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World Resources Institute review of World Bank-approved R-PINs finds critical issues are “conspicuously missing”

World Resources Institute review of World Bank-approved R-PINs finds critical issues are conspicuously missing

World Resources Institute has produced a Working Paper reviewing 25 “Readiness Plan Idea Notes” (R-PINs) from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

The review looks at R-PINs already approved by the FCPF trust fund committee and finds serious omissions in the way many of the R-PINs address questions of good governance of forests.

The Working Paper can be downloaded here (pdf file 100 kB).

In its analysis, WRI found that “none of the countries’ submissions can be considered comprehensive”. WRI notes that R-PINs are intended to be preliminary documents, but points out that “several critical issues were generally and conspicuously missing from the R-PINs”.

For example, WRI found that:

  • Law enforcement challenges require greater attention
    Many R-PINs acknowledge that illegal logging and other forest crime is a major driver of deforestation and forest degradation. “Yet the majority of the R-PINs do not demonstrate much consideration of the causes of weak law enforcement beyond insufficient capacity, let alone potential solutions.”
  • Unclear tenure is a major challenge in most countries, and responding to this challenge will require much more effort
    “Almost all of the R-PINs recognize the need to clarify land tenure systems in the context of REDD implementation. . . . However, many R-PINs suggest a very limited analysis (and in some cases understanding) of the existing situation with regards to conflicts over tenure and potential obstacles to reform and implementation.”
  • Measure to increase policy coherence between sectors, particularly with regards to land use planning, need more attention
    While several R-PINs acknowledge the inadequacy of current land use plans, WRI found that “few R-PINs directly acknowledge potential conflicts between policies to reduce deforestation and policies in the agriculture or infrastructure sectors.”
  • The adequacy of existing revenue distribution and benefit-sharing mechanisms should inform the development of a payment system under REDD
    WRI comments that “Developing a system for managing REDD revenues wil be a significant endeavor for most countries, which is largely unaddressed in the R-PINs.” WRI adds optimistically that this issue “will likely see more prominence in the R-Plans”. WRI notes that countries need to implement transparent and accountable processes involving stakeholders to decide who should benefit from REDD, and how. Failure to do so “significantly raises the risk of corruption and elite capture”.
  • Transparency and accountability in forest monitoring systems for REDD need to be emphasized
    Monitoring deforestation and forest degradation accurately and regularly is critical for REDD. WRI found that “Most countries identify major capacity constraints, most of which are technical and financial, that will need to be overcome as a part of the readiness process. However, few R-PINs grapple with the challenges of data management and information-sharing, or the critical importance of using independent monitoring and third party verification to ensure transparency or accountability.”

Once the R-PINs are approved, the 25 countries are eligible for World Bank funding to develop a Readiness Plan (R-Plan) for developing a detailed strategy for implementing REDD at the national level. Issues to be covered in R-plans include national reference scenarios of deforestation, monitoring systems and foundations of good forest governance such as secure tenure, enforcement of forest laws, and empowering forest-dependent communities. WRI notes that “Many of these fundamental conditions are weak or absent within developing countries that might participate in REDD. Without them it will be difficult if not unfeasible, to reduce rates [of] deforestation and degradation at the national level and deal with risks of leakage.”

WRI concludes that many of the problems with the R-PINs could be addressed at the R-Plan stage, although they note that “The review of the R-PINs suggests that the costs of readiness are likely to be quite significant”. But WRI’s analysis of the R-PINs shows glaring gaps in countries’ abilities to address the underlying causes of forest destruction.

In its analysis WRI refered to 17 “fundamental criteria of good governance”, organised in six areas:

  • Law & Policy Development
  • Land Tenure Administration & Enforcement
  • Forest Management
  • Forest Monitoring
  • Law Enforcement
  • Forest Revenue Distribution & Benefit Sharing

In every single one of the already approved R-PINs, WRI found problems. One aspect that WRI did not address in its review is how much (or how little) consultation with local communities and Indigenous Peoples was involved in the preparation of the R-PINs. As REDD-Monitor has noted, in several cases this was non-existent.

The report “Cutting Corners“, by FERN and FPP notes that the FCPF criteria for approving or rejecting R-PINs (as set out in the FCPF Information Memorandum and the FCPF Charter) include the following:

  • Ownership of the proposal by both government and relevant stakeholders
  • Consistency between national and sectoral strategies
  • Completeness of information and data provided
  • Clarity of REDD responsibilities
  • Feasibility and likelihood of success.

WRI’s review clearly shows that the R-PINs have been approved in breach of the FCPF’s own guidelines. Not a promising start.

Some of the problems that WRI’s analysis of the R-PINs revealed are listed below:

    Argentina: The R-PIN fails to describe the relevant stakeholders and community forest management “is not given much consideration”.

    Bolivia: The R-PIN only addresses issues surrounding local communities and REDD “indirectly”.

