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Ecoagriculture Partners PES Newsletter
June 20, 2011

Table of Contents

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  Advisory Group
Michael Bennett, Forest Trends, China

Andrew Bovarnik, UNDP/GEF, Panama

Sally Collins,
Former Director of USDA Office of Environmental Markets, Fellow at Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)

Fabrice DeClerck, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Costa Rica

Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Kenya

Leslie Lipper, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy

Mikitaro Shobayashi, Gakushuin Women's College, Japan
Commentary Market and Policy Developments
      » Research and Publications
      Announcements and Opportunities


      EcoAgriculture Partners studies find agricultural PES innovation in the US despite challenges

      With the collapse of U.S. climate legislation last year and recent cuts in U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation funding, the anticipation that PES would support sustainable land management on a large scale in the U.S. has absorbed significant blows. However, during the past year, EcoAgriculture Partners has explored PES models in support of sustainable land management in the U.S., documenting nearly 40 cases in two new publications, and has found that innovation continues throughout the country. 

      The Farm of the Future Initiative documents five cases of successful PES on private agricultural and forest lands, in which landowners changed their land management practices to provide improved water quality, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and carbon benefits—managing working lands to generate new revenue from ecosystem services as a supplement to traditional income. Each case is presented in an in-depth case study, a summary brief, and an illustrative poster. Across the cases, it was not uncommon for a wide variety of institutions to be involved in projects, in the form of collaborations between private, government, non-profit organizations, and others. The cases also unexpectedly indicated that even relatively low payments could entice landowners to adopt major land management changes, suggesting that landowners recognize long-term economic benefits of better management.
      EcoAgriculture has also completed a survey and analysis of innovative payments for watershed services (PWS) activities in the U.S. The survey identified 32 schemes distributed throughout the country driven by both public and private sector buyers. While the scale of these programs remains small relative to more established conservation mechanisms such as conservation easements and Farm Bill conservation programs, the diversity of cases suggests that a PWS approach has wide applicability and potential for scaling-up. 

      Additional efforts in the U.S. continue to explore innovative ways to engage in PES in agriculture and contribute to the growing pool of knowledge. USDA, for example,
      recently announced funding through conservation innovation grants (CIGs) for nine projects to reduce greenhouse gases on agricultural and forest lands. Knowledge exchanges and meetings, such as the Ecosystem Markets conference this summer, are also serving to expand the information available and draw attention to examples of PES that work. So while the future shape of PES in the U.S. is unknown, successful cases and on-going research point the way towards prospective models of PES and the ways in which public and private actors can work to support them. Back To Top

      » Carbon

      Agricultural carbon methodologies are in the pipeline
      The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) released a new methodology, available for comment until June 10th. Developed by Terra Global Capital, LLC and Environmental Defense Fund, the methodology offers a technique to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions in flooded rice production, by altering flooding and other cultivation practices. 

      The previous newsletter introduced the development of agricultural carbon offset protocols by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR). Spring working group presentations and documents are now available online for rice cultivation and cropland management. The American Carbon Registry (ACR) has also just announced a carbon offset methodology for the rice sector beginning the approval process, with the comment period open until July 8th. 
      Back To Top
      Ag projects in Africa work toward CCB certification while earning carbon credits
      Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) has begun to verify projects that generate carbon credits also under the CCB standards. In May, The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST) in Kenya made news as the first project to be validated under both CCB standards and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The Kasigou Corridor REDD Project also in Kenya was verified around the same time and produces sellable carbon credits for the community of ranches in possession of the land.

      On the horizon, Envirotrade Carbon, Ltd. is expanding the pilot Sofala Community Carbon Project in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, which was validated under the CCB standards last September. The Quirimbas Community Carbon Project, the scaled-up version, is estimated to sequester up to 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 20 years by encouraging restoration and sustainable land use among farmers in the region. Quirimbas is also anticipated to be verified by the CCBA, as well as generate Verified Emissions Reductions credits through the VCS.

      Read the latest news from the CCBA.
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      » Water

      Drought-prone city in the U.S. pays ranchers to maintain water quality
      Since 2000, one eighth of every cent from sales tax in the city of San Antonio, Texas, USA has gone into land conservation to support groundwater aquifer recharge. While the program began with simple land acquisitions, during the 2010 approval process, San Antonio residents voted to use these public funds to purchase easements. These land transactions will restrict infrastructure development and prohibit impervious surfaces, but will allow traditional ranching activities to continue. In essence, ranchers are getting paid to continue their land management activities, while safeguarding a precious water supply in the arid southwest United States. 

      Read the recent New York Times article on the effort.  

