Jim Stephenson comments on the first day REDD+ discussions at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference.
The additional sessions of the Ad-Hoc Working Groups began yesterday in Bangkok, with REDD+ finance taking up two conference halls’-worth of attention through the snappily titled ‘Workshop on financing options for the full implementation of results-based actions relating to REDD-plus, including modalities and procedures for financing these result-based actions’.
An area where progress is urgently needed in the run-up to COP 18 in Doha is how ‘results-based’ REDD+ will be financed. The good news is that there has clearly been much work put into debating and analyzing the options, backed up with formal party and observer submissions in March, work-shopping and a UNFCCC technical paper published in July.
During the final session, the Chair was moved to remark that each Party was beginning their statement with ‘as has already been said’ or ‘we are in full agreement with’. Typical workshop idiom – but in UNFCCC discussions, Parties have a duty to defend their interests. Perhaps the consensus on these issues, at least at this stage, is building.
The areas of consensus are fairly non-contentious issues – such as the need for diverse sources of both market and non-market based finance for REDD+, including the need to determine the role of the Green Climate Fund in REDD+ financing in time for Doha. Though not contentious, this is very important. The $4.5 billion in public funding promised as part of the 2010-12 ‘fast start finance’ for REDD+ readiness has under-delivered, and achieving progress towards results based finance clearly requires a diversified financing base to reach the scale needed. Coordinating the diversification process would be the real challenge – Parties point out that managing and reporting so many different finance flows could add another burden onto the governments receiving these funds. To address this potential issue, the need for a well organized and transparent UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism was highlighted, in order to unify these funding streams and simplify the finance disbursal process.
Another area highlighted by the Parties was the need to recognize the diversity of what REDD+ ‘results’ are, which has large implications for the scaling up of REDD+ finance in lieu of a compliance carbon market. Some feel that the ‘co-benefits’ of REDD+ should attract their own funding regardless of the carbon market, such as watershed services, biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation and sustainable commodities. The norm is now to put the ‘co’ in co-benefits in quotes, recognizing that these benefits should gain equal footing to the carbon emission reductions in REDD+. If this happens these benefits could be mainstreamed in the ‘payment for results’ framework, hence expanding the potential funding pools for REDD+.
Better still would be the recognition of improved governance in the forest sector, including advances made in community forestry law and implementation, as ‘results’ to be rewarded. This would also reinforce the incentives for Parties to properly implement or even exceed social and environmental safeguard standards, something very much welcomed by RECOFTC.