Attending the dynamic AFSIC - Investing in Africa conference is truly inspiring. It fosters connections and ignites transformative change across Africa by uniting Africa-focused investors and companies. Additionally, Carbon Forward, Europe's leading environmental markets conference, fosters three days of discussion on climate change risks and opportunities, drawing expertise from around the globe. As at 1MTN, bridging Africa and carbon markets is central to our business, and it was just our luck that both events coincided in the same week.
The prevailing theme of this year's gatherings was the imperative of upholding quality and integrity in discussions surrounding carbon credit projects. Transparency was a fundamental aspect of every conversation, deemed crucial to the success of climate change mitigation efforts. Next to this, attendees recognised the significance of adopting a holistic approach to mobilising capital for climate-positive growth. It became evident that it's not solely about reducing emissions but also about leveraging financial resources to protect our planet for future generations.
Integrated approach to environmental economic and social impact
A well-rounded, solution-focused approach dominated the conversations. An important topic on the table was Africa's significant stake (30%) in global mineral resources, presenting opportunities for sustainable development through responsible resource management. Discussions also highlighted the importance of agroforestry, an integrated approach combining agriculture and forestry, as a key driver for economic growth and environmental restoration. This dual-purpose strategy offers a harmonious solution for economic and environmental challenges. Moreover, climate resilience emerged as a recurring theme, emphasising the crucial need for deep understanding in the area of soil health and high-quality carbon credits. Advancing knowledge in these domains can effectively propel inclusive growth and sustainable development across Africa, empowering small-scale farmers in their activities.
Three key learnings on carbon markets
At 1MTN, we experienced a captivating week filled with enlightening expert talks, engaging panel discussions, thought-provoking conversations, and valuable networking opportunities. This eventful week strengthened our resolve to combat climate change through land restoration and reinforced our commitment to fostering equitable development. Additionally, we gathered three key learnings on carbon markets, shedding light on the necessary market advancements.
A Unified Carbon Market
First, it is important to rephrase Voluntary Carbon Markets as Carbon Markets. The term "voluntary" may incorrectly imply lower quality or inferiority compared to the compliance market. Media stories of lack of transparency and proof of impact perpetuate this misconception. In reality, many project developers and market participants on the seller side prioritise transparency and operate with the highest integrity. Similarly, buyers in the market, often criticised for using credits to pollute more as offsetting is easy, are actually leading the way in developing decarbonisation strategies. Research by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace has shown that companies participating in Carbon Markets demonstrate leadership in climate action, accountability, and ambition. These findings suggest that carbon credit purchasers are nearly twice as likely to actively reduce their carbon footprint year-over-year, demonstrating a strong commitment to carbon reduction.
In a broader context, it is crucial to talk about one unified Carbon Market, eliminate the term "voluntary" from its name and have all participants work together to address the challenges and improve the market as a whole.
Collaboration as the key to (climate) impact
Collaboration is key to successfully combatting climate change and building sustainable business practices. We must share knowledge and best practices and work together across sectors. Transparency, regulation, and effectiveness are crucial for maximum impact. Unfortunately, meaningful collaboration is currently lacking, with each company and project focused on their own self-interests. Operating under this approach hinders progress as a whole. If there is one crucial lesson we can glean from fossil fuel suppliers, it's their collaborative power and united agenda.
Standardisation of the voluntary carbon market
Standardising and simplifying the market is essential. The abundance of methodologies, registries, validating bodies, and certifiers creates barriers for new projects and businesses. Additionally, navigating the market and its complexities requires strong expertise. We must remember that we share one planet, and immediate action is imperative.
In conclusion, while we must take greater steps towards standardisation and unification of the voluntary carbon market to ensure the most effective progress, ultimately, collaboration is the key to making a real impact on climate change. During the same week, we had the privilege of celebrating Uganda's Independence Day in London. The vibrant festivities showcased Uganda's rich culture and history, commemorating the 61st anniversary of its independence. This occasion was a vivid demonstration of the strength of the Ugandan community and their dedication to forging a brighter future through collaboration and cooperation. Something we experience day after day in our interactions and activities in Uganda. It’s time to act--not just talk--and if you want to join in on the effort, explore 1MTN's land restoration project in Uganda.