      Learn more about this project and other PWS schemes in the United States, read EcoAgriculture’s report.
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      Filipino power company compensates farmers for protecting water supply
      In an effort to rehabilitate and protect the Lake Lanao Watershed, the Watershed Management Division of the National Power Corporation (NPC) is forming agreements with local farmers. NPC provides planting materials and covers labor costs, in exchange for farmers maintaining the forest or fruit trees. Initial contracts are for three years, with the potential for extension.
      More details are available at the Philippine Information Agency.
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      » Business and Supply Chains

      International organizations support sustainable cocoa certification
      The Global Environment Facility (GEF), Rainforest Alliance (RA), and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have initiated an effort in ten countries to bring together producers, small-scale commercial entities, and industry stakeholders to develop a more sustainable and fair value chain for cocoa. The project aims for ten percent of world cocoa production to transition to sustainable systems. Approximately 250,000 producers will receive technical support and training to implement sustainable practices that could lead towards Rainforest Alliance certification.

      Take a look at the press release
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      Palm oil roundtable gains market traction
      The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) announced that certified sustainable palm oil now comprises 9% of global palm oil production. Also of note, on May 31st, the RSPO launched its trademark for use on products, as a way of distinguishing manufacturers and educating the consumer base.
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      Sustainable soy makes its market debut
      Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a collaborative of soy value chain stakeholders, made its first sale of a batch of certified sustainable soy. The purchase by a group of Dutch companies involved in the Dutch Sustainable Soy Initiative (IDS) marks the start of an effort to further the market penetration of socially and environmentally responsible soy. RTRS strives to curb deforestation from expansion of soy cultivation, minimize pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard biodiversity and habitat, and maintain healthy and productive agricultural lands, all while ensuring equitable wages and safe labor conditions.

      Also of note, Unilever purchased the first certificates of sustainable soy oil. 
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      » Australia

      Carbon farming initiative moves forward in Australia
      The story of Australian carbon emissions legislation continues, as rules for the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) were released for public comment on May 25th. If approved by parliament in the coming months, the initiative will be the world’s first carbon credit scheme for farm projects enacted at a national scale. While credits will be eligible for sale on the global voluntary carbon market, an additional market in which farmers could sell the carbon credits would be created with the implementation of mandatory emissions reductions within the country. 

      Read the Reuters article here
      Back To Top

      » United States

      U.S. cuts funding to conservation programs on agricultural lands
      United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a set of conservation programs that provide financial and technical resources for farmers to make their operations more sustainable. With recent cuts to U.S. government spending, conservation programs and other farm subsidies face steep budget decreases. However, as the budget for FY2012 is reviewed, both farmers and conservation advocates inside and outside of government are working to maintain these environmental incentives.

      Read more about what budget cuts mean for USDA conservation programs.
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      » Indonesia

      Indonesia opens degraded land to agriculture and forestry
      Indonesia, a major target of REDD+ funds, is offering up forestry and plantation concessions on degraded lands in an effort to halt further expansion and associated deforestation. Areas with low conservation potential are being mapped by non-governmental organizations, and will be the focal point of this initiative. At this point, the incentives to the palm oil and other industry players remain unclear.

      Read more on the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) blog. 
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      » European Union

      The Netherlands commits to sustainable palm oil
      By 2015, the Netherlands has pledged to exclusively use sustainable palm oil. As the largest importer of Indonesian palm oil, claiming about 30% of the country's exports, the Netherlands is making a move that may influence the island’s oil palm growing practices on a much larger scale. With other countries likely to follow suit, Indonesia must respond to a rapidly growing market for a sustainably certified product.

      Read more about the opportunities and challenges for Indonesia in the Jakarta Post
      Back To Top
      EU highlights agri-environmental payments as it considers mechanisms to conserve biodiversity
      In March the European Commission on the Environment issued its Biodiversity Strategy for 2020. This new strategy lays out targets for biodiversity conservation and protection of ecosystem services. Agriculture and forestry figure prominently in the plan, with emphasis on managing working lands for the delivery of environmental benefits. Payments for ecosystem services are highlighted as an incentive mechanism proposed for the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget.
      Back To Top
      Serbia works toward developing a national agri-environment programme
      The first payments for ecosystem services in Serbia have been in place since 2004 under the Measures for Improvement of Rural Areas by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management. However, rural development support in Serbia has not included a formal agri-environment programme thus far. A project implemented from 2009-2010 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a local NGO from Serbia Natura Balkanika, and supported by the Dutch NGO Avalon and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), sought to formulate potential agri-environmental mechanisms to ensure the conservation of high nature value (HNV) farming areas. The publication Agri-environment Programme for Serbia was one of the outputs, stressing how HNV farming could yield a viable economic future and modern quality of life for rural communities. 
      Back To Top