    Cameroon: The R-PIN fails to propose solutions to conflicts between the State and Customary rights or human rights absuses against pygmy communities. “There is no meaningful discussion of law enforcement.”

    Colombia: While the R-PIN acknowledges that national policies, planning and legislation underlie many of the drivers of deforestation, it fails to offer any specific details. Neither does it discuss in any depth illegal activities associated with armed conflict and illicit crops.

    Republic of the Congo: The R-PIN states that “Congo does not suffer from a strong governance problem.” Yet the government relies on concessionaires for the consultation with local communities. The R-PIN says nothing about forest crime or law enforcement and suggests that logging companies could distribute the benefits of REDD to communities.

    Costa Rica: The discussion about the need for policy reform in the light of REDD is “vague” and “it is unclear how deep this commitment is or what it would involve.” Issues relating to the transparency of forest monitoring are not discussed.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: The R-PIN states that customary rights are being compromised by “rapid modernization”, without further explanation. WRI notes that the R-PIN states “illegal logging is not known and that violent conflict has reduced the quality of governance.” WRI comments that “This issue needs much more attention.”

    Ethiopia: The description of consultation processes for REDD in the R-PIN is “not very convincing”. There is no discussion of transparency in revenue distribution.

    Gabon: The R-PIN acknowledges that little is known about the Pygmies and there does not seem to any tenure system for Indigenous Peoples. Transfer of REDD revenues to local communities will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but “criteria for consideration are not given”. The R-PIN suggests that logging companies might be able to distribute benefits from REDD to Pygmy communities.

    Ghana: The R-PIN makes no specific reference to Indigenous Peoples’ land rights.

    Guyana: The R-PIN mentions processes for stakeholder consultation, but, “it is unclear whether they actually impact decision-making, as they do not appear to be standardized or institutionalized”.

    Kenya: The R-PIN “could use a much deeper consideration of local and indigenous communities with regard to tenure”.

    Lao PDR: The R-PIN doesn’t discuss the extent to which customary use of forest resources are adequately protected. “No data are available on forest dwellers or indigenous peoples in land potentially targeted for REDD activities.” On forest monitoring, “There is no discussion of independent monitoring or transparency.”

    Liberia: The R-PIN does not discuss the need for transparency in relation to forest monitoring and does not discuss law enforcement issues in detail.

    Madagascar: The R-PIN does not discuss law enforcement issues, although the primary drivers of deforestation, according to the R-PIN, are slash and burn practices and demand for biomass energy from forests.

    Mexico: The R-PIN notes that land use conflicts exist on two million hectares of indigenous lands. WRI comments that “It is not clear how these conflicts will be dealt with.” Regarding law enforcement, “much more is needed to solve this problem in preparation for REDD.”

    Nepal: The R-PIN provides “little clarification” on how to address illegal logging and timber smuggling, which it acknowledges are made worse by political instabilities.

    Nicaragua: “More information is needed on the particular challenges and obstacles to improving the tenure situation.” There is no discussion of independent forest monitoring or transparency. Nor is law enforcement discussed, although illegal logging is described as a major driver of deforestation. The R-PIN admits a lack of information on forest dependent people and their livelihoods.

    Panama: Tenure security is only indirectly addressed and a larger discussion of the law enforcement system was lacking.

    Paraguay: Lack of secure tenure is noted as a problem in the R-PIN, but the R-PIN fails to suggest possibilities for reform and does not discuss how tenure insecurity relates to REDD issues. “[T]he R-PIN’s vague discussion of how REDD relates to the national development agenda is disappointing.”

    Peru: “The R-PIN’s discussion of current policies for reducing D&D [deforestation and forest degradation] is extremely vagues.” No detailed information is given about capacities to monitor forests. A “major weakness” is the lack of a useful discussion on law enforcement issues.

    Papua New Guinea: The R-PIN provides no suggestions for how to conduct consultations on REDD. There is no discussion of the relationship between REDD and agriculture, although the R-PIN states that agriculture is responsible for nearly half of all deforestation. “There is no discussion of illegal logging or law enforcement issues anywhere in the R-PIN.”

    Uganda: The R-PIN does not give potential solutions for a “breakdown in law enforcement and corruption”. The subject of revenue distribution and benefit sharing “will require much more exploration”.

    Vanuatu: “[I]t is not quite clear how REDD activities might align with specific strategies from sectors such as agriculture or infrastructure and there is no discussion of existing or planned processes for cross-sector coordination.” Information transparency is not discussed in the context of forest monitoring. Forest crime and law enforcement is not discussed.

    Vietnam: “The R-PIN states that forest land tenure and benefit sharing arrangement are inequitable, but doesn’t explain why.” The issue of law enforcement “deserves more attention”.

