“Forests for life” or forests for carbon markets?The case of Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands
Climate change is widely recognised as one of the biggest threats to livelihoods, security and wellbeing in the Pacific. Carbon markets represent one of a number of global responses, with projects expanding across the Pacific in recent years. This paper focuses upon carbon offset activities in Solomon Islands, including sustainable forestry for carbon trading initiatives. As signatory to the Paris Agreement, Solomon Islands has expanded its activities to support preparedness for entry into global carbon markets, demonstrated via national-level carbonisation of forestry governance. In the context of a resource constrained state, non government organisations (NGOs) occupy a central role in Solomon Islands carbon forestry governance. This paper documents some of the national and international policy settings and policies driving expansion of carbon markets. It takes the case study of Choiseul Province to examine gender sensitive livelihood initiatives introduced by one local NGO, the Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF), as part of preparedness for entry into carbon market initiatives, referred to as REDD type projects. Findings demonstrate positive outcomes associated with livelihood projects – including for women – accrue regardless of participation in carbon markets. The paper argues that climate change mitigation strategies that take a gender sensitive approach, alongside centring local assets, visions and possibilities, as well as the maintenance of communally owned and managed forest resources, are well placed to deliver positive on-ground impacts in Choiseul Province. These findings provide insights for future policy and planning in the Pacific in an era of climate constraint.
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