      » Research and Publications

      U.S. Farm of the Future initiative documents released
      EcoAgriculture Partners has published materials from the Farm of the Future initiative, which characterize ways in which payments for ecosystem services can support working lands. Five in-depth case studies, summary briefs, and illustrative posters profile working farms, forests, and ranches in the US. In each case, the landowner adopted management practices that provide water quality, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and/or climate benefits— generating new revenue from ecosystem services as an income supplement. A Masters thesis by Chris Horne elaborated on one of the case studies, exploring financial feasibility and regional benefits of scaling up and outlining implications for planning. Collective lessons learned for successfully maintaining ecosystem services on working lands were drawn from the case studies. This analysis identifies the importance of appropriate financing mechanisms, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and site-specific action among other enabling conditions. 

      The written case studies, case study briefs and illustrative posters are now available for download on the websites of EcoAgriculture Partners and the United States Department of Agriculture's Office of Environmental Markets (OEM).
      Back To Top
      EcoAgriculture Partners surveys payments for watershed services activities in the United States
      A new report produced by EcoAgriculture Partners examines the findings of a survey of payments for watershed services (PWS) activities in the United States. It draws conclusions about the current state of PWS in the U.S., future possibilities for these incentives mechanisms, and recommendations for scaling them up. The diversity of the PWS models identified by this study is an encouraging sign of the wide applicability and significant potential for scaling up of PWS activities. The report notes several keys to expanding PWS and achieving desired impacts on watershed health, including identifying appropriate buyers, developing cost-effective tools for land management and monitoring, and engaging landowners and local organizations in the implementation of projects. 
      The full report can be accessed on the EcoAgriculture website. Further details on each of the PWS projects identified are available at the Conservation Registry, an online database of conservation projects in the United States.
      Back To Top
      Book published on ecosystem services in agriculture and agroforestry
      A new book, Ecosystem Services from Agriculture and Agroforestry, depicts the complexity of implementing payments for ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes. Edited by Bruno Rapidel, Fabrice DeClerck, Jean-Francois Le Coq, and John Beer, the book covers issues related to measuring and marketing ecosystem services, and presents case studies of success in South and Central America. Each of eighteen chapters highlights different methodological aspects or geographically-explicit cases of PES in agriculture and agroforestry, with the editors drawing together important lessons learned from the scope of literature and research reviewed. 
      Back To Top
      New book explores mapping and valuing ecosystem services
      Bringing together analyses from leading scientists, Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services examines measurement and valuation of ecosystem services in various landscapes, from forests to agricultural lands. Kareiva, et al. (eds) take the analysis beyond the science to look at how ecosystem services and tools for evaluating them can be incorporated into management and policy decisions. Case studies bring the perspective back to real-world application and successes. Back To Top
      Report evaluates biodiversity measurement for PES
      A new report, Measuring Up: Synchronizing Biodiversity Measurement Systems for Markets and Other Incentive Programs analyzes existing systems to measure biodiversity, with implications for assessing incentive mechanisms for conservation. The authors, Bobby Cochran and Nicole Robinson Maness of the Willamette Partnership examined 25 measurement systems and developed recommendations for ensuring the success of incentive programs. The report’s findings will feed into USDA’s efforts to develop guidelines for measuring environmental benefits of land management practices and incorporate more monitoring activities into Farm Bill programs that protect or enhance biodiversity.
      Back To Top
      World Agroforestry Centre studies MRV options for NAMAs
      Andrea Wilkes, Wang Shiping, Timm Tennigkeit, and Feng Jiexi of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) recently released a paper, Agricultural Monitoring and Evaluation Systems: What Can we Learn for the MRV of Agricultural NAMAs? It assesses the extent to which existing monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems would be adequate to evaluate agricultural emissions reductions from nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), or climate change mitigation activities most suitable for a specific country. The authors lay out certain criteria by which to judge MRV systems, and examine a case study of a grass planting programme on the Tibetan Plateau in China. Conclusions of the report acknowledge that utilizing MRV systems already in place in the agricultural sector would decrease the costs of developing climate mitigation projects, and expresses optimism that climate finance for NAMAs could motivate additional investment into research in this area.
      Back To Top
      CCAFS publications discuss the role of agriculture in climate change policy
      The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program of the CGIAR has published three policy briefs and a working paper highlighting the role of agriculture in climate change mitigation. The report and one of the policy briefs explores strategies to address agriculture as a driver of deforestation and forest degradation and mechanisms to incorporate agriculture into REDD readiness activities. Policy brief no.2 outlines next steps for incorporating these issues into national and international policy. The other policy brief tries to reconcile the need to curb deforestation while furthering climate-smart agriculture to alleviate poverty and hunger. All four publications can be accessed on the CCAFS website.

