Blue Carbon Financing of Mangrove Conservation in the Abidjan Convention Region: A Feasibility Study
Promote awareness within communities and benefit-sharing 1. Continue to educate and promote awareness of the benefits provided by mangroves e.g. by continuing to support local partners (e.g. NGOs) who are engaging with communities and promoting on- the-ground efforts. It is crucial that support for mangrove restoration and conservation comes both from the national and regional levels as well as from communities themselves, including consideration of different gender roles and distribution of benefits within communities, in order for these types of initiatives to be sustainable over the long term. The goal is to avoid solutions that are not affordable or locally maintainable. 2. Develop Blue Carbon Communities inwhich the specific communities develop a comprehensive package of benefits derived from their mangroves, which not only include carbon payments, but also payments and benefits from potential tourism revenues due to well-managed mangroves, as well as increased livelihoods and opportunities. The financial aspect of these benefits (e.g. funds from carbon payments) could then be funnelled back into the community to improve infrastructure (schools, medical clinics), thus creating a tangible link between a healthy environment and prosperity. This type of benefit scheme would increase awareness of the need for positive relationships with mangroves and would help promote the importance of mangroves to everyday life. These communities could be set up in a similar manner to the work being done by The Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS), where “they have introduced small-scale development projects that protect the biodiversity while enhancing the economy. As a result, local people take pride in their communities and the reserve and the success of the project has provided electricity and better roads in the villages. The people now harvest and store fish instead of turtles and profit from tourist activities including home stays. The efforts of GWS have provided a means of sustainable development for the lagoon and reserve” (Ajonina, 2011). Mapping 1. Continue to build on national mapping activities, such as those in Ghana and Guinea-Bissau, to focus on identifying key areas that will be crucial for climate change mitigation and adaptation. From this, an online mapping tool could be developed, possibly in conjunction with the online data portal. This mapping tool could help analyse country-specific risks for mangrove degradation, including sea-level rise and urbanization. 2. Develop maps that help prioritize areas that are most important for coastal protection, fisheries production, climate change mitigation and adaptation. This will help better prioritize future decisions and trade-offs, on the understanding that some mangroves may need to be allocated for a range of objectives.
The above tool is of course indicative only, but may be a useful starting point for identifying risks to the success of blue carbon projects in West, Central and Southern Africa and the receipt of payments for conservation. Proposednextstepsforexploringinternational blue carbon payments in West, Central and Southern Africa In order to move forward on the opportunities for communities and countries to secure international funding for mangrove conservation in West, Central and Southern Africa, the following road map is proposed for interested communities, governments, regional agencies and other stakeholders: National-scale activities At the national level, efforts to conserve mangroves are often fragmented. These ecosystems have always proved challenging to modern forms of governance: do they fall under the fishery sector, the forestry sector or even the lands sector? The borders between their components are never clearly defined, hence the terrestrial component, e.g. the forest component is normally within the competence of Ministries of Waters and Forests or Agriculture, while the aquatic component e.g. the canals and rivers that drain the forest (with variable extensions according to the cycles of tide) depend on Ministries of Maritime Affairs, Fishery, and/or the Environment. From a juridical-administrative point of view, the mangrove forests are a composite and unstable area, difficult to define. As a result, there are often two prevailing views within state administrations: the first is that mangroves are a wasteland, or a no-man’s-land, free for access by all; the second viewpoint is that mangroves are a very valuable socio-ecosystem. The following national-scale recommendations thus very much depend upon the jurisdiction for mangrove uses in a given country, and the groups that could help facility blue carbon project development: 1. Based on community leadership, interested project proponents should follow the ‘General Steps for Completing a Blue Carbon Transaction’ (see pages 33 and 34) to develop a pipeline of blue carbon projects, where the benefits are shared equitably within participating communities. Opportunities for external support would likely be prioritized based on the list of Top Blue Carbon Investment Opportunities for West, Central and Southern Africa (as seen above), as that is where the highest density of mangroves can be found, as well as some form of risk assessment based on the tool proposed above. Of course other parameters, including current political needs, may influence the choice of external support to develop blue carbon projects in a specific country or location. Develop a portfolio of blue carbon projects where appropriate
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