They say you haven’t been to the COP if you haven’t been to Forests Day, a feeling shared by the 1000+ people who descended on the Olive Convention Centre this Sunday. The frantic excitement surrounding the day explains why our booth had already been picked clean of FPIC guidance manuals and briefing papers by eager punters – before we had even turned up!
‘Landscapes’, ‘agriculture’ and ‘food security’ were the buzz-words of the day – and rightly so in a continent where most of the forest is located in dryland agricultural areas. In the opening plenary, Tina Joematt-Petterson, the Minister of Environment for South Africa, proclaimed “agriculture is critical to REDD+.”
Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests reminded us that “drylands have low carbon, but hold opportunities for restoration and for capturing synergies between adaptation and mitigation” and Bob Scholes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research called for “sustainable intensification” of agriculture, if REDD+ is to succeed.
At a discussion forum titled ‘The place of agroforestry, afforestation and reforestation in REDD+,’ Michael Dutschke (Chair of the Global Conservation Standard) pointed out that with at least 2 billion more mouths to feed by 2050, REDD+ projects will need to increase, not hinder, national food production. The forward-looking REDD+ investor should be focusing on this, said Dutschke, with carbon credits possibly an additional rather than core benefit of REDD+ projects.
An intriguing thought, especially given Itaru Shiraishi (Marubeni Corporation) reiterating in a REDD+ finance session that “the private sector needs a REDD+ compliance market to invest,” otherwise “we lose our jobs.” Could sustainable agricultural intensification be a more solid basis for private REDD+ investment?
Multilateral and bilateral donors seem to share the sentiment. At the ‘Global updates on forests and climate change’ session there were nods all round as Rachel Kyte of the World Bank said “REDD+ won’t work as long as people are hungry,” and Caroline Spelman, the UK environment minister announced GBP 10 million in support for the Brazilian government to strengthen the land registry system in the Cerrado/agricultural mosaic of Brazil, accompanied with technical assistance to help landowners improve agricultural production and comply with the forest code.
At the same session, Tony La Viña, facilitator of REDD+ negotiations, said that, on the financing side, he has drafted one page of text for negotiation that includes an “integrated adaptation/mitigation mechanism” and there is a “link to agriculture,” though this depends on the progress of an agricultural work program, which “could go its own way” or could be “linked to forests.”
The work program on financing continues into next year. In the meantime, the author’s take is that agriculture and agroforestry are set to take a more prominent seat in the REDD+ finance debate if we are to feed the nine billion and keep our forests intact.
This blog was contributed from Durban by Jim Stephenson, RECOFTC’s Program Officer for People, Forests, and Climate Change. Read more about RECOFTC’s presence at Durban on our website, and check back for more blogs from the conference! Also visit CIFOR Forests blog for more coverage from Durban.