‘Plan B’ anyone?

Do we have a ‘Plan B’? With that one question, a delegate who attended the ADB and RECOFTC side event on REDD+ national strategies vocalized what many (openly or otherwise) have been fearfully contemplating as the Tianjin talks limped along. It stripped away the façade that all is well as news of progress, or rather, a lack thereof, filtered through the grapevine (see previous post).

A corresponding question in my mind is whether all the progress achieved for REDD+ readiness thus far risks being flushed down the drain? Money is of course the main issue. More is needed for readiness, and loads more for actual REDD+ implementation. But fast-track financing is moving along with the speed of a broken legged tortoise. As for that legally binding climate change agreement, COP 265 on Mars may be more realistic than COP 17 in South Africa.

But it’s not all bad.

Panelist after panelist at the side event pointed to strong political will and incentive to address many issues that have long plagued sustainable forestry in the Asia-Pacific. Countries are seriously looking at how, through the lens of REDD+, they can:

  • Encourage genuine stakeholder engagement;
  • Improve governance in institutions, policies and processes;
  • Promote better forest management practices on the ground;
  • Strengthen skills to collect, measure, report and verify data; and
  • Design an equitable benefit-sharing system.

All the above bodes well for local communities and indigenous peoples (and forests) in the region. Progress on Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), particularly in Vietnam, is especially encouraging. Sorting out the all important REDD+ benefit-sharing is also high on national agendas, with Cambodia and Indonesia leading the pack in developing clear regulations for this. But if issues such as those listed above are handled badly, we could be sitting on a powder keg.

So, is there a Plan B? No. Do we need one? The jury is still out on that.

Celina Yong, RECOFTC

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