Rio summit offered little for Africa

World leaders and some 40,000 people converged on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June in the hope of charting a path towards the “green economy.”

Underlining the urgency, Sha Zukang, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, said more than a year before the summit began: “If we continue on our current path, we will bequeath material and environmental poverty, not prosperity, to our children and grandchildren.”

However, sharp tensions between countries of the North and South and between civil society and governments — amidst general global economic uncertainty — resulted in vague agreements that left few satisfied.

The summit ended up being “a glass half-full, glass half-empty situation for Africa,” said Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), on the final day in Rio. “We’re making progress on thinking about the green economy, and especially the linkage between poverty alleviation and the environment.”

“This is not something we do because the international community is asking us to do it,” Mr. Kaberuka added.

“We do it for Africa because we are closely linked to nature in terms of our livelihoods.” Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (Unep), which has been a driving force in promoting the concept of a green economy, was upbeat.

“World leaders and governments have today agreed that a transition to a green economy — backed by strong social provisions — offers a key pathway towards a sustainable 21st century,” he said at the conclusion.

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BBC reports on study: Conserving mangroves to fix carbon is a sensible climate change measure

New research gives more evidence that protecting and planting mangroves to store carbon is an affordable way to fight climate change.

A new American study suggests mangroves should be included in more Carbon credit schemes, which are already working in rainforests.

The think tank “Resources for the Future” presented their results in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS), indicating that conserving mangroves may be an economic way for countries to offset carbon emissions by fixing CO2 in the biomass, even without taking into account the additional environmental and economic benefits of these rich ecosystems.

Asked to comment independently on the research, Professor Mark Huxham of Edinburgh Napier University told the BBC that “Projects that involve and respect local people and that use the market for carbon offsets to fund development and conservation are beginning to emerge…This paper is further encouragement for them to succeed”

Market forces can still undermine offset projects if international Carbon prices are allowed to drop too far, which still gives some researchers cause for concern, as this depends on whether politicians and ordinary people understand the science involved, are prepared to admit the seriousness and urgency of the global situation and accept their responsibility to act.

See the full BBC Report at:

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The potential for climate compatible development in the coastal zone – June 2012-June 2014

iCOAST is a research project on the potential for mangroves to contribute to climate compatible development in the coastal zone, funded by the Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and carried out by Napier University (lead), LTS International, Birmingham University, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and Ruhuna University, Sri Lanka. The project is seeking to better understand how mangrove ecosystems could support climate compatible development (CCD) through applying the right policy and regulatory framework.

Coastal degradation is undermining development for approximately 40% of the world’s population that live within 100 km of the coastal zone. Mangroves provide important ecosystem services by providing feeding and nursery areas for fish and marine species, by filtering water and reducing sedimentation, and for nutrient recycling. They are also important for subsistence and commercial fisheries, aquaculture, and the provision of timber and firewood. Mangroves further provide important coastal protection against storm events and they play a vital role as carbon sinks. In fact, mangrove forests contribute up to 10% of total global deforestation emissions, despite covering just 0.7% of tropical forest area. Hence, the protection and sustainable use of this ecosystem is vital.

Carbon markets, social carbon, biodiversity premiums and other payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes have created new opportunities for achieving climate compatible development – that is approaches that are capable of generating benefits under climate change adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development. However, there remains scant evidence of the fiscal and regulatory mechanisms required to deliver the incentives and governance conditions necessary for leveraging coastal zone CCD through these emerging PES markets.

The challenge is how to modify and develop these carbon market instruments and PES schemes to encourage coastal mitigation strategies, as well as to explore new mechanisms (such as payments for soil carbon and biodiversity credits) that are suited to coastal ecosystems. It is recognised that communities not only need to manage these resources for sustainability, but that by safeguarding the regulating and supporting services of this ecosystem, they can achieve climate compatible development and contribute to the mitigation of and adapt to the effects of climate change.

