Tanzania signs Africa’s biggest REDD deal. With GreenCop Development PTE Ltd, a holding company incorporated in Singapore six weeks ago
What could possibly go wrong?
On 18 May 2023, the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) signed a carbon trading Memorandum of Understanding with a company called GreenCop Development PTE Ltd. GreenCop Development is a holding company that was incorporated in Singapore on 5 April 2023.
The MoU was signed by Mabula Misungwi Nyanda, Conservation Commissioner of TAWA, and Jean-Jacques Coppée, CEO of GreenCop Development.
The signing event in Dar es Salaam was reported on TAWA’s website.
Hassan Abbasi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said,
“The Ministry assures TAWA and our partners from this stage of the MoU to a full contract if there are obstacles or deadlocks of any kind, the Ministry is ready to resolve them.”
The project covers three protected areas: Selous Game Reserve (1.8 million hectares); Kilombero Game Controlled Area (650,000 hectares); and Msanjesi Game Reserve (21,000 hectares). That gives a total area of almost 2.5 million hectares.
According to Nyanda, Conservation Commissioner of TAWA,
“What was done today is a preliminary agreement that opens the door to do a feasibility study and prepare project documents and then it will follow the step of signing the contract that will enable to start the business itself.”
The initial agreement is for a period of between one and two years, according to a report of the signing event on TAWA’s website. During that period, GreenCop Development will provide US$3.6 million, before any carbon offsetting project activities start.
Nyanda explained that,
“The amount will be disbursed for maintaining the safety of the game reserves and natural resources and heightening community engagement. Disbursement is expected to be made even before the commencement of the feasibility study and preparation of business documents.”
“The partners in this MOU are joined by a shared vision to secure the long-term financial viability of the Selous, Msanjesi, and Kilombero game reserves by protecting nature and addressing climate change, whilst generating financial and economic benefits for local community by selling carbon credits on the international voluntary carbon market.”
The MoU document mentions the importance of working with local communities, according to eTurboNews which has seen the MoU document. However, in its report about the signing, eTurboNews makes no mention of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, or whether local communities were consulted before the MoU was signed.
Selous Game Reserve is a World Heritage Site
Coppée, GreenCop Development’s CEO said,
“This agreement is a combination of visions that will lead to long-term economic output in the forests of Selous, Msanjesi and Kilombero by protecting the natural vegetation and combating behavioural change in the country.
“But at the same time the project will bring economic benefits to the community surrounding the conservation areas by selling carbon credits.”
eTurboNews reports that GreenCop Development’s management “has worked to conserve the Selous game reserve alongside TAWA since 2004.”
According to Daily News Coppée and Gérard Pasanisi set up the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania.
At the recent signing event in Dar es Salaam, Coppée said,
“With the downfall of the hunting industry, we believe it is essential to continue protecting the Selous Game Reserve, which is today exposed to deforestation, poaching, uncontrolled fires, and loss in biodiversity.”
Selous game reserve was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982.
However, Selous game reserve is included on the list of World Heritage in danger, because of the construction of hydropower plants, and oil and gas exploration. In December 2022, Tanzania started filling the reservoir behind the 2,115 MW Julius Nyerere hydroelectric power plant on the Rufiji River, inside Selous game reserve.
In 2012, the World Heritage Committee agreed to change the boundary of the World Heritage Site in order to allow the Mkuju River uranium mine project to go ahead.
It will be interesting to see whether the proposed REDD project will address these drivers of destruction in the project area. My guess is that it won’t.
Posaidon Capital and tax havens
GreenCop Development has appointed Posaidon Capital AG as its advisor in implementing the project. Posaidon Capital describes itself as “a green finance advisory and investment firm”.
But apart from hosting a Nature Investment Summit in London in October 2022, Posaidon Capital doesn’t seem to have a huge track record. The company was incorporated in the tax haven of Switzerland on 4 December 2019. On 15 October 2020, a company called Posaidon Capital UK Ltd was incorporated in the UK. Matthew McLuckie, the Managing Partner of Posaidon Capital AG is the sole director of the UK company.
The Swiss company is not authorised or regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. Neither is the UK company authorised or regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
Just for good measure, Posaidon Capital also has an office in the tax haven of Mauritius.
Jean-Jacques Coppée, GreenCop Development’s CEO, is a is no stranger to tax havens. He appears in the Panama papers linked to four companies:
Cedales International Ltd (incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on 27 June 1997 and struck off on 31 October 1998);
Chelsen Enterprises S.A. (incorporated in Panama on 17 March 1987 and struck off on 15 July 2011);
Adania Management Ltd. (incorporated in the BVI on 16 March 1988 and struck off on 31 October 2009); and
Compagnie Europeenne de Developpement et de Commerce Limited (incorporated in the BVI on 14 August 1996 and struck off on 30 April 2008).
Coppée is a 70-year-old Belgian lawyer. France awarded him Knight of the National Order of Merit in 1995, and in 2010, Knight of the Legion of Honour.
His firm CoppéeLaw & associés SCM has so far not had any involvement in REDD projects, at least according to a company overview available on the company’s website.
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Please continue the great reporting on this project - it could turn out to be primer on how to rip off the next country that doesn't yet have a "project." No country is "given" money without some kind of entanglement, it might be difficult to pinpoint, but it must be considered a debt. And in the new parlance of nature preserves, "protecting the land" means getting the residents out, so "consultations" could be extremely devious if they exist at all. It sounds like too many people are pouring money out over this land - hydro projects, uranium mining, etc. It is yet another "sacrifice zone" in the name of Human Progress - all Nature must bend to human desires.