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Ecoagriculture Partners PES Newsletter
September 19, 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
      Announcements and Opportunities


      A role for PES in food security and sustainable development
      The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, best-known for its work to alleviate hunger and food insecurity, has published a book on agriculture and PES, based on a stakeholder consultation on “Food security through additional income generation: From Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES) to Remuneration of Positive Externalities (RPE) in the agriculture and food sector” held in Rome in September 2010. The consultation brought together representatives from NGOs, government agencies, research institutes, and international organizations in order to develop an understanding of the current efforts in PES, and what role it can play in enhancing food security and alleviating poverty. Discussion touched on suitable policy tools, the role of PES in building a “green economy,” and existing constraints, knowledge gaps, and opportunities for PES implementation. 

      The book, Payments for Ecosystem Services and Food Security, edited by Daniela Ottaviani and Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, draws and expands on the conclusions from this meeting. It represents perhaps the most substantial undertaking to date dedicated entirely to agricultural PES, highlighting efforts to compensate agricultural land owners and managers for the environmental benefits of their stewardship. 

      It delves into the intricacies of designing, implementing and assessing PES projects. The first chapter provides a foundation by examining the role of PES in agriculture, outlining the benefits that can be realized for biodiversity conservation, climate mitigation, water quality, and other ecosystem services connected to agriculture. Other sections explore the relevance of OECD agri-environmental policies for PES, tools that can target cost-effective PES schemes, and the social and cultural drivers that dictate the success of a project. A chapter on landscape labeling presents an integrated approach to PES that bundles multiple ecosystem services and brings a landscape management perspective into this incentive mechanism. Finally, chapters on enabling conditions and legislative tools, and the place for PES in the green economy tackle the institutional elements necessary to consider in the overall success of PES schemes.

      Case studies interspersed throughout the book illustrate the concepts discussed in each chapter, and describe the challenges associated with PES in practice. In one case, facilitated by WWF-CARE in the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania, a Dar es Salaam water utility and Coca Cola partner to pay upstream farmers to adopt better soil management practices, such as terracing and intercropping, to reduce erosion and improve downstream water quality and quantity. In another case, a landscape label in the Western Ghats of India brings together elements of PES and eco-certification to tackle landscape-scale management in a major coffee-producing region. 

      The diversity of cases presented demonstrates that agricultural PES is possible in a variety of contexts. The challenge will be to take the lessons learned from these experiences and integrate them into future initiatives.

      ---The Editors
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      » Carbon

      USDA grants support the development of carbon methodology for rice production
      Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in collaboration with the California Rice Commission (CRC) completed a three-year project funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to identify management practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly methane, from rice fields. This work fed into the development of a GHG accounting methodology for rice, which is currently undergoing the approval process with three carbon standards. EDF, CRC, and Winrock International received a second grant this year to demonstrate the identified practices on-the-ground to assess how user-friendly and cost-effective they will be for generating carbon offsets for farmers. 

      The press release and a fact sheet (pdf) can be found on EDF's website.
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      Danone launches carbon fund focused on livelihood development
      A recently-launched carbon investment fund, "Livelihoods", is working with poor rural communities to gain access to financial resources for projects with social and environmental value. Backed by Danone, CDC Climat, Crédit Agricole Group, and Schneider Electric, the fund will provide resources for three focal areas: the restoration and protection of natural ecosystems; agroforestry and soil restoration; and rural energy projects that prevent deforestation. One of the initial projects, in Senegal, invests in mangrove replanting to rebuild the connected “food ecosystem.”

      Read the press release on Schneider Electric. 
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      Railway company offsets carbon on farmland
      Norfolk Southern, a transportation company operating railways across the eastern United States, has launched a partnership with GreenTrees, a private restoration and carbon sequestration operation in the Mississippi valley. Under this new conservation project, Trees and Trains, the company will offset over one million tons of carbon by funding tree plantings in Mississippi and Louisiana. These will take place through long-term leases on family-owned land, including farm lands. Besides mitigating the impact of climate change and keeping land in the hands of farm families, the project also provides other services such as protecting wildlife habitat, ensuring water quality, and managing soil health.  
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      » Biodiversity

      Bioversity International draws links between PES and agrobiodiversity conservation
      Bioversity International has recently developed a series of publications and web-based materials as part of its program of work on payment for ecosystem services for the conservation of agrobiodiversity. The Payment for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services (PACS) concept is seen as a mechanism to address rural poverty while supporting ecosystem services and the resilience of agricultural systems. Visit Bioversity’s webpages for an overview of PACS, and information on a pilot study in Bolivia and Peru.