This research project will analyse the socio-economic, political and environmental context in which CCD is likely to be successful in Kenya and Sri Lanka. The project will develop cost-curves for applying CCD to the coastal zone using newly tested benefit transfer methodologies. It will map the value of the mangrove areas and coastal landscapes to assess the potential for the application of REDD+ and other mechanism, and it will highlight priority areas for short, medium and long-term national strategies.

By 2014, we hope to:

  • Have identified the possible mechanisms to modify and develop policy and regulatory instruments to allow for management of the deep sediment carbon.
  • Have identified the best policy and regulatory mechanisms to allow for CCD including mitigation and adaption.
  • Have tested the application of cost curves and benefits transfers methods.

For more information or if you wish to receive regular updates on the project, please contact Dr. Ingvild Harkes, iCOAST project coordinator at Edinburgh Napier University.

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Kenya now hires carbon credits advisor

Kenya has contracted Camco Advisory Services to raise private sector awareness of the impact of climate change on different sectors of the economy. The company, contracted by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Environment will train personnel in the private sector on project implementation, verification and negotiating carbon credit transactions to increase sales of carbon credits.

Carbon credits, also known as certified emissions reductions are issued by the Clean Development Mechanism executive board to reduce emissions achieved by projects it has sanctioned. The mechanism allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Kenya’s aim is to help the private sector exploit available business……[Read more]

Source: The East African

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2012 EAFPES Stakeholders Meeting Report

EAFPES held a successful workshop and business meeting that involved a cross section of the stakeholders in Payment for Ecosystem Services in East Africa on the 12th April in Mombasa. Attending this one-day workshop were resource managers, foresters, policy makers, community leaders, the private sector, NGO’s, scientists and students at tertiary level.

The objectives of the meeting were:

Introducing Ecosystems, Ecosystem Service payments and markets to the stakeholders

  •     Showcasing the potential for carbon markets in financing mangrove conservation- Mikoko Pamoja project
  •     Exploring ways in which the attendees and communities at large can benefit from EAFPES help to initiate and run their own PES projects
  •     Election of a core team that will form part of the EAFPES secretariat and help map the way forward for the Forum.

Discussion topics:

Plenary and panel sessions were led by Dr. Wambiji and Mr. Mwakah from KMFRI, Caroline  Wanjiru as EAFPES secretary and Lesley King.  The following topics were discussed:

  •     Understanding the importance of ecosystem services to human well-being.
  •     How to create economic incentives for local stakeholders
  •     Exploring the potential of carbon finance (including the voluntary market) to support forest conservation

Results of the workshop included:

  •     The election of a steering committee which will help propel EAFPES forward
  •     An outline of the way forward for EAFPES



The following people and institutions are now represented on the EAFPES committee:

1. KFS – Nicholas Munyao
2. KMFRI – Caroline Wanjiru
3. Shimba Hills Community Forest Association (SHICOFA) – Mr. Khamis Salim
4. Kenya Marine Forum – Mohamed Athman
5. WWF – Georgina Mbugua
6. EAWLS – Agatha Ogada
7. Base titanium – Alex Maina

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EAFPES / Kemfri News Report: Kenya needs Carbon-Trade Infrastructure

Report by Martin Mwita

KENYA is losing out in the global carbon trade because due to a lack of necesary structures to exploit it. Speaking during the national workshop on connecting stakeholders with ecosystem services, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute deputy director Jared Bosire said Kenya, just like most African nations, is poorly represented in carbon financing which affects the control of carbon produced into the environment.

Carbon credit, a system where people can earn incomes while conserving the environment, with the government coming up with policy guidelines to encourage conservation like planting trees and alternative sources of livelihood to ease pressure on the ecosystem. Bosire urged the government to support the establishment of carbon financing projects in the country to enhance environmental conservation. “There is need to develop carbon trade and Payment of Ecosystem Services to encourage and enhance beneficial environmental conservation programmes in the country,” said Bosire.

