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REDD at COP18, Doha: What’s on the agenda?

A couple of weeks ago, REDD-Monitor posted an overview of the REDD texts that have been agreed before going into the UN climate negotiations in Doha. So what’s next? What’s on the agenda in Doha?

REDD negotiations at COP18 in Doha will take place in two main fora: the SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice); and the LCA (Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action). REDD discussion may also feature in the ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) and in the GCF (Green Climate Fund). Greenpeace is in favour of a “REDD+ Window in the Green Climate Fund”, and outlines the reasons in this briefing.

During the first week, a series of REDD issues are to be discussed in the SBSTA: Reference levels; MRV and forest monitoring systems; Safeguards information systems; and Drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

In the second week, the LCA will discuss finance and REDD. The LCA’s mandate expires in Doha and it is not yet clear what will happen to any unresolved issues from LCA discussions after Doha. There is a possibility of finance for REDD coming through a “REDD+ window” in the Green Climate Fund. Gus Silva-Chavez of Environmental Defense Fund notes that, “some countries, especially REDD+ countries, are worried that unless REDD+ has a home in the ADP agenda, it risks being left out of the ADP negotiations”.

Francesco Martone at Forest Peoples Programme has produced a detailed analysis of the REDD negotiations in Doha: “REDD+ and Indigenous Peoples: Analysis of the upcoming negotiations in Doha, and identification of possible policy options” (pdf file, 292.5 kB). (Incidentally, it’s worth contrasting the detail and complexity of Martone’s analysis, with the glib boosterism of EDF’s “REDD+ almost at the finish line”, complete with the evidence-free conclusion that “carbon markets must play a role”.)


  • Reference levels: In Durban, COP17 invited countries to submit reference levels and explain how they calculated them. The text agrees to a step-wise approach (proposed by CIFOR), because many countries “don’t have good deforestation data”. Reference levels can be sub-national for an unspecified temporary period. In Doha, SBSTA will work on guidance for the technical assessment of proposed forest reference emission levels and/or forest reference levels. SBSTA will report on reference levels at either COP18 or COP19. As Martone points out, “no decision will be taken on the matter in Doha”.
  • MRV and forest monitoring systems: In Doha, SBSTA will continue negotiations on MRV and forest monitoring systems, based on a draft text proposed by the Chair at SBSTA last session in May 2012 in Bonn, Germany (the draft text is available here: FCCC/SBSTA/2012/2 pages 24-27). A key issue here is that the impact of REDD should not only be measured in terms of carbon. Martone quotes from the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus statement to SBSTA:

    MRV- systems must capture the broad range of forest and agricultural values, multiple functions, and ecosystem services and must comply with all safeguards. Indigenous Peoples’ full and effective participation in designing and implementing MRV-schemes must be promoted and recognized, and such schemes are subject to our FPIC. We have the right to conduct our own MRV based on our traditional knowledge. Technical assistance and capacity building must be prioritized and supported.

    EDF’s Silva-Chavez anticipates general guidance, “which will give countries the necessary flexibility in constructing their reference levels, MRV and monitoring systems”.

    Sven Wunder and Louis Verchot at CIFOR, are looking at MRV with carbon tunnel vision when they recommend “Counting carbon carbon to guarantee REDD+ impact”. They hope that COP18 will make decision to provide financial and technical support to countries trying to meet their MRV provisions.

  • Safeguards information systems: SBSTA is considering how often and when countries should report on how they are addressing and respecting the safeguards agreed in Cancun. SBSTA is also considering the need for further guidance.

    Currently, there are no indicators or performance criteria that countries have to include in the reporting to show how safeguards are being implemented. As CIFOR’s Louis Verchot notes, “We have no way of actually measuring impact” of REDD+ on communities, adding that this requires collecting and comparing before-and-after data.

    Predictably, Silva-Chavez at EDF skips over this serious