitive hunch. “We see some simple similarities with the current credit debt crisis where we borrowed too much from the future,” says Bergen, who is CEO of SNS Asset Management.“We run the same risk in the ecological space.”

 

Last week, he got a glimpse of data that backs that up – courtesy of a new report from UNEP FI (The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative) and the Global Footprint Network. According to A New Angle on Sovereign Credit Risk, 80% of the world’s population now lives in nations that depend on resources from outside their borders, whereas in the 1960s, it was just the opposite. In other words, when you factor ecological risk into sovereign credit risk, the results aren’t pretty.

 

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Why Biodiversity Payments Can Help Communities Fight Climate Change

 

A big question for next week’s climate talks in Doha is REDD+, a U.N. framework that would enable tropical forest stewards to receive payments from beneficiaries all over the world for their forests’ climate service. A unified global system for REDD+ under the U.N. remains several years away, but in the meantime initiatives for REDD+ are blossoming through bilateral agreements, multilateral institutions and voluntary markets, and each round of U.N. negotiations like the one in Doha next week brings REDD+ incrementally closer.

 

What does all this mean for biodiversity? Carbon buyers could pay a premium for high-biodiversity forest conservation, or biodiversity conservation groups could pool contributions to match carbon payments with biodiversity payments. One group might choose to pay for forests with the highest concentration of unique species; another might pay for forests that are home to a particularly charismatic creature. (The highly threatened orangutan is a favorite of mine.) And the extra income from biodiversity payments could tip some forest communities in favor of conservation where carbon payments alone wouldn’t be enough.

 

Keep reading here.

New Method Could Help Communities Plan For Climate Risk

 

Climate scientists cannot attribute any single weather event — whether a drought, wildfire or extreme storm — to climate change. But extreme events, such as Hurricane Sandy, are glimpses of the types of occurrences the world could be more vulnerable to in the future. As the devastation left by Sandy continues to reverberate, decision-makers at every level are asking: How can we be better prepared?

 

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers have developed a new tool to help policymakers, city planners and others see the possible local effects of climate change. Its regional projections of climate trends — such as long-term temperature and precipitation changes — allow local planners to evaluate risks, and how these risks could shape crops, roads and energy infrastructure.

 

Learn more about MIT’s new tool.


Mitigation News

Billion-Dollar Costa Rican Hydropower Project To Use Biodiversity Offsets

 

A new $950 million Costa Rican hydroelectric project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other parties requires biodiversity offsets. The terms of IDB’s loan requires habitat offsets for impacts to the river – the first of its kind in Central America – as well as funding allocated to a wildlife rescue operation and the Jaguar Corridor Initiative. Offsets be developed according to Forest Trends’ BBOP Principles and are expected to cost about $2.7 million to develop and implement.

 

Read a press release.
Read the Environmental and Social Management Report (ESMR) for the project.

Please Now Think Of Us As “Nature’s Benefits Marketplace”

 

A new report is out from Resource Media on ecosystem services messaging. It’s based on interviews with practitioners, policy-makers, and other stakeholders, and extensive review of ecosystem services-focused coverage and materials. We’d recommend reading the whole thing, but here are the big take-aways:

 

  • Avoid the jargon.
  • Be concrete. Talk about specific places and benefits.
  • Throw the economists under the bus. Stress how traditional economic analysis overlooks nature’s benefits.
  • And yep, talk about “nature’s benefits.” The term “ecosystem services” comes off as clinical and vague.
  • Green-versus-grey infrastructure comparisons are a good tactic. This is especially true when you stress the cost-effectiveness of the former.

 

 

Download the report here.
Get blog coverage from Wetlandia/ESPA.

TEEB Gets to Business

 

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) has taken on a new challenge: business. A TEEB for Business coalition launched earlier this month, headquartered in Singapore. The Coalition, which includes The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, HRH The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), WWF-UK, the Economic Development Board of Singapore, the Global Reporting Initiative, Conservation International, and Puma and Deustche Bank in advisory capacities, aims to support natural capital accounting standards and carry out valuation exercises for major business impacts.

 

Read a press release on the TEEB for Business website.

$300 Million For a Priceless Resource Sounds Like a Pretty Good Deal

The brilliant-or-blackmail debate lives to see another day! Ecuador’s offer to leave its biodiversity-rich Yasuní­ National Park oil-drill free if the world chipped in to make up for lost revenues – to the tune of $3.6 billion – has at last count raised $300 million. Most is coming from individuals, companies, and regional governments in Europe, and not national governments as was originally envisioned. And $187 million of it has been only promised and not delivered yet. Still, since fundraising only really kicked off in 2011, progress is good. Money raised will go to conservation and alternative energy projects. Other countries including Guatemala, Madagascar, and Nigeria are now also considering similar proposals.

Learn more at The Guardian.

$800,000 for a Tidal Wetland Credit, On the Other Hand, Might Be a Record

A new US Navy explosives handling wharf near Seattle will pay just under $7 million in in-lieu fees to the Hood Canal Coordinating Council for eighteen tidal wetland mitigation credits. The project will require restoration and enhancement including for shoreline, subtidal vegetated and non-vegetated zones, and beach areas. Richard Brocksmith of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council says a new mitigation system for saltwater habitats has had to be developed. The Council is still searching for mitigation opportunities; Brocksmith has put out a public call for owners of old docks, since their removal is one restoration option.

