Carbon accounting certificate programme teaches advanced skills to REDD+ professionals

Posted on 30 December 2013    
Carbon accounting course co-organized by WWF teaches professionals from around the world.
© Ryhs Gerholdt/WWF

Confidence intervals. Monte Carlo simulations. Change detection accuracy assessments.  Normalized differential fraction index. These technical terms make most of our heads spin, but they are standard fare for the curriculum of an academic programme that WWF helped create and sponsor. First held in San Diego in August 2013 in partnership with the University of California, the four-week high-level course teaches advanced skills in measuring and modelling the amount of carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems. These measurements are needed to calculate the size of results-based payments for countries that conserve and rehabilitate tropical forests under the new Warsaw Framework for REDD+ approved in November at the UN global climate meeting. (For more info on the UN REDD+ decision, see our cover story).


WWF-US Director of Climate & Forests and course director John O. Niles says the certificate helps students develop the critical technical expertise needed to implement REDD+. “In the past few years we have seen a willingness of donors to fund innovative REDD+ programmes. But currently there are not enough highly-qualified experts to meet the complex and evolving technical demands of REDD+,” explains Niles. “The new certification course aims to help REDD+ succeed through international academic partnerships around a shared carbon accounting curriculum.”


Graduates of the inaugural course included 12 men and 12 women from around the world, selected from an applicant pool of 150 qualified professionals. Their backgrounds were varied and included climate and forest officers for national governments, REDD+ experts at small non-profit organizations and academics.

Graduate Natalia Malaga, a carbon specialist with Peru’s Ministry of Environment, said the most valuable part of the course was learning how to accurately measure, report and verify emissions for her country.


“Learning how to accurately measure, report and verify emissions is very valuable as it is something that Peru can use for bilateral negotiations or for a greenhouse gas emissions inventory,” said Malaga.


“All of the instructors were just incredible. I didn’t expect to have the technical REDD+ Facilitator for the UNFCCC [Peter Graham] as an instructor,” added Malaga of the course instructors. “They gave us the knowledge we need to submit high-quality reference levels, which is what donors and multilateral banks need before funding REDD+ work.”

Work is underway to form partnerships with universities in REDD+ countries to continue the terrestrial carbon accounting curriculum in 2014. The course will help fill immediate capacity gaps before eventually transitioning to nationally-run academic programmes that train the next generation of REDD+ professionals.

Take a sample exam from the course to test your knowledge:


(Reporting by Rhys Gerholdt and John O. Niles of WWF-US)  
Carbon accounting course co-organized by WWF teaches professionals from around the world.
© Ryhs Gerholdt/WWF Enlarge
Participants of a carbon accounting course co-organized by WWF.
© Rhys Gerholdt/WWF Enlarge

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