      Back To Top
      Technical Working Group on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases releases three new reports
      The Technical Working Group on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (T-AGG) put out three new reports on agricultural greenhouse gases in the U.S. in March and April. One is an extensive literature review that compares the greenhouse gas mitigation potential of 40 different land management activities and is meant to serve as a supplement to the upcoming T-AGG reports. In the second, Lydia Olander and Karen Haugen-Kozyra document methodology for recording greenhouse gases in agriculture. This report is intended to feed into private, government, and voluntary market efforts to assess the mitigation potential of agriculture. The final report puts forth the uncertainties and gaps that need to be addressed in agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation assessments. Authors Alison Eagle and Samantha Sifleet identify regional concerns and help highlight and prioritize key areas for further research.
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      Terrestrial Carbon Group publishes two reports on REDD+
      Two new policy briefs by Fiona McKenzie and Amber Childress from the Terrestrial Carbon Group (TCG) complement each other in framing the state of international REDD+ activities. In A 'State of Play' Assessment of Land Use in the International Policy Response to Climate Change, The authors discuss international climate change negotiations, noting that non-Annex1 countries that refer to agriculture as a nationally appropriate mitigation action (NAMA). The piece also provides an overview of the Hague conference on Agriculture, Food Security, and Climate Change, the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and other relevant international efforts. A Compendium on Capacity for Implementing Land Based Mitigation compiles information on land use climate change mitigation activities in 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, with particular emphasis on agriculture, forestry, carbon, and land tenure. Carbon sequestration and REDD+ activities as well as a broader range of payments for ecosystem services make their way into the discussion.
      Back To Top
      Nature Climate Change article explores links between agriculture and REDD in Tanzania
      The journal, Nature Climate Change, published an article on “leakage” among Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects. Fisher, et al. proposes that in order to address this issue of deforestation avoided in one location but taking place in another, conservation funding should target the underlying drivers of forest loss. With food security as the primary concern for rural communities such as the study’s Tanzanian participants, the proffered solution to expanding land conversion is investment in fertilizer, seeds, and agricultural training for farmers to sustainably intensify their food production. The authors go further to argue for a Smart-REDD approach that accounts for transaction and implementation costs in addition to the opportunity cost of cutting down a forest when determining compensation for projects.

      Read the news clip on the article.
      Back To Top
      Centre for International Forestry Research produces policy brief on agriculture and adaptation in REDD+
      A recent policy brief from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) makes the case for the inclusion of agriculture and adaptation considerations in REDD+ projects in Mozambique. Authors Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, Almeida Sitoe, and Alda Salomão argue that in order to take a pro-poor development approach, agriculture must be viewed as both a driver and solution to deforestation and land degradation.
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      » Tools

      Revised FAO EX-ACT carbon accounting tool includes organic soils and forest degradation
      Three divisions of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) jointly developed the Ex-ante Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT) in 2009, recently releasing the third version (which includes organic soils and forest degradation). EX-ACT has also released a new policy brief linking the tool to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) for greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, and the tool has played a role in various workshops with FAO participation.
      Back To Top
      Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network releases manuals for coffee certification

      In May, Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network (SCAN) published several manuals and guidelines on sustainable coffee certification. Topics covered include: the organization of agricultural producer groups in Vietnam; sustainable rehabilitation of coffee farms and multiple certifications for producer groups in Peru; and training of trainers for entry level smallholder coffee producing groups in Tanzania.

      Back To Top
      World Bank manual explains how to estimate opportunity costs of REDD+
      This training manual developed by the World Bank Group, outlines the trade-offs between carbon sequestration in forests and other economic activities, such as agriculture and logging. Lead authors, Douglas White and Peter Minang, present analyses of the economic and carbon costs/benefits of a range of forest uses, including agroforestry, cocoa production, and pasture. The opportunity costs identified can inform the development of incentive payments in Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programs. 
      Back To Top

