A revealing account authored by former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (IFC) official, Oliver Griffith, provides a compelling perspective on a scalable solution for climate change.
Investigating the impact of UN backed projects that work to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), Griffith makes his case for listening to the people on the front line of the climate crisis.
The account researched by Griffith saw him visit nine of the most remote villages within the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Speaking directly with community members, community leaders, civil society, and regional and national government officials Griffith witnesses first-hand a science-based climate change solution that is working today.
He said: “There’s little debate that tropical forests must be protected. Deforestation and forest degradation are some of the leading causes of global warming, responsible for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. At COP 26, over 140 world leaders promised to end deforestation by 2030, pledging over $19 billion to do so. However, it is not clear how the funds will be used or how countries will achieve the goal. Fortunately, REDD+ is a proven model that can make this happen.”
The REDD+ model described in the account works as a replicable and scalable product that can raise substantial funding from corporations which buy Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) also known as carbon credits. It depends on detailed, science-based carbon accounting under the internationally recognized Verified Carbon Standard, and the buy-in via Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local communities.
Remarking on the importance of this account was Dr. Jean-Robert Bwangoy Bankanza Bolambee, Wildlife Works DRC Country Director, who said: “The DRC is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and has exceptional natural resources. Nonetheless, it regularly finishes near the bottom in the UN’s global human development index, and two thirds of Congolese live in poverty. There is a tremendous pressure to exploit natural resources, by the poor depending on them to survive, by the government looking for tax revenues, and by international firms feeding their supply chains.”
Griffith’s thesis relies on the notion that the resources depended on by those in the Forest are found in the forests, and therefore the solutions must also be found there. They must be practical, scalable, and easy to implement, and they will only be successful if they can protect the forests while meeting the economic needs of those who might cut them down.
Mike Korchinsky, founder of the project in the Congo visited by Griffith, said: “This important account highlights that it isn’t practical to wait for the world to become enlightened enough to leave the forests alone. REDD+ puts a practical value on standing forests to give communities an economic alternative to deforestation.”