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Expert Interview Resources from COP17

November 30, 2011

Farms, Forests and Local Communities on the Front Lines in the Fight against Climate Change

Media Interview Opportunities: November 30 - December 9, 2011


  • Mark Moroge in Durban,, South Africa mobile 0027-7-41-82-7219 (international); 07-41-82-7219 (local)
  • Adam Gibbon in Durban,, South Africa mobile 0027-7-18-29-5581 (international); 07-18-29-5581 (local)
  • Anna Clark in New York,, 646-452-1939
  • Stephen Kent in New York,, 914-589-5988


The COP17 Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa is now underway, November 28 - December 9. It is the highest meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where delegates negotiate decisions to be approved by national governments in the global effort to address climate change. Six of the delegates are representatives of the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit organization with expertise in sustainable forestry and agriculture. They are available for interviews and analysis of the meeting, both from Durban and from Washington, DC, and will also offer a live webinar for journalists and bloggers on December 9. They can comment on the overall progress of COP17, and the Rainforest Alliance’s work there to protect forests (including supporting forest carbon projects and REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation]), promote sustainable agriculture, encourage social and environmental safeguards through REDD+, and advocate specific measures and funding to help farmers, foresters and local communities worldwide adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Agriculture drives deforestation and is the most environmentally impactful human activity, bar none. The nexus between agriculture and deforestation may account for as much as 30 percent of global GHG emissions, and agricultural yields are increasingly affected by changing weather patterns, so in addition to forests, farms represent an important front in the fight to both reduce and adapt to climate change. The Rainforest Alliance has a unique reservoir of practical experience with voluntary sustainability certification, climate-friendly farming, voluntary forest carbon markets and REDD policy. It provides relevant context and detailed on-the-ground examples of how to balance the interests of all stakeholders, including smallholders, local communities and indigenous peoples. Among the many thousands of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ operations worldwide are two tea farms in South Africa’s Western Cape province, Zeekoevlei and Wiedouw.


The following representatives of the Rainforest Alliance delegation are participating in COP17 and are available for interviews:

Jeff Hayward, Director, Climate Program -- expertise in all Rainforest Alliance climate activities at a technical and non-technical level, including REDD+, social and environmental safeguards, capacity building, carbon markets and climate policy, and others. Jeff is recognized as a REDD and IFM expert by the Verified Carbon Standard Association (VCSA).

Adam Gibbon, Technical Specialist, Climate Program -- expertise in technical issues, including forest carbon issues, carbon markets, validations, verifications, methodologies, REDD+ project development and agricultural mitigation. Adam is recognized as a REDD expert, and is leading a technical working group of the VCSA’s new Jurisdictional and Nested REDD Initiative, which aims to provide guidance to governments on the nested approach to REDD+ program development as they transition from the subnational to national levels.

Mark Moroge, Coordinator, Climate Program -- expertise in all Rainforest Alliance climate activities at a nontechnical level, in particular agricultural mitigation and capacity building.

Atsu Titiati, Project Director, Sustainable Forestry Division -- regional expertise in the Rainforest Alliance’s work in Ghana, including sustainable forest management, agroforestry, REDD+ implementation and government policy.

Gertrud Kümmel Nielsen, Climate Program Projects Manager, NEPCon -- delegate member from European partner NEPCon, Gertrud has experience in forest carbon issues at a nontechnical level, including carbon markets and validation & verification services in Europe, Europe climate policy and carbon footprinting.

When and Where?

These experts will participate in COP17 in Durban, South Africa and are available for interviews from the meeting November 30 – December 9. Jeff Hayward will return to Washington DC to participate in a live Q&A webinar for journalists and bloggers describing the meeting, to be held December 9 (time TBD – please contact Anna Clark for details at the below coordinates). To request interviews from COP17, to RSVP for the December 9 webinar, or to inquire about Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or forests, please contact Anna Clark in New York,, 646-452-1939.

COP17 Background

Prospects for a global climate treaty are uncertain. The Kyoto protocol, the only global climate treaty in force, expires in 2012 with no consensus on renewal. Meanwhile, the UNFCCC process continues to pursue specific programs such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) to protect forests while respecting environmental and social safeguards, and measures related to reducing climate impacts from agriculture. Such measures aim to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers and forest-dependent communities, enabling them to benefit from the climate services their sustainably managed lands provide, through avoiding deforestation, enhancing carbon stocks, and reducing GHG emissions.

At COP16 in Cancun last year, parties agreed on some common approaches and goals in these areas, particularly REDD. This year at COP17 the challenge will be to maintain momentum, agree on practical details and implement them. With an uncertain global economy and limited public financing, the delegates must find ways to generate funding for these programs, including from the private sector. Climate-smart agriculture and sustainable forestry can attract private investment and help companies green their supply chains, particularly where government policy invites climate-smart investment.

Rainforest Alliance Background

The Rainforest Alliance has decades of experience developing and implementing systems for sustainable farm and forestland management that can help mitigate climate change. It is a pioneer and global leader in the field of independent certification for sustainable forest management (according to the Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] standards) and sustainable agriculture (according to the Sustainable Agriculture Network [SAN] standards).

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve forests, restore ecosystems and reforest in and around farmland. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are required to protect and restore tree cover. It is also developing guidance for farmers on carbon accounting and piloting innovative carbon credit generating projects in Rainforest Alliance Certified farmlands. Such projects would pay farmers for the climate services they provide.

The Rainforest Alliance is the world’s leading certifier for sustainable forest management, according to the FSC standards. It provides a range of verification services to confirm that forest carbon offset projects are conservation-oriented and meet established international standards for carbon sequestration, enabling both company- and community-run projects to benefit from payments for carbon credits. It also has experience working on REDD+ in many tropical countries, from Brazil and Guatemala, to Mexico, Ghana, Cameroon and Vietnam.

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