Climate Heroes

The Climate Heroes programme aims to improve farmers’ resilience to a changing climate by providing technical support, access to finance, and access to carbon markets. By applying agroforestry practices, small-scale coffee and cocoa farmers are improving their quality of life and the local environment.

MEL - Climate Heroes

One of Solidaridad’s goals is to make sure that carbon markets and low-carbon agriculture work in favor of smallholder farmers. This is the origin of the Climate Heroes programme, a Dream Fund supported initiative that facilitates incentive payments to producers who generate Carbon Removal Units (CRU) through agroforestry. 

The Climate Heroes programme aims to empower millions of small-scale farmers to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere while substantially increasing their incomes. We train farmers to adopt climate-smart practices and participate in carbon farming initiatives, such as agroforestry. Through the digital platform Acorn, farmers get paid for this by companies willing to offset their unavoidable emissions. This way combatting the climate crisis goes hand in hand with combatting poverty. The project takes place across Nicaragua, Colombia, Uganda and Kenya, targeting 100,000 farmers. Small-scale farmers cultivate a crop, such as coffee or cocoa, and plant trees at the same time to sequester carbon.

How it works

When practicing agroforestry, small-scale farmers cultivate crops, such as coffee or cocoa, and plant trees at the same time. This not only has climate benefits, but farmers profit from it as well as it provides more protection against drought, extreme rainfall and rising temperatures. The trees create a better local climate and give farmers an additional source of income, for example from the sales of fruit. To support the uptake of agroforestry among small farmers, the Climate Heroes programme provides financial services, including pre-financing, for the necessary investments like seedlings and the adoption of new practices.

The planted trees will sequester carbon. Acorn uses satellites and digital technology to detect the growth of each new tree planted and to calculate the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere. The CRUs generated can then be traded through the Acorn platform, a global carbon marketplace developed by Rabobank and Solidaridad (1 CRU = 1 tonne of Co2). Thanks to the use of this technology, farmers are able to receive a minimum of 80% of the total value of every CRU sold.

We work with smallholders

To unlock their agroforestry potential

To contribute to a sustainable world

What is the vision of Climate Heroes?

Climate Heroes developed out of the ambition to transform the way smallholder farmers in the Global South are treated by the world. Today often farmers in these situations are climate victims, experiencing extremes of drought or flood, losing crops and being pushed to the limit by lower returns on their investments. The consortium behind the Climate Heroes programme wants to help these farmers go from victims to heroes. We believe that with the right support these farmers can play a pivotal role in fighting climate change, helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and limiting global warming. And that they can do that while becoming more resilient to the consequences of climate change, all by adopting and maintaining of climate smart practices.

Four Countries but a Global Ambition

The key to the success of Solidaridad’s projects in the past has been working closely together with local stakeholders to make a local impact. You cannot hope for change without a strategy that is developed with due consideration for the specific needs of the communities you are working with. That is why the Climate Heroes team tailors its solutions to suit the local context.

However the goal is of course to scale these solutions even further and reaching greater impacts. From this starting point we hope to drive change in these four markets and develop a self-sustaining and truly nature-positive carbon market that supports the farmers who are working to combat climate change. In the long term, we hope to use what we learn to go even further, and we hope others will do the same.


Climate Heroes is a 5-year programme which takes place across Nicaragua, Colombia, Uganda and Kenya, targeting 100,000 farmers. Throughout 2023, the second year of the programme, we focused on implementation, building upon the work already done in the inception phase. Some highlights and challenges:

The programme made significant progress across the four countries in implementing climate-smart practices, and onboarding farmers onto the Acorn platform for carbon market access. New partnerships were set up to scale the activities in new regions. Also, we scaled to new commodities, like cocoa in Colombia and Nicaragua, which proved successful. Platforms such as the Carbon Farming Academy played a critical role here. Various initiatives were undertaken to motivate farmers, including the Tree Fairs and the As’ombrate song in Colombia, the Z’Wardy reward system in Kenya, and the Money Tree Saving Motivation system in Uganda. Finally, efforts are being made to prepare for soil carbon monetization pathways.

Activities to facilitate financing for farmers contributed to notable progress, with financing needs identified across all programme countries and business cases developed to participate in Acorn. Collaborations with financial institutions like Rabobank and local partners in Colombia, Uganda and Kenya advanced the development of loan products tailored to farmers’ needs.

We successfully increased the demand for CRUs and enhanced supply chain transparency, and have seen a average market price increase for CRUs, a great development that will support participating farmers in the years to come. Over the course of the programme we expect that farmers will be fully ready to benefit from this new situation, as they use their training and begin to plant more trees, generating valuable CRUs.


Climate change poses a significant threat to small-scale farmers worldwide, like Francisco Blandon in Nicaragua. Unpredictable weather events, such as destructive hurricanes, devastate crops, making income from coffee farming unreliable. This cycle of uncertainty deepens poverty. Our Climate Heroes programme supports farmers like Francisco with climate-smart farming practices and additional income generation. Transforming them from climate victims into climate heroes.

Our approach to Carbon Markets

The Climate Heroes programme is exploring different ways to support farmers access to global carbon markets, including supporting them in both offsetting and insetting opportunities.

Key to this is the work of Rabobank’s Acorn platform within the consortium. As part of the Climate Heroes programme farmers will be onboarded onto the Acorn platform, their Carbon Removal Units calculated, and then sold in order for farmers to be paid for their important contribution to the fight against climate change. Learn more here.

The Climate Heroes Consortium

The Climate Heroes Programme is the proud recipient of funding from the Dutch Post Code Lottery

Want to learn more or get involved with Climate Heroes? Contact our programme coordinator.

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Martine Krabben

Climate Heroes Programme Lead