FEATURED ARTICLE: CIFOR: Three areas to focus on to make REDD+ work

 FORESTS NEWS

 Analysis

Three areas to focus on to make REDD+ work

 REDD+ continues to find its place in forest-based strategies against climate change, but getting results will require serious change.
Shares
0
REDD+: A success as an idea, but fewer results than expected.

REDD+: A success as an idea, but fewer results than expected.Edgardo W. Olivera/Flickr

REDD+ might not have figured prominently on the agenda of the official climate negotiations in Paris, but experiences and visions were shared during side events and other discussions, and REDD+ continues to find its place in strategies against climate change.

For example, the new REDD+ pledges of US$5 billion for 2015–2020 by the newly formed GNU group (Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom) represent a major step-up in international funding, and 39 developing countries included REDD+ in their pledges (INDCs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to the UNFCCC.

The state of REDD+ is not unlike that of the New York Declaration on Forests, a stocktaking of which suggests that progress is slow, at best: It’s a remarkable success as an idea and as a flagship of international climate negotiations, but has had slower implementation and fewer documented results than most of us expected. And indeed, how exactly REDD+ is to be inserted into national development and climate strategies remains a major challenge.

RELATED READING
REDD+ from every angle

In the wake of the celebrations greeting the Paris Agreement, we highlight three areas where REDD+ needs to move forward if it is to realize its original objective: reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

First, REDD+ countries must assume a stronger role and ownership in the implementation of REDD+ and incorporate it into their INDCs and in their domestic emission targets.

Second, corporate efforts—through the greening of supply chains—can play a major role, driven by consumer pressure and environmental watchdogs and complemented by domestic policy reforms.

Powerful actors are engaged like never before in debates on the role of forests in the global carbon cycle.

Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot

Third, international funding should nudge countries toward stronger commitments, support capacity building, and provide incentives for forest conservation through results-based mechanisms.

NATIONAL COMMITMENTS AND POLICIES

To achieve substantial emission reductions, forest conservation will increasingly have to be considered as REDD+ countries’ contribution to the global effort of limiting climate change, as integrated into national green/low-emission/low-carbon/sustainable development strategies. An analysis of the policy process in key REDD+ countries argues that “achieving emission reductions through REDD+ requires four preconditions for overcoming politico-economic hurdles: (i) the relative autonomy of the State from key interests that drive deforestation and forest degradation, (ii) national ownership over REDD+ policy processes, (iii) inclusive REDD+ policy processes, and (iv) the presence of coalitions that call for transformational change.” When the REDD+ process is driven by international actors, it is unlikely to make a difference on the ground.

National governments are therefore in the driver’s seat for achieving reduced forest emissions. They have the primary ability for achieving this goal, and—some would argue—also the primary responsibility. Governments can implement a range of specific policies that have proved efficient in limiting deforestation. Subsidized emissions are not just a problem for fossil fuel emissions. A recent report by the Overseas Development Institute points to the pervasive effect of subsidies on key commodities, such as beef and soy in Brazil, and palm oil and timber in Indonesia. The subsidies amount to $40 billion per year for these two countries combined, and, the authors write, “These subsidies are likely to have a far more significant impact on private investment in activities that drive deforestation, than current REDD+ finance.” Reducing these subsidies, or making them conditional on compliance with zero-deforestation practices, represents a win–win change for conservation and development, although some groups will stand to lose from such a reform.

Creating and exploiting win–win situations is essential for REDD+ to make headway in national policy-making. REDD+ must be made compatible with national strategies for sustainable development, including food security and poverty reduction. Such win-win opportunities can be created by corporations, consumers and donors.

CORPORATIONS AND CONSUMERS

In parallel with the UNFCCC process, several initiatives at global and national levels have involved the private sector as a key partner in REDD+. The most noted national example is the Soy Moratorium of Brazil, adopted in 2006. This made traders agree not to sell soy produced by farmers who had cleared Amazon forests. Internationally, ‘zero deforestation’ initiatives have resulted in several global companies making significant efforts in greening their value chains. Studies among business executives also confirm that corporate reputation, media attention and customer pressure are the most important reasons for taking climate issues into consideration. Security of supply (in areas where production is not sustainable) is likely to become more important as land competition and climate extremes increase in frequency and severity.

In the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests, signatories from private sector, civil society and governments committed to doing their part to halve current deforestation rates by 2020 and to end deforestation by 2030. They also agreed to ensure that the production of four key commodities (palm oil, soy, paper, and beef) did not add to deforestation. A combination of higher awareness of the costs and risks involved in continued climate change, consumer pressure and demand for green products, and ‘naming and shaming’ by NGOs and other watchdogs can strengthen this trend even further. With international climate negotiations proving insufficient to deliver the cuts needed to get on a 2 degree path, private sector actors can define new standards and rules in (international) environmental governance. Supply chain reforms need to be backed by domestic legislation and supportive policies to make them function better and to hold companies accountable, while encouraging frontrunners.

