Carbon neutral Congress

IUCN will mitigate carbon emissions from Congress air and ground travel, accommodation and on-the-ground logistics through the Cordillera Azul National Park Project in Peru.

Cordillera Azul National Park Photo: Zookeys (CC BY 3.0)

UPDATE 20 Apr 2017: IUCN mitigates 100% of 2016 Congress carbon emissions

UPDATE 9 Feb 2017: Read the carbon mitigation report from Atmosfair for the IUCN Congress 2016.

IUCN has selected to purchase its carbon mitigation for the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 from Cordillera Azul National Park Project in Peru.

IUCN aims to mitigate carbon emissions related to Congress delegate air travel to and from Hawai’i, and all other carbon emissions resulting from Congress, including those from ground travel in Honolulu, shipping of goods, hotel accommodation and on-the-ground Congress logistics at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

The Cordillera Azul project avoids an annual loss of 6,800 hectares of forest (equivalent to 7,500 football fields), generating the highest amount of carbon credits in all protected areas in Peru: almost 10 million Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) from 2008-2014.

The project’s emissions reductions have been verified by Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard, Plan Vivo and others. Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) certified the project’s biodiversity and social benefits according to its detailed standards.

Because the Cordillera Azul project is verified by the highest international standards: VCS and CCBA for both biodiversity conservation and work with local populations, IUCN can ensure the carbon taken out of the atmosphere by this project is real, measurable, permanent, independently verified, conservatively estimated, uniquely numbered and transparently listed.

IUCN selected the Cordillera Azul project based on its commitment to biodiversity and local communities and its capacity and pricing structure. These collectively allow IUCN to meet its goal of offsetting the maximum amount of the Congress’ carbon impacts.

Cordillera Azul is more than a carbon sink

Located in the heart of the Amazon Andes in Peru, the 13,500 square kilometre park protects a wide range of unique and unexplored landscapes from the cloudy montane forest, with elevation levels between 1000-2400 meters, to the Amazon lowlands, which is 200 to 300 meters above sea level. Roughly equivalent in size to the island of Jamaica, the park is home to extraordinary biodiversity and encompasses 45 basins that supply high quantities of high quality water.

The park’s forests are threatened by deforestation from logging, land trafficking, shifting and industrial agriculture (palm oil) and illegal crops (coca). By combatting these threats, the Cordillera Azul project helps to preserve the forest, the livelihoods that depend on it and its ability to capture carbon.

The Peruvian NGO CIMA and the Peruvian Government agency SERNANP co-manage the park, working towards conservation with participation from local people and authorities. CIMA and SERNAP aim to: ensure that the values and aspirations of local people are incorporated and reflected in conservation plans; implement sustainable economic activities that are compatible with conservation, strengthen environmental governance, and contribute to the improved quality of life for local people.

There are no villages within the park, but there are 445 villages in its buffer zone populated by people from four ethnic groups (Kechua-Lamista, Yine, Shipibo and Kakataibo). There is evidence of the presence of isolated indigenous people in the southeast area of the park.

Cordillera Azul National Park is a recognized Endemic Birds Area, protecting unique avian species like the scarlet-banded barbet (Capito wallacei) and other restricted-range birds. It also protects rare and endangered terrestrial species, such as the elusive bush dogs (Speothos venaticus), and amphibians sensitive to climate change such as the harlequin toad (Atelopus genus). In recent years, biologists have discovered at least 20 new species, many of which are yet to be described. There is great potential to discover many more.

Carbon mitigation is one part of IUCN and the National Host Committee’s Green Team broader efforts to minimize the environmental impacts of IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016, aiming for a Congress that is plastic-free, paper-low, zero food waste and carbon neutral. 

The IUCN’s Global Carbon Fund and Congress Logistics Teams received mitigation project proposals from around the world, reviewed the submissions and identified projects that met specific criteria. Other proposals received by IUCN included projects from Belize, Canada, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

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