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ICRAF sets the pace in assessing
its carbon footprint

By Peter Mutai NAIROBI, Kenya, (Xinhua) --- The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has captured 2,161 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011 from the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from its operations in office and trips out of the office in Nairobi.

ICRAF said late on Monday that it made the achievements from its staff official travels by air and road, hotel stays, electricity consumption and individual local travels.

This is an indication that the center is set to becoming a carbon-neutral institution in the world,” said Dr. Audrey Chenevoy, the consultant with ICRAF’s Climate Change Unit responsible for carrying out the organization’s carbon footprint assessment told Xinhua in Nairobi.

Chenevoy said that the credits belong to the Kasigau Corridor REDD (deforestation and degradation) project in Kenya that protects over 500,000 acres of forest and also safeguarding the highly threatened wildlife migration corridor between two of Kenya’s largest national parks (Tsavo East and Tsavo West), and brings diverse benefits to surrounding rural communities.

The project, run by wildlife work is the world’s first REDD project to be validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and holds Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

In December 2012, ICRAF headquarters bought carbon credits to offset its GHG emissions for the next two years, through an institution called The Carbon Neutral Company.

The latter recognizes the exceptional environmental and social benefits the project provides – including job creation, education, and the provision of direct financial benefits from carbon to over 100,000 local people.

He revealed that ICRAF headquarters in Nairobi is officially carbon neutral hence setting an example that it hopes other offices and institutions will follow in addressing the challenge of climate change.

Prior to offsetting its emissions, ICRAF headquarters published a detailed account of its 2011 carbon footprint.

The findings of this assessment, the first in the Center’s history, are already informing actions to reduce carbon emissions at the headquarters, with the ultimate goal of achieving carbon- neutrality for its operation around the world.

According to ICRAF Director General Tony Simons, the Nairobi office will aim to remain carbon neutral and assess its carbon footprint annually and will be sharing the information on their website.

We have extended the assessment process to our regional offices with the aim of becoming a carbon neutral institution,” he added.

He revealed that ICRAF is simply walking the talk and hope that donors and the public see this commitment to sustainable practices.

ICRAF headquarters is already implementing actions to reduce its carbon footprint over the long term, which will be important in balancing emissions as the organization grows.The Nairobi office has developed a new recycling system and switched, wherever possible, to energy-saving lighting.

Simons revealed that plans to update the video conferencing system to increase collaboration over the internet and cut down on travel are underway.

The institution is also in the process of introducing actions towards carbon-neutrality and purchasing carbon credits.

Since climate change affects everyone—from rural smallholder farmers to urban dwellers, we all have to do our part to keep emissions to the minimum, at the individual, community and institutional level,” Chenevoy said.

The move makes ICRAF as the first Consultative Group in International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) center to rigorously assess its carbon emissions worldwide.

ICRAF has taken some ground-breaking step this past year, but a lot of work lies ahead if we want to be truly sustainable,” Dr. Henry Neufeldt, head of ICRAF’s Climate Change Unit and leader of the carbon footprint initiative noted.

He said that as an organization at the leading edge of climate change adaptation and mitigation research in agriculture, achieving carbon neutrality represents not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for ICRAF to demonstrate its credibility as a 21st century partner.

The Kasigau Corridor REDD project covers 200,000 hectares of dry forest land in southern Kenya an area that is under intense threat from slash and burn agriculture practiced by the local communities that continue encroaching the parks.

Nearly 150,000 people are already benefiting from the revenues emanating from the sale of carbon from the project.

The project is the first ever to be issued with Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs) for REDD under both Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

These are the two most comprehensive carbon accounting standards among projects issuing credits in voluntary markets.



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