REDD+ Debates in Full Swing at Durban

Jim Stephenson, RECOFTC Program Officer for People, Forests, and Climate Change, provides some highlights from the first few sessions at COP17 in Durban.

COP17 in Durban is now in full swing – as are the discussions on REDD+, which are set to produce results by Saturday. The Norwegian delegation announced at a packed contact meeting yesterday that they had “already been for a jog this morning and had a double espresso” which is just as well given that the REDD+ negotiators will be up night and day to have text agreed by Saturday.

This should give the REDD+ crowd plenty to chew over by the morning of Forests Day on Sunday, and following on from my last post this means my Sunday morning speak will be more REDD+ finance, reference emission levels, and safeguards, rather than my usual caveman mono-syllables.


Forest communities hold the key for every form of REDD+ finance

Arriving on a stormy Durban Sunday I dropped in on the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)’s ‘REDD+ poverty reduction and sustainable development’ workshop, where the theme of the day was ‘cost-effective REDD+ pro-poor options’. An impressive number of people turned down their Sunday morning lie-ins to attend – can’t say I usually find myself talking social safeguard information systems before 8:00am!

Despite the jet-lagged haze, a recurring message came through to me clearly: whichever way you finance REDD+, local people will always make or break it.


Building the capacity of grassroots communities is the foundation for success in REDD+

The past year between COP16 in Cancun and COP17 in Durban has seen a number of initiatives and developments at the global level in taking forward one of the key outcomes of Cancun Agreement – advancing the social and environmental safeguards related to REDD+. Entering into the fifth year of REDD+ negotiations in Durban (seventh if we consider the very first proposals in 2005), a number of fundamental issues have yet to be addressed for developing and implementing an effective REDD+ mechanism.

RECOFTC is currently implementing a REDD+ capacity building program for grassroots stakeholders, project implementers and community based organizations in Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal and Viet Nam. Along the way, we’ve encountered a number of challenges that will need to be addressed under the REDD+ mechanism, or forested countries will continue to struggle to develop a widely accepted and inclusive approach for tackling deforestation.


Daily News Digest – 14 December 2009

Reuters – Forest communities said key to climate fight

Reporting from CIFOR’s Forest Day 3, officials and academics agree that safeguards to protect and compensate local communities are key for halting deforestation. Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom also spoke at the event:

“If local people and indigenous people in the developing world are not recognised and assigned clear rights, we could end up with more deforestation,” – Elinor Ostrom, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics.

Full article on Reuters

Bangkok Post – Firms seek tough stand on climate deal

Local business leaders in Thailand have called on the government not to ratify any new climate change deal if developed countries do not commit to funding and technology transfers. Full article in the Bangkok Post.

Thanh Nien News – Vietnam third most disaster-ravaged nation in 2008

A recently released report named Vietnam as one of the countries hit the hardest by natural disasters, reaffirming the need for COP15 and a climate change treaty to enable transfer of funds and technology to developing countries for adaptation. Full article in Thanh Nien News. – UN Climate Wall brings climate change testimonies to COP 15

The UN Climate Wall is a touch screen display embedded with real-life stories, where people from Cambodia, Bangladesh, and other countries describe how climate change is impacting people their lives. Full article on

Mongabay – New REDD text is weak, say activists
Associated Press – Lack of money could hurt forest deal
IPS News – Asian delegates want ‘political accord’ for now
The Guardian – Poor countries threaten climate deal showdown at summit

Community Carbon Accounting: Practical Measurements and Measurers

Registration to the conference for non-government delegates opened at 12:00 yesterday, after the opening ceremony had been safely negotiated. I arrived at 12:30 to be greeted by a shivering, snaking 500-meter queue, moving at a glacial pace. Rather than being frozen out of proceedings for the next 3 hours, I moved on to the external side event organized by partners in the Kyoto – Think Global Act Local (KTGAL) project, who have spent the last six years demonstrating efficient and cost-effective Community Carbon Accounting (CCA) methodologies in eight countries across the global south.

Proving that local people hold the key to healthy forests

As this editorial in Nature affirmed last month, it is at the local level that efforts to conserve and manage forests sustainably will either succeed or fail. Nations that ensure that local people are intimately involved in REDD+, and benefit from its implementation, are most likely to succeed. It is fortunate, then, that local people do indeed hold the key, not only to achieving results in terms of reduced forest degradation, but also, as KTGAL has demonstrated, in generating the data needed to verify these results. (more…)

PNG Takes Spotlight in REDD Debate

Papua New Guinea plays a central role in the ongoing saga of REDD. As a founding member of the Coalition for  Rainforest Nations and the instigator, along with Costa Rica, of discussions on RED (then a simpler, deforestation-only, single D idea) at COP 11, PNG is unaccustomed to such prominence in global political debate. The country’s image was further burnished by the interjection of Kevin Conrad in Bali two years ago, when he captured the frustration of the world with the stonewalling US delegation: “If, for some reason, you are unwilling to lead…please, get out of the way.”

Mr Conrad may have become something of a pin-up for followers of the climate negotiations, but it seems that the PNG delegation has lost the faith of its constituency back home. A meeting of rural landowners and civil society groups called by the Eco-Forestry Forum (EFF) last month concluded that the Government was “unprepared” for COP 15. (more…)

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