“Reach scale & impact” : a message from Bernard Giraud, president & cofounder of Livelihoods Venture

On Monday 11 December 2017, the partners of Livelihoods Funds gathered in Paris to celebrate the achievements of the funds since 2011 as well as the launch of the second Livelihoods Carbon Fund. Bernard Giraud, president & cofounder of Livelihoods Venture made the following speech to participants present at that occasion.

When we look back on this Livelihoods adventure, our successes but also what we have learnt from the difficulties we experienced, we can be pleased to see the progress we have made, and very humbly so, because this task is huge. The projects give us the desire to go further together. I am very happy that we can now celebrate our results this evening all together and reach a new milestone.

The accounts from the project beneficiaries and our NGO partners give us some keys in order to understand the progress that we have made:

First of all, the projects meet a deep need, which is felt by men, women and children who depend directly on natural resources and who bear the brunt of the effects of droughts, soil degradation and the increasing scarcity of fish. Livelihoods Funds’ mission is to rebuild the house starting with its foundations: soil fertility, groundwater remediation and biodiversity conservation. By acting on these levers, we combat both poverty AND climate change.

Secondly, there are some simple, inexpensive solutions which are tailored to local conditions and replicable on a large scale. With also sophisticated technologies (monitoring of projects using mobile phones, drones and satellite images etc.) providing they are adapted to local stakeholders who can easily use them. Investing in the training of men and above all women is at the heart of the Livelihoods Funds’ projects. Behind each agroforestry project, which looks very simple, there is a lot of knowledge, of science, in order to increase yields by relying on the life cycles of living things, instead of spraying chemical inputs with all their notorious adverse consequences and in order to succeed in getting 30,000 farmers involved in this transformation. A great deal of know-how is also needed in order to measure, assess and manage these projects. I would like to pay a tribute to the teams led by Jean-Pierre Rennaud, the cofounder of Livelihoods, and to all the experts who help us.

Livelihoods Funds’ projects are successful because they are carried out by the rural communities themselves and the grassroots organizations which are implementing these projects. They are their projects. Livelihoods Funds aim above all at facilitating these projects, because they provide the funding of course but also because they enable the creation of an operational coalition around a project which includes the communities, private companies which need the agricultural outputs to make their products or the carbon credits for compensation, NGOs which know the situation on the ground and public authorities which create the regulatory framework and sometimes contribute to the financial effort.

These projects are also successful because Livelihoods Funds’ investors are patient. We have given ourselves the time to manage these transformations with 10-year and even 20-year contracts for the forestry projects.

We also take the risk to pre-finance the projects by giving our local partners the means to reach scale. The investment model with its obligation to create value for our investors and for all the stakeholders is a virtuous one because it encourages us to be stringent and efficient.

“Livelihoods Funds’ mission is to rebuild the house starting with its foundations”.

Bernard Giraud, president & cofounder of Livelihoods Venture.

In 2011, the first Livelihoods Carbon Fund was created with 40 million Euros. The results today exceed our initial business plan. In 2015, the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming was created with Danone, Mars, Veolia and Firmenich, with the mission to assist companies by investing € 120 million for the transformation of their supply chains with small-scale producers of milk, cocoa, vanilla or coconut. Today, we are engaged in a new step with the creation of a second carbon fund which will enable us to invest € 100 million in more projects, of a bigger size, in order to enhance climate, but also social and environmental impacts. In total, twelve major companies are involved as investors in these funds and many more are partners in our projects. This evening, I would like to thank these pioneering companies which play the role of pathfinders and encourage other companies to get involved.

The main theme of this evening is resilience. We all know that deep transformations of our production and consumption patterns are necessary. We know that, if we want this planet to remain livable, all stakeholders need to act in order to drastically reduce the consumption of natural resources but also to reduce the social divide which is the root cause of despair and social instability. Farming and rural communities are not a subject of marginal interest or the remains of the past. The 500 million smallholder farmers, who in the vast majority are poor, produce 70% of the global food needs and their activity impacts most of the landscapes and natural resources. How can we develop a way of farming which is both productive and sustainable? How can we make the farmer’s job and conditions of life appealing for young generations? How can we establish production systems which create value for all the stakeholders? How can we create new production and consumption models between expanding cities and the countryside? How can we use what we have learnt in countries from the Global South in our old developed countries? How can we get private and public finance to converge more efficiently?

These questions will be at the heart of the projects that Livelihoods Funds will develop with their partners. Years go by and I am tired of hearing never-ending speeches on sustainable development, all these promises, these billions in aid that are announced and to see the reality of the concrete achievements when I go in the field. Let’s try to make fewer promises and let’s focus on the actions which lead to a real transformation. When I look at this gathering this evening, your enthusiasm, the diversity of talents that we are able to bring together, the frame of mind that we have managed to instill in very different stakeholders, I am fully confident that we will succeed.

Thank you.

Bernard Giraud
President & cofounder fr Livelihoods Venture

VIDEO : Discover the tangible results since 2011 of the 1st Livelihoods Carbon Fund
130 million trees planted, 120 000 families equipped with efficient cookstoves, 10 million tons of CO2 to be sequestered or avoided… : the project beneficiaries and representatives from our NGO partners in Africa, Asia & Latin America look back at the achievements of the Livelihoods Carbon Fund #1.