Published: Oct. 14, 2016 By , ,

Geography Colloquium SeriesAbstract: The global agriculture sector is responsible for up to 25% of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions though direct emissions from agricultural practices and indirect emissions from converting forests to cropland or pasture. Globally, these emissions are increasing most rapidly in the developing regions of the world. However, the need to address GHG emissions without compromising food security and the broader social goals of human development poses a problem for farmers who operate at the margin of subsistence.

Pro-poor agricultural carbon market projects have emerged as a solution where farmers adopt sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices that both increase crop productivity and decrease GHG emissions. More recently, these projects have been proposed as a way to leverage climate finance for climate-smart agriculture projects, which hold the promise of achieving the “triple-win” of mitigation, adaptation, and food security. However, similar to other payment for ecosystem services projects with dual aims of environmental protection and poverty alleviation, the extent of farmer participation—and the delivery of benefits—in such projects remains highly questionable and uncertain.

This research seeks to understand the extent of smallholder participation in the world’s first smallholder agricultural carbon market project—the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP)—by examining farmer eligibility, willingness, and ability to participate.

Results showed that adjusting project rules and requirements to accommodate for household characteristics is not sufficient for increasing participation. Findings suggest that focusing on changing farmers’ perceptions of their land and strengthening existing social networks are key leverage points that not only increase their willingness to participate, but also their ability to adopt.

Bio: Dr. Jean Lee is an ecological economist who works with farmers in developing countries to explore issues of participation and benefits in payment for ecosystem services schemes (e.g. carbon markets). She is interested in 1) the role of local communities and their governance structures in natural resource management, 2) the ways in which sustainable development can be equitable and 3) how gender affects the extent to which one is able to access different forms of capital. She teaches courses in sustainable development, ecological economics and sustainability, community forestry, and environmental management at Colorado College.