Blue Carbon Financing of Mangrove Conservation in the Abidjan Convention Region: A Feasibility Study
Securing payments from the international community for mangrove conservation in West, Central and Southern Africa Given the financial potential of international carbon markets to support mangrove conservation in West, Central and Southern Africa, and the constraints to doing so, general steps to pursue this opportunity are recommended to interested communities and governments in each case (see Chapter 3). These include the establishment of a project developer, conducting feasibility analyses, demonstration of land tenure, carbon baselining andmodelling emission projections, as well as performing socioeconomic impact assessments. Perhaps themost ambiguous yet crucial potential impediment to the success of blue carbon projects in the above steps is land tenure. The overlapping of marine and terrestrial resources in blue carbon itself creates tenure ambiguities, making resource management and coastal decision-making challenging. Any contractual agreement for purchase of carbon emissions reductions from mangrove conservation that leads to changes in land tenure could potentially lead to the exclusion of certain groups and users from accessing traditional areas and resources. Ensuring that nosuchexclusion will occur is fundamental in the determination of the ‘right to use’ the land in the above steps, consistent with a number of internationally-agreed principles (for example those included in the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries in the Context of National Food Security). It simply cannot be overstated that all efforts to secure international payments for blue carbon in West, Central and Southern Africa must consider the three dimensions of environmental justice: distribution (e.g. sharing of benefits), procedures (fairness, with particularly attention paid to the poorer and most vulnerable people; transparency; plural and inclusive participation) and recognition (traditional knowledge, land tenure, social needs and identity claims) In terms of financing blue carbon projects in West, Central and Southern Africa, following the Paris COP in 2015 a number of options are emerging or continuing that may provide useful sources of capital, including cap-and-trade under the UNFCCC, large non-UNFCCC dependent cap-and- trade schemes such as the European Union Emissions Trading System, large national schemes, subnational schemes, or the voluntary carbon market. However, there remains high levels of uncertainty in accessing these sources of capital.
Roadmap for interested communities and governments of West, Central and Southern Africa to explore potential options for blue carbon finance To assist interested communities and governments in member states to explore potential options for blue carbon finance and assess if this is a viable opportunity to help support mangrove conservation in the region, the following general approach may be useful for member states of the Abidjan Convention (see Chapter Four for more details): At the national scale, • Develop a portfolio of blue carbon projects where appropriate, to help capture economies of scale and promote learning across sites; • Promote awareness within communities and benefit-sharing; • Continue to build on national mapping activities in order to identify key areas for climate change mitigation and adaptation; and • Should carbon payments for mangrove restoration be financially viable, promote the restoration, conservation and sustainable use of mangroves at a landscape level. At the regional scale, the Abidjan Convention Secretariat could establish a support program and information clearinghouse to assist member states in exploring this opportunity, and matching projects to international financing mechanisms/ buyers, potentially including: • Assessment and monitoring, e.g. socioeconomic analysis of a range of mangrove values as well as exploration of technologies for the more accurate/real-time monitoring of mangrove coverage, as a basis for identifying opportunities for blue carbon finance; • Regional cooperation, e.g. identifying and disseminating lessons learned throughout the region as well as developing an online platform/clearinghouse to gather data and reduce overall costs; and • Development of pathways for blue carbon projects in West, Central and Southern Africa to access international finance, e.g. identifying pilot opportunities within countries, bridging projects to buyers, providing expertise on demand to countries, and examining replicable models for additional sources of conservation financing such as microcredit schemes for restoration or conservation trust funds.
Personal communication John Poulsen (Duke University) and Lola Fatoyinbo (NASA), Aurelie Shapiro (WWF), Carl Trettin (USFS), Ben Halpern (University of California, Santa Acknowledgements
Barbara), Sunny Jardine (University of Delaware), Stuart Hamilton (Salisbury University), Mark Spalding (The Nature Conservancy).
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