The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) have released a report summarizing the outcomes of Forest Day 5 including the challenges of implementing REDD+ on the ground, a need for strong social and biodiversity safeguards and engaging the private sector in REDD+ development.
Read on for IISD’s comprehensive summary of the event which first appeared on their website.
The fifth Forest Day took place in Durban, South Africa, in parallel with the UN Durban Climate Change Conference, which convened from 28 November -9 December 2011. 1064 participants from 87 countries, including country delegations, scientists, researchers, activists and representatives from non-governmental and indigenous people’s organizations and the private sector, gathered for the one-day event. Co-hosted by the Government of South Africa, the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR), and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), Forest Day 5 was convened under the theme “From Policy to Practice,” with a special focus on the role of African forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
In its Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated that about 20% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions during the 1990s resulted from land use change, primarily deforestation, although 25% of total emissions are also estimated to have been absorbed by terrestrial ecosystems. Depending on the age of the forest, the management regime, and other biotic and abiotic disturbances (insects, pests, forest fires), forests can act as reservoirs, sinks (removing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the atmosphere) or sources of GHGs.
Forests also provide a number of vital services, notably as repositories of biodiversity and regulators of the hydrological cycle. Reducing deforestation and the resultant land degradation and improving forest cover are vital for both mitigation and adaptation. However, including emissions reduced from forest-related activities in a carbon accounting system is a complex undertaking, given the non-permanent nature of carbon uptake by trees and the potential for “leakage” as protection of forests in one place pushes deforestation pressures elsewhere. There are also critical environmental and social considerations that have to be taken into account.
Forests are addressed under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as both sinks and sources of emissions, and all countries are expected to count their emissions and removals from land use change and forestry in their national inventories. Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries with emission reduction commitments (known as Annex I countries) may count towards their reduction target the emissions and removals of GHGs deriving from certain direct human-induced land-use change and forestry activities, including: removals from afforestation (defined as planting of new forests on lands that have not been forested for a period of at least 50 years) and reforestation (limited in the first commitment period to those lands that did not contain forest on 31 December 1989); emissions from deforestation; and possible emissions and removals from forest management, cropland management, grazing land management, and re-vegetation.
In addition, project-based activities under two flexible mechanisms created by the Kyoto Protocol – Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – may also result in removals by sinks that can count towards an industrialized country’s reduction commitments. Joint Implementation refers to projects undertaken jointly by two Annex I countries; all projects undertaken in developing countries fall under the CDM.
Afforestation and reforestation projects are allowed in the Protocol’s first commitment period under the CDM, and project activities have to address a number of issues such as non-permanence, uncertainty, and the risk of leakage. Moreover, there is a ceiling on the maximum number of credits that an Annex I party can gain in this way.
At COP 11 in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, forests were taken up under the UNFCCC itself under a new agenda item on “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action,” as proposed by Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and eight other countries. Workshops were held on this issue, in August 2006 in Rome, Italy, and in March 2007 in Cairns, Australia.
Discussions continued at COP 13, where parties adopted the Bali Action Plan, which addresses enhanced national and international action on climate change mitigation, including: “consideration of policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.”
As negotiations have progressed on a financial mechanism to compensate developing countries for recovery and maintenance of forest carbon stocks, three labels have emerged for what such a financing mechanism should cover: reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD); conservation, sustainable management of forests, and stock enhancement in addition to REDD (REDD+); and all terrestrial carbon in addition to REDD+ (REDD++).
Since COP 13, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) has undertaken a programme of work on methodological issues related to a range of policy approaches and positive incentives generally aimed at REDD. A UNFCCC workshop on methodological issues relating to REDD held in Tokyo, Japan, in June 2008, generated general agreement that discussions on policy approaches and positive incentives could be initiated with current knowledge.
At COP 16 held in Cancún, Mexico, in 2010, REDD+ was formally added to the international climate change regime, through its decision 1/CP.16 that encourages developing country parties to assist in mitigation efforts by undertaking REDD+. There was consensus at COP 16 for REDD+ to be undertaken in three phases: development of national strategies or action plans; implementation of policies and measures; and payment for performance on the basis of quantified forest emissions and removals. Discussion on the different financing options for implementing REDD+ was deferred to COP 17 taking place in Durban South Africa, in December 2011.
