There has been great debate on whether the precious few financial resources that have made it through stalled UNFCCC climate negotiations should be channeled mostly towards funding resiliency for fragile, vulnerable, rural communities or rather to design and build out REDD+ (Reduced Emission from Deforestation & Degradation) emission reduction activities. The hidden reality here is that the path to resiliency for the impoverished rural south goes through meaningful, substantive, cost effective, contributions to reducing global baseline emissions. Community-driven protection of intact primary tropical forests and the restoration of damaged forest ecosystems is a big step towards climate mitigation (roughly 8% of global emissions comes from unsustainable smallholder use of forest resources). However, for a long time, official development assistance has been attempting to achieve this goal with limited success. So, how can a financially strapped international REDD+ regime change baseline behavior? A big part of the answer lies within the inherent ability of poor, southern, communities to relearn basic cooperation skills. A REDD+ ‘payment for ecosystem service’ model by itself (inspite of some interesting emerging methodological frameworks) cannot bring about the transformational change on the ground and REDD+ model projects so far have had limited success in reaching minimal goals. There is a need to demonstrate that conceptually sound Baha'i SED for governance and collective and individual motivation is the missing link to foster and drive restorative integrative social enterprise. This is more essential to the overall solution than the missing 100 billion dollars per annum of Green Climate Fund monies.
I have been an early responder in the effort to bring rural Africa into world climate change equations. Building on my experience working with First Nations (indigenous) peoples in Canada, and contributions to African emergency relief in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, I started freelancing with smallholder cooperatives in Rwanda and Burundi in 2005 looking to see how I could make a meaningful contribution to poverty reduction and environmental restoration using Baha'i SED principles and practices as a primary guide. I was able to bring, community-centered, afforestation/reforestation (ARR) offset remedies to national NGOs who were not well served by official development assistance. I eventually was able to convince a forest carbon offset developer, ERA-Ecosystem Restoration Associates, and some progressive corporations in Europe, to invest substantially in ARR and REDD+ ‘proof of concept’ pilots in Central Africa, with the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project (in the DRC), likely being the most successful attempt at facilitating the active participation of rural African communities (via galvanized social enterprise) in finding an effective balance between climate change mitigation and adaptation. I just finished designing the investment phase of the DR Congo`s national REDD program and am presently assisting the Model Forest Network establish their first Model Forests in Central Africa. I am talking with some of the key people involved in China's Eco/Low Carbon City programs about possible partnerships/initiatives (with DRC and other African countries) on making China's rather predatory natural resource procurement more ethical and sustainable.
I would be very interested in getting feedback and having constructive discussions on these emerging opportunities with IEF guest and members who are working the same and/or parallel fields (from an implementation/stategic standpoint and/or the conceptual underpinnings).