Winrock has long been a leading voice at the annual United Nations Climate Change Conferences. Former Winrock board member Christiana Figueres brokered the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and Winrock President and Chief Executive Officer Rodney Ferguson has publicly pledged to continue upholding its goals.
At the December 2019 conference in Madrid, Winrock was an impressive presence, with six Winrock experts speaking at nine separate events covering many of the event’s defining topics: carbon markets, community-led adaptation, and private sector engagement in adaptation.
Mary Grady and John Kadyszewski represented Winrock’s American Carbon Registry (ACR) and the newly launched Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART), for which Winrock serves as the Secretariat. ART aims to unlock new, large-scale financing for sustainable land use and forest conservation, which has the potential to reduce 7 billion metric tons of CO2 annually by 2030. COP25 was also the venue for a signing ceremony in which ministers from Norway, Germany, the U.K. and Colombia agreed to extend an initial agreement signed in Paris in 2015 for results based payments to Colombia for efforts to reduce deforestation. The Joint Declaration of Intent referenced ART as a mechanism to assure achievement of results.
With governments around the world struggling to finance climate adaptation, engagement of the private sector in adaptation planning and financing was a defining theme of COP25. Winrock’s U.S. State Department-funded Private Investment for Enhanced Resilience (PIER) project is crafting solutions to address an enormous gap in financing. Through PIER, Winrock is partnering with several countries and companies to develop innovative financial mechanisms and partnerships. This includes working to reduce transboundary risk in supply chains for chocolate, among other commodities.
In Ghana, cocoa farms are being affected by increasing temperatures, soil degradation and= aging cacao trees that no longer produce the same quantity and quality of cocoa. Farmers have the on-the-ground knowledge to switch to a more climate-resilient variety of cacao tree, but lack access to finance to replant and sustain livelihoods during the transition. Winrock is working with cocoa farmers, the Government of Ghana, Hershey’s and ECOM — one of the largest cocoa traders in the world — to identify strategic investment opportunities to rehabilitate cocoa farms so the chocolate market can continue without disruption.
“This example is particularly important because companies could see this sort of risk and pull out and get their cocoa elsewhere,” said Winrock’s Meghan Doherty. “But instead, here we have a company that’s interested in investing in a community … and making their supply chain more resilient, which allows for finance to continue flowing.” PIER pilots are happening in four countries now — Ghana, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam — and are scalable to others.
“By equipping companies and financial institutions to utilize climate data and identify strategic investments in resilience, we can reframe adaptation as an investment opportunity,” said Doherty.
COP25 may not have produced the worldwide consensus that was hoped for, but it did underline the need for increased ambition and innovation for both mitigation and adaptation. Winrock is helping communities, companies and countries strengthen resilience — and seize new opportunities for growth.