ecosystem

Climate Smart Territories organize communities to manage the ecosystem

By Marianela Arguello and Mary Coffman 

Ultimately, success in conservation efforts largely depends on decisions and actions by communities that live in and benefit from different ecosystem services.

Farmer Field School in the Trifinio Territory; participative learning mechanisms are key elements of Climate Smart Territories. Photo credit: Maicon BarreraClimate Smart Territories (CSTs) are social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use and engaging in activities to both stop/prevent further emissions and also adapt to climate change effects. This calls for collective efforts within a highly organized society.

The concept of CSTs is elaborated in chapter 6: Climate Smart Territories (CST): An integrated approach to food security, ecosystem services, and climate change in rural areas of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.

 CST approach is championed by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center) – an institution where decades of experience and commitment in the field have resulted in an integral vision for work in the territories. The book chapter brought together contributions from researchers and implementers in CATIE as well as strategic partners in Colombia.

The main objective of the chapter is to clearly explain the importance of the CSTs, their key elements and characteristics, as well as the way they differ in comparison to other territorial management approaches. The article presents clear examples of CSTs that have been carried out and are in the process of implementation in Huila, Colombia, and the Central American region, where the Mesoamerican Agro-Environmental Programme (MAP) works in the Trifinio and NicaCentral area.

Bastiaan Louman, leader of CATIE’s Climate Change and Watershed Programme, coordinated the study, and understands in great depth the essential aspects that need to be recognized in the CST approach; among them, that each farm or forest is part of something larger, making collaborative actions fundamental.

 “The CST approach gives great importance to the organization of society, so that everything feels like part of the territory,” Louman says. He explained that through CATIE’s experience working in the field, it has been possible to see how the CSTs have helped to emphasize governance factors and the growth of people’s capacities to analyze their situation, and define answers to problems that they find and face through mutual contributions. The farmer field schools (FFS) where farmers learn from each other, the systematization of experiences, applied and collaborative research and the multi-stakeholder platforms are key elements in this process of strengthening capacities.

 “Capacities that combine technical and local knowledge need to be strengthened, but also, the organizational part needs to be strengthened so that in the future, residents can respond to new challenges, such as the ones faced every day with more force and frequency due to climate change,” added Louman.

In the example of the work being carried out by CATIE/MAP in the Trifinio and NicaCentral region many constructive results have evolved from local level collaborations with the farmers, learning in conjunction with researchers, change agents, and producers, and making use of established local and regional platforms. These processes have strengthened the capacities that are needed to address critical issues at different geographical scales (such as ecosystem services) as well as increasing climate-smart practices.

Using this and other examples, the authors show that CST can be implemented successfully by first strengthening the communities resolve to CST so that the required changes can begin to take place. This implies the need for joint planning, monitoring and leadership; negotiation mechanisms; and, the use of systems to generate and share information related to climate and other natural resources.

Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project: Lessons for national readiness processes

Tremendous growth in REDD+ pilot and demonstration projects has been observed following the Bali Action Plan and Cancun agreements. The question is, how can lessons from such projects be used to enhance national-level REDD+ Readiness processes?

A recent study published in Climate Policy draws on the example of a case study from Kenya – the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project – and attempts to shed light on how this subnational-level private-sector-driven REDD+ project interacts with and contributes to national-level technical, policy, and institutional readiness for REDD+. The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities

“The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project led by Wildlife Works Carbon was chosen from among many projects in Kenya and Africa because it is the world’s first registered REDD+ project issued with Verified Carbon Units under the Verified Carbon Standard and is one of the few REDD+ projects currently selling REDD+ credits on the voluntary market,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre and study lead author.

From the study, she explains a number of key innovations brought by the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, including demonstration that REDD+ has potential for implementation in dryland forests. “This is likely to be a strong incentive for Kenya and other countries to initiate projects in other dryland forest ecosystems,” says Florence Bernard.

According to Bryan Adkins, Director of Regional Engagement at Wildlife Works Carbon and co-author of the paper, the project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities, something that has informed the design of strategy options for addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation while strengthening community engagement and prioritizing ‘pro-poor’ REDD+ activities at the national level. “In addition, there exists a transparent benefit distribution disbursement process for carbon-derived revenues in Kasigau, on which the national level could capitalize,” says Bryan Adkins. 

