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UNEP at work

UNEP undertakes a wide range of activities in promoting and facilitating the development and uptake of clean technology. Here are a couple of recent examples. For further examples of UNEP’s climate change work visit www.unep.org/unite/30Ways

Planting a seed for climate protection

Unsustainable use of forests causes approximately 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. In Africa, around 600 million people rely on forests and woodlands for their livelihoods. Despite the rapid growth of carbon finance transactions, projects in sub-Saharan Africa are often ignored because of a misconception that the region has limited potential.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), established under the Kyoto Protocol, allows industrialized countries to receive carbon credits for financing carbon mitigation and sequestration projects in less-developed countries. Since 2007 UNEP's CASCADe - Carbon Finance for Agriculture, Silviculture, Conservation and Action against Deforestation - has been opening up opportunities for African participation in the CDM and voluntary carbon markets.

The CASCADe programme is implemented by UNEP and the UNEP Risoe Centre and supported by FFEM (the Fonds Franšais pour l'Environnement Mondial). In Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal, the programme has been helping to generate carbon credits by providing technical support and training to project developers, communities and national climate change institutions. CASCADe has provided assistance to more than 20 projects in community reforestation, commercial forestry, efficient cooking stoves and fish smokehouses, and bioenergy, and has avoided deforestation in seven African countries.

The success of CASCADe's pilot projects provides a framework for the programme's expansion into other countries to further strengthen national regulatory frameworks for carbon finance projects. UNEP is planning a follow-up programme that will support a range of projects to open up opportunities for African participation in the CDM and voluntary carbon markets.


Maps for a Greener REDD+

REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a mechanism aimed at creating a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. But there is insufficient awareness of the potential of REDD+, and countries often lack the tools to implement it.

Among other things, the UN-REDD Programme helps countries recognize and tap the potential of REDD+ via technical support. One of the key tools it offers is a carbon mapping capability that shows the carbon stored in ecosystems, highlighting areas of significant biodiversity and ecosystem services' importance, and threats to forests themselves. Used together with other decision support tools, it helps countries to develop national REDD+ strategies that maximize the development potential that forests provide.

The UN-REDD Programme is a partnership between FAO, UNDP and UNEP, that helps developing countries to prepare and implement national REDD+ strategies and mechanisms. Through the programme, UNEP provides financial, technical and strategic support and works closely with geographic information system specialists in national and provincial institutions in many developing countries, to gather and collate information which provides spatial analysis tools in support of REDD+ strategy development.

At the global level, the UN-REDD Programme supports countries in their efforts to integrate multiple benefits into their REDD+ strategies and development plans. Replicable initiatives, such as the spatial analysis activities, help to ensure that forests continue to provide multiple benefits for livelihoods, conserve the planet's biodiversity, and act as important carbon stores.

Protecting and valuing mangroves in Guinea Bissau

Mangrove forests are made up of trees, shrubs, palms or ferns which have adapted to grow in salt water in the tropics and sub-tropics. At the boundary between land and sea, they are important for the livelihoods of the communities that live in their vicinity and provide valuable ecosystem services such as the protection of coastlines from storm surges and erosion; stabilization of land by sediment trapping; maintenance of water quality; sequestration of carbon dioxide; food security from subsistence and commercial fisheries; honey; building materials; traditional medicines; and revenue from tourism. These ecosystem services translate into direct economic benefits and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) estimates that mangroves are worth up to US$500,000 per km2 per year.

The 2010 UNEP-WCMC World Atlas of Mangrove estimated Guinea Bissau's mangrove cover to be close to 3,000 km2, the second highest cover in the region after Nigeria. The mangroves of Guinea Bissau are particularly important for biodiversity (including 180 bird species, 40 terrestrial mammal species, five marine turtle species, hippopotami, manatees, dolphins and dwarf crocodiles) and fisheries (providing revenue and food security from oysters, crabs, shrimps and finfish), with about 70% of national fish production linked to mangroves. However, they are threatened by over-exploitation as well as clearance for agriculture and urban expansion.

In order to protect these natural resources, the Government of Guinea Bissau has created a system of protected areas that covers 12% of the country. These include the mangrove-rich Parc Naturel des Mangroves du Rio Cacheu and the Parc National des iles d'Orango. However, until now there has been low capacity to monitor the parks and enforce protection due to a lack of staff and equipment to stop illegal poaching and logging in the protected areas.

UNEP, through the Spanish Lifeweb project, is working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to improve the management of the parks. This includes training and outreach work with government rangers and local fishing communities who will participate in park management. UNEP has already supported IUCN to purchase three motorboats as well as GPS and radio equipment which are indispensable for enforcement of park regulations. Satellite data-sets showing historical as well as current mangrove coverage and rates of deforestation have also been provided to local governments and NGOs. By protecting the mangroves against deforestation and over-exploitation, important biodiversity and fisheries resources will be conserved for the future well-being of local populations.

Alongside the efforts to bolster monitoring and enforcement, UNEP is also working to economically value the mangrove resources of Guinea Bissau and the ecosystem services they provide. This will provide the economic evidence and rationale for policy-makers and local communities to protect these important forests. By measuring carbon storage in mangrove forests it could be possible to develop mangrove projects for REDD+ and thus access international carbon funding for mangrove conservation in Guinea Bissau.

Gabriel Grimsditch