Making people more prosperous with forests than without

jbush120By Jonah Busch*

Tropical forests store carbon that regulates the global climate. They provide clean water to farms. They shelter a dizzying range of unique plants and animals, and are a source of life-saving medicines. These services are enjoyed by people all over the world, for which they are sent no invoice and pay no bill. But the value that forests provide directly to local people, in the form of hunting, wood collection, and so forth, is often less than the value of cattle or crops. So for many local people, deforesting for agriculture is more profitable than leaving the forest standing.

International payments for forests’ carbon could change such calculations, making land more valuable as a forest than as agriculture (as explained eloquently by Lykke Andersen at 1:53 of The REDD Dilemma ). This concept is often described as “making forests worth more alive than dead.”

But forests don’t make zoning decisions, wield chainsaws, set fires, or plant crops. People do these things. So perhaps “making forest worth more alive than dead” has a corollary: “making people more prosperous with forests than without.” After all, what good is increasing forests’ value through carbon payments if people aren’t better off as a result?

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5 Games and Apps to Change the World

Ioulia-FentonBy Ioulia Fenton*

Whether it is family Trivia Pursuit at Christmas, Words with Friends on the android phone, or Second Life on a P.C., everyone likes to play games. They are challenging, fun, and constitute a healthy source of friendly competition. However, as Jane McGonigal, an American game designer, argued in her TED talk, they can also make a better world.

Today, Development Roast* highlights five games and applications that are more than mere entertainment, but serve to educate and deeply involve its players in global food, agriculture, and sustainability issues:

1. Being a game-changer. To govern is to choose between competing priorities and interests and making policy decisions in an increasingly globalized world is difficult. Players of Game Change Rio, that aims to educate its users to such complexities and raise awareness of future global challenges, choose from 150 different policy cards to try and balance the economy with the environment, human health, education, and other important issues. Read More »

Meet the SimPachamama team

SimPachamama TeamAll this month, INESAD has published posts related to climate change, gaming, and deforestation to support the launch of the didactic game SimPachamama where the player becomes the mayor of an Amazonian town and has to balance policy priority to reduce deforestation while increasing community wellbeing.

Today, we’d like you to meet the team behind SimPachamama. The project took over three years to complete and the success of the final game, released at the start of this month, is the result of the hard work and dedication of the international and interdisciplinary SimPachamama team. In addition to the principal researchers listed below, many other people also made significant contributions to SimPachamama during its development and our eternal gratitude goes out to them. Read More »

SimPachamama and the Happy Planet Index

LykkeAndersenBy: Lykke E. Andersen

The goal in SimPachamama is to achieve as much human well-being as possible while causing as little environmental damage as possible. This is also the philosophy behind the Happy Planet Index developed by the new economics foundation (nef), which is why we have made the Happy Planet diagram central to the measurement of performance in SimPachamama.

In this short video, Nic Marks, one of the creators of the Happy Planet Index, explains the basic idea behind the Happy Planet diagram and also explains why we need to implement policies that help people move towards the top left corner, with high quality of life and low environmental impacts:


We have adapted these simple, but convincing, ideas to SimPachamama in the Happy Planet panel. Read More »

Infographic: How to Live Well in Bolivia

LivingWell-nologos-mediumLéelo en español AQUÍ Spanish flag

Vivir Bien – living well – is a concept that has been prominent in Bolivian politics over the last few years. It sets out the ideological position of living well in harmony with nature and rejects a mass consumption and fossil fuel based economy.

Although Vivir Bien has even been written into the Bolivian constitution with the 2012 Law of the Rights of Mother Earth the country is at a crossroads: what it says and what it does is at an odds. While Bolivia’s leaders propose a harmonious existence, majority of policies are aimed at expanding people’s ability to farm, which leads to the deforestation of around 300,000 hectares of rainforest every single year.

Today, the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) came out with an infographic that proposes a two-policy solution that could help Bolivia reconcile its rhetoric with its actions by reducing deforestation while tackling poverty in an equitable way.  Read More »

New simulation tool tackles deforestation and poverty in Bolivia

logo_SimPachamama_enPRESS RELEASE

For immediate release.

London/ La Paz, September 01, 2013 – A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia. To be played as a game to inform and educate with respect to land-use decision making, the player is the mayor of the village whose aim is to implement policies to improve the welfare of the locals and minimise adverse impacts on their forests. Read More »

Official launch of SimPachamama

SimPachamamaCoverEnSOfficial launch date

SimPachamama will be officially launched on the 1st of September 2013. During the whole month of September, we will publish short articles on SimPachamama, learning games, forests and climate change and anything else relevant for the participatory development of fair and effective mechanisms to reduce deforestation and rural poverty in Bolivia.


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