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Veterinarians International: The solution to the climate crisis has been around for billions of years.

PARTNER UPDATE. Veterinarians International is on a mission of empowering and training a worldwide community of vets to respond to animal disease and suffering. How is that a climate action? The answer, they propose, is naturally quite simple…

Dr. Scarlett Magda with Erin Ivory assessing a young dehydrated zebra that was found lying on its side, covered in ticks and unable to stand up in Laikipia County, Kenya. Photo credit: Julie Koch-Beinke
Dr. Scarlett Magda with Erin Ivory assessing a young dehydrated zebra that was found lying on its side, covered in ticks and unable to stand up in Laikipia County, Kenya. Photo credit: Julie Koch-Beinke

Guided by the One Health approach—an understanding that human health is integrally connected to the health of animals and our shared environments—Veterinarians International keeps its eye on the critical linkages between healthy wildlife, healthy domesticated animals and global human health.
“Vets International became a We Don’t Have Time partner in order to represent the plight of the animal kingdom and its vulnerability to climate change, while informing the public about the disease risks that will escalate as climate change intensifies,” says Dr. Scarlett Magda, Founding President of the U.S.-based non-profit.

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Watch Dr. Scarlett Magda speaking during STHLM+50 Climate Hub

The carbon value of a thriving elephant? Priceless.
She works closely with Ralph Chami, who is the assistant director at the International Monetary Fund’s Institute for Capacity Development, currently on sabbatical. Ralph is helping to place specific financial values on the ecosystem services of the wildlife that Scarlett’s vet teams care for in economically challenged areas. These values can translate directly to the carbon credit market.
Ralph explains, “This work started with Fabio Berzaghi’s paper in Nature, where he found that the elephants in the forests of the Congo basin increase carbon sequestration in the forest between seven and fourteen percent, depending on their density in the forest.”
“Working with Fabio, we were able to give a value to the service—the carbon sequestration service—of a single elephant,” says Ralph. “And, at the time, we came up with a value of 1.75 million USD, the value of the service of a single elephant in terms of carbon sequestration alone.”
In short, the idea is to sell an elephant’s services—which means simply being an elephant as an elephant naturally is—onto the carbon credit exchange.
And the possibilities extend well beyond elephants and carbon, to include other mammals and ecosystem services. “Vets International is taking this concept and looking at other species and the ecosystem web,” says Scarlett. “We’re exploring how to look beyond individual animals’ services, to evaluating the whole ecosystem.”
The underlying principle is simple: Nature does what it naturally does, and that has inherent value. But Nature must be cared for or, in many cases, nursed back to health for it to do that work.
The healthier the individual animals are within the forests, for instance, the healthier that forest ecosystem is. A healthy forest sequesters more carbon as well as provides other ecosystem services.

Ruppell’s vulture and white back vultures feed on a deceased Samburu cow. Photo credit: Letoluai Ambrose
Ruppell’s vulture and white back vultures feed on a deceased Samburu cow. Photo credit: Letoluai Ambrose


On the cusp of the carbon exchange
To whom would the elephants’ and other animals’ services be sold?
“To all the companies that want to offset carbon,” says Ralph. “So a big tech company, for example, can purchase these services, and tick off its box for its carbon footprint, while also ticking off a box for saving elephants. Then, by saving elephants, they’re also paying the rangers that look after the elephants.”
“There’s also an employment aspect to this as in employing rangers,” he explains. “In buying the services, that big tech company is also compensating local farmers for whatever interactions they might have with the elephants—because sometimes there are clashes between the local people and elephants that are hungry and going into farmland and such.”
“So you’re alleviating poverty. You’re creating resilience in Nature, and therefore creating resilience for the people, stabilizing them on their lands in their land.”
“And the regulated exchange is ready,” says Ralph. “What we need is the supply.”
“For a market to happen, you need demand, you need supply, and you need an intermediary that puts the two together. The demand for carbon sequestration is there, and insatiable, because we have a world out there wanting to go net zero, carbon neutral, by a certain date. The exchange—the intermediary—is there,” Ralph says. “Now we need to release the supply from the politics of it all, so we can get on with it.”
“Nature is the only solution for this problem,” he says. “It’s not high tech. There’s no machine that’s going to do the carbon sequestration for us, and God help us with what other unknown things it’s going to do. It’s about Nature. It has been around for billions of years, and there are no side effects.”

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Watch Ralph Chami speaking on the STHLM +50 Climate Hub Ecocide Law panel

* * *
Ralph sums up the work as a whole. “If you leave Nature alone, if you help it restore and rejuvenate, two things can happen. Nature comes back, and it rewards us by helping to fight climate change.”
“How wonderful is that? And how simple,” he says. “We regain our contact with Nature, and we come back home.”
He pauses, then: “We’ve been lost for a while. It’s time to come home.”

For more information
Visit the Veterinarians International website to learn more about their work, or get involved as an ambassador, volunteer, donate, give at work, or help them raise funds in a variety of ways.

  • Phillip Matavu

    97 w

    We recommend you very much

    1
    • Veterinarians International

      96 w

      @phillip_matavu Thank you! The animals appreciate you as well:)

    • Leendert Aboazy

      97 w

      Great work! Will reach out to you!

      • Gabriel Kamakia

        97 w

        I remember Dr.Scarlet teaching, when he visited Kenya last year. Keep up good work!

        • Veterinarians International

          96 w

          @gabriel_kamakia thank you! We have exciting updates and progress to share in Kenya soon!

        • Edwin wangombe

          97 w

          This is great 👌

          • Veterinarians International

            96 w

            @edwin_wangombe trunks of thanks!

          • amjad ali Environmental Activist

            97 w

            Good job keep it up

          • Christina Carlmark

            97 w

            I listened to your impressive work during Stockholm+50. “We’ve been lost for a while. It’s time to come home.” I really agree with Ralph Chami.

            • Rick Sheiner

              98 w

              Wow this is great work congratulations!

              • Veterinarians International

                96 w

                @rick_sheiner thank you, team work makes the dreamwork, only through interdisciplinary collaborations can real change occur!

              • Sarah Chabane

                98 w

                Such important work, it's great to have you in our community! I agree, there is no price for a thriving elephant 🐘

                • Veterinarians International

                  96 w

                  @sarah_chabane thank you! Let's keep those trunks up!

                • John Ekai apelenyang

                  98 w

                  That's nice work

                • Patrick Kiash

                  98 w

                  Great work @veterinarians_Interntional are doing to our planet and moreso to my motherland country Kenya. Keep it up! Truly we have been lost for a while. It's time to come home! Great statement that connects with us all and mother nature.

                  • Veterinarians International

                    96 w

                    @patrick_kiash thank you!

                  • Marine Stephan

                    98 w

                    very important work they are doing! We need to protect the world's biodiversity

                    1
                    • Veterinarians International

                      96 w

                      @marine_stephan thank you, we sure do!

                      1
                    Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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