The BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes: A Bold Step Forward?

IMG_20131120_130517_803The BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (BioCF ISFL) will add to REDD+ programs by including land use, as well as provide technical assistance, grant funding, and results-based financing (or payment for performance).

John_Kerry_official_Secretary_of_State_portraitU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has just announced, via video, an ambitious new program: the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes, which will launch today as a part of the World Bank’s Vital Forest Fund.

The initiative was launched with significant funding pledges from the Kingdom of Norway ($135 million), the United Kingdom (around $120 million), and the United States ($25 million). The $25 million contributed by the United States is part of the $250 million that the US plans to announce today. The U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, explained that the United Kingdom’s contribution is an allocation from a previous fund that will focus on this initiative. Norway’s contribution is an allocation of its REDD+ money.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the world faces a great challenge because forests sustain us, and in many ways they are responsible for our way of life. We lose 13 billion square hectares every year globally. He emphasized that this is not just an environmental issue, an economic issue, or an energy issue. Kerry said that “the United States stands with global partners in our fight against climate change.” The BioCF ISFL was founded to combat these serious challenges.

The initiative focuses on the drivers of deforestation, as well as the real, grave, and growing threats of climate change. “This is a partnership between governments and the private sector,” said Todd Stern, United States Special Envoy for Climate Change. As Stern explained, in the United States we are fortunate to have a President and Secretary of State that have such strong views on climate change, however our challenge is that agriculture is a major source of economic growth, and the importance of the agricultural sector will only expand. The BioCF ISFL is distinct from previous climate and forest initiatives in that there is recognition of the important role that the private sector plays to spur innovation, leverage cutting edge expertise and knowledge, and mobilize capital necessary to scale up successful land-use practices and accelerate the greening of supply chains. Stern concluded by saying that he hopes that “the BioCF ISFL breaks down the myth that we have to choose between development and the environment.” The initiative is a great move forward, however it is bold to create a new initiative without addressing the problems that REDD+ faces regarding finance.