ANAHEIM, Calif. ─ April 7, 2022 – Last night, the American Carbon Registry (ACR), a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, hosted its annual gala reception to recognize and thank its members and partners. ACR Executive Director Mary Grady welcomed guests, presented highlights from the last two years and described the awards to be presented, including the individual Climate Leadership award as well as organizational awards based on ACR’s guiding principles of innovation, quality and excellence.
Grady presented ACR’s Climate Leadership award to Frances Seymour, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute (WRI), internationally recognized author and expert on the role of forests in addressing climate change and sustainable development. Seymour’s career contributions and tireless dedication have played a pivotal role in advancing scientific, economic and policy foundations for forest protection and restoration as critical tools to combat global climate change and to protect the rights and livelihoods of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.
From her early internships at USAID in the Philippines and with the United Nations Development Programme in Nepal, as well as her assignment at the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, she gained an appreciation of the complex drivers of tropical deforestation. During her policy-oriented tenures at World Wildlife Fund, WRI, the Center for Global Development, and six years at the helm of the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia, she has been a consistent voice for science-led research and evidence-based policies to unlock the massive potential of forests as a cost-effective nature-based climate solution and the commensurate need to mobilize finance at scale to this end.
Sharing Winrock’s deep-rooted concern that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest people, she also believes that addressing the challenge provides an unparalleled opportunity to turn the tide on deforestation and forest governance. Her 2016 book “Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change” (co-authored by Jonah Busch) clearly articulates the pathways for public and private sector action to stop deforestation as urgent, necessary and achievable to ensure climate stability, protect biodiversity and realize sustainable development goals. Seymour generously contributes her knowledge and wisdom to an extensive list of organizations and initiatives, including the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) that is hosted by Winrock International. Colleagues in these initiatives benefit from her extraordinary 360-degree view of forest and climate issues combined with her positive, consensus-based approach to deliver results at scale and her relentless advocacy for our planet Earth.
The ACR Commitment to Quality award was presented to the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force for empowering 39-member subnational jurisdictions in 10 countries that represent over one third of the world’s tropical forests to implement the highest quality programs to protect and restore forests and reduce emissions from deforestation while benefiting local communities and Indigenous Peoples. Launched in 2008 through a landmark Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Climate and Forests by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and nine other governors from Brazil, Indonesia, and the United States, the GCF Task Force has focused on the collective strength of subnational governments and jurisdictional approaches to deliver climate results at scale. Over the last 14 years, the GCF Task Force has supported member states and provinces to develop robust jurisdictional REDD+ strategies and investment plans, including working with key partners to provide innovation funding for actions that accelerate reduced deforestation.
The GCF Task Force has also been at the forefront of recognizing the critical role that Indigenous Peoples and local and traditional communities play in protecting forests, and has worked tirelessly to cultivate authentic, collaborative partnerships between governments and forest communities to achieve mutual objectives. The GCF Task Force developed and is currently implementing a set of Guiding Principles for this collaboration, which has been endorsed by 17 non-governmental organizations, 34 governments and 18 Indigenous Peoples organizations. The policy and advocacy work is led by the GCF Task Force Global Committee on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, which convenes regularly to share effective strategies for government-community partnerships.
ACR honored Finite Carbon with the Innovation award for spearheading the development of a first-of-a-kind methodology for Improved Forest Management (IFM) designed specifically for small non-industrial private forestlands. Despite owning nearly 40% of U.S. forestlands, less than 1% of small forest ownerships have enrolled in the carbon market to date. This is due to known financial and institutional barriers associated with the scale and complexity of the existing market. The peer-reviewed methodology includes innovative aggregation, monitoring, and verification approaches that create efficiencies and streamlined processes to alleviate market entry barriers and incentivize climate action by small landowners ranging from 40 to 5,000 forested acres. The methodology rewards long-term sustainable forest management practices including the landowner’s commitment to forego harvesting, grow trees longer and increase forest stocking, in addition to providing significant co-benefits such as habitat and water protection, improved soil health and recreation.
The ACR Corporate Excellence award was presented to Bank of America (BofA) for its ambitious corporate climate action. The bank achieved carbon neutrality in 2019, a year ahead of schedule, by reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions, purchasing 100 percent electricity and offsetting unavoidable emissions with high-quality carbon credits. Since 2010, BofA has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent, cut energy consumption by 45 percent through a variety of energy efficiency measures, and purchases 100% of its annual electricity usage from renewable sources. To compensate for unavoidable emissions, the bank supports a variety of high impact carbon projects including GreenTrees, North America’s largest reforestation project, which has planted over 42 million trees on over 120,000 acres, which includes over 500 landowners in the Mississippi River Valley. In 2021 BofA expanded its commitment to reach net zero before 2050 for financing activities, operations and supply chain, and has committed to mobilize $1 trillion by 2030 to accelerate sustainable businesses through lending, investing and other financial solutions.