      As part of this initiative, Bioversity has also produced several publications, including a policy brief entitled Payment for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services (PACS): policy intervention strategies. Author Adam Drucker draws on the other publications and research activities undertaken as part of the PACS pilot work, addressing challenges and recommendations of for PACS-related policy interventions. 

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      Sustainable pineapple initiative launches in Costa Rica
      United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the government of Costa Rica, launched a collaborative effort on sustainable pineapple in July. A mix of private companies, government entities, and non-governmental organizations participated in the launch. As part of the Responsible Pineapple Platform, an Economic Incentives Working Group will explore the role of payments for ecosystem services, among other mechanisms. EcoAgriculture Partners, Forest Trends/Katoomba Group, and EARTH University will contribute to this working group, conducting a survey of pineapple producers to better understand their current farming practices and their attitudes towards adopting other practices, including their potential interest in obtaining payments for ecosystem services. Centro Agronónomico Tropical de Investigación y Ensñanza (CATIE) will conduct investigations to inform the development of a proposed PES pilot scheme with selected pineapple producers.

      For more information on the launch and to access presentations, visit the UNDP website for the National Platform of Responsible Production and Trade of Costa Rican Pineapple (in Spanish). 
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      European Union project addresses policies and incentives for biodiversity conservation
      POLICYMIX, an effort funded by the European Union (EU), aims to contribute to the follow-up of the The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). The project focuses on demonstrating the role of economic valuation of ecosystem services in policy assessment and the role of economic instruments in a conservation policy mix. A technical brief recently released on Assessing the Role of Economic Instruments in Policy Mixes for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services Provision, provides a framework for this assessment and devotes attention to services within agricultural landscapes. Set to run from 2010-2014, POLICYMIX will also explore how best to design policy that compensates for unequal geographical distribution of the impacts of sometimes competing biodiversity and climate policies.

      Seven case studies in forest and agricultural landscapes in Europe and Latin America, as well as recent publications, can be found on the POLICYMIX website.
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      » Business and Supply Chains

      Cadbury sells first Africa-to-Africa fair trade product
      South Africa will begin selling a fair trade certified Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate slab at the end of this year. The product represents a milestone as the first fair trade chocolate slab both produced and sold on the continent. Overall, the move toward fair trade is seen as an effective means by which to enable producers to improve the sustainability of chocolate manufacture. The organization Fairtrade Africa facilitates the process, guaranteeing farmers a minimum price and a premium for their cacao to invest in social, environment, or economic projects in their community.

      Read the Fairtrade Foundation’s press release to learn more.
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      First Rainforest Alliance certification in South Africa goes to rooibos
      Red bush tea (also called rooibos) production on farms in two regions of South Africa now bear a Rainforest Alliance certification, having met the environmental, social, and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network. The tea is not only a new crop for the Alliance, but also the first product to attain Rainforest Alliance certification in South Africa.

      Read the Rainforest Alliance press release for more information.
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      Malaysia ponders national sustainable palm oil criteria
      Similar to the decision by Indonesia to pursue its own independent certification of sustainable palm oil, Malaysia, the second largest producer of the oil, plans to create its own certification scheme. While this mandatory standard for the country threatens violators with legal repercussions for non-compliance, it is also seen as a rival to what may be stricter standards of the already established Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which reached the one million hectare mark for certified sustainable oil palm.

      Read more here.
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      » Australia

      Carbon farming in Australia becomes law
      Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) legislation has passed in Australia, allowing farmers to earn credits from greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and access carbon markets. CFI is one component of the larger green initiative announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The multi-faceted approach to reaching a “clean energy future” includes supports for activities within the land sector to mitigate climate change and enhance ecosystem resilience. 

      As part of the Land Sector Package, the Carbon Farming Futures program offers direct supports for investment to experiment with innovative practices build land-based carbon stocks and reduce emissions. Farmers, community groups, and resource managers will also benefit from the Biodiversity Fund to restore ecosystems, manage landscapes, protect wildlife corridors, and prevent the spread of invasive species – a particularly potent threat on the Continent. The Land Sector Package also includes an Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund and technical assistance through Carbon Farming Skills to support the CFI, particularly in rural and indigenous communities. 

