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Posted on on June 5th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

UNDP and Fortis (
listed on Benelux exchanges) team up to leverage carbon finance for sustainable development – the MDG Carbon Facility intended to deliver 15 million Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms Carbon Credits.

Berlin, 5 June 2007—The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and banking and insurance giant Fortis announced an agreement today naming Fortis the financial services provider for UNDP’s MDG Carbon Facility. This announcement also marks the operational launch of the Facility, an innovative means of harnessing the vast resources of the carbon market to bring long-term sustainable development to a more diverse share of developing countries.

Under the terms of the partnership, announced in Berlin just prior to the G8 summit, UNDP will help developing countries conceive projects intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and will ensure that these projects meet the Kyoto Protocol’s agreed standards and deliver real, sustainable benefits to the environment and broader human development. Fortis will then purchase, and sell-on, the emissions-reduction credits generated by these projects. The proceeds from Fortis’ purchases will provide developing countries and communities with a new flow of resources to finance much needed investment and to promote development.

‘MDG’ is short for ‘Millennium Development Goals,’ the specific targets, agreed by United Nations member states, for diminishing global poverty and achieving major advances in health, education, environment and equality by 2015.

“As we reach the halfway point to the 2015 target for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it is clear that business has a critical role to play in advancing sustainable human development,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal DerviÅŸ. “We are delighted to have an eminent partner like Fortis join us in working to use carbon finance to transform markets, help mitigate the effects of climate change and promote a more sustainable future for all.”

“The MDG Carbon Facility is a very exciting win-win opportunity for us,” said Fortis Chief Executive Jean-Paul Votron. “It gives us the chance to make a major contribution to spreading the benefits of sustainable development while at the same time securing a strong position in the carbon market.”

A recent Poverty-Environment Partnership report estimates that US $60-90 billion per year will be needed to address the environmental issues that contribute to poverty in developing nations; the market in emission reduction credits carries enormous potential for bringing essential new investment to tackle these issues. The MDG Carbon Facility will operate within the framework of the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation, the market-based mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol that allow developed countries to meet their compliance targets by financing projects in developing countries that contribute to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM, has been at the center of a rapidly expanding, billion-dollar international market for carbon credits. However, early signs indicate that the CDM is unlikely to deliver the broad-based benefits that many hoped it would, at least in the near to medium term. CDM projects have so far been limited in geographic reach, restricted mainly to Asia and Latin America, and have focused primarily on ‘end of pipe’ technologies that generate limited benefit for long-term sustainable development.

The MDG Carbon Facility aims to address these limitations by capitalizing on Fortis’ resources and substantial carbon experience, together with UNDP’s specialized expertise and global reach. By expanding the CDM’s presence into countries and regions previously considered inaccessible to carbon finance, MDG Carbon will help people in these areas acquire the resources and knowledge to take greater control over their future environment and development paths. Once a developing country gains proficiency in carbon finance, attracting private-sector investment and developing project technologies that deliver longer-term development benefits, the MDG Carbon Facility will exit that market, having accomplished its market transformation objectives and no longer needing to play its role as a bridge between developing countries and the global carbon market.

“Harnessing the power of the marketplace is essential in the fight against harmful global climate change: The MDG Carbon Facility is a creative market-based strategy that promises to produce double dividends–carbon reductions and economic progress in the world’s less-developed countries,” said former Sen. Timothy Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, which provided a large portion of the startup funding for the Facility.

The partnership between UNDP and Fortis covers an initial pipeline of projects which will generate 15 million credits during the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-2012). UNDP and Fortis will begin evaluating potential projects for the Facility immediately.

About UNDP: UNDP is the UN’s global development network, helping people meet their needs and build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with governments, civil society and the private sector to help them find solutions to global and national development challenges. With a US$5 billion portfolio of energy and environment projects, UNDP is already one of the world’s largest providers of technical assistance in the area of climate change. For more information, visit

About Fortis: Fortis is an international financial services provider and ranks among the top 25 financial institutions worldwide by assets. Fortis has a market capitalization of EUR 43.2 billion (30/04/07) and is listed is listed on the stock exchanges of Amsterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg and has a sponsored American Depositary Receipt (“ADR”) program in the United States. Its solvency position (S&P: AA-), presence in 50 countries and professional workforce of 58,000 enable Fortis to combine global strength with local flexibility.

Fortis is a market leader in carbon banking services, with a large and experienced team, and a horizontally integrated offering of carbon trading, trust and financing services. Fortis is committed to becoming carbon neutral across its operations. For more information, visit

For more info, contact: Ben Craft (UNDP), +1 917 213-7520, +1 212 906-5344 or + 1 212 906 5382,  benjamin.craft at; Chandrika Deshpande (UNDP-London), + 44 07957 460 246,  chandrika.deshpande at; Niamh Collier-Smith (UNDP-New York) + 1 212-906-6111,  niamh.collier at ; Wilfried Remans (Fortis), +32 2 565 46 79 or


Actually, the UNDP is today even more “pushy” then the above. It really is more active then the UN Secretary-General whose restricted presentation in Panama City we posted earlier.

UNDP has also released today a World Environment Day message to stress critical links
between climate change and biodiversity. That was more then what we saw in the UNSG presentation in Panama City.
Though, to be accurate, the content of this UNDP press release is nothing new, as we dealt already earlier with the Equator Prize winners who reflected   in their work the importance of combining conservation with sustainable livelihoods. The new thing is that this was released now also in Berlin, and also as part of the pre-G8 campaign, with an impressive list of co-sponsors that includes the   the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Equator Initiative, GEO Magazine, and the biodiversity alliance Countdown 2010.

