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CEO Diary Updates

Conservation isn’t for a Day – it is an Investment for Life

CEO Diaries by Nic Mudaly: Let’s take a moment to talk about Carbon Offsets

The scale of action required to halt deforestation and habitat loss, and restore hundreds of millions of hectares of land, while upholding the rights of – and empowering and benefiting, indigenous communities, requires a huge investment in nature-based solutions. It requires the buy-in and investment from all the different stakeholders working from the community level to local, provincial, and national government level, to global investors, market regulators, and the relevant international governing bodies.

It’s going to require us all to raise our planet back up again.

Photo by Francois d’Elbee

Natural climate solutions must foster a just and inclusive approach to benefiting the climate, as well as communities, particularly those who have been historically underserved and underrepresented populations, like indigenous landowners.

The partnerships that we enter into with communities and governments appoints BCP as the project developer to provide the technical expertise and links to finance. However, we have no ownership of the forests. The forests are community forests, and we work closely with Governments to help communities gain access to the rights and then partner in carbon trading. Within this partnership, each party has its roles and responsibilities.

Communities are the custodians of the land and are responsible for the management of forest protection under Community Forest Management Groups at a Chiefdom level. We, the carbon developers support the activation of value, but ownership of the forests remains with communities.

Our role is to offer technical support to ensure communities meet the requirements and rigor of verification, and essentially ensure these valuable assets remain protected through incentivizing conservation. Part of our role as developers is providing the link to the market. As development partners, we take the financial risk and rely on the commitment of indigenous communities to transition to sustainable practices. It’s a long journey to verification from pre-viability, feasibility, validation, and finally verification. Our Luangwa Community Forests Project took 6 years to its first verification, with our community partners by our side every step of the way.

Transparency is key, that’s why we regularly invite our off-takers to visit and engage with the communities to appreciate first-hand, the value of their investment and long-term commitment.

Annually we make sure that Communities receive detailed revenue share certificates outlining credit generation down to the agreed benefit share per Chiefdom. To enhance transparency in 2023 we went one step further to have these certificates audited by a 3rd party.

Generally, six different rationales are used to allocate and distribute REDD+ benefits. Each of these rationales is based on a different justification (Luttrell, 2013):

• Benefits should go to those actors with legal rights (“legal rights” rationale).
• Benefits should go to those actors achieving emission reductions (“emission reductions” rationale).
• Benefits should go to low-emitting forest stewards (“stewardship” rationale).
• Actors incurring costs should be compensated (“cost-compensation” rationale).
• Benefits should go to effective facilitators of REDD+ implementation (“facilitation” rationale).
• Benefits should go to the poorest (“pro-poor” rationale).

All actors are necessary parties to make offsetting work. Our approach is blended with social and business acumen because that is how we can remain sustainable. Integrity requires the need to do more and that comes at a cost. What was previously known as rigorous has heightened still and we constantly thrive to obtain certifications that are over and beyond the basic requirement, as we align to enhance our integrity in the market that we want to uphold.

There is a needed shift towards the demonstration of high-value, high-integrity offsets, and we welcome it. To do whatever it takes to uphold the value of climate finance.

We carry our thorough FPIC (Free, Prior, Informed Consent) with communities, which is followed by constant engagement by our teams on the ground throughout the development, implementation, and post-verification phases of our project’s lifespans.

Our partners need to be empowered in this process because without them our projects would simply not be successful.

What Does Success look like to us?

Tangible benefits are over 48,000 households, home to just under 230,000 people, directly benefiting from a 220% household income increase since the start of the project. This looks like 60 % of BCP’s staff coming from the Chiefdoms we partner with; and an estimated 2,000 additional creation of indirect jobs from project development and activities. It’s 288 Community Projects, which include boreholes and water installation; the building of new classroom blocks, and health facilities. Then an additional 276 Livelihood Projects, which include climate-smart agriculture training, sustainable honey production, village banking, and goat rearing.

The value creation of carbon projects is so much more than just the value of a tree protected or an avoided emission. There’s a vast knock-on effect, which grows a robust local economy, and strengthens forest protection efforts.

Over the last 4 years, we’ve gone from scientists telling us there’s still hope to stop the Earth’s temperature rising 1.5 C by 2050 to many speaking out to say this is now inevitable, with an urgent scramble to adapt and prepare for this change as quickly as we can.

Climate change and ecosystem restoration need long-term investments with immediate solutions. From a reflection of today it does not require a complete overhaul, but to prevail, continuous improvement is needed within the existing designs.

BCP CEO, Nic Mudaly.

Nic Mudaly

BCP Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of BCPZ

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