FOREST DAY 1: The first Forest Day was convened on 8 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, during UNFCCC COP 13, to reinforce the momentum and inform the discussions related to forests under negotiation at COP 13. It brought together over 800 participants and considered crosscutting themes including: methodological challenges in estimating forest carbon; markets and governance; equity versus efficiency; and adaptation. Participants took part in 25 side events exploring linkages between forests and climate change.
FOREST DAY 2: Convened on 6 December 2008 in Poznan, Poland, during COP 14, Forest Day 2 brought together nearly 900 participants to discuss: adaptation of forests to climate change; addressing forest degradation through sustainable forest management (SFM); capacity building for REDD; and options for integrating REDD into the global climate regime. Participants also attended a poster exhibition and around 40 side events on themes related to REDD. A drafting committee representing CPF members produced a summary of key messages and forwarded it to the UNFCCC Secretariat.
FOREST DAY 3: Forest Day 3, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 13 December 2009, during COP 15, brought together over 1600 participants to discuss challenges associated with REDD+. Participants convened in three sub-plenary sessions to discuss mitigation, adaptation and degradation challenges. They also heard various global views on forests and climate change and attended a number of parallel learning events, including on: measuring and monitoring baselines and leakages; financing for forests and climate change; the potential social effects of REDD initiatives; and landscape approaches to mitigation and adaptation. A summary statement was forwarded to the UNFCCC.
FOREST DAY 4: Forest Day 4 was convened in Cancún, Mexico on 5 December 2010, during COP 16. Over 1500 participants came together under the theme “Time to Act,” highlighting the urgency to ensure the protection of the world’s forests and their biodiversity. Participants convened in three sub-plenary sessions on biodiversity, adaptation and mitigation. They also convened for a number of parallel learning events, including on: optimizing the multiple benefits of SFM and REDD+; promoting synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation across forest landscapes; land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF); and REDD+ and agricultural drivers of deforestation.
REPORT OF FOREST DAY 5
Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR, welcomed participants to Forest Day 5. She observed that the event has evolved significantly over the years, as is evident in the continuum of its participants: from primarily high-level policy makers to the involvement of greater numbers of grassroots practitioners. She highlighted a number of achievements, including: positive feedback from participants of Forest Day 4; the introduction of an “Issues Market Place” at this session, to facilitate information exchange and networking; and the special focus being paid to Africa.
Tina Joemat-Peterson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa, welcomed delegates on behalf of the South African government. She emphasized that forests embody the need to balance environmental sustainability with economic development. She noted that her country’s energy intensive and fossil-fuel powered economy makes it particularly vulnerable to climate change. Stressing that the science behind carbon sinks “is well understood,” she urged participants to deliver a comprehensive adaptation programme as a contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20 or UNCSD).
Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Chair, CPF, said a tipping point has been reached in recognizing the contribution of forests and REDD+ approaches in meeting the interrelated goals of food and energy security, biodiversity protection and economic development. He stressed, however, that creating the enabling conditions for a low-carbon development path hinges on reaching agreement on a post-Kyoto mechanism. To optimize utilization of biodiversity ecosystem services, he further noted the importance of: focusing equally on tropical forests and dryland forests; paying attention to the full range of land uses; and involving women in sustainable forest management.
In the first of two keynote addresses, Helen Gichohi, President, African Wildlife Foundation, paid tribute to Wangari Maathai, “a fallen icon who saw the links between sustainable development and peace and inspired us to take action and care.” She highlighted ongoing projects that have adopted a landscape approach to balance growing human demands with environmental sustainability. She highlighted key lessons such as: involving local communities in defining land-use agreements; establishing institutional partnerships to create the right policy incentives for climate-smart agriculture and private sector participation; and ploughing back revenues from carbon projects to support community-based conservation. She conclude that while REDD+ offers a tool for bringing the value of forests into national planning there is need to lower the transaction costs of carbon markets and to share the responsibility for longer-term compliance.
