Cases in Conservation Finance: Case #6 - David Antonioli and Cecilia Simon, Verra
Learn from one of the pioneers in designing financing mechanisms to support watershed conservation.
Many Conservation Finance strategies rely on environmental markets as a source of revenue. Think carbon markets, water markets, mitigation banking markets or other markets for ecosystem services. What few people realize is that for markets to work, there needs to be an underlying infrastructure designed to build trust, things like standards, verification, certification, monitoring, etc. Without these, markets --be they carbon markets, currency markets, or markets for stocks and bonds— will inevitably fail. Standards and systems that build trust are important, maybe even essential. In our next case study in conservation we will be talking to one of the most interesting initiatives to build standards and trust-systems for environmental markets: Verra (formerly known as the Verified Carbon Standard or VCS). To tell us about Verra we will have as guests David Antonioli, Verra’s CEO, and Cecilia Simon (2014 Kinship Fellow), Verra’s Senior Program Officer on issues of REDD+ and AFOLU (an acronym for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses). David and Cecilia will talk to us about the history of Verra, how it began as a standard for carbon in the Voluntary markets, and how it has grown to become a registry for regulated carbon markets such as the California carbon markets, how it goes about establishing standards, ensuring verification and just generally making markets possible. We will also hear more about how Verra has dealt with issues such as REDD, jurisdictional crediting systems, and how it is looking at expanding into other markets ranging from water to plastics. Join us as we learn about how markets work and the infrastructure that makes them possible from two of the most innovative actors in the space.
About David: David serves as Chief Executive Officer of Verra where he oversees all aspects of the organization, including ensuring the financial and operational health of the organization and that the organization’s certification programs meet high quality integrity and transparency standards. In recent years David’s focus has been to expand the scope of Verra, broadening it from an organization dedicated exclusively to certifying carbon reductions to one that also identifies and develops other standards frameworks for a sustainable world. In this vein, David works to ensure that the standards Verra identifies, develops and manages facilitate the flow of capital to enable countries, the private sector and civil society achieve and demonstrate their climate and sustainable development goals. David works closely with the Verra Board to chart the future course of the organization, and spearheads outreach to government, foundation, business and environmental leaders around the world. A world-renowned expert on climate change, David began his work in this sector when he worked for ICF Consulting in 1994 providing technical advice to Latin American countries developing their GHG inventories and serving on the team that pioneered verification procedures for emission reduction projects. In 1999 David joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Mexico as its global climate change advisor overseeing the development of an energy-sector grid emission factor and baseline studies for forest protection efforts. In 2003, David joined EcoSecurities in Oxford (UK) where he led a joint venture to develop landfill gas-to-energy projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). At EcoSecurities David also spearheaded the company’s efforts in the voluntary market, helping to identify key infrastructure and procedural needs that the voluntary carbon market lacked in the early days of its existence. David holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Princeton University and a Master’s in Public Policy, with concentrations in Environmental Policy and International Development, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Originally born and raised in Mexico City, David now resides in Bethesda, MD with his wife and two children.
About Cecilia: As Verra’s REDD+ and AFOLU Senior Program Officer, Cecilia is responsible for providing input on land use work, drafting changes to relevant Verra programs to help maintain the robustness, workability and reputation of Verra’s nature-based work, managing REDD+ and AFOLU accounting and assessment methodologies being developed under Verra programs and collaborating with the Verra team to help implement changes and improvements to Verra standards. Prior to joining Verra, Cecilia worked as a consultant for more than ten years with the Climate Action Reserve on the development and implementation of the Mexico Forest Protocol. She also worked with Conservation Strategy Fund on a number of projects using economic tools for conservation and for the National Forestry Commission in the development of Mexico’s REDD+ strategy. She began her career in forestry carbon in 2007 as Pronatura’s Climate Change Director. Cecilia holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana and a Master of Science in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health from the University of Edinburgh. In her free time, Cecilia loves to go hiking, take photos and spend time in nature with her family.