Reflections on REDD+

I had hoped to be able to share with readers a range of views from and Asia-Pacific perspective on the draft decision on REDD during my last few days in Copenhagen. Unfortunately I was not able to track down quite as many people as I had intended.

I was however able to sit down with two people offering slightly different perspectives than in the previous “REDD Q&A” posted on this blog – one from a research institution and one from a carbon trading company. In this post are reflections from these two well-informed observers from the Asia-Pacific region who have been following the negotiations closely.  I am following up with others electronically and hope to be able to get more perspectives to you in the coming days.

I asked both observer to share their general view of the draft REDD text, highlighting key areas of interest/concern. This may be a little dated given that the negotiations concluded yesterday, but still offers some useful observations toward analyzing the final outcome.

“I think it’s a pretty good deal, if we can seal it.” – Lou Verchot, Center forInternational Forestry Research (CIFOR)

“Good governance is good business.”– Augus Sari, PT EcoSecurities Indonesia

One thing that both agree on  – Without some openness to market-based financing, the amount of funding needed for REDD to be effective will not materialize.

Read on for the full interviews …

Lou Verchot, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Global

So, why is the REDD decision shaping up to be a “pretty good deal”?

Safeguards are Included

  • There is mention of indigenous peoples and local communities, and of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights.
  • Monitoring, verification and reporting for safeguards is also there, though bracketed.

Sub-national Implementation

  • Sub-national implementation is included as an option, as long as it’s linked to accounting at the national level – “The option of disaggregating is important for countries like Brazil with different types of forests and very different drivers across the country.”
  • National accounting of emissions reductions is important to avoid leakage and this is provided for in the footnote in the text.

On the question of fund-based versus market-based funding for REDD …

  • Under a phased approach which is currently in the text, this question is not immediately relevant – “If we don’t answer the question of how phase three will be funded here in Copenhagen that is ok because no country is yet ready to move beyond phases one or two [for which financing would be fund-based]. But it can’t be pushed back further than Mexico because Brazil probably will be ready in 2012, so it will need to be sorted by then.”
  • “I sort of hope that funding for the third phase is market-based because it will be hard to mobilize the funds necessary otherwise. Once developed countries get going with their emissions reductions, they are not likely to be very interested in REDD unless it is linked to offsets.”

“There is hope that we will get a reasonable outcome.”

Augus Sari, Country Director, PT EcoSecurities Indonesia

Key concern: “The role of the market is not prominent enough.”

  • In Indonesia the government does not have a good track record of managing funds to effectively reduce deforestation – “The Reforestaion Fund was used for everything but reforestation.”
  • How did the Reforestion Fund work? – “Logging companies contributed to the government fund [to support government reforestation efforts] and in doing so felt that they had fulfilled their corporate social responsibility.”
  • “I’m confused that this [financing for REDD being entirely fund-based] is being supported by civil society.”
  • “I am concerned that there are countries that would like the mechanism to remain fund-based forever. Brazil is the only country that is objecting a role for the market. I am surprised that other countries are not saying more.”
  • “There are investors that are willing to invest in readiness.”

Why do you think many civil society groups outright oppose market-based approaches?

  • “Civil society groups tend to have a negative perception of the “market” of private sector as a whole.”
  • “There is a perception by civil society that they can influence the government more than the can the private sector.”
  • Government and civil society occupy the same space – that is, the public space.”
  • “Profit-making is not acceptable to some.”

What would you like to see?

  • “In an ideal world, governments would regulate the carbon market effectively and transparently.”
  • “I would like to see a market mechanism where the government tweaks the private sector to ensure that the public interest is taken into account.”

“Public funding alone will not be able to provide the amount of funding needed.”

Our discussion got me thinking, it seems as though indigenous peoples organizations, civil society groups and the private sector are all on the same page when it come to safeguards. Short-lived alliances with very specific common aims come and go all of the time – is it possible that these groups might join forces in their common aim to support the development of robust MRV systems or to monitor governments’ adherence to safeguards? I know this is a tall order given the abysmal behaviour of companies the world over, with indigenous peoples and local communities usually bearing the brunt of the damage, but I sometimes wonder whether many of us fall into Einstein’s classic definition of insanity in our continued faith in government as the responsible benefactor of the ‘public good’. Governments are critical partners, some of whom are making ambitious strides in recognizing the rights and critical contributions of their citizens in their efforts to address climate change. But, maybe there is an opportunity to draw on the discipline and efficiency that profit-driven approaches might offer the ‘public good’ when considering REDD implementation. And, maybe there is a role for civil society in engaging with private sector ‘champions,’ bringing their combined expertise to bear.

posted by Allison Bleaney, REDD-net

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