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Livelihoods: An innovative carbon-offset fund serving rural communities


Paris - 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.”

About Livelihoods
Livelihoods is a carbon investment fund dedicated to promoting projects with strong social impact. It draws on specialized know-how from a range of sources: community organizers, technical experts and business.
To shorten the learning curve, Livelihoods has set up:

Livelihoods Venture: a company with hands-on skills in project management, engineering, business development and sustainable development. Livelihoods Venture identifies promising local programs with scope for eco-development, business and social impact, and replicability, and deploys these programs in tandem with local NGOs serving rural communities.
Livelihoods Network: a forum where NGOs and experts can exchange views and pool knowledge on a wide range of issues affecting Livelihoods.
Livelihoods Advisory Board : composed with organization representatives of organization and high level personalities such as Anada Tiega, Secretary General of Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands and Julia Marton Lefevre, Director General IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and two organizations who partnered with Danone to initiate the first pilot projects. Other personalities are also part of the Board, such as Luc Guyau, Chairman of the independent Committee of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Tony Simons, Director General of ICRAF, the Word Agroforestry Center (Nairobi), Michel Griffon, Agronomist and researcher, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of FFEM (French Fund for Global Environment)

About CDC Climat
CDC Climat is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts launched in 2010 to tackle climate change through actions in three areas: investment in carbon assets, development of carbon market services and research into climate-change economics.
CDC Climat invests in high quality carbon assets either directly or in the form of innovative funds, focusing on the Mediterranean area and Sub-Saharan Africa -- regions where few projects have been deployed to date. CDC Climat aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 60 million tons before the end of 2014.

About the Crédit Agricole Group
The Crédit Agricole Group is market leader in full-service retail banking in France and one of the largest banks in Europe.
With operations in 70 countries, the Crédit Agricole Group is a leading partner in supporting clients with their projects in all areas of retail banking and associated specialised business lines: day-to-day banking, savings, home and consumer loans, insurance, private banking, asset management, leasing and factoring, and corporate and investment banking.
On the strength of its cooperative and mutualist foundations, the Crédit Agricole Group’s expansion is underpinned by balanced growth serving the real economy and respecting the interests of its 54 million customers, 1.2 million shareholders, 6.1 million cooperative shareholders and of its 160,000 employees.
Crédit Agricole is included in the three main sustainable development indices: Aspi Eurozone since 2004, FTSE4Good since 2005 and the DJSI since 2008 (Europe and worldwide). It is ranked the eighth most sustainable corporation in the world and No. 1 in France in the 2011 Global 100 List.

About Danone
One of the fastest-growing food companies in the world, Danone is present in over 120 countries on five continents. Its mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. In 2010 Danone had more than 160 production plants and around 100,000 employees, generating sales of €17 billion, of which half were in emerging markets. The group holds top positions in healthy food through four businesses: it ranks no. 1 worldwide in Fresh Dairy Products and no. 2 in Bottled Water and Baby Nutrition, and is Europe’s no. 1 Medical Nutrition company. Listed on Euronext Paris, Danone is a component stock of leading social responsibility indexes including the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes DJSI Stoxx and DJSI World, ASPI Eurozone and the Ethibel Sustainability Index.

About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centres/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 110,000 plus employees achieved sales of 20 billion euros in 2010, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations make the most of their energy.


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