The Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on Friday, August 21, 2020 approved several new projects, including one for Côte d’Ivoire that marks the first time the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has helped an African country obtain a grant from the international entity.
Along with the $11.8 million approval for Côte d’Ivoire, other two FAO-led projects in Armenia and Colombia, for a total amount of $58.5 million, including $10.5 million in co-financing, received approval from the Green Climate Fund, a global platform mandated to invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development.
“These approvals show that FAO is a strong partner for Members looking to meet their climate goals with inclusive rural growth strategies,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources. “Africa has a lot of need, and a lot of potential, in this area, so we commend the Green Climate Fund for approving that project and look forward to helping implement it.”
The funds will help Côte d’Ivoire’s Promire project – promoting zero-deforestation cocoa production for reducing emissions in Côte d’Ivoire – upscale a pilot project which supported a local cooperative of organic cocoa producers in La Mé amplify their access to fair-trade markets while reducing loss of forest cover.
The enlarged project will implement low-carbon emission agroforestry practices on 3,650 hectares in a way designed to nudge changes by and for the benefit of 600,000 smallholder farmers in the south-eastern regions around Agnéby-Tiassa, La Mé and Sud-Comoé.
Côte d’Ivoire is said to have one of the world’s fastest rates of forest loss and almost no pristine forest remains outside its national parks. Agriculture contributes to almost two-thirds of the deforestation, with a third due to cocoa production – exacerbated by land clearing to grow “full-sun” cocoa, a strategy favoured by unorganised smallholders who often lack secure land tenure, rather than “shaded” cocoa which is associated with lower short-term yields but is better for biodiversity, water management and environment sustainability.
On the ground, the project also focuses on diversified use of farmland beyond cash crops to include food crops – such as plantain and cassava – and renew coffee plantations as well as the planting of trees with other uses. Partnerships will be sought with investors who are increasing their commitment to sustainability, not least as the larger cocoa business sector risks sharp output reductions from the world’s largest cocoa producing country if climate change is not addressed.
This approval, it was gathered, marks the first time a REDD+ project is approved in Africa and globally under the Fund’s Simplified Approval Process (SAP). The new project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 5.5 million tCO2 equivalent over a 20-year span, making a significant contribution to the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution pledge to reduce its GHG emissions by 28 percent by 2030. That goal is linked to an ambitious REDD+ mechanism which the government has committed to implement with the technical assistance of FAO.
Addressing climate change is a cornerstone of FAO’s work, as effective climate action across the agricultural sectors will promote livelihood resilience and reduce poverty for vulnerable rural communities while conserving the environment and biodiversity, the UN body disclosed.
Last month, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, met to discuss ways to further expand collaboration in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.