Three Cheers for HRH, sticking his neck out on what the world needs to do for rainforests and why. He is using his convening power and passion to good effect. The "Prince's Rainforest Project" is an 18 month attempt to jump start a connection between finance and forests, aiming to " find ingenious, innovative ways of paying the appropriate price for the ecosystem services provided by the world’s remaining great forests.” Since the launch in November 2007, the project personnel have been going around talking to programmes, politicians, business people and policy wonks. They are not actually doing anything concrete but are trying to help those who are to get the right funds to the right place before it is too late. More power to their elbows (or, as they say in parts of west Africa, more grease to their arms).
And while we are on conservation leadership, three more cheers for rainforest champions. Arjay's awards for:
Excellent communication of the issues to another Charles... Charles Clover.
Innovative action to Fauna & Flora International.
Courageous activists who tackle the political challenges in their own rainforest nations - such as Brasil's Marina Silva.
Worthies indeed, but what chance is there that all these efforts can succeed? HRH is suggesting 30 billion would halt forest loss. Maybe, but the devil is, as always, in the detail. The finance is already lining up, sniffing the next increasingly valued and diminishing commodity. The questions are also lining up... how much, when will it be paid, who to, how will accountability and incentive be linked....essentially who will benefit and when?
My greatest concern is that short-termism will prevail and that people will be marginalised by both markets and the tortuous multi-lateral processes governing them. Those making the political decisions now will sell out for front-loaded funds and people will not be able to benefit from the increased value of ecosystem services that will emerge. The complexity of finance flows within communities that depend on natural resources, and effective environmental governance at all levels could so easily be underestimated.
Pilot projects please - and well-funded pilots at that, so we can start working out the glitches.