UN Climate Change News, 3 December 2018 – At the UN Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, the payments network Visa Inc. is presenting an innovative way to make donations for climate action using a new digital platform, with benefits of the activity going toward the climate resilience projects of the Adaptation Fund, many of which involve ecosystem-based measures that improve peoples’ lives and livelihoods while restoring natural protections such as forests to protect soils and sustainably manage land and water resources.
A digital screen installation at the conference venue shows a virtual forest ecosystem in a lush state. Viewers see images of the ecosystem slowly degrading and can help halt the process by tapping an electronic reader with a Visa contactless card to simulate the act of making a donation. The health of the virtual ecosystem will improve after an accumulation of taps, demonstrating the importance of collective action to reverse the effects of climate change. For each tap that is made throughout COP24, Visa will donate €3 to the Adaptation Fund.
“A key aspect of many Adaptation Fund projects is their linkages to the protection of ecosystems, and how that often goes hand in hand with enhancing livelihoods and lives of the vulnerable communities we serve and improving their resilience to climate change,” said Victor Viñas, Chair of the Adaptation Fund Board. “Afforestation as well as restoring degraded forests strengthens soils, water supplies, sustainable land management and biodiversity, and reduces erosion in critical watersheds.”
The installation is intended to demonstrate how a powerful narrative can spur individuals to take action on climate change, and how the impact of that collective action has the potential to make a substantial difference. Visa hopes to replicate the system elsewhere after having demonstrated its value at COP24.
As a global payments technology company, Visa’s primary opportunities for reducing its direct environmental impacts lie in efforts to operate data centers and office buildings efficiently and responsibly, as the energy usage associated with these types of facilities comprise approximately 75% of their greenhouse gas emissions. Visa is advancing efforts to reduce these emissions through its commitment to using 100% renewable electricity across its global operations by the end of 2019.
This initiative is part of a broader, ongoing effort by Visa to minimize the environmental footprint of the payments ecosystem. Visa pursues certifications for its facilities through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and has achieved significant improvements in energy and water efficiency across its sites. Visa also seeks to curtail paper usage, source supplies and electronics responsibly, divert waste from landfills and promote a culture of sustainability among employees at work and at home.
“At Visa, we are striving to embed sustainability across the company – in our operations, our workforce and our broader ecosystem,” said Douglas Sabo, vice president and head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Visa. “We are committed to collaborating with a variety of stakeholders, including UN Climate Change and the Adaptation Fund, to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable world.”
How the Digital Installation Supports the Adaptation Fund
The narrative of the installation mirrors the positive outcomes of projects implemented by the Adaptation Fund, which are designed to restore nearly 185,000 hectares of natural habitat and protect more than 121,000 meters of coastline worldwide while building vulnerable communities’ resilience to climate change.
The work of the Adaptation Fund is already having tangible positive effects in vulnerable communities, helping them to adapt and build resilience to climate change through concrete projects in 81 developing countries to date, including Cambodia, Honduras and India, as well as Cuba and Small Island Developing States. Leveraging funds from private donors is meanwhile one source of revenue for the Fund.
As the impacts of climate change have become more evident over the last few years, the Adaptation Fund has seen record-breaking demand and has a growing project pipeline of more than a quarter-billion U.S. dollars. The fund set a US$90 million resource mobilization goal this year to help meet this increased demand. Although it receives a share of proceeds from Carbon Emission Reduction credits, since the carbon market dropped several years ago, it largely relies on voluntary public and private donations.
The Adaptation Fund’s concrete projects directly contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for a balance of adaptation to the impacts of climate change, reduced carbon emissions and accelerating climate action to the most vulnerable countries. Up to 33% of the efforts to reduce carbon emissions depend on preserving forests, which is why this topic was chosen for the installation.
Adaptation Fund Project Examples:
- Cambodia: An Adaptation Fund project is helping vulnerable communities adapt to floods and droughts in Cambodia in recent years that have affected food and water security and led to unsustainable use of forest resources. The project is restoring degraded forests through a tree nursery where the community has planted nearly one million indigenous trees across several sites that are crucial for sustainability, while another 342,000 fruit trees were distributed to communities for household and garden use.
- Honduras: Two projects in Honduras are currently contributing to reforestation. The first safeguarded vulnerable communities to extreme climate events, such as floods, mudslides and drought by improving water drainage and storage, and climate-proofing homes. It also enhanced forest protection in watersheds that are critical to urban water supplies by protecting 60,000 HA of forest corridors. A follow-up project is increasing climate resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the Central Forest Corridor of Tegucigalpa.
- India: A forestry project is building adaptive capacities of communities, livelihoods and ecological security in Madhya Pradesh. Training in villages on conservation, adopting climate-resilient agricultural practices and natural resource management are among its activities.
- Cuba: An Adaptation Fund project is helping communities in Cuba that have been vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise recover protective marine ecosystems and forests. By planting mangroves and fostering their natural regeneration, placing stake lines to reduce sea surges, cleaning canals and promoting coastal forest growth, the project is making a positive difference in reducing vulnerabilities to climate change in communities of Cuba’s southwestern Gulf of Batabanó. It is establishing and restoring 3,000 HA of mangroves on vulnerable coastal lands, and another 4,300 HA of landward edge woodlands.
- Mauritius: An AF-funded project is involving local communities, fishermen and female leaders in restoring natural coastal systems in Mauritius through activities such as mangrove planting.
About partnerships between UN Climate Change and non-Party stakeholders
The partnership with the Adaptation Fund and Visa is part of a series of partnerships between UN Climate Change and relevant stakeholders to support climate action. The partnerships for COP24 promote increased involvement of non-Party stakeholders as foreseen in the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA).
The MPGCA was launched at COP22 by the Conference of the Parties, explicitly welcoming climate action of all non-Party stakeholders, including the private sector, to help implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement. All entities of society and business are strongly encouraged to scale up their efforts and support actions to reduce emissions, as well as to build resilience and decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change.
More information is available here.
About the Adaptation Fund
Since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has committed about US$ 532 million for climate change adaptation and resilience projects and programmes, including 80 concrete localized adaptation projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries around the world with approximately 5.8 million direct beneficiaries. It also pioneered Direct Access, empowering countries to access funding and develop projects directly through accredited national implementing entities. For further information, visit adaptation-fund.org.
Visa Inc. is a global leader in digital payments. Its mission is to connect the world through an innovative, reliable and secure payment network – for individuals, businesses and economies. Its advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. For more information, visit About Visa, visa.com/blog and @VisaNews.