Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 47.92
Liaison Nick Cookson
Submission Date June 20, 2013
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Sewanee - The University of the South
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Amy Turner
Director of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
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A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

This case study explores the sustainable development dimension of a university program taking climate action at the community level in Haiti, while building innovative and cross-cultural learning opportunities. Our institution, alongside hundreds of other colleges nationwide, has made a commitment towards carbon neutrality as a signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment. For many colleges and universities, the purchase of carbon offsets may be a crucial means of attaining climate action goals, however significant challenges are inherent in the purchase of offsets by institutions of higher learning. First, the purchase of offsets may be invisible or intangible to university students, and thus fail to support sustainability education relative to climate measures that require lifestyle change or have higher visibility on college campuses. Secondly, the economic, social, and non-climate environmental sustainability of carbon sequestering projects varies widely, and care must be taken to purchase offsets in acknowledgment of all of these aspects of sustainability. In particular, PES programs have recently received much attention for their potential to alleviate poverty, increase community resilience to instable economic and climate systems, and provide non-carbon ecosystem services such as watershed protection and soil conservation. Although long-term monitoring is needed to support this claim, if PES programs do have the potential to alleviate poverty by means of ecological restoration, then they also have potential to act as an invaluable learning tool by demonstrating the interconnection between the resilience of human and ecological systems. Additionally, poverty alleviation can act as the framework against which universities evaluate PES programs in terms of their overall sustainability. However, establishing carbon trade in smallholder setting presents significant challenges, and the real effect of offset generation on poverty remains unclear. Here we discuss a project that is piloting carbon trade as a partnership between rural smallholders Bois Jolie, Haiti and Sewanee, the University of the South. Smallholders in Bois Jolie are establishing shade grown coffee systems that will produce carbon offsets, and Sewanee is acting as a partner in establishing these agroforestry systems and through the registration and purchase of offsets. Sewanee has the vision of long term monitoring of economic, social, and environmental impacts of the program, and of the incorporation of the project into its educational agenda. In particular, we discuss the challenges to smallholder generation of forest-based offsets, the potential for livelihood improvements seen thus far, and the integration of the program into sustainability education.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
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