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CCAP and WWF Colombia Launch Fair and Equitable REDD+ Agreements Project

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

The project aims to improve the understanding, capacities and governance processes of local communities relating to voluntary carbon markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – CCAP and WWF Colombia officially launched the ‘Fair and Equitable REDD+ Agreements’ project this week during an event held in Bogotá, Colombia. The panel provided the first exchange of experiences and visions between local and institutional actors, contributing their knowledge and willingness to build more just and equitable REDD+ agreements—reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, in addition to other forestry activities that protect the climate.

At the event, participants discussed the opportunities and challenges regarding voluntary carbon markets and their impact on the communities in Colombia’s Pacific and Amazon region, as well as the enabling conditions necessary to overcome the challenges posed and to maximize communities' wellbeing as a result from these projects. The Fair and Equitable REDD+ Agreements project is funded by the British Embassy in Colombia and UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions).

“It is necessary to advance in the regulation of carbon markets and REDD+ projects in order to improve the quality of carbon projects and ensure respect for the environmental and social safeguards of local communities,” said CCAP Climate Finance Director Sebastian Lema, who presented during a panel at the event.

Agriculture, forestry, and other land uses, such as converting forest land into pasture, are the main sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Colombia. In 2018, this sector accounted for 59.1% of the country's total emissions, making it clear that deforestation is one of the major environmental challenges in the country.

Due to the development of tools, regulations and financial mechanisms, Colombia has recently advanced an initiative to reduce GHG emissions and deforestation: carbon markets through REDD+ projects. The Fair and Equitable REDD+ Agreements project was established through the needs expressed by local communities to improve their understanding and strengthen their capacities regarding REDD+ projects and the voluntary carbon market in the Colombian Amazon and Pacific regions. The main objective is to improve the decision-making capacities and governance processes of local communities relating to these types of projects.

The project will work closely with and support Indigenous and Afro-Colombian community organizations in the Colombian Amazon and Pacific regions. These organizations, and the communities they represent, are in different stages of involvement with the voluntary carbon market and REDD+ projects and have varying levels of knowledge on these instruments. At the national level, the project will engage with relevant stakeholders, grassroots communities and civil society organizations, among others. The scope of the project will also include the development of documents and the articulation of actions with organizations that will focus on maximizing the social, environmental, political and economic benefits of the ethnic and local communities in Colombia.

Why is the Fair and Equitable REDD+ Agreements project relevant?

Colombia adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015 at COP21 and is committed to reducing, avoiding and mitigating its GHG emissions that contribute to the increasing global temperature and its devastating effects. In 2016, Colombia issued a law creating the carbon tax, which requires companies to pay a tax contingent on the amount of fuel they use, which is equivalent to the amount of GHG they emit into the atmosphere. Additionally, along with the creation of the tax, the "mechanism of non-causation of the tax" was created. Through this, private companies can choose to invest in a project that guarantees that an ecosystem will be preserved in the long term, which will absorb the GHG emissions generated by the fuel used, instead of paying the tax.

This triggered the creation of numerous REDD+ projects in the Amazon and Pacific by developers who mediate between companies (emitters of GHGs interested in conserving ecosystems instead of paying the tax) and communities (owners of territories with forests and conserved forests). Some of these projects are carried out through the voluntary carbon market. There are many asymmetries between communities, intermediaries and project developers when it comes to financial situations and technical expertise of these projects, so it is necessary to encourage communities to demand more transparency and better mechanisms to be able to interact with the agents of voluntary carbon markets, enhancing their decision-making capacities to guarantee their environmental and social safeguards, which inherently strengthens their governance.

How will the project be developed?

The first steps will be to carry out the analysis of the existing agreements to understand the perspectives and needs of the communities involved, and to identify the current level of knowledge that they have on voluntary carbon markets. According to the results of the analysis, pedagogical and capacity-building workshops will be held to address the issues identified to help communities strengthen their decision criteria. Recommendations will then be provided to promote best practices in REDD+ projects in the context of voluntary carbon markets with an emphasis on the content and enabling conditions of agreements and benefit-sharing schemes.

What does it mean to achieve fair and more equitable agreements?

In the negotiations, it is expected that all parties will be beneficiaries of the agreements. In the case of voluntary carbon markets, the parties involved have stark cultural, educational and socio-economic differences, among others, which create barriers in the understanding between them, making it difficult for negotiations to be equitable. That is why this project focuses on strengthening the understanding, to promote the environmental and social integrity of the territories where carbon market agreements are exercised, which will reduce the harmful risks that communities and their territories could face.

In this case, priority was given to the Amazon and the Pacific regions, due to the high levels of deforestation in these places, as well as the large number of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian collective lands, where most REDD+ carbon market projects have been concentrated. By achieving fair and more equitable agreements, the rights of ethnic and local communities can be guaranteed, which protects and enforces their safeguards, helping to prevent unfair agreements.

What will this project accomplish?

The project will work to ensure that voluntary carbon market agreements guarantee rights, not only from the perspective of indigenous peoples and local communities, but it will also develop recommendations based on experiences, which will be directed to other key actors, such as the government headed by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interested in supporting communities that have made commitments in these markets, among others, so that best practices can be developed within these types of projects.

About the CCAP Carbon Markets Program

CCAP works to improve social well-being through carbon markets. We recognize that carbon prices and carbon markets are tools that can be used to strengthen equity among local communities, who are the leading actors in mitigation, when it comes to Nature Based Solutions. Our current work in carbon markets involves the design of optimal political instruments that address risks, nature, the climate and social justice.

CCAP offers a holistic vision by understanding markets and their uses beyond serving as single and homogeneous tools. We see this ecosystem as a set of instruments that can work in specific situations according to national capabilities, emission profiles and the challenges that organizations and communities face in a changing world. Understanding that diversity and functionality is the secret to successfully implementing a carbon market system and changing carbon-intensive behaviors, CCAP centers its action around the critical role communication plays amongst governments, the private sector and local communities, focusing on co-benefits in markets as a pillar for climate action.

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CCAP’s mission is to support every step of climate action, from ambition to implementation. A recognized world leader in climate policy and action, CCAP creates innovative, replicable climate solutions, strengthens capacities, and promotes best practices across the local, national, and international levels to accelerate the transition to a net-zero, climate resilient future. CCAP was founded in 1985 and is based in Washington, DC.


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