Another key successful feature of the Kasigau Corridor project was the ability of Wildlife Works Carbon to negotiate upfront investments with external private sector and therefore secure start-up capital needed for initial project implementation and operational costs. “While this private sector finance model might be of further interest at the project level, this should also urge the national level on attracting further private-sector investments in REDD+ pilots and demonstrations projects, especially at a time of public finance shortage for Readiness and REDD+ in general, as well as on promoting a more attractive investment climate for private sector ” explains Florence Bernard.

While the national REDD+ Readiness process in Kenya is beginning to learn and draw from local level projects through such private sector project lens, dialogue with and between partners is crucial in order not to miss out on potential benefits from interactions with subnational-level actors.

The study further emphasizes the need for developing frameworks and modalities for stakeholder participation, a robust private sector engagement process, and platforms for cross linkages at different levels.

The REDD+ projects and national-level readiness processes: a case study from Kenya article is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+ available on open access.

Citation: Bernard, F. Minang, P.A. Adkins, B. Freund, J.T. 2014 REDD+ projects and national-level readiness processes: a case study from Kenya. Climate Policy 14(6)  788-800

Can REDD+, PES and other payments prevent destruction and degradation of our ecosystems?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Markets can only be a part of the solution to reversing unacceptable levels of deforestation and forest degradation, according to research from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Looking at the whole system and all available options remains the only guarantee, and this means taking a landscape perspective,” according to Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director of Research at ICRAF, who was speaking at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013.Dr Ravi Prabhu (left), Director of Research at ICRAF, with other panelists at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013

Dr Ravi defined a landscape as a mosaic of agriculture, forests, plantations with competitions, trade-offs and synergies between land uses. At this level, there are also multiple sectors, stakeholders and practices. Given that the system is so dynamic, he pointed to multifunctional co-investment mechanisms as necessary means of embracing local people, private and public sectors, PES bundling and stacking as options.

In other words, success was more likely if the needs and interests of all the actors who mattered were taken into account and a framework was set up to allow them to jointly invest finances, time and resources in the landscape in order to derive the values they were looking for. Although this would involve compromises and negotiation, a more diverse and therefore resilient system was likely to result.

The event, hosted by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), focused discussions on a report on non-market based approaches to reducing deforestation and forest degradation submitted to SBSTA by GFC.

According to the report, indigenous communities have always preserved and protected their forests not just for the economic value they derive from them but also for important cultural and spiritual functions. According to the report, there is evidence to show that areas protected by communities are more likely to survive deforestation and negative environment extractions as opposed to areas protected through other means of control such as government bans. As such, empowering communities to manage their forests remains the best option from efforts to protect the ecosystem while promoting livelihoods. But how?

Debates and negotiations have centered on market approaches such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Essentially these approaches are based on a financial compensation to forest users for the opportunity costs of more ‘destructive’ land-use forms based on a market price for the goods in question, e.g. water or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition warns that approaches based on such market mechanisms should be approached with caution as they could present a higher risk to communities particularly with regard to efficiency and equity. Besides, she argues, political and financial commitments do not match these policy frameworks. “For instance, so far, the carbon market has only realized less than 1% of the anticipated REDD+ funding. Financial constraints therefore bring in the issue of who receives funding, who is going to be paid for what and more often than not it is not the individual households that benefit,” said Simone while speaking at the UNFCCC side event.

She noted that there is need to pay attention to non-market based approaches that ensure recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous people and local communities. These should empower communities by also promoting local knowledge and information systems as well as policies for legal and financial support on land reforms, sustainable agriculture and that discourage destructive activities like logging. “Such means of empowering communities to protect their environment ensures sustainability as they do not rely on unpredictable and uncertain funding flows,” said Simone.

A landscape approach takes into account needs and interests of all the actors who matter especially local communitiesPresenting evidence from ICRAF’s work on environmental services, Dr Ravi used results from research sites in Southeast Asia and Africa to explain some of the PES related challenges especially on issues to do with equity and efficiency (see presentation on Slideshare). He emphasized the need for a comprehensive systematic approach, one that can leverage on best options available from various approaches and deliver on securing livelihoods for communities and ecosystem services. “Looking at the whole system is the only guarantee, and this means having a landscape perspective,” explained Ravi. He emphasized that a market price or opportunity costs based approach generally underestimated the full value of the forests, focused as they were on a particular good or service.

He concluded with the message that agroforestry systems can deliver both market and non-market benefits in ways that empower local communities to ensure sustainability.

Read about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+

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