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS AND FUNDING

The initially envisioned role of REDD+, or perhaps the core of REDD+, was a massive transfer of resources to incentivize forest conservation in developing countries. That scenario is unlikely to unfold, basically because the only realistic chance to provide sufficient funding is a global carbon market with REDD+ credits as an offsetting opportunity, and the creation of a market requires national caps on emissions. In absence of that, how could an international agreement advance the implementation of REDD+?

REDD+ has moved issues of transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples onto domestic political agendas.

Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot

The only game in town (= Paris) is INDCs: countries made their soft pledges through their submissions of the INDCs. In the best scenario, the review process both inside and—more importantly outside—the UNFCCC framework would help align national contributions toward reaching the 2°C target, enhance transparency and build trust. Halting and reversing the loss of carbon in forests and soils could become the main contribution of many developing countries in their INDCs. In other words, rather than REDD+ being seen solely as a vehicle to generate international funding, part of it could be claimed as a national contribution to the global efforts of curbing climate change, particularly for middle-income countries.

In terms of international funding, the Green Climate Fund, and other multilateral and bilateral arrangements (such as the GNU pledge) can provide funding for capacity building, upfront investments, concessional finance and direct payments for results (i.e. for reduced emissions). International funding for REDD+ (and climate funding in general) should arguably focus on the poorest countries, rather than middle-income countries such as Brazil that have sufficient resources to cover the domestic costs of forest conservation.

REALITY CHECK

REDD+ is frequently presented as a climate success story, partly because the idea looks so simple and appealing, partly because of the unusual inclusiveness of the process (the wide variety of active CSO and IP observers), partly because of the funding mobilized and activities generated, and partly because UNFCCC has for once reached a balanced agreement despite huge technical challenges. Powerful actors—from presidents and finance ministers in REDD+ countries to top executives in international corporations—are engaged like never before in debates on the role of forests in the global carbon cycle. REDD+ has moved issues of transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples onto domestic political agendas. The dramatic change in the global narrative and the political momentum generated are reasons for cautious optimism.

REDD+ is frequently presented as a climate success story, partly because the idea looks so simple and appealing.

Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot

But a thorough reality check is needed. The envisioned results in terms of reduced emissions have—by and large—not been delivered. Brazil is a success story, although little of its success can be attributed to REDD+. For other countries, there are few stories of substantial early progress in terms of reductions in deforestation (and its harder-to-measure twin, forest degradation). Old and new business-minded coalitions have blocked progress, suggesting that REDD+, if implemented, would actually make a difference.

This analysis is based in part on Arild Angelsen’s chapter “REDD+: What should come next?” in Towards a Workable and Effective Climate Regime.

For more information on this topic, please contact Louis Verchot at l.verchot@cgiar.org.
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

 

SEE COMMENT SUBMITTED BY FOREST KEEPER:

Forest Keeper

These comments are in response to the blog listed above entitled, ‘Three areas to focus on to make REDD+ work’ By Arild Angelsen and Louis Verchot, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 December 2015.

Since COP21, every major blog & article I know of supporting REDD implied that indigenous peoples, tenure & rights are protected by REDD+(REDD). CIFOR corrects that misinterpretation of the agreement in their 12-23-15 blog above. It states, “REDD+ has moved issues of transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples onto domestic political agendas. The dramatic change in the global narrative and the political momentum generated are reasons for cautious optimism.” One might be not be so cautiously optimist if one were a forest person without human rights or resource tenure

Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for COICA, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin stated, “For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change. A Global Witness report found “that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.”

CIFOR continues, “International funding for REDD+ (and climate funding in general) should arguably focus on the poorest countries, rather than middle-income countries such as Brazil that have sufficient resources to cover the domestic costs of forest conservation.” Imagine, the poorest countries have even worse record on “transparency, accountability, tenure and rights, and indigenous peoples” than Brazil.

Global Witness’s Nov. 30, 2015 Press release stated, “At least 640 land and environmental activists have been killed since the 2009 climate negotiations in Copenhagen – some shot by police during protests, others gunned down by hired assassins.”
  “According to Ninawa Huni Kui, the president of the Federation of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil in the Brazilian Amazon, the community he is from, is no longer to fish in their own land, to cultivate food, or to practice agriculture. All of these activities are banned and have been declared illegal, and people are jailed if they participate in agriculture or go fishing. Leaders are being criminalized for opposing the [REDD] project.”

