(Bloomberg) — Africa needs to monetize its trees to help slow global warming, the head of AFC Capital Partners said.
The continent is home to the Congo Basin tropical forest, second in size only to the Amazon, and almost a quarter of the world’s mangroves. Forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mitigating against the effects of burning fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gases by creating so-called carbon sinks.
“When you look at Africa and say what’s the biggest bang for your buck on mitigation, it’s really not energy because we are energy starved. It’s our forest, mangroves,” Ayaan Zeinab Adam, chief executive officer of AFC Capital Partners, said in an interview on Tuesday. “We need to create value around the people who are living in those forests because that is what’s going to save the world. That’s Africa’s biggest contribution to net zero.”
While some African countries, most notably Gabon, have pushed to get rewarded for their efforts to preserve forest cover, not enough has been done to monetize their natural assets, Adam said at the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. Her company, a unit of the African Finance Corp, is seeking to raise $2 billion for climate-resilient infrastructure funds.
More effort also needs to be made to give Africans alternative cooking fuels to charcoal and wood to reduce deforestation, she added.
Income or benefits from forests in the form of carbon credits, which are bought by polluters to offset their emissions, or debt-for-nature swaps, which are debt reductions in protection for protecting natural assets, should be used to develop the continent, she said.
More from the interview:
- “We have this big resource which nobody’s acknowledging. We are getting the wrong pricing and we don’t have our act together too,” she said of African nations’ efforts to get paid for preserving or expanding their forests.
- “We haven’t created a way for us to ensure that the people living in those areas have a vested interest.”
- “We need to acknowledge that we are one of the air conditioners and that air conditioning needs investment and support to conserve it.”
- “We need to look at how do you monetize that.”