COP16 Interview with Rainforest Alliance

Time’s time to pay attention folks.

Statistically, deforestation accounts for about 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In fact, after an extensive comprehensive assessment in 2007, the IPCC concluded that climate changes today are the result of human activity “a phenomenon that will have devastating effects if left unchecked.”

That’s why members of the COP16 convention, (November 29-December 10 in Cancun Mexico) such as those from Rainforest Alliance (RA) are determined to work together to help solve some of the issues before it’s too late.

RA member and Climate Associate, Mark Moroge is attending COP16. I was fortunate enough to connect with him and get an insider’s view into this monumental event.

Me:  Some say the COP16 conference will do little to advance REDD and slow climate change. As a member of the conference, what is the “climate” on the floor? Are people optimistic? Why or why not?

Mark: Actually, we feel one of the most promising opportunities for progress at the negotiating table this year is for REDD. REDD’s inclusion in the Copenhagen Accord from COP15 last year was, for many, the silver lining on an otherwise cloudy summit (in retrospect, expectations of a binding international agreement in Copenhagen were unrealistic. Rainforest Alliance and many others, including a growing number of conservation organizations, other civil society bodies, tropical and non-tropical governments, and multilateral agencies are hoping to build on the momentum and international recognition REDD has received in the past few years (most notably in Copenhagen) by advocating for its robust inclusion in any emergent internationally binding agreement on climate change.

In that sense, there is guarded optimism, though clearly much work remains to be done.

Me: Are recycling efforts in place in the accommodations, conference rooms, etc? If so, what kinds?

Yes – there are recycling facilities throughout the two main venues (Cancun Messe and Moon Palace Hotel).

Me: With RA’s interest in forestry and REDD, what conference topics are most important to you?

Mark: Those that relate most directly to climate change actions or initiatives which impact tropical land-use: forestry and agriculture. We want to see progress made at the international level for REDD+, particularly the robust inclusion of social and environmental safeguards to 1) enable indigenous peoples and local communities to become active and informed stakeholders in the REDD+ process, and 2) ensure the conservation of biodiversity and native ecosystems.

Me: Will RA representatives be speaking? If so, on what subjects?

Mark: Rainforest Alliance is has a strong delegation this year (18 staff and partners from the US, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana and other countries) and we are lucky to be holding multiple presentations both at the Cancun Messe (official venue for UNFCCC side events) and other important related events like Forest Day , Agriculture and Rural Development Day and Climate & Development Days. The Rainforest Alliance will play an active role in COP 16 to strengthen support for REDD+ and highlight sustainable forestry and agriculture practices for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Mark provided a run-down of the RA events for the rest of the week:

Saturday December 4th:

Agriculture and Rural Development Day Presentation.

Sustainable Agriculture Projects Manager Gianluca Gondolini will present on Rainforest Alliance and partner efforts to develop the criteria, tools and guidance to achieve climate-friendly farming. Many Rainforest Alliance staff and partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network will be present at ARDD to share our collective work to make agriculture climate friendly.

Climate and Development Days: Video Presentation

A short film, by Efico, RA and the Guatemalan National Coffee  growers Association will be shown. The film highlights a 2009 project for climate friendly farming in Guatemala. 

Sunday, December 5th: Forest Day.

RA will host an exhibit booth highlighting their suite of forest and climate-related activities including forest validation and verification services, REDD+ demonstration projects and REDD-readiness activities in select tropical countries, and community forestry work, with a spotlight on Mexico-specific work. We will present results from a REDD+ project in Guatemala and Pronatura Sur will share information on agriculture-climate projects in southern Mexico.

Mark says RA will also have a booth in the exhibition area, “where Rainforest Alliance staff and partners from NEPCon, Imaflora, Fundacion Natura Colombia and Pronatura Sur will be on-hand to discuss REDD+, safeguards for biodiversity conservation and forest communities in REDD+ programs or projects, climate-friendly farming, carbon project validation/verification and VCS methodology assessments, and the beneficial role of responsible logging to reduce forestry emissions.”

He adds, you can stay up-to-date on action at the United Nations climate meetings by becoming a fan of the Rainforest Alliance on Facebook ( or following RA on Twitter (

So, are you paying attention now?


About greenupforlife

Facing life one green challenge at a time. Freelance writer specializing in green and sustainable articles, blogs, cocktail napkins, whatever keeps the creditors at bay, while building my client base leaf by leaf.
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