I attended my first REDD+ partnership meeting last night (Monday). I can now officially report that it is indeed as dysfunctional as I’ve heard, and perhaps more so than I expected. My sunny, optimistic outlook has taken a severe hit.
More balancing acts (see previous post) cropped up in this meeting. In this case, the crucial dichotomy is between patience and urgency. Be patient, take time to get the early readiness work right, says Germany, before discussing an ambitious new program of activities. On the contrary, says Guyana, forests are being lost as we speak; we must push forward as fast as possible and start actually rolling out ground-based activities to reduce deforestation and degradation. Good to see the old debates still stumbling along.
But the whole partnership effort seems still to suffer from the same deficiencies – lack of transparency and participation – that were highlighted back in June by the Forest Peoples Programme.
As luck would have it, the Monday evening meeting adopted one of the very first ideas on the table – to chop up the draft program for next year and divide into small groups to write up a new version. The trouble was, it took them another two and a half hours to conclude this. The company was groaning under the weight of excessive agreement by then.
So why such a drawn-out procedure? Barely an hour into the meeting a delegate first pointed out that we should move on to the second agenda item, only for the co-chair to point out that some delegations deserved the opportunity to agree… for a second time. Perhaps it was the nature of that second agenda item itself – stakeholder participation – that was the sticking-point. Along with another 25 civil society representatives, I’d been drawn to the meeting by the promise, finally, of a discussion on this topic, which is vital for the credibility of the REDD+ partnership.
It could be that the chair of the meeting was simply not up to the job, as I’d previously heard. Or perhaps there was a deliberate intention on the part of some individuals to avoid the topic of stakeholder participation.
What can be done to move things along? Perhaps those who achieve great things by asking great nations to move aside should take their own advice…
Ben Vickers, Tuesday 5 October