Berlin, 5 June— On the occasion of World Environment Day, and in the run-up to the G8 Heads of State summit, senior officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Equator Initiative, GEO Magazine, and the biodiversity alliance Countdown 2010 encouraged Group of Eight leaders to take bold steps to protect the diversity of life on earth and support adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), emphasized that “Climate change and biodiversity loss, two strongly linked issues, are poised to interfere with, and even reverse, progress that is being made towards the Millennium Development Goals; disrupt economies and international trade; and fuel international conflict over access to land and resources.”

“A stable climate is essential to maintaining biologically diverse ecosystems and in securing peoples’ livelihoods, including the maintenance of food security and access to clean water,” Olav Kjørven, Assistant Administrator and Director for UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy, underscored.   “In addition to regulating climate, biodiversity provides the world’s population – most directly, the poor in developing countries – with food, medicine, building material, and bioenergy. It is particularly noteworthy that developing countries are most directly affected by the consequences of climate change, while developed countries have contributed most to it.”

The World Environment Day message was presented as part of a series of events at Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde centering on climate change and biodiversity and its role in realizing sustainable development. The events included panel discussions, a photo exhibition highlighting biodiversity and an awards ceremony honoring the winners of the prestigious Equator Prize (see below), which salutes grassroots leaders in utilizing biodiversity to sustain livelihoods.

Panel spokespersons, including Astrid Klug, Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary for the Environment; Peter Seligmann, President and CEO of Conservation International; and Jeffrey A. McNeely, Chief Scientist, IUCN; stressed the need for more concerted action to link both climate change and biodiversity policy discussions and implementation mechanisms.

The day’s events were supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ); Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Countdown 2010, the Equator Initiative, GEO Magazine, IUCN – The World Conservation Union and UNDP.

Dr. Michael Hofmann of BMZ, in committing to deliver the World Environment Day Message to G8 leaders, stressed: “Biodiversity needs to be placed on the highest level of the political agenda. It must form an integral dimension of global economic policy.”

The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together civil society, business, governments, and communities, with the support of the United Nations, to help bolster the skills and knowledge and share the stories of grassroots efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Building on the formal message for World Environment Day, the Equator Initiative offered the following specific recommendations for action:

“In addition to reaching the 0.7 per cent ODA target, the G8 must provide the global leadership to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation, and implement innovative financing mechanisms to direct funds from carbon markets towards sustainable development in the world’s poorest countries.
We urge the G8 negotiators to adopt a clear mandate to use the UNFCCC COP in Bali of this year to agree on a formal negotiating mandate for a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol by 2009, thus demonstrating leadership to the rest of the world community.
We call on the G8 to lead the world in integrating biodiversity and climate change concerns into all relevant sectors such as trade, development, agriculture, finance and transport.
The G8 should take the lead in establishing the terms for the production and trade of ethical, environmentally, socially, economically sustainable biofuels and consider establishing formal mechanisms to provide concrete guidelines and recommendations.

We ask the G8 to support an economically viable socially equitable incentive scheme for reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation in order to ensure that the world’s poorest countries have reason to safeguard their vast forest wealth in manner that benefits not only the planet but also safeguards the rights and livelihoods of local forest-dependant communities.
The G8 must give weight to the value of traditional knowledge in preventing biodiversity loss and adapting to climate change by investing at the community-level to help poor countries respond to development challenges and achieve the MDGs.”

World Environment Day participants encouraged leadership of the G8 to take concrete steps to address climate change hand-in-hand with biodiversity conservation. “The Heiligendamm Summit offers a unique opportunity for the leaders of the G8 to come together to ensure the urgent action required commensurate with the unprecedented challenges facing humanity,” said Benson Venegas of ANAI, Talamanca Initiative, Costa Rica.

Equator Prize winners

Later in the day of biodiversity events, five communities from throughout the tropics were honored with the Equator Prize, an international recognition of extraordinary work to diminish poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.   The Prize, awarded biennially since 2002, serves to further advance the understanding within the global community of the vital link between healthy, biologically diverse environments and the creation of sustainable livelihoods.

The five winners, representatives of which will attend a dinner in their honor tonight, were selected from a group of 25 finalists, chosen from more than 300 nominations from 70 countries.   The five initiatives honoured are:

Ø           The Village of Andavadoaka on the island of Madagascar, which demonstrates how communities can organize to manage a valuable resource, in this case the octopus fishery, so that it can provide sustainable benefits over the long term.
Ø           Shidulai Swarnivar Sangstha uses riverboat-based educational-resource centres throughout Bangladesh’s Ganges River delta to deliver information on sustainable agricultural practices and market prices.
Ø           In Guatemala, the women of Alimentos Nutri-Naturales have reinstated the Maya nut as a staple source of nutrition, thereby conserving the Maya nut forests in the buffer zone to the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
Ø           Shompole Community Trust in Kenya conserves the vast and scenic grasslands and savannah to fuel a robust, profit-driven ecotourism venture benefiting the Maasai people.
Ø           In Ecuador, in the Galapagos UNESCO World Heritage Site, the women of Isabela Island’s “Blue Fish” Association are marketing a local delicacy, tuna smoked with guava wood, as a way of promoting alternative use of marine resources and controlling the invasive plant species.

In addition to international recognition for their work and an opportunity to help shape international policy and practice in the field, each winner will receive US $30,000. The Equator Prize focuses on community-based initiatives between 23.5 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator; one Equator Prize is awarded in each geographical region of eligibility (Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa; and Asia and the Pacific), one to a community-based project associated with a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one to a project that best exemplifies sustainable biodiversity-based business.

For the full text of the message and the recommendations for action, please visit:

For more information, please contact Ben Craft, UNDP; + 1 917 213-7520 or  Benjamin.craft at; Elspeth Halverson, +44 7790 641499 or  elspeth.halverson at or visit

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