Investment in carbon capture — lifeline to poor

09 September 2012 | News story

Tens of thousands of people around the world are getting greater access to food because of a new investment fund. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) supports the Livelihoods Fund, which allows companies to offset their carbon footprint by investing in ecosystem restoration programmes that deliver lasting community benefits, including increased food security.

The Livelihoods Fund provides its investors with a return in the form of high quality carbon offsets. The Fund will store of 6.1 million Teq CO2 over the next two decades, primarily through three types of projects: the restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems, agro-forestry, and the boosting of rural energy supplies.

“This is a collaboration that will have an impact beyond the specific projects,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “These on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects generate positive local outcomes both for our carbon balance and for people’s food security so we are pleased to support its implementation.”

Over the past four years, the Livelihoods Fund, in partnership with IUCN and Ramsar, has implemented innovative carbon projects; and the co-development of a methodology for carbon accounting of large-scale mangrove restoration. This has boosted restoration efforts by making large-scale projects more accessible and easier to implement.

Through support from the Livelihoods Fund, the residents of 450 villages in Senegal have planted more than 100 million mangrove trees in the regions of Casamance and Sine Saloum since 2009. This has improved the quality of agricultural land by reducing the buildup of salt in the soil and recreating a habitat thriving in food sources such as fish, oysters and crabs. In India, more than 65,000 people living in the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh have boosted food security after planting fruit trees on 6,000 hectares of land.

“Through this innovative investment model, carbon finance provides real opportunities rather than being an end in itself,” says Bernard Giraud, President of the Livelihoods Venture. “The Livelihoods Fund helps the private sector meet its carbon emission reduction targets, while securing funding for the restoration of habitats that have an important role to play in reducing poverty and food insecurity for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

The experiences garnered from the various pilot projects of the Livelihoods Fund are very valuable in building a strong case for increasing protection and restoration of mangroves, which are still in decline at a global level. When investing in the Fund, participating companies also back the Livelihoods Network, a non-profit association for the benefit of poor rural communities that encourages the sharing of knowledge, information and resources between the private sector and non-governmental organizations, international organizations, governments and experts.

The current fund investors are Danone, Credit Agricole, Schneider Electric, CDC Climat, the French Post, Hermès International and Voyageurs du Monde.