In his keynote address, Bob Scholes, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, highlighted the scientific case for sustainable forest management. Citing a recent study (Yude et al, “A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests” Science, August 2011), he noted that forests could potentially absorb nearly one-quarter of total carbon emissions from human activity, currently estimated at nine petagrams per year, exceeding the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. He stressed that contrary to conventional wisdom, deforestation in Africa predominantly takes place in the dryland forest zones and is characterized by three main phases: the selective removal of high-value timber; charcoal-burning to meet urban fuel demands; and finally, low-input and low-output subsistence agriculture, which completes the cycle of land degradation. Underlining that it is not feasible to change current land-use patterns as local communities have a right to develop, he called for climate-smart approaches that boost productivity and contribute to the regeneration of already degraded land. He noted that this will ensure, inter alia: fair prices for ecosystem products and services; informed and just governance at all levels; and reliable and cost-effective monitoring tools based on a mix of high and low-tech approaches.
Judy Kimamo, the Green Belt Movement, introduced a short film paying tribute to the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, and announced the launch of the “I am the Hummingbird Campaign” in her memory.
HOW IS REDD+ UNFOLDING ON THE GROUND? AN EXPLORATION OF THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL ISSUES:The discussion forum on REDD+ on the ground aimed to explore early insights on whether REDD+ initiatives can deliver their goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while providing a range of co-benefits. The session was moderated by James Astill, Energy and Environment Editor, The Economist. Introducing the session, Paulo Barreto, Senior Researcher, IMAZON, Brazil, highlighted Brazil’s recent progress in implementing sustainable forest management, as seen in the “decoupling” of the close statistical linkages between high cattle and soy prices and deforestation from 2007 onwards. He attributed this success to the enactment of a more robust regulatory framework that had sent a clear signal that deforestation does not pay. He underlined the need for more comprehensive policy reforms involving stakeholders outside the forest sector and identified boosting of agricultural productivity in already-degraded areas as a possible win-win approach.
Highlighting lessons from a pilot bio-carbon initiative in Indonesia, Brer Adams, Associate Director, Macquarie Global Investments, Australia, said building sustainable business models is hampered by uncertainty resulting from the weak regulatory environment and the relative novelty of carbon markets. Adding that only six billion dollars to date has been committed to REDD, he underlined that this presents a real challenge for scaling up significantly to meet IPCC targets for land-based carbon sequestration in non-Annex I countries, and noted the important role demonstration projects can play in pointing the way forward.
Raymond Lumbuenamo, National Director, WWF, the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighted efforts to address three interrelated drivers of deforestation: shifting subsistence agriculture, commercial exploitation and poor governance. He stressed the need to “reconstruct” community structures that had been destroyed by long-term conflict to enhance sustainable forest management at the local level. Daju Resosudarmo, CIFOR Indonesia, noted the country’s slow start in implementing REDD+ activities, highlighting the challenges as, inter alia, competing demands from powerful agricultural and mining interests, weak regulatory capacity at the national and local government levels, and a lack of clarity on legal rights and security of tenure for community-managed forests.
In ensuing discussions, participants addressed: the need for clear guidance for implementing pilot projects; involving local stakeholders in forest management; creating employment opportunities through forest regeneration activities; how to resolve conflicts over rights to forest resources; and enhancing finances available for REDD+ activities.
BIODIVERSITY SAFEGUARDS IN REDD+: The discussion forum on biodiversity safeguards for REDD+ presented the results of a one-year consultative process undertaken by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN-REDD Programme. Introducing the forum, moderator Jagdish Kishwan, Additional Director General of Forests for Wildlife and Director for Wildlife Preservation, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, noted that biodiversity safeguards should not only address the adverse affects of REDD+ on biodiversity, but also the need to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, lauded the work of the CBD on safeguarding biodiversity and highlighted the Cancún Agreements that detailed a number of safeguards including on tropical forests. She said there is a need to enable the implementation of these safeguards and establish incentives and implementing policy and monitoring to maximize REDD+ benefits. Outlining the series of workshops held by the CBD on the biodiversity safeguards of REDD+, she noted the emerging lessons include exploiting synergies highlighted in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans, assisting sustainable afforestation, and effective use of detailed safeguards that have already been developed. On gaps identified, she noted insufficient consideration for traditional knowledge, queries on how the safeguards should be used, and the need for financing and methodological guidance.
