Since the announcement on Feb. 21 by the Noble Research Institute, which covered the creation of a new voluntary environmental services market, the steering and eight working committees that are guiding the effort have been industrious. The goal of the Ecosystem Services Market (ESM) initiative is to advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society.
The protocol development team will meet this month at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The plan is to review and select the appropriate process models for the ESM protocol’s carbon sequestration, water quality and water quantity modules. The team will also map the necessary protocol adaptations needed for the planned agricultural production systems around the country and recommend a pilot testing rollout that will then lead into a prelaunch phase and a final national launch by 2022.
The team has also spent a fair amount of time reviewing the draft Scope 3 Value Chain Interventions Guidancedocument prepared by Gold Standard and partners Climate-KIC, Livelihoods Funds, WWF, Science Based Targets, Danone, World Resources Institute, CDP and MARS. The ESM team sees a large amount of alignment with this guidance and the ESM protocol under development, and the team looks forward to seeing the Soil Carbon Guidance that is anticipated to be released in July or August of 2018.
Much attention is also being allocated by the Noble Research Institute team to design a technical support framework that will support enrolled producers and scale appropriately. Providing the right combination of education and decision support tools will be crucial for reducing all potential friction for farmers and ranchers to engage in the program.
The Noble Research Institute has selected a firm to conduct the assessment of national and regional policy mechanisms pertinent to supporting a program such as this. They will get underway during the course of July.
The latest request for proposals, which has just been released, is a communications RFP designed to solicit an agency of record to support the ESM program. The selected firm will help the ESM program develop its branding and positioning strategy and help devise outreach campaigns to ranchers and farmers, key stakeholders, investors, buyers, and program supporters.
Messaging such as this by Bill Sproul of Sedan, Kansas, perfectly aligns with the relevance of the ESM program. He eloquently points out that his savings account is now in the land. This video is well worth viewing.
The ambitious initiative is on track to pilot the protocol in 2019 in select regions before moving into a pre-launch phase. The goal of the formal launch for the ESM program is still on track for 2022.
The ESM steering committee includes representatives from the Noble Research Institute, General Mills, the Soil Health Institute, Newtrient, National Association of Conservation Districts, Gordian Knot Strategies, DRD Associates, Strategic Conservation Solutions, and Oklahoma and Texas farming/ranching communities. The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides the ESM program technical assistance on quantification tools and conservation practices.
Noble Research Institute, LLC (www.noble.org) is an independent nonprofit agricultural research organization dedicated to delivering solutions to great agricultural challenges. Headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Noble Research Institute conducts fundamental, translational and applied research; offers no-cost consultation and education to farmers, ranchers and land managers; operates seven research and demonstration farms; and educates students of all ages about science and agriculture. The Noble Research Institute was founded by Lloyd Noble, an Oklahoma oilman and philanthropist, in 1945 as The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to advance agriculture and land stewardship.