Global Witnessed continued, “Most murders occurred in Latin America and Asia with far fewer reported in Africa, however this may be (due) to a lack of information…. …Justice is rarely given to murder victims. Killers are rarely brought to trial and often acquitted when they are. In Brazil, fewer than 10 percent of such murders go to trial, and only 1 percent see convictions.” The domestic politics of Tropical forested countries have very poor human rights & land tenure records.

The promotion of REDD without requiring these rights makes these people & their forests much more endangered. The world’s unprotected forests and their peoples primarily exist because these forests were not profitable to exploit due to inaccessibility or danger.  REDD is creating an economic incentive to now make these forests and their peoples much more profitable to exploit but without requiring the enforcement of the rights that will protect forest peoples & create well regulated markets. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities and NGOs have started promoting REDD without the enforcement of required safeguards in the last remote forests.

CIFOR states, “In terms of international funding, the Green Climate Fund, and other multilateral and bilateral arrangements (such as the GNU pledge) can provide funding for capacity building, upfront investments, concessional finance and direct payments for results (i.e. for reduced emissions).” The following studies indicate that recognizing and enforcing the land & resource tenure of forest people is a one of the best investments in REDD:

A, Agrawal’s study “shows that the larger the forest area under community ownership the higher the probability for better biodiversity maintenance, community livelihoods and carbon sequestration.” “The growing evidence that communities and households with secure tenure rights protect, maintain and conserve forests is an important consideration for the world’s climate if REDD schemes go forward, and even if they do not.” Agrawal, A (2008) ‘Livelihoods, carbon and diversity of community forests: trade offs and win wins?’

World Bank SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT WORKING PAPERS Paper No. 120/December 2009 stated, “…the cost range of recognizing community tenure rights (average $3.31/ha) is several times lower than the yearly costs estimates for …. an international REDD scheme ($400/ha/year to $20,000/ha/year).” “…a relatively insignificant investment in recognizing tenure rights has the potential to significantly improve the world’s carbon sequestration and management capacity…, prioritizing policies and actions aimed at recognizing forest community tenure rights can be a cost-effective step to improve the likelihood that REDD programs meet their goals.”

One of CIFOR’S Blog authors, Arild Angelsen’s wrote the following in his chapter “REDD+: What should come next?” in ‘Towards a Workable and Effective Climate Regime’: “To achieve significant reductions in forest emissions, the REDD+ countries themselves must take the driver’s seat with a focus on domestic policy reforms and enabling environments; the corporate sector should continue the greening of its supply chains, pushed by consumers, watchdogs and demand-side policies; and the international regime must gently nudge the countries to stronger pledges and provide finance to nudge and supplement domestic efforts in the poorest countries.

Living on Earth”(LOE) radio reported, that “governments own about 75 percent of the world’s forests, less than ten percent legally belong to communities. In Indonesia, 65 million people live off forests—most of them have no official rights to the land they consider theirs. In the eyes of the Forest Ministries, they’re squatters occupying a national resource.”

Even Brazil has failed to adequately recognize & enforce resource & human rights. “Clear ownership records exist for less than 4 percent of the land in private hands throughout the Brazilian Amazon, government officials said. …In the state of Pará, officials have discovered false titles for about 320 million acres, almost double the amount of land that actually exists, according to federal officials.” NYT, December 26, 2009 by Alexei Barrionuevo.

Given the history of land tenure and conflict in most Tropical countries with large remaining forests, it is implausible and inefficient to believe that “nudging” for rights will be sufficient. After remote forests & their peoples are put on the REDD’s radar it will be a rearguard nightmare to try to stem the suffering. Either amend REDD to stipulate recognition & enforcement of resource and human rights prior to funding or do not increase interest in those forests by introducing REDD without rights.

Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago told LOE: ” I think nothings wrong with REDD, if the implementations put indigenous peoples’ rights as a precondition. We have the same goals with REDD+, to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, but if they put that in a market scenario, if they put REDD into the hands of corporations, the REDD + will colonize our territory.”

REDD could be amended, so that REDD+ would stipulate that forest communities’ resource customary rights shall be secured and enforced before more than 10% of REDD+ funding is granted solely for implimenting that legal tenure process. These rights of resource tenure should be secured for at least three times the life of the oldest tree species in the forest in question and 51% of REDD+ funds or carbon offsets received by the national or sub national Government should be matched by those entities and provided to the forest peoples for the enforcement of their rights.

?CIFOR or REDD supporters, what is the strategy to amend REDD to ensure the recognition and enforcement of customary resource tenure and human rights for forest peoples prior to REDD payment or funding?

These comments were submitted twice to CIFOR starting on 1-12-16, but CIFOR has not posted them.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s