Guy Midgley, Programme Leader, Global Change Research Group, National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa, discussed an African regional workshop held in Cape Town, South Africa, on REDD+ and its relevant biodiversity safeguards. He cautioned that the synergies identified at the consultations need to be managed carefully so that any confusion that may arise does not hold progress back. He stressed: that safeguards need to be addressed as early as possible; that preparedness is uneven among countries and capacity building will be important; and the need to build on existing policies and legislation.
Lorena Falconí, National Director of Climate Change Mitigation, Ministry of Environment, Ecuador, outlined Ecuador’s climate change strategy, noting four REDD+ components in their mitigation strategy. She said Ecuador aims to ensure multiple benefits from REDD+ and to integrate its programmes with UN-REDD initiatives. Salisu Dahiru, National REDD+ Coordinator, Nigeria, highlighted his country’s incorporation of biodiversity and multiple benefits into early REDD+ readiness activities. He said biodiversity experts and indigenous and local communities have been included as statutory members of REDD+ governance bodies at the national level and the Cross River State Level, and he highlighted a project mapping biodiversity carbon and co-benefit overlays, which aimed to identify and prioritize high-biodiversity areas.
In the ensuing discussion, participants: questioned the role of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in REDD+; asked how the growing rejection of REDD+ by NGOs and indigenous peoples needs to be handled; and debated the length of time it will take for benefits to reach communities and the use of exotics in commercial forestry.
FINANCING OPPORTUNITIES AND ISSUES FOR MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION WITH A FOCUS ON THE PRIVATE SECTOR:This discussion forum provided a platform to debate the opportunities and challenges for investments and financial mechanisms to promote mitigation and adaptation activities by the private sector, focusing on REDD+ initiatives. Moderating the forum, Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, International Tropical Timber Organization, said REDD+ offers a number of co-benefits when implemented, but noted that the funding source for REDD+ still needs to be addressed.
Eufran Ferreira do Amaral, State of Acre, Brazil, noted that Acre is a small Amazonian state with a strong history of social organization, including a community policy against deforestation created by this social movement that has now become incorporated into state policy. He called for addressing issues such as sustainable consumption and the valuation of products, services and sustainable economic activities obtained from forests. He outlined a number of lessons learned, including that: REDD+ is not sufficient to cover the opportunity costs of non-sustainable land use and must be integrated with implementation of sustainable production; and the national and global private sector should develop voluntary systems for targeted reductions of carbon dioxide.
Nur Masripatin, Director of the Centre for Standardization and Environment, Ministry of Forestry, Indonesia, called for the full implementation of REDD+ by 2013 and stressed the fine balance between reducing emissions and increasing economic growth. She provided an outline of her country’s REDD+ National Strategy, highlighting the importance of an adequate legal framework and continued stakeholder engagement. Itaru Shiraishi, Marubeni Corporation, Japan, noting that they have worked on approximately 60 REDD+ projects, lamented the lack of projects from the African continent. While carbon trading will, he opined, revolutionize the industry, he said it is doubtful this will lead to actual emissions reductions, but that a possible solution is to create a large enough demand for carbon credits. He concluded by stating that the “bottom line” is the need to create a carbon market to ensure the success of REDD+.
David Antonioli, CEO, Verified Carbon Standard Association, USA, explained his work on the sector-based aspects of REDD+, noting that environmental integrity, security and confidence in the private sector are fundamental for these aspects. He called for establishing a UN Forum on Forests REDD+ programme. Ludovino Lopes, Ludovino Lopes Lawyers, Brazil, highlighted key issues to consider in the legal framework for REDD+ including: the legal nature of REDD+; the institutional framework; inventory, accountability and registry platforms; distribution mechanisms for economic and non-economic benefits; and international cooperation.
In the ensuing discussion, participants considered: how to address issues of poor governance within the REDD+ framework; and the need for reliable measurements of carbon dioxide, and how to establish who obtains the carbon rights. They also underscored that REDD+ is a means for mitigation but it is not a solution.
ADDRESSING GENDER CONSIDERATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND REDD+ EFFORTS: The parallel discussion session on gender considerations explored ways and means of increasing women’s participation in decision making and benefit distribution, while recommending appropriate safeguards against further exclusion. The session was moderated by Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, Women Organising for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.