He called for provision of strong incentives for sustainable land management and environment conservation for the benefit of biodiversity conservation, as well as rural livelihoods. “We need to create awareness on ecosystem management where people share information, experiences and benefit from carbon trading,”  he said. East African Forum for Payment for Ecosystem Services secretary Caroline Wanjiru called on stakeholders and public to come together and advance the environmental management programmes  to ensure responsible and sustainable use of the environment.

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Planet under Pressure Conference Report

Two Key Themes, a Personal View
by Prof. Mark Huxham

The planet is under pressure – from growing populations, depleting resources, accelerating climate change and an economic system not fit for purpose.  All three thousand of us agreed at least on that, when we gathered last week in London for this enormous international conference timed as preparation for the events that will mark ten years since the famous Rio conference in 2002.

I was there to talk about mangroves and carbon and to attract interest in Mikoko Pamoja.  Others came to discuss topics ranging from the mathematical prediction of disasters to community management of resources, in hundreds of parallel sessions and posters and dozens of keynote talks.

Summarising all of that won’t be helpful.  But I did want to share two important ideas that emerged for me as unifying themes.  The first is equality.

Richard Wilkinson presented evidence that unequal societies are less happy and healthy than more equal ones.  Crucially, they are probably less sustainable too.  Where there are great gaps between rich and poor, people are more likely to compete for status by consuming things and buying unnecessary branded goods.  There is also less trust – social groups separated by large gaps in income regard each other with suspicion, and this makes sharing our resources (within societies and globally) more difficult.  The global negotiations around climate are a depressing illustration of this, with no-one willing to take the first steps towards seriously addressing the problem since there is not the trust that others will follow, rather than exploit such leadership for economic gain.

The other large idea pertains to the nature of economics as a discipline and to what kind of discussion we have when we talk about economics.  Many modern economists believe (or at least seem to behave) as if economics is value-neutral, and that the discipline is simply one of maximising returns and finding optimum trade-offs between competing demands.  But this is not how classical economists, such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard-Keynes, saw things.  Rather, they were clear that economics depended on explicitly moral and political decisions, around who had power and what constituted ‘the good life’.

We need to remember this and use economic theory as a tool to help us build a just and sustainable society, rather than mistake economic ideas for laws that we must obey even as they make our planet more unequal and less diverse.

Mark Huxham
Edinburgh Napier University

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Access and Benefits in Payments for Environmental Services and Implications for REDD+: Lessons from seven PES schemes

By Sango Mahanty

This paper presents findings from a study of seven Payment for Environmental Service (PES) schemes that assessed impacts on livelihoods and implications for the design of incentive mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It focuses on two areas of importance to the local impacts of PES and REDD+ schemes:-

  • whether tenure and wealth filter access to schemes by local resource users and managers; and
  • how the design of contracts and the configuration of payments and other benefits impact local livelihoods and the sustainability of schemes.
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EAFPES at ‘Planet Under Pressure’ Conference 2012, 26-29th March, London

EAFPES will be participating in the International Conference ‘Planet Under Pressure’,  26-29th March 2012, London, UK

Theme: New Knowledge Towards Solutions

This is an international conference to provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20, organised by the global-change programmes of the International Council for Science

TAKE PART – WHEREVER YOU LIVE – via Live webstreaming | Social networking | 150 events worldwide  More details:

Look out for EAFPES in “Ecosystem services for poverty alleviation: a global dialogue!” on Wednesday 28 March 2012,  at 12:30 in the ICC Auditorium:
Challenges to progress

Discussion will include Mikoko pamoja – a demonstration project using carbon credits for mangrove conservation

View the Session Program

1-day attendance still available

Options for participating online include Live Web-streaming and Twitter

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Join us on Twitter

The East African Forum for Payment for Ecosystem Services is a regional forum that highlights issues concerning Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in the East African region and beyond. This is an interactive forum whose main aim is to get people talking about PES, exchanging knowledge, ideas and experiences, and offering help and critique to ongoing and coming projects.

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