The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2024, released in early January,
underlines the most severe global risks anticipated in the coming decade. Strikingly, the report highlights that the top four risks are climate-related: Extreme weather events, Critical changes to Earth systems, Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and Natural resource shortages. As a response to these risks, 1MTN is actively combating climate change by removing carbon and restoring highly degraded land. At 1MTN, we firmly believe that impactful change requires a holistic approach, especially in the realm of environmental impact.
At the 2024 World Economic Forum, Kristjan Raude, co-founder and CEO of 1MTN, shared the organisation's mission and approach to driving significant change at scale in Africa, published in an interview with Top Tier Impact. While the message about the interconnectedness of climate and nature is clear, there is much more that does not meet the eye instantly, and the need to amplify the message is clear. In this blog post, we share insights from the interview with Kristjan Raude, originally published in the Top Tier Impact network.
1MTN's Work in the Impact Space
1MTN focuses on removing carbon through nature-based solutions that play a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, potentially providing more than a third of the mitigation required by 2030. In Africa, where two-thirds of fertile land is currently degraded, 1MTN sees both a challenge and an opportunity to create impactful change on a large scale. The organisation's mission is to restore highly degraded lands in East Africa, utilizing the Voluntary Carbon Market to develop high-quality, high-integrity carbon removal projects. Biodiversity enrichment and fostering socio-economic development within local communities are central to this, illustrating a commitment to a holistic approach that addresses both ecological challenges and the human aspect of the climate crisis.
Strategic Priorities and Key Solutions of 1MTN
Guided by the 3P bottom line - People, Planet, Profit - at 1MTN, we prioritise sustainable solutions that benefit both the environment and the communities we serve. Unlike a purely non-profit approach, we champion sustainability through a business model that equally values social, environmental, and financial outcomes. This method is cost-effective compared to "new wave" carbon direct air capture technologies while offering extensive co-benefits. The benefits of bamboo include highly effective carbon sequestration by nature, revitalisation of natural ecosystems, and generation of sustainable biomass and timber as an ecological replacement for steel, cement, and fossil energy.
By intertwining environmental action with socio-economic upliftment, we provide communities with essential resources such as food, solar energy, and clean water. Our vision is to create a model where environmental restoration and community prosperity go hand in hand, making sustainability a tangible reality for both the planet and its people.
Strategic Insights Shaping 1MTN's Path
The market's surplus of intermediaries and the scarcity of nature-based removal credits despite clear demand highlight the potential and necessity of high-quality, high-integrity, nature-based removal initiatives. The latter is underscored by the number of corporations eagerly seeking carbon forwards to secure future credit supplies. Africa's vulnerability to climate change, historically overlooked by investors, presents an immense opportunity for land restoration. The emergence of Africa as a primary destination for climate finance aligns perfectly with 1MTN's goal of restoring 1 million hectares of degraded land in East Africa by 2030.
Misunderstandings in Bamboo-Led Carbon Removal
Many believe bamboo is invasive and harmful to ecosystems, but the opposite is true. With over 1600 bamboo species, there are native and non-invasive varieties that pose no harm to ecosystems. We can also mitigate any potential issues by employing appropriate cultivation techniques. At 1MTN, we exclusively plant native, polyculture, and sterile bamboo. Bamboo allows us to capture carbon more effectively (40% more than average trees!) but also supports biodiversity in conjunction with our comprehensive biodiversity management plan and contributes to soil conservation, reducing soil erosion and retaining moisture.
Bamboo is often thought to have excessive resource requirements, but numerous bamboo species are suitable for various climate conditions. In favourable climates, minimal water is needed for their growth. Furthermore, bamboo does not require chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides. In reality, bamboo is an incredibly eco-friendly, resilient, and sustainable choice that simply requires the right knowledge and know-how.
One of the most surprising misconceptions about our project is the association with commercial forestry. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Our sustainable bamboo harvesting efforts are rooted in the understanding that bamboo is a regenerative woody grass. The practice of annual harvesting is crucial for maintaining the clump health and, hence, the health and longevity of our bamboo forest and ensuring the success of the carbon removal project. Moreover, it enables us to create additional co-benefits for the community, such as direct and indirect job opportunities. The sustainable biomass and timber derived from this process contribute to creating a local bioeconomy in Uganda.
Key Message: Nature-Based Carbon Removal Credits are More Than Commodities
Nature-based carbon removal credits are far more than mere commodities; they are invaluable resources with finite availability. While these projects effectively reduce carbon emissions, their purpose extends beyond this crucial objective, encompassing many goals: restoring land, safeguarding and enhancing biodiversity, empowering local communities, improving socio-economic conditions, and igniting hope and pride. Within the carbon market, they are celebrated for their co-benefits and contributions to sustainable development goals, making them highly sought after by credit buyers. Therefore, it is important to remind buyers that any attempts to drive down credit prices for these projects come at the expense of nature, local communities, and our collective living environment. Let us always remember the underlying purpose of the actions we take!