Putting Trees Back Where They Belong

SAP has been partnering with the Livelihoods Fund, an innovative program that channels money into re-forestation and climate-protection projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In September of 2011, leaders from around the world launched the “Bonn Challenge” in the former German capital where the UN Climate Change Secretariat is located. Their target was to restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020.

Three years later, the New York Declaration, supported by 130 states, organizations, and indigenous peoples announced an even more ambitious target to stop deforestation and restore 350 million ha of deforested and degraded forest landscapes by 2030.

Now, halfway through the Bonn Challenge pledge, countries have only committed to 39 percent of the reforestation target, and very little of this has actually been planted.

This is why several organizations are asking governments attending the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris this week to consider trees and forests as a solution to climate change and “to take action to put the trees and forests back where they belong.” Among the organizations that have signed the “Trees4Climate-Manifesto” is Paris-based Livelihoods Venture, which manages the Livelihoods investment funds.

Livelihoods was set up in France in December 2011 by a group of French companies including Danone, Crédit Agricole, Schneider Electric, Hermes, and the La Poste Group.

SAP became the first non-French company to invest in the Livelihoods funds in 2013 pledging three million euros to the group which channels the money it receives from SAP and other companies into re-forestation and climate-protection projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The beneficiaries are non-governmental organizations that are committed to restoring and maintaining degraded and threatened ecosystems so that the local population can feed itself and sell timber, fruits, fish, and other products in local markets. Because the new forests capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the investment fund can return carbon credits to investors like SAP.

The partnership with Livelihoods is an innovative form of offsetting carbon dioxide emission”, says Daniel Schmid, SAP´s Chief Sustainability Officer. “The funds finance completely new projects,” he says.

For example, Livelihoods  is paying to regenerate an area of 6,000 hectares in India, enabling some 20,000 small farmers to earn a living from selling timber and arable crops. In Senegal, the fund is restoring 10,000 hectares of mangrove forest and giving the inhabitants of 450 villages the chance to farm fish and grow crops.

Aside from tackling poverty, these projects will, over a period of 20 years, sequester around 1.5 million tons of CO2 so by investing in the Livelihoods Fund, companies like SAP can offset their greenhouse gas emissions and help improve the lives of people in poorer countries at the same time.

Since 2011, the Livelihoods Carbon Fund, one of the group’s  two investment funds, has planted more than 130 million trees and helped support about one million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Similarly, the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, launched in 2015, aims to eradicate rural poverty by restoring degraded ecosystems through large-scale sustainable farming practices with an integrated landscape approach. Fund investors include companies seeking to transform their supply chains, private impact investors and public development institutions seeking to maximize their social and environmental impact.

Climate Change Expected to Reduce Yields

By 2050, the global population is set to reach nine billion. We will need to produce 70 percent more food by then in order

to meet the demands of this larger, richer and more urban population. However, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the agriculture sector is already the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) after energy. Agricultural production causes around 10-14 percent of global GHG emissions.

Climate change is expected to reduce yields, disrupt production and make certain regions unfarmable – KPMG estimates that the entire profit of food producers is at risk if the industry does not take steps to mitigate climate change. Agricultural productivity depends more than other sectors on climate-related factors such as temperature, rainfall and extreme weather events. CDP argues, that to protect the industry’s long-term viability, companies must take a long-term view on resilience, and reduce emissions in their agricultural supply chains at the same time as taking measures to adapt.

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