ParisAgreement.org builds off of ten years pushing the envelope in the REDD+ space to save tropical forests and fight climate, branded as the Tropical Forest Group (TFG). Like ParisAgreement.org, the Tropical Forest Group (TFG) catalyzes policy, science and advocacy, here with a focus to conserve and restore the planet’s remaining tropical forests. The Tropical Forest Group initiatives continue on as a segment of ParisAgreement.org, most notably via The Carbon Institute initiative seeded by TFG.
A history of the Tropical Forest Group’s work is included below. For more information about these projects and for a decade of blog posts of our work to shape the REDD+ space, see the Tropical Forest Group archive site: www.tropicalforestgroup.org.
The Tropical Forest Group has its roots in 2005, when a team of international policy advocates and communications experts came together to bring attention to tropical forest conservation as a cost-effective and immediate way to mitigate climate change. They sought to emphasize the benefits of ecosystem services for local communities and biodiversity.
During the 2005 United Nations climate change negotiations, this group gained permission from the government of Montreal and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to stage a parade. Rainforests, animals, and freakishly-behaving chainsaws grabbed worldwide headlines with coverage from BBC to Reuters. Women’s groups from Africa and traditional tribal people spoke at the Montreal rally alongside national delegates from the nascent Coalition for Rainforest Nations. In conjunction, policy advocates worked inside the negotiation halls to push the concept today known as reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD+). A few weeks later, this international group of conservation advocates formally became the Tropical Forest Group.
In 2006, the Tropical Forest Group (TFG) was approved by the State of California as a registered non-profit corporation. In its first year, TFG prepared scientific briefs on the carbon cycle of tropical forests and informed UNFCCC decision-making. TFG actively supported use of the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standards (developed in part by TFG Founder John-O Niles) in forest and climate pilot projects worldwide. Now, more than 120 projects use the CCB Standards to fight climate change through wise forest practices on tens of millions of hectares.
In 2007, TFG received its federal non-profit tax status. At the pivotal Bali UNFCCC talks, TFG commissioned a revered Balinese choreographer to showcase a new forest dance inside the delegate area and commissioned large solar-powered inflatable trees to highlight developments on tropical forests in the UN talks. The local dance and towering trees drew massive media coverage .
In 2008, TFG did technical work on negotiating drafts geared towards a stronger international mechanism for conserving tropical forests. TFG helped Cross River State (Nigeria) launch a new statewide REDD+ program. TFG helped Cross River State and Aceh (Sumatra) join the Governors’ Climate and Forests Taskforce, bringing access to new resources and ideas for slowing deforestation.
In 2009, TFG developed the Humanitarian Carbon Portfolio. TFG supported AD Partners, a large gathering of world leaders dedicated to supporting REDD+ in practice internationally. TFG partnered with the Community Action Fund for Women in Africa (CAFWA) in post-conflict areas of Uganda. At the 2009 Copenhagen UNFCCC talks, TFG’s 15-person delegation provided support to smaller countries to understand the complex UNFCCC negotiating process.
In 2010, TFG received a three-year, $220,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to monitor the US government’s expenditures on REDD+. TFG became the Technical Advisor to the Governors’ Climate and Forest Taskforce, and wrote the concept note for a successful $1.5 million US State Department grant to build capacity in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Peru and Mexico.
In 2011, TFG worked with the National Wildlife Federation to sponsor a workshop on how REDD+ could spur investment to steer commodities (palm oil, beef, paper, sugar) away from deforesting supply chains. TFG continued work in Nigeria and Ache on REDD+ capacity building.
In 2012, TFG supported strong policy language on REDD+ reference levels (also known as baselines). TFG began working in partnership to develop the first ever Terrestrial Carbon Accounting certificate course, held in 2013 at the University of California, San Diego.
In 2013, TFG helped organize and accredit this first academic Certificate in Terrestrial Carbon Accounting through the University of California San Diego. TFG led course marketing, attracting over 150 applicants for 24 openings. A success run of the course drove the idea to replicate this success by building programs in top countries through The Carbon Institute. TFG facilitated policy understanding and built support for 197 countries endorsing the Warsaw REDD+ Framework, a crucial UNFCCC decision for forest conservation.
In 2014, TFG secured the pivotal websites related to the expected name of the coming climate change accord, The Paris Agreement. TFG sponsored an academic meeting in Lima during the UN talks that led to one of TFG’s most important spin-off initiatives, The Carbon Institute.
In 2015, TFG helped lead the initial fundraising of $25,000 for the Carbon Institute. In the lead up to the historic UN talks in Paris, TFG began building out the Paris Agreement sites. At COP21 in Paris, through the ParisAgreement.org media platform, TFG staff and volunteers closely tracked the negotiations and developed analytics for draft negotiating texts, resulting in extensive media coverage. TFG staff also presented about the potential for mainstreaming coastal blue carbon ecosystems into positive incentives for REDD+.