Madsen Environmental has the full story.

You Keep Using That Word “Offset.” I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

 

Bathurst Resources, a mining company in Western Australia, is under fire for proposing to develop opencast mines in a biodiversity enhancement area on the Denniston Plateau where Bathurst has agreed to carry out conservation work to offset another of its mines. The company’s been taken to court by the Royal Forest & Bird Society and the West Coast Environment Network, who say the conditions for the resource consents for the Escarpment mine would not be met if mining took place in the offset area. A lawyer for Bathurst countered that their plans were “achievable and workable.”

 

Read more here.

Accountants Are Ignoring Natural Capital at Their Own Risk

 

Most accountants don’t track or report information on natural capital, even though almost half consider it a material issue for their businesses, according to a new survey from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). The study solicited opinions from more than 200 accountants. Part of the gap between awareness and action may be the lack of universal accounting standards for natural capital and climate risk – but CFOs also need to step up on the issue, says the ACCA.

 

Learn more at Environmental Leader.

JOB LISTINGS

 

Ecosystem Services Specialist (Temporary)

 

The Willamette Partnership – Oregon, USA

The Willamette Partnership (Partnership) is a nonprofit 501c3 working to expand the pace, scope, and effectiveness of conservation throughout the Western United States. We are internationally recognized as leaders in the field of ecosystem markets, but are broadly interested in the incentives, policies, and actions people can take to enhance clean water, clean air, and natural places to play—ecosystem services. Anticipated responsibilities:

 

  1. Gather, process, analyze and present information that supports ongoing Partnership projects related to the policy and science, operations, and extension of ecosystem markets and other conservation incentive programs.
  2. Prepare memos, publications, and presentations to support Partnership projects.
  3. Seek new ideas and innovations to increase the pace, scope, and effectiveness of conservation.
  4. Perform a variety of general duties as assigned.

 

 

Learn more here.

Executive Assistant/Office Manager

 

The Willamette Partnership – Oregon, USA

The Willamette Partnership is a nonprofit 501c3 working to expand the pace, scope, and effectiveness of conservation throughout the Western United States. We are internationally recognized as leaders in the field of ecosystem markets, but are broadly interested in the incentives, policies, and actions people can take to enhance clean water, clean air, and natural places to play—also called ecosystem services. Expected responsibilities:

 

  1. Maintain schedules of Executive Director and Partnership; coordinate meetings and events with internal staff and external partners; prepare meetings and event materials.
  2. Organize and maintain complex technical and non-technical filing and record systems.
  3. Provide administrative support by: taking notes and preparing meeting minutes, composing and distributing various forms of correspondence, proofreading and processing reports, general data entry, making travel arrangements.
  4. Serve as point of contact for telephone and voicemail services and office equipment maintenance; assist users with operating requirements; coordinate with service providers.
  5. Coordinates the administrative management of the Board of Directors; oversees the compilation and editing of Board items, notify appropriate staff of Board meetings and agendas; distribute approved Board documents; prepare Board minutes. Schedules meetings and events; prepares, reviews, and edits meeting agendas.
  6. Manages travel, reservations, and expense reimbursement requests.
  7. Acts as the Office Manager, providing support for financial systems, information technology, and ordering supplies.
  8. Interacts with Partnership staff to develop Partnership communication material and maintain the Partnership’s website.
  9. Coordinates the Partnership’s training programs.

 

 

Learn more here.

Overseas Community Manager

 

Barefoot Conservation – Papua, Indonesia

Barefoot Conservation is a new and exciting, not-for-profit organisation that takes a fresh look at marine conversation and community awareness. All of the Barefoot staff share the same passion for making a real difference at a grass root level on all our projects. Our focus is grass roots conservation and community action. Our aim is to engage, educate and empower the local community to make sustainable conservation a way of life, not just a project. We are currently looking to fill the role of “Overseas Community Manager” at our Raja Ampat, West Papua/Indonesia marine conservation project. Primary Function:

 

  • To create, manage and oversee all community projects in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia.
  • Supervise all voluntary Community Officers on the various project sites through-out the region.
  • Liaise with all necessary Raja Ampat local Government officials, project partners, village chiefs, land owners and villagers for all community projects.

 

 

Learn more here.

EVENTS

 

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012

 

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities – A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The conference will provide an open forum to share experiences and state-of-the-art methods, tools, and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.

 

Learn more here.

East Coast Biodiversity Offsetting for Mining, Energy & Infrastructure

 

This conference will explore policy developments and emerging industry approaches for biodiversity offset delivery in Queensland and New South Wales. Mining, energy and infrastructure proponents are currently facing large and complex biodiversity offset requirements to successfully achieve project approvals and net positive impact on biodiversity. 12-13 Feburary 2013. Brisbane, Australia.

 

Learn more here.

5th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER)

 

Join us at NCER ’13 for four days of presentations in multiple program tracks, workshops, plenary sessions, poster sessions, field trips and coffee-house discussions dedicated to current topics in ecosystem restoration. We’ll explore the roles of policy, planning, science and management in establishing goals and performance expectations for achieving successful and sustainable ecosystem restoration. 29 July – 2 August, 2013. Greater Chicago, IL, USA.

 

Learn more here.


Additional resources

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.