AFoCO to cooperate with Rabobank’s Acorn to commence $50 million forest carbon project

Executive Director Dr. Park Chongho (left) and Rabobank Board Member Ms. Els Kamphof (right) sharing a handshake after the MOU signing

September 4, 2023 — the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), led by Executive Director Dr. Park Chongho, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rabobank, a global financial institution headquartered in the Netherlands. The primary objective of this MoU is to collaborate on agroforestry projects with Rabobank’s Acorn program to assist small-holder farmers in accessing the voluntary carbon market. The official signing of the MoU took place at the HQ of Rabobank in Utrecht, Netherlands.

This partnership lays the groundwork for a decade-long cooperation, with an initial investment of KRW 65 billion in the Asian region. In the coming years, AFoCO and Rabobank’s Acorn intend to expand their collaboration into various areas, including advanced agroforestry techniques, tracking technology, carbon offset initiatives, and capacity building. The overarching aim is to accelerate the response to climate change, improve smallholder’s livelihoods, and make meaningful contributions to carbon neutrality goals.

The MOU signing ceremony in Rabobank Head Quarter located in Netherlands

Dr. Park Chongho, the Executive Director, articulated the strategic vision of this partnership, stating, “Through this collaboration, we envision the initiation of agroforestry-based carbon projects, commencing in Cambodia and Vietnam, and subsequently extending to other AFoCO member nations such as Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. This approach will empower smallholder farmers to access the voluntary carbon market, facilitating both the transition to agroforestry practices and the enhancement of soil health, thereby bolstering climate change resilience and ensuring better-quality food production. Importantly, agroforestry also generates ex-post carbon removal units (CRUs) by sequestering carbon. Rabobank will play a pivotal role in selling these CRUs to responsible corporations, with 80% of the revenue benefiting farmers, improving their livelihoods, and enabling reinvestment in agroforestry initiatives.”

This initiative underscores AFoCO’s commitment to diversify climate financing options, thereby supporting member countries in achieving their climate objectives and advancing the cause of carbon neutrality. Following the MOU with Rabobank, Dr. Park Chongho embarked on visits to the UK and France to explore further collaborative measures with Climate Asset Management, one of three founders of the Natural Capital Investment Alliance, established by King Charles III to address climate change.

Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the international community has called for extensive and strengthened actions to combat Climate Change. At the 26th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2021, the importance of forests as a carbon sink was reaffirmed. The ‘Glasgow Summit Declaration,’ adopted at the summit, aims to stop forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Furthermore, the UN Intergovernmental Meeting on Climate Change in March emphasized that in order to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of this century.

Contributed by Vu Thanh Cong, Carbon Desk Manager

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