This is Merry Walker, Vort Port International’s (VPI) Executive Director. I am currently in Cancun, Mexico with Chandni Shah, VPI’s Business Affairs Director. We have had a great time getting to learn from the various panel events, speaker series, networking with various individuals, and most importantly, listening to the stories of people from around the world.
One main difference I’ve noticed between this Conference of Parties (COP) and last years is the general decreased expectations of outcomes. I went to a panel event discussing REDD+ and a gentleman from UNDP mentioned that by nature, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that he interacts with are optimistic. As I continue to discuss the projects VPI is implementing and aiming to implement in the coming year, people reach with a jaded sense that so many development efforts have traditionally failed. I am starting to think they have failed because traditional NGOs base their organizational model and funding structure based on philanthropic donations, rather than embracing what is commonly referred to as “social ventures.” I’m gland and proud to part of an organization that differentiates itself by being non-profit in nature, to promote volunteerism, fiscal responsibility, and transparency, but work to empower people and communities through social entrepreneurship.
On a separate note, a hot topic of conversation is this REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. The + means that REDD+ goes beyond just addressing deforestation and the direct impacts of deforestation, but explores and develops programs for sustainable forest management and the establishment of carbon stocks. Many for-profit and non-profit entities are putting their heads together to create multistakeholder activities to measure (by way of satellite and other intelligent carbon detection technologies), catalog, and monetize the amount of carbon stock with dense forest cover. These dense forests act as carbon sinks and in some voluntary programs, can have a dollar amount attached to their conservation, and then the that carbon equivalent is traded or sold to companies wishing to offset their carbon emissions.
Now the tough part is getting international binding legislation to have countries commit to an international carbon reduction level so that all the countries are on even playing fields and one country will not benefit significantly more from the carbon market. Will report back on plenary activities later.
Thanks for stopping by!