Tropical Belt - Carbon Credit Initiatives Propel Sustainable Solutions In Biodiverse Havens


December 27, 2023


Image: President Media Sri Lanka

President Ranil Wickremesinghe from Sri Lanka unveiled the ground-breaking Tropical Belt Initiative, a visionary plan aimed at addressing the challenges of global warming and securing sustainable development for nations within the tropical belt at COP28 held in Dubai, UAE

President Wickremesinghe highlighted the uncertainties surrounding the 2030 target for peaking global temperatures. He stressed the 50-50 chance of meeting this crucial goal and questioned the feasibility of expecting substantial financial contributions from governments. Instead, he proposed a bold approach that involves both tropical and non-tropical countries, as well as collaboration between the government and the private sector.

The Tropical Belt Initiative focuses on harnessing commercial investments in vital natural resources within the tropical belt, such as forests, swamps, and mangroves. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of making these investments commercially viable, unlocking the funds needed to combat global warming. He highlighted the initiative’s potential to attract private sector involvement, contributing to the ambitious goal of securing trillions of dollars annually.  This initiative will support investing in reforestation, ecosystem restoration, and restoring degraded sites to increase the forest cover  in all tropical regions in the world. The investments for the tropical belt will be a great success program in future for climate mitigation. 

Tropical nations frequently face the challenges posed by climate change impacts. Initiatives involving carbon credit.  Moreover, carbon credit projects hold the potential to advance sustainable development in tropical countries. 

Carbon credits are a market-based mechanism designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate climate change. This mechanism assigns a financial value to the reduction, avoidance, or removal of greenhouse gas emissions, typically measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). These credits are then traded on the carbon market. 

Furthermore, the engagement of tropical countries in carbon credit markets has the power to shape the dynamics of the global carbon market. Their active participation contributes to the establishment of robust and fair market mechanisms, fostering international collaboration in the pursuit of climate action.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe shed light on the collaboration with the Indian Ocean Rim Association to promote the blue economy and create a sustainable Indian Ocean. The combination of the tropical belt initiative and efforts in the Indian Ocean is envisioned to become the world’s largest global sink for carbon. President Wickremesinghe proposal of Tropical Belt in COP 28 marks a significant step towards a sustainable and resilient future.

Being a rich island nation in the tropical region in Indian ocean with splendid natural resources and being one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots Sri Lanka presented their Nationally Determined Contributions to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  to increase the target of national forest cover from 29.7% – 32% by 2030.  Tropical belt initiative which started from Sri Lanka in COP 28 will help achieving the 1.5-degree target requirement with a comprehensive and coordinated global efforts involving various mitigation strategies, policy measures, and international cooperation.

Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve Sri Lanka by John Wilson

Majority of tropical countries stand out as biodiversity hotspots, where initiatives focused on carbon credits are closely aligned with endeavors to safeguard and preserve biodiversity. Notably, projects like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) are designed not only to capture carbon but also to champion the protection of ecosystems and the rich array of species they host.

Numerous initiatives for carbon credits in tropical areas entail partnerships with indigenous and local communities. These endeavors serve a dual purpose, contributing not only to the reduction of emissions but also striving to enhance livelihoods, foster social equity, and empower local communities in sustainable resource management. Specifically, projects concentrating on decreasing deforestation and encouraging sustainable land use practices play a vital role in tackling these challenges, simultaneously lessening emissions and offering economic incentives for sustainable practices.

Tropical forests in the regions of Amazon Basin, Congo Basin, South Asia region and Southeast Asia, have high carbon sequestration potential. Afforestation, reforestation, and conservation projects in these regions can contribute significantly to carbon credits by capturing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Expressing the views on importance of carbon markets Mr.Alastair Marke, Director-General of Blockchain climate institute said that “In COP 28 UNFCCC,Recognizing the importance of carbon credit markets, SB 58 and Article 6 highlight their role in supporting negotiators for a carbon-neutral era. Article 6.2 underscores transparency and monitoring, emphasizing the facilitation of trade in international carbon markets”

Aiming to reduce global warming under 1.5 degrees threshold article 6.2 in the convention by encompassing issuance, administration, and cancellation for bilateral, multilateral, and voluntary carbon markets. The technological committees of UNFCCC and CTCN have been looking at during negotiations to emphasize the need for standardized data to enter carbon markets and facilitate international community involvement. It is a viable solution for developing countries to harness climate investments for crucial adaptation and mitigation measures but these countries grapple with challenges related to data and resource stock take, hindering their ability. 

In the grand tapestry of UNFCCC negotiations, the active participation of tropical countries in the Global South holds the promise of transformative change through carbon credit markets. As these nations navigate the intricate landscapes of climate action, carbon credit initiatives emerge as beacons of opportunity. By harnessing the potential of these markets, tropical countries can not only address environmental challenges but also usher in sustainable development, economic resilience, and enhanced community well-being. The engagement of tropical countries in carbon credit markets becomes a key chapter in our shared journey towards a more sustainable and resilient world.

This article is part of the series written by citizen journalists of the Forest Fellowship. Learn more about the programme at