      At the same time, a carbon tax is under debate in Australia’s parliament. Slated to go into effect 1 July 2012, the law would impose an AUS$23/tonne tax on approximately 500 businesses. And while no carbon price would apply to agriculture or forestry, the tax would increase the incentive to invest in mitigation in these sectors. For further information, read the article published in The Economist on the subject.
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      » European Union

      U.K. jumps into biodiversity banking
      The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) plans to implement a biodiversity offset program. Biodiversity offsets are proposed in the white paper A Natural Choice: securing the value of nature, which assesses the state of the country’s natural capital and builds a case for protecting ecosystem services. The report addresses agriculture and food security as primary objectives in designing policy, and promotes sustainable agriculture production as playing a major role. The supplemental document on what the white paper means for farmers helps articulate how agriculture and conservation can complement each other and the role of farmers in biodiversity offsetting.

      A two-year pilot phase with an emphasis on landscape scale coordination will begin in 2012. Proposals for pilot projects are currently being accepted, and will help inform how the offsets could be used as an incentive mechanism to protect ecosystem services on a national scale.

      For more information and background documentation, visit DEFRA’s biodiversity offset page.
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      » Research and Publications

      AgriCultures Network examines payments to farmers for forest ecosystem services
      In the monthly magazine, Farming Matters, Godfrey Mwaloma explored types of incentives that entice farmers in Africa to adopt agroforestry systems to provide environmental services. The piece discusses the World Agroforestry Centre’s (ICRAF) Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) program, which works with a variety of compensatory mechanisms from cash payments and offset credits to eco-certifications and infrastructure investments. Mwaloma offers up examples of success in practice, as well as policy recommendations.
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      Policy brief explores compensation for carbon in smallholder coffee agroforestry systems
      The non-governmental organization, Programa Salvadoreño de Investigación sobre Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente (PRISMA), recently released a policy brief on experiences and opportunities in smallholder coffee agroforestry forest communities and REDD+. Authors Andrew Davis and V. Ernesto Mendez examine the potential for climate change mitigation through agroforestry practices in small-scale coffee systems. The brief also discusses market-based mechanisms and other compensatory approaches to preserving ecosystem services that strengthen food security and climate resilience.

      Another PRISMA policy brief, written by Susan Kandel and Nelson Cuellar is entitled Compensation for ecosystem services: Directions, potentials and pitfalls for rural communities, and is relevant for the context of agricultural systems.
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      FAO releases policy brief on carbon sequestration in watershed management
      An FAO team published a new policy brief, Carbon sequestration as an integral part of watershed management strategies to address climate change issues, in July that explores the intersection of watershed management, carbon sequestration, and climate smart agriculture. Soil carbon sequestration is proposed as a viable way of mitigating climate change in agricultural systems, while improving soil health and farm productivity. The authors, Martial Bernoux, Louis Bockel, Janie Rioux, Marianne Tinlot, and Ademolah Braimoh, recognize a watershed or landscape scale approach to land management as critical for the provision of ecosystem services supporting farms and communities. Soil carbon sequestration is presented as an integral component to ensuring watershed services, and as a potential revenue source through carbon financing. The brief not only explores incentive mechanisms to compensate providers of carbon sequestration services, but addresses the issues of monitoring and evaluation, particularly through the use of case studies in Madagascar and Uganda.
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      Sustainability links food security and ecosystem services
      Richard Munang, Ibrahim Thiaw, and Mike Rivington published an article in the open-access journal Sustainability examining the provisioning of ecosystem services in order to ensure a food secure world while enhancing climate resilience. The authors emphasize the need for increased financial investment in ecosystem management on a global scale in order to reach hunger and poverty alleviation goals. The paper builds the case for addressing ecosystem function in relation to agricultural production. Incentive mechanisms, including payments for ecosystem services, were highlighted during the discussion of recommended steps forward.

      The full article can be accessed here (pdf).
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      Norway evaluates financial mechanisms to preserve biodiversity
      new publication from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) examines methods for financing conservation, including in agricultural landscapes. The analysis provides a general overview of payment mechanisms and governance structures. With the primary focus on payments for ecosystem services (PES), Vatn, et al. reflect on general approaches and lessons. More specific emphasis on agriculture and the issue of landscape rights and tenure surface in the case studies, such as those on the U.S. and Australian agri-environmental policies.
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      Terrestrial Carbon Group tackles the ‘plus’ in REDD+
      A new paper by the Terrestrial Carbon Group (TCG) entitled Terrestrial Carbon Policy Development: Innovative Approaches to Land in the Climate Change Solution, looks at land-based models for carbon sequestration projects that go beyond forest preservation in the purest sense. Author Fiona McKenzie addresses the critical role of agriculture within the carbon sequestration sphere and identifies alternative land management options to achieve these goals, particularly with regards to enhancing soil carbon. 