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  1. From my understanding, countries completing R-PIN did so without any financial support from the World Bank. Further, the R-PIN process was designed specifically to identify gaps in information and capacity before beginning an REDD Planning process. So, give the poor REDD countries a break. They do not have to do any of this. The world should be saying thank you, not giving them grief.

  2. I think the criticism should be focussed on the World Bank and the authors of the R-PINs. The FCPF approved the R-PINs despite the fact that they did not meet FCPF’s criteria for approving or rejecting R-PINs:

    * Ownership of the proposal by both government and relevant stakeholders
    * Consistency between national and sectoral strategies
    * Completeness of information and data provided
    * Clarity of REDD responsibilities
    * Feasibility and likelihood of success.

    WRI’s analysis shows that these criteria were not met by any of the R-PINs. If FCPF is ignoring its own criteria, what is the point having the criteria in the first place?

  3. I have to agree with Hap Kanaka. I was involved in preparing the Vanuatu R-PIN. It is sad to see just a couple of negative lines above about the Vanuatu R-PIN, when there is much to be positive about that was ignored by WRI commentary. I am happy to discuss with anyone the questions raised above (e.g. about cross sector coordination). It is important to recognise that many developing countries have very few resources to commit to preparing these applications – yes countries did not receive any financial assistance to prepare R-PINs. My time was donated for free. Vanuatu prepared an exciting proposal to take economic pressure off indigenous forests through plantation and agroforestry (on non-forest lands), together with strategies to assist indigenous forest owners to accomplish their legitimate development goals whilst protecting their natural forests. I invite WRI to help Vanuatu fund and implemtent its REDD program rather than just criticise its efforts to win funding from the World Bank.

  4. Thanks for this comment, Sean. The couple of lines extracted above were not everything that WRI had to say on Vanuatu. WRI commented on the R-PINs using their 17 “criteria of good governance” as a framework. Here are WRI’s comments about Vanuatu in full, cut and pasted from their summaries of the R-PINs – available here:

    Governance Analysis Summary Table: VANUATU

    Law & Policy Development

    The R-PIN suggests that it could be useful to rethink the national forest strategy in light of changing economic pressures. It mentions various forest sector laws and policies relevant to REDD, but does not provide any insight into the strengths or weaknesses of the current policy and legal framework. Processes for participatory policy-making are mainly discussed as they relate to REDD activities. The R-PIN emphasizes the involvement indigenous landowners in REDD processes, but also mentions timber companies, local governments, and other agencies as key stakeholders. The discussion of ongoing and potential consultation mechanisms is a strong aspect of the document.

    Land Tenure Administration & Enforcement

    All lands are owned by indigenous people under a customary regime. The R-PIN states that land tenure disputes are common and that readiness activities must “take sufficient account” of such issues, but it does not suggest any potential solutions, within the REDD strategy or otherwise. It is not clear how tenure disputes are currently handled. There is also a lengthy discussion of carbon rights within the existing legal framework, as well as a call for additional legal clarification.

    Forest Management

    The R-PIN lists several departments/ministries responsible for planning and forest management, but does not discuss their particular activities or effectiveness, except with respect to monitoring. Economic development from the land sector is expected to drive future deforestation, and therefore the R-PIN stresses the importance of identifying economic alternatives to address the development opportunity costs associated with forest protection. Agroforestry and A/R activities are frequently mentioned, but it is not quite clear how REDD activities might align with specific strategies from sectors such as agriculture or infrastructure and there is no discussion of existing or planned processes for cross-sector coordination.

    Forest Monitoring

    Building capacity for monitoring is a major focus of the R-PIN, and it is mentioned that independent verification will be important for a credible REDD system. Information transparency, however, is not discussed.

    Law Enforcement

    There is no discussion of forest crime or enforcement issues in the R-PIN.

    Forest Revenue Distribution & Benefit Sharing

    The R-PIN discusses the vital link between forests and community livelihoods, and recognizes that alternative livelihoods (mainly agroforestry) will be necessary under REDD. Forest-dependent people are also the land-owners in this case, and the R-PIN states that REDD benefits must be appropriately spread across the resource owner community, and that extensive consultation and involvement of stakeholders in the design phase will ensure that this happens. There is no discussion of existing revenue distribution systems or of transparency.

  5. Thanks for your additional comments Chris. I would add though, that the R-PIN is not the final planning or strategic document for REDD Readiness. The R-PIN is a scoping exercise (the first step) rather than a difinitive plan. Detailed planning is to be undertaken in the next stage of the process – the R-Plan. The R-Plan is a much more comprehensive planning process and subject to funding support from the World Bank (for countries that get accepted as FCPF participants).

    The WRI comments are a useful form of peer review although I believe they will have greater success in terms of uptake by people in developing country governments if they are worded in constructive and encouraging language.

    Dr Sean Weaver, Principal Carbon Partnership Ltd, Technical Advisor to the Vanuatu Government on REDD.