Making global initiatives local realities: Carbon mitigation projects in Chiapas, Mexico

Kristen C. Nelson, Ben H.J. De Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Global, environmental initiatives create macro-level agreements, but the true test is how local communities respond. From 1995 to 2001, we investigated the evolution of Fondo Bioclimatico, a carbon mitigation project, using interviews and document review. Even under tremendous uncertainty the project grew seven-fold. Its social structure shifted from a development emphasis to a brokering relationship, from shared to concentrated power, from social fund to carbon bank. Social selection of systems with fewer tree species and single ecosystems is a concern for biodiversity. The challenge is to remain critical, monitor, and support indigenous communities in their endeavor to implement clean development mechanism projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The carbon project began with Union de Credito Pajal Ya Kac-tic (Pajal), a local, producers’ coffee cooperative, primarily focused on credit, improved technology, production, and marketing. In 1995, Pajal members in eight communities, 1 1 from two ethnic zones, agreed to work with four scientists from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) a federal research institution located in Chiapas. 2 2 A research grant provided funding for Pajal to hire a carbon technician to coordinate the feasibility study as well as support for field expenses and workshops. Using participatory methods, farmers and scientists set out to evaluate the carbon sequestration potential in the farmers’ agroforesty and forestry systems and the feasibility of carbon projects. Two delegates were appointed for each community by the Pajal members to represent them during the study. In a series of workshops, these representatives gathered information and designed the agroforestry and forestry options together with members in their communities. ECOSUR scientists and the Pajal technician provided technical assistance, research techniques, agroforestry system review, carbon estimates, and training.

Funding Information:
Kristen Nelson thanks the Rockefeller Foundation for supporting fieldwork in 1996–1997 and the Grant-in-Aid Program at the University of Minnesota for fieldwork support in 2001.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Carbon markets
  • Carbon mitigation
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Clean development mechanisms
  • Community agroforestry
  • Mexico


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