Leading Actors Join Forces to Advance Carbon Finance in Support of Sustainable Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI), Asociación Argentina de Productores en Siembra Directa (AAPRESID – No-Till Farmers Association of Argentina), Grupo de Países Productores del Sur – (GPS – Group of Producing Countries from the Southern Cone), the Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of Forestry, Gold StandardRabobank ACORN, and Climate Focus, have announced they will join forces in 2024 to develop and implement a regional partnership to support Latin America and the Caribbean’s (LAC) agriculture sector to access and benefit from carbon market finance mobilized by voluntary and compliance markets.  

This announcement marks a significant move towards advancing sustainable agriculture practices and combating climate change in the region.  

Currently, financing sits well below the level required to enable the implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions in LAC’s agriculture sector, which boasts immense potential for attracting investment for climate action and resilience through carbon markets. This is a critical obstacle in a region where agriculture plays a key role in economic development and livelihoods. Efforts to support farmers’ organizations, ministries of agriculture, and others in the region to explore broader financing options, expand incentives, and build capacity are urgently required to bridge this gap.  

Under this new strategic partnership, partners have expressed their intent to collaborate towards achievement of the following objectives: 

  • Scaling access to private financing for the LAC agricultural sector to accelerate climate action including through international carbon markets. 
  • Strengthening capacities to contribute to inclusive access of agricultural sector’s actors and deliver institutional arrangements conducive to high integrity carbon markets.

Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA: “We are delighted to have such strong partners join us in answering the call from the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas to help build capacity in the region to access the climate finance that is so critical to enable agriculture to take even greater climate action. Through this Partnership, small and medium-sized producers in the region will have tools and support to access climate financing; and, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will be closer to fulfilling their international commitments in environmental matters, giving a signal to the world that here agriculture is moving steadily towards sustainability.” 

This announcement represents a pivotal milestone in the efforts of organizations to address climate change and accelerate sustainable practices in agriculture. Leveraging their combined expertise and resources, leading organizations will join forces to unlock new opportunities for sustainable agriculture with a strong emphasis on high-integrity carbon credits. These credits are one tool capable of delivering highly resilient, productive and diversified agro-ecosystems, at the same time facilitating increased climate ambition linked to the achievement and enhancement of the region’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

Carbon finance can be mobilized to support farmers in accelerating the transition towards more resilient, carbon-rich, productive, and diversified production systems. IICA, VCMI and Climate Focus have today also published an ‘access strategy’ for carbon market opportunities in livestock production, and cocoa and coffee agroforestry systems, designed to help support a green transition in some of region’s most prominent agricultural sub-sectors. The publication highlights how efforts must be developed with solid science, inclusively and transparently, applying appropriate social and environmental safeguards, to drive that finance effectively to the local farmers and landowners who need it most.  

The Partnership launched today is the first response to a high-level political mandate resulting from a Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture organized by IICA. The Partnership’s development has been informed by a 6-month collaboration between IICA, the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI), and Climate Focus to support the design and development of policy briefs and sector specific market ‘access strategies’.  

This partnership will include activities such as designing methodologies with climate integrity, creating awareness of the VCM opportunities across agricultural supply chains, capacity building activities with practical tools and knowledge to guide farmers through the carbon projects development and best practices to ensure integrity, and helping policymakers create an enabling environment for high-value carbon finance/investment. 

Other organizations interested in advancing this topic are urged to consider joining the Partnership for Agricultural Carbon in LAC, please reach out to agcpartnership@iica.int for more information regarding how to express your interest in becoming a partner. 

Download the full report here.

Marcelo Torres, President of AAPRESID: “From AAPRESID we are keen on supporting initiatives that help our farmers to access carbon markets. This would mean an important step towards acknowledging the enormous effort they make every day to reduce their emissions and maximize carbon sequestration in their soils, through practices such as no-till, live and diverse agriculture. An effort that is not being recognized so far.”  

Mark Kenber, Executive Director of VCMI: “The agricultural sector across the LAC region holds the potential for attracting significant private investment through innovative climate finance mechanisms such as the voluntary carbon market. However, technical support is needed to enable local governments, farmers and landowners to participate and access benefits. This was VCMI’s original motivation behind supporting this project – we are delighted to see it now expand into a broader Partnership that can help implement and scale opportunities that have been identified.” 

Dr. Richard Kobe, Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University: “The Partnership for Agricultural Carbon is an important step forward in offering tangible natural climate solutions and enhancing food security. We are delighted to see agriculture and forestry coming together– that is, agroforestry — through the Partnership.”  

Jelmer van de Mortel, Head and Founder of Acorn: “Supporting smallholder farmers in their climate transition by linking them to the voluntary carbon market is Acorn’s priority in the LAC region. Together with our partners, we can promote climate smart agricultural practices such as agroforestry to combat climate change, food insecurity, and land degradation. We need all hands on deck and welcome the Partnership for Agricultural Carbon as a step in the right direction.”  

Marcelo Regúnaga, General Coordinator of GPS: “The agri-food sector of the Americas has enormous potential to simultaneously provide solutions to two of the greatest global challenges of our time: climate change and food security. Financing is key to being able to enhance these capabilities on the scale and timeframe that the world needs. At GPS we believe that the Platform is a great initiative to promote this objective.” 

 Charlotte Streck, Co-Founder and Director of Climate Focus: “We are proud to be a member of this Partnership. It holds great potential to raise the much-needed finance for transforming the agri-food sector in Latin America – a sector that has not been sufficiently tapped into in the global efforts to address climate change, enhance resilience, and deliver on Sustainable Development Goals. Today, only 4.3 percent of global climate finance is committed for the agri-food sector. We need orders of magnitude more finance to take meaningful action at scale – both globally and in the region. Carbon markets can make an important contribution to mobilizing funds for a much-needed transition towards a sustainable land sector. And this Partnership is a catalyst for that.” 

Margaret Kim, CEO of Gold Standard: Gold Standard is proud to be part of this vital new partnership. By harnessing the power of carbon finance, we can unlock the potential of sustainable agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean. This initiative not only addresses the urgent need for climate resilience and carbon reduction but also supports the livelihoods of local farmers, ensuring that the benefits of carbon markets reach those who need them the most.” 

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