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  • 2011/07/04
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Livelihoods: An innovative carbon-offset fund serving rural communities

Livelihoods is a unique new investment fund that gives fund partners access to carbon credits with “strong social impact.” It does this by seeking the best balance between value generated for local communities and the value of carbon credits returned to investors.
Since 2008, Danone has been experimenting with new approaches to carbon offsets, supporting large-scale pilot projects that restore biodiversity, capture carbon and fight poverty. Following successes in Africa and Asia, Danone invited other businesses to help create the Livelihoods Fund, a shared platform that will support additional projects. The first to join Danone were Crédit Agricole, Schneider Electric and CDC Climat.
Livelihoods is a carbon investment fund that helps poor rural communities by generating financial resources for projects with high social and environmental value. In Senegal, for example, 450 villages are replanting 7,000 hectares of mangroves, rebuilding a food ecosystem that produces fish and protects crops. The project will capture 900,000 tons of carbon over 20 years. With assets totaling €30-50 million, Livelihoods will invest in three main programs: restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems, agroforestry and soil restoration, and rural energy projects that prevent deforestation.
“Livelihoods is based on the conviction that climate change and poverty are closely linked,” said Bernard Giraud, who will head the fund. “It is open to all businesses that share this philosophy and want to develop carbon-offset projects that change lives.”
Fund partners will receive top-grade certified carbon credits in proportion to their investment, and can use the credits to offset their carbon emissions.
Pierre Ducret, chairman & CEO of CDC Climat, said: “Livelihoods is a very appealing and original initiative, based on sustainable development. By investing in the fund, CDC Climat, a carbon finance specialist, will be complementary to other firms that aim to offset their own carbon emissions.”
For Jean-Paul Chifflet, Chief Executive Officer of Crédit Agricole S.A.: "Livelihoods responds to Crédit Agricole's aim of being both an effective and a responsible group. In our Group project and our Commitment 2014 strategic development plan, we have made clear our aim of becoming a key player in the environmental economy worldwide. For the last three years, the Crédit Agricole Group has offset its carbon dioxide emissions in the Paris region. With Livelihoods, we are going even further in this area while also supporting the fight for food safety worldwide."
“Danone’s food business is closely linked to nature’s cycles,” says Myriam Cohen-Welgryn, Danone’s General Manager Nature “Protecting natural springs and producing milk in sustainable conditions have been key concerns of our business units for years. When we opted to put nature at the heart of our strategy, we adopted an ambitious target: reducing our carbon footprint by 30% from 2008 to 2012. Livelihoods is a new step forward, with carbon offset projects that associate restoration of natural resources and food security — two concerns at the heart of Danone’s corporate mission.
"Schneider Electric contributes to the fight against carbon emissions with energy efficiency, and combats poverty through BipBop, a program dedicated to making energy accessible,” notes Gilles Vermot Desroches, Sustainable Development Senior VP of Schneider Electric. “Joining Livelihood is a great opportunity to accelerate resolution of these major challenges, collaborating on innovative projects to create economic and social opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid while respecting the environment.”

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