In her keynote address, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, stressed the need to recognize the differential roles of women and men at all levels. Noting that women make up 70% of the agricultural work force, she stressed their role in climate-smart agriculture and poverty-eradication efforts.
Panelist Monique Essed-Fernandes, Chair of the Board, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), noted that gender roles determine how forest resources are used and managed, as well as determining the decision-making powers and livelihood strategies adopted. She informed participants about a new WEDO/IUCN initiative supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to pilot Gender and REDD+ roadmaps in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.
Linda Mossop-Rousseau, Senior Executive, Komatiland Forests, South Africa, highlighted her company’s support for out-grower schemes, a mechanism to support individuals and communities to derive an income by supplying timber to processing companies. She highlighted the achievements of the scheme as its recognition of informal permission to occupy land in the absence of formal land rights and the establishment of social compacts as a tool to enhance community-level capacity to negotiate access rights.
Corinne Valdivia, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, highlighted: lessons learned in strengthening processes that build on local knowledge and networks to enable the agency of women; the need to align mitigation and adaptation measures; the importance of understanding the role of context in minimizing or exacerbating gender differences; and the need for able brokers to bridge the gap between the local and higher levels.
During discussions, participants highlighted the need to address power relations and the challenge of making international protocols meaningful at the local level.
GLOBAL UPDATES ON FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent, moderated the session on global updates on forests and climate change.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, highlighted the contribution of forests to biodiversity protection, greenhouse gas emissions and livelihoods, saying that they are both a source of and sink for greenhouse gases. She called for climate-smart agricultural practices to ensure a transition to a green, low-carbon economy that addresses food security simultaneously, but emphasized that climate-smart agriculture is not a panacea for all the problems to be addressed. She provided an overview of the forest-related activities that have been undertaken with funding from the UK’s International Climate Fund, including projects in Brazil to reverse the high deforestation rates. Calling for clarifying land tenure rights, she highlighted the need to make progress on methodological guidance for the implementation of REDD+ and emphasized that COP 17 will follow up on the REDD+ issues addressed in the Cancún Agreements.
Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank, provided an overview of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day held on 3 December 2011, parallel to COP 17. She said that Tina Joemat-Peterson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa, focused on achieving an unequivocal call for climate-smart agriculture, and delivered a letter to the UNFCCC requesting a work programme on this be established under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Kyte underscored that forests, climate change and agriculture cannot be discussed in isolation as they are inextricably linked. She said that unless access to land and extreme poverty are addressed as well as ensuring higher crop yields and water security, the world will not achieve its “carbon plans and goals.”
Tony La Viña, Ateneo School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University, The Philippines, provided an update of negotiations currently underway on REDD+. He said a first guidance decision had been adopted the previous day, which addressed enforcing and monitoring the implementation of safeguards but allowed future modifications should it be needed. He lamented that while this is not a perfect solution, negotiators are “flying blind” and thus it may be a good way to approach the situation.
Odigha Odigha, Chairman, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Nigeria, discussed the work of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, highlighting several challenges that still need to be addressed, including the need to review previous work and decisions from the UNFCCC COP. He also called for commitment to concrete activities at community level that are pro-poor in nature.
Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR, noted that discussions at Forest Day 5 had addressed the specific opportunities and challenges of forest management in Africa, successfully launched the first informal market place, and showcased the innovative use of instant voting by participants to identify priority areas for future action. She also highlighted the many tributes paid to the late Wangari Maathai’s work and legacy.
Christina Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, thanked Forest Day participants for their “patience with the COP” and noted achievements so far at COP 17 as: the conclusion of an adaptation package on African soil; agreement on a second commitment period with no policy gap following the end of the Kyoto Protocol; and broad recognition that the current level of ambition on climate change is insufficient. She noted that COP 17 is a mammoth undertaking, with close to 200 governments “attempting to write a global business plan for the planet for the next 50 years.” She added that this needs to be done with a “triple bottom line” in mind: climate mitigation and adaptation and the reduction of poverty.
Following Frances Seymour’s announcement that she will be stepping down as CIFOR Director-General in 2012, Eduardo Rojas-Briales lauded the “mother” of the Forest Days for her inspiring leadership in bridging the science-policy gap and building broad consensus on REDD.