      While the paper addresses carbon payments and financial incentives as important to encouraging sustainable land use practices, it also explores more long-term mechanism to maintain agricultural productivity or develop alternate livelihoods. The conclusions of the paper emphasize that there is no single solution to mitigate terrestrial carbon. Cooperation across levels of decision making, finding synergies within forestry and agriculture to build soil and vegetation carbon stocks, and determining incentives (financial or otherwise) that promote sustainable land uses are critical to achieving multiple goals of climate change mitigation, environmental protection, and food security.
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      Duke University paper surveys the potential for stacking ecosystem services payments
      Researchers David Cooley and Lydia Olander at the Nicholas School for Environmental Policy Solutions published a working paper entitled Stacking Ecosystem Services Payments: Risks and Solutions. The paper surveys credits currently available, including several US Department of Agriculture programs. It continues with an assessment of how the combination of multiple credits may either add benefits (the principle of additionality) or result in negative outcomes. A conceptual framework provides policy makers guidelines for assessing projects with stacked credits and addressing issues that may arise.
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      New book analyzes climate change mitigation in agriculture
      Crops and Carbon critically examines the potential for carbon sinks in agriculture, specifically through the organic carbon tied up in crops and in the soil. Author Mike Robbins reflects on the theory and practice of payments from industrial nations to farmers in developing countries for climate change mitigation, accounting for the scientific, economic, and ethical considerations related to this type of mitigation. Chapters cover background on climate change and agriculture, financial instruments for mitigation, and multiple stakeholder perspectives on the issues.

      For more information on how to acquire a copy of the book visit the Earthscan website
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      » Tools

      Sustainable grassland methodology available for comment
      The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed a methodology for greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon sequestration through sustainable grassland management. Available for public comment until October 6th on the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) website, the methodology estimates the greenhouse gas reductions and soil organic carbon enhancements in practices such as rotational grazing or planting or perennial grasses. Please visit the VCS website for the full methodology and to make any comments.
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      Updated mapping tool tracks carbon in biomass above and below ground
      The recently-updated BioCarbon Tracker calculates the level of carbon stored in biomass below and above ground for a wide range of land uses, including forests, agriculture, and mixed-use landscapes. A map with the change in these stocks between 2005 and 2009 is also available. Using European Space Agency maps, the tool identifies vegetation types and assesses risk from land cover changes. 
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      University of Manchester develops carbon sequestration calculator
      Douglas Kell, professor of Bioanalytical Sciences at University of Manchester, recently published a paper in the Annals of Botany describing the potential to breed crops with deep roots to enhance carbon sequestration. The study draws on a calculator developed by Kell, which assesses the potential amount of carbon stored in crop and grass root systems. Both the journal article and calculator tool can be accessed online.
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      Virtual community launched for US-based PES practitioners
      The Ecosystem Commons offers an online gathering point for professionals and organizations involved in activities related to ecosystem services. Discussion forums, articles, and a resource repository are available to share knowledge and experiences. The commons is a jointly managed online community, with support from the US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture Office of Environmental Markets, Environmental Protection Agency, and Geologic Survey. It is still in its early stages and additional members are encouraged to join and contribute to the dialogue.
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      CCAFS analyzes new techniques for measuring soil carbon
      A group of scientists in conjunction with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) undertook an analysis of three techniques to measure soil carbon quantity and stability. The authors present their analyses and potential applications for the three methods in a working paper, Emerging techniques for soil carbon measurements
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      » Meeting Outcomes

      Sustainable Food Lab explores supply chains, 28-30 June, Portland, Oregon, USA
      Sustainable Food Lab's annual leadership summit convened in June to explore how to operationalize sustainability within supply chains. Members from NGOs, industry, and producers met for presentations, small group discussions, and demonstrations. Topics that were explored include metrics for sustainable agriculture; the role of sustainable practices in business; and bringing sustainable production systems to scale. A draft meeting report, and more information on the preceding field trips, is currently up on the summit website.
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      African carbon forum bridges agriculture and forestry sectors, 4-6 July, Marrakesh, Morocco
      Focused on the opportunities for carbon markets and financing in Africa, the African Carbon Forum spanned three days of presentations, trainings, and workshops. Experiences from clean development mechanism (CDM) projects and voluntary markets provide a jumping-off point from which to discuss future directions. One of the panels specifically focused on how climate-smart agriculture, agro-forestry, and carbon offsets in agriculture can benefit from carbon finance. Other sessions covered the nuts-and-bolts of carbon markets, including identifying nationally appropriate mitigation actions, accessing financing, and monitoring impacts and results.

