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Insight from COP17

December 6, 2011

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

  • When: Thursday, December 8, 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM (EST)
  • Who: Jeff Hayward, director of the Climate Program at the Rainforest Alliance.
  • What: A webinar to discuss progress of the COP17 Climate Summit now underway in Durban, South Africa through December 9. Jeff Hayward will offer his insights into current developments there. He can comment on the Rainforest Alliance’s work at COP17 to protect forests (including technical and finance support for REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation]), promote sustainable agriculture, encourage social and environmental safeguards, and advocate specific measures and funding to help farmers, foresters and local communities worldwide adapt to and mitigate climate change. Jeff will provide a brief overview of the meeting at Durban followed by a Question & Answer session.
  • Where: Register for this webinar at the link:

Additional Expert Resources Available Direct from Durban

The following representatives of the Rainforest Alliance delegation are participating in COP17 and are also available for interviews from Durban, South Africa:

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

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.

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 greenhouse gas (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.

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. On December 5, the Rainforest Alliance announced the first verification of a climate-friendly coffee farm, El Platanillo in San Marcos, Guatemala. The farm, which had already been awarded Rainforest Alliance certification, received the world’s first award of a Rainforest Alliance Verified™ certificate for compliance with the Climate Module of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), the international coalition of conservation organizations that sets the standards for Rainforest Alliance certification.

The Rainforest Alliance has a large body of practical experience with voluntary sustainability certification, climate-friendly farming, voluntary forest carbon markets and REDD policy. It provides relevant context for COP17 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 CertifiedTM operations worldwide are two tea farms in South Africa’s Western Cape province, Zeekoevlei and Wiedouw.  

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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