      » Meeting Outcomes

      Soil Carbon Stakeholder Workshop takes place in Australia, 3-5 February 2011
      This three-day science summit in Sydney, Australia brought together soil and plant scientists, farmers, industry, organizations, and policy makers from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australasia to explore the state of knowledge of soil carbon. Topics included carbon sequestration in the soil, enhancing fertility and productivity of agricultural systems, and using scientific knowledge to secure ecosystem services from land management practices. Videos and documentation are available for reference on the website. Back To Top
      C-AGG meeting focuses on agricultural offsets in California, 29-30 March 2011
      The Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG) convened a two-day meeting in California, USA focused on the role agricultural GHG mitigation and offsetting could play in the California climate change program. Participants contributed a variety of perspectives from private industry, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies. The C-AGG website contains meeting documents and the speakers' presentations. Back To Top
      PROFOR mobilizes private investment in tree and landscape restoration, 25-27 May 2011
      The Program on Forests (PROFOR), managed by the World Bank, co-organized a forum in Nairobi, Kenya with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), EcoAgriculture Partners, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and TerrAfrica. Over 100 people were in attendance, one third of which represented the private sector. Participants explored the potential for private investment in tree-based landscape restoration to achieve the 'triple win' of improving rural livelihoods, increasing resilience in the face of climate extremes, and mitigating climate change. EcoAgriculture Partners prepared a background paper entitled "Where Private Market Incentives Converge with Landscape Restoration Goals". Presentations and background papers from the forum are available on the website
      Back To Top

      Announcements and Opportunities

      Sustainable Foods Summit, 23-24 June 2011, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

      Organized by the Organic Monitor, the fourth annual summit on sustainability and ecolabels will focus on carbon footprint reduction and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. A wide range of food industry stakeholders will be participating in the discussions around these topics.

      Visit the website for more information on the Sustainable Foods Summit.

      Back To Top
      2011 Sustainable Food Lab Annual Leadership Summit, 27-28 June 2011, Portland, Oregon, USA
      The theme for this year's annual leadership summit held by the Sustainable Food Lab is “Operationalizing Sustainability in Supply Chains.” Break-out sessions look at a wide range of issues pertaining to value chains, incentive mechanisms for producers, and data collection. The intersection of business, government, and science is a common topic throughout the summit. 

      To view the agenda and register, click here.
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      Ecosystem Markets: Making them Work, 29 June-1 July 2011, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

      Co-organized by the American Forest Foundation and World Resources Institute, this conference addresses the current state and future opportunities of ecosystem services, bringing together a variety of participants in the non-profit, government, and private sectors. Through a series of panel discussions, breakout sessions, and a field trip, the conference will cover topics including carbon credits, watershed services, and bioenergy over the three days.

      Click here to learn more.

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      Africa Carbon Forum, 4 - 6 July 2011, Marrakech, Morroco
      This conference, organized by several international partners, serves as a knowledge-sharing outlet and trade fair on carbon investments in Africa. REDD initiatives, climate-smart agriculture, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) measures, and financing opportunities are topics covered over the course of the three days.

      To view the agenda and register, visit the forum website.
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      C-AGG Chicago Meeting, 20-21 July, Chicago, Illinois, USA
      The Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG) is composed of agricultural producers, scientists, methodology experts, carbon investors and project proponents and is centered on driving the discussion around greenhouse emissions mitigation measures in agriculture in the United States. Topics to be discussed at this meeting include sustainable supply chain initiatives, updates on agricultural offset protocol development from California, and the status of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) greenhouse gas guidelines development and Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for greenhouse gas mitigation projects.
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      Tenth RRI Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change, 7-8 September, The Hague, Netherlands

      Entitled "Common Approaches to Dealing with the Challenges of Food Security and Climate Change in Forests and Agriculture", the dialogue is organized by Oxfam International and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), in collaboration with the LAND Academy, the Netherlands, and EcoAgriculture Partners. It will consider the connection between forests, agriculture, and rural livelihoods and food security. The discussion and outcomes from the Dialogue will feed into upcoming international meetings on agriculture, climate change and ecosystem management.

      For more information and to register, visit the dialogue webpage.

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      Payments for Ecosystem Services and their Institutional Dimensions, 10-12 November 2011, Berlin, Germany

      This conference, facilitated by representatives of the research group CIVILand, ETH Zurich, and the University of Bayreuth, seeks to pull lessons learned from payments for ecosystem services schemes in developing countries, apply them to industrialized nations, and opening a dialogue between the two. Activities over the two days will center on institutional frameworks and governance structures that impact furthering PES schemes. Conference organizers are accepting paper and poster proposals until June 30. 

      Visit the conference website to register and submit proposals. 

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      Ecological Economics and Rio+20: Challenges and Contributions for a Green Economy, 29 May 1 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
      This conference will be taking place directly preceding United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio +20. A first call for papers will be released in July, so keep your eyes open.
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