      All presentation slides can be found on the forum website, and video is also available.

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      Kagera-TAMP project holds workshop on incentives for SLM adoption, 29-31 August, Kabale, Uganda
      The Transboundary Agro-ecosystem Management Project for the Kagera River Basin (Kagera-TAMP) is a joint Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project supporting sustainable agro-ecosystem management in 100,000 hectares in the four countries that share the Kagera river basin: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The aim is to reverse land degradation and increase food security to improve rural livelihoods of about 120,000 people, in 22 pilot districts.

      workshop at the end of August gathered policy makers and trainers to inform national activities and build partnerships for project implementation in the four Kagera countries. The tools and methods used to assess land degradation and select sustainable land management (SLM) treatments were presented at the workshop. Developing Payments for Environmental Services (PES) was explored as a means of supporting the sustained adoption and replication of SLM after the project ends in 2013. 

      Building on an initial regional review of PES schemes and a parallel PES online discussion, workshop participants shared their experiences and identified opportunities to upscale existing PES schemes within the basin (so far mostly on tree carbon) in order to replicate promising PES models in the region that have succeeded in involving downstream water users in SLM pilots upstream (e.g. in Lake Naivasha, Kenya). Next steps are identifying potential investors and discussing the enabling policy and institutional environment, as well as capacity gaps that need to be supported by K-TAMP to support the development of PES schemes in the basin. To inform these discussions, a parallel discussion has been launched on the Kagera PES online community- please send us your views and join by sending an email to: PES-community@dgroups.org

      To learn about the outcomes of the workshop, please visit the Kagera-TAMP project website.

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      Announcements and Opportunities

      C-AGG Meeting and EPRI GHG Offsets Workshop, 2-4 November, Washington D.C., USA
      The Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG) is holding its quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C. (agenda forthcoming). Following the meeting, a workshop led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will further the development and implementation of greenhouse gas emissions offsets projects. The workshop will focus on offsets from reductions in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in agricultural crop production, such as nutrient management.

      For more information on the meeting and workshop, and to register, please visit the C-AGG website.
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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.

      For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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      Agriculture and Rural Development Day, 3 December, Durban, South Africa
      At this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17), the third annual Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) will be held. It will feature keynote speakers, a high-level panel discussion, and a dozen participatory “learning events” dealing with specific cases of climate-smart agriculture. The location of the conference in South Africa this year, offers many example of climate smart agriculture innovation, where rural communities are experimenting with more sustainable crop production, livestock rearing and management of soils, water, fish, forests, agroforestry species, and other biodiversity.

      Find information and materials from last year’s event on the ARDD website.
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      Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions, 3-4 April 2012, Edinburgh, Scotland
      The ninth biennial conference hosted by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is focused on valuing ecosystems. It aims to further the understanding of integrated management for agriculture and forestry in order to ensure the provision of multiple ecosystem services. This conference will also serve as a forum for discussion around ways in which to increase the adoption of an ecosystem approach by land managers, researchers, and policy makers.
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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
      The conference will focus on ecological economics and policy, with the goal of contributing to innovative mechanisms to address institutional and market failures in sustainable development. Key themes of the conference are greening the economy; the political economy of green development (including agriculture and food security issues); environmental justice, ethics, and values; and methodological issues. Paper and session abstracts are due 15 November 2011. 

      Please visit the conference website for additional information.
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      Seeking information for PES scoping study
      EcoAgriculture Partners is undertaking a study to identify prospective sites for pilot PES agreements that could provide incentives for agricultural producers to manage lands for both agricultural productivity as well as the provision of climate regulation services, watershed services, and/or biodiversity. The objective is to identify opportunities for the development of self-sustaining PES projects that support agri-food production in which both buyers and sellers of the food crops are located in developing countries, with a particular focus on food-insecure producers, and where there could be a partnership with the private sector. This scoping study is supported by UNEP DTIE, and is carried out in collaboration with Forest Trends and the Katoomba Group.

      If you are able to assist us in identifying potential sites for PES, agricultural producers, or ecosystem service buyers within regions where you have expertise and contacts, we greatly appreciate any recommendations emailed to Rachel Friedman at rfriedman@ecoagriculture.org.
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