Keith Bohannon Plan Vivo 

By Keith Bohannon, Chief Operating Officer at Plan Vivo Foundation


Based on the learning from 25 years of experience of running a carbon standard, with projects across the world, at Plan Vivo we still believe strongly that the key to tackling climate change is empowering communities and smallholders as custodians of their environment. As you know, this is facilitated through the Plan Vivo Standard, which provides a robust and accessible model to deliver community-driven, sustainable, Natural Climate Solutions. A key feature of the Plan Vivo model is the holistic approach which delivers measurable impact for climate (carbon), people (social) and nature (biodiversity). Another USP of the Plan Vivo approach is an ongoing commitment to delivering accessible and equitable benefits to smallholders and communities.

With the Plan Vivo financial year ending at the end of February 2021, and to coincide with Earth Day 2021, this is a perfect time to take stock of how we are doing in terms of our mission to increase our impact on Climate, People and Nature (see Figure 1 below).

 

Figure 1. Impact of Plan Vivo projects to date (end of February 2021) 

 

Based on the latest analysis, I am delighted to report that in terms of climate impact we have now topped 5 million tonnes CO2 of planned emission reductions, an increase in over 1 million tCO2 in the last year alone. This comes following the largest ever number of annual Plan Vivo project issuances, which is predicted to increase again for next year (2021-22). In the last year, over 3.5 million trees have been planted as part of sustainable ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation projects, taking the total to date to over 12 million trees. Through Plan Vivo projects, we can now claim to have 175,000 ha under sustainable land management and over 133,000 ha under conservation. This has a significant impact on preventing biodiversity loss and promoting healthy ecosystems, vital to achieving Nature-based Solutions.

As a result of the sales of fairly traded Plan Vivo Certificates (PVCs) into the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), $5.4 million (USD) has been directed to projects in the last 12 months, taking the cumulative total to $30 million (USD), with 60% ($18 million) of that going to directly support participants. This means that in total ~90,000 people (communities and smallholders) have increased livelihoods opportunities and strengthened resilience.

 

Drawa project landscape (Fiji)

 

While the numbers are important, they only highlight part of the picture of our impact. Behind each of the statistics are real people working in collaboration and partnership to improve their lives and the lives and opportunities of others, while at the same time helping to tackle the climate crisis and contribute towards halting alarming trends of biodiversity loss. For example, in the Drawa project (part of the Nakau programme), the Plan Vivo model provides indigenous people in Fiji with a viable alternative to unsustainable logging, which is driving the deforestation of over 4,000 ha of pristine rainforest. These landowners (indigenous clans) have given up rights to logging timber in exchange for the opportunity to sell rainforest carbon offsets as a way of generating revenue for local economic development. This project also provides governance and management support and capacity building for community enterprises at Drawa, including a business producing and selling rainforest honey. The forest also provides habitat for the endangered Fiji Ground Frog (Platymantis vitiana), and several other endemic plant and animal species. In terms of resilience, the Drawa rainforest provides valuable protection from cyclones, floods and droughts for the Drawa community and those living downstream in their catchment. The importance of this was sadly underlined when Fiji was hit by two category 5 cyclones, ‘Yasa’ (Dec 2020) and ‘Ana’ (Jan 2021), leaving tens of thousands of people displaced and in need of emergency aid.

 

Monitoring team at Drawa project

 

At Plan Vivo, we are continuously looking for new ways to measure, demonstrate and communicate our impact. Since the start of the year, a team within the Plan Vivo Foundation (Caroline, Douglas & Carmen) has been working with projects to better evidence the social and economic benefits they provide using the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The team is currently running a survey with projects and looks forward to sharing the findings later in the year. In the last month, we have started working on an exciting new potential collaboration with Operation Wallacea to develop a faunal based biodiversity credit scheme to measure the impact of certain interventions on biodiversity conservation. On the communication side, we are in the process of developing materials for a new campaign called ‘Stories from the Field’. In this, we are keen to capture stories, photos and videos across our network telling 'real-life' stories of the impact of the Plan Vivo approach on Climate, People and Nature. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with Carmen.

In summary, our latest analysis has confirmed that 2020-21 has been our most successful year to date in terms of impact, with 2021-22 projected to top that again, so the future looks bright. This growth, which has been building over the last few years, has enabled the Foundation to invest in increasing our capacity to manage the increase in projects and scale. We now have an extended staff team of up to 14 people (7 core staff and 7 contract/support staff) and with increasing interest in, and demand for, the Plan Vivo model, we look forward to another exciting and impactful year together.