Delivering benefits to Livelihoods and Nature following an innovative approach

“The Livelihoods Fund: a powerful Vehicle for Biodiversity, poverty reduction, food security and Climate Mitigation”

The side event will focus on how to improve livelihoods of local communities through the crucial role of mangroves restoration, forest restoration and agroforestry projects by exploring the link between biodiversity, poverty reduction and food security. Moreover we will showcase how joint initiatives between IUCN, Ramsar and the private sector, such as the Livelihoods Fund, are a powerful mean to boost the ecosystems restoration efforts worldwide. Lessons learned from the Livelihoods Fund emphasize the importance of adopting integrated approaches following a community-based management strategy with financial support and transfer of knowledge from all relevant fields (International Institutions, Local NGOs, Private Sector, Researchers and Politics). To ensure tangible impacts on a large scale, the livelihoods community need to provide a set of applicable and adapted solutions to the following challenge: How can we reach scale and sustainability in restoration and agroforestry projects?

What is the Livelihoods Fund?

Rural communities living in tropical countries are facing threats to the ecosystems such as coastal wetlands and forests ecosystems destruction, from overexploitation of natural resources and demographic pressure. Among the 1.2 Billion people who suffer from malnutrition in the world, a majority of them are farmers, small breeders, fishermen and indigenous people who are poor and whose resources are part of the biological diversity within which they live. Efforts to maintain and restore these ecosystems form a vital cornerstone of the fight to mitigate climate change, to eradicate poverty and provide food security to the most vulnerable people. The carbon offsetting projects initiated by Danone have enabled local communities to invest in the restoration of their ecosystem and the associated ecosystem services.

“Through this innovative investment model, carbon finance provides real opportunities rather than being an end in itself,” says Bernard Giraud, President of the Livelihoods Venture. “The Livelihoods Fund helps the private sector meet its carbon emission reduction targets, while securing funding for the restoration of habitats that have an important role to play in reducing poverty and food insecurity for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

July 2011, saw the launch of the “Livelihoods Fund” with the technical support of IUCN and the Ramsar Convention. This fund is a carbon investment fund that provides investors access to carbon credits with an assurance on biodiversity and community development through large-scale and high social impact projects.

Since 2009, IUCN, the Ramsar Convention and the Danone Fund for Nature have worked together to develop a large-scale methodology for mangrove restoration approved in 2011 by the Clean Development Mechanism under the UNFCCC. This methodology will provide a significant boost to restoration efforts for mangrove forests, which grow in tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions and provide a wide range of biological services such as nurseries for juvenile fish, a source of timber for local populations and biofiltration.

“This collaboration aims to have an impact beyond the projects,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “These on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects are the positive outcome of a promising investment fund and we are pleased to support its work.”

Apart from mangrove restoration projects in Africa, Indonesia and India, the Livelihoods Fund supports two large-scale agroforestry projects, one in India and one in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why do we need to consider livelihoods as a cornerstone for sustainable ecosystems restoration and agroforestry projects?

The key success of a Livelihoods Fund approach is to put livelihoods of local communities at the centre and to consider the carbon credits earned through restoration actions as a co-benefit to attract investors. In other words, all the benefits from ecosystems services except carbon sequestration are owned by the local community and the money required to implement the projects is provided by the private sector. This strategy brings good results so far but requires a lot of ground work on awareness raising and capacity building among local communities. The grassroots NGOs play a crucial role to achieve these objectives thanks to their approach involving closely the local communities at various levels. The objective is the complete ownership of the project by the local communities which in turn ensure the sustainability of the restored/managed ecosystems.

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