Blue Carbon Financing of Mangrove Conservation in the Abidjan Convention Region: A Feasibility Study

Legal and institutional feasibility assessments of blue carbon projects are discussed in detail in UNEP and CIFOR (2014). Project developers must first assess public law as it relates to land in the project area, land tenure and rights, taxation issues, relevant regulatory requirements, and transactional structures. The legal and institutional structure of the blue carbon project are important from the perspectives of land categorization, planning or tenure; carbon rights; or the specific legal transaction features such as the transaction object, pricing, funding flows, revenue distribution, and transaction liabilities (UNEP and CIFOR, 2014). Perhaps the most ambiguous yet crucial potential impediment to the success of blue carbon projects is land tenure. The overlapping of marine and terrestrial resources in bluecarbonitselfcreatestenureambiguities,makingresource management and coastal decision-making challenging. In addition, land tenure issues specific to REDD+ (i.e. forest tenure and carbon rights) as described in Galik and Jagger (2015) pose a risk to blue carbon project development and management. This is partly because of differences in formal (de jure) and informal (de facto) land tenure, in relation to the right of alienation of land with blue carbon resources. Moreover, under REDD+ payments, changes in land tenure might result from the contractual agreement, especially regarding carbon rights that are assigned at the development of the blue carbon project, leading to the argument of land grabbing and the possibility of the exclusion of certain groups from accessing their traditional areas. In particular, gender roles in tenure may differ depending upon the context, and will need to be considered in the design of blue carbon projects. These issues regarding land tenure must be appropriately resolved based on the latest scientific advances and recommendations, including recommendations for and lessons learned from operationalizing REDD+ (Olander, Galik et al., 2012). Alongwith the development of blue carbonprojects, national climate mitigation efforts might also consider incorporating blue carbon activities into their programmes by following the following steps outlined by Herr and Pidgeon (2015): 1. Considering the lack of high quality data in the region, conduct a scientific assessment of blue carbon ecosystem health, potential threats, carbon content, ecological importance and socioeconomic dependence of local communities on these coastal marine ecosystems. These assessments could build on past or ongoing efforts in the region, such as in Guinea-Bissau (e.g., Vasconcelos et al. 2014). 2. Undertake an analysis of existing legal and policy frameworks to determine how blue carbon may be included in sustainable development, climate change, forestry, biodiversity and marine resource management regulations in the region as well as in each country having large blue carbon resources.

(UNEP and CIFOR, 2014) recommend the following general steps in planning blue carbon projects, which may be instructive in the context of West, Central and Southern Africa:

1. Develop project concept (e.g. avoided emissions, restoration)

2. Conduct preliminary feasibility assessment

3. Select a carbon standard and methodology, including: • Project proponent(s) • GHG accounting methodologies

• Carbon pools • Eligible gases • Project boundary • Baseline and project scenarios, and • Leakage

4. Ensure community engagement (after Blomley and Richards, 2011; Lewis III and Brown, 2014) including gender- focused engagement 5. Design the project by: • defining the system of concern and the existing problem(s) • developing goals and objectives for the conservation or restoration activity, including the time period over which these should be met • describing opportunities (benefits) that the project may deliver and constraints challenging the project • articulating a conceptual model of the ecosystem functioning to be conserved or restored, articulating the historic condition and existing condition • developing project alternatives. (It may be that a single project alternative is clear, though often in multi-use landscapes more than one alternative may exist.) • evaluating project alternative conceptual/preliminary designs against environmental, economic, social and other considerations by comparing future conditions with project and baseline scenarios (as described for GHG assessment in section 4.3.6 in UNEP and CIFOR, 2014) • selecting the preferred alternative, and • developing the final restoration design and implementation plan for the preferred alternative 6. Assess non-permanence risk and uncertainty, i.e.: • Permanence, and • Scientific uncertainty 7. Secure project development finance and structure agreements, taking into account: • Financial feasibility • Legal and institutional feasibility • Public law and the land • Land tenure, and • Carbon rights • Assess social and environmental changes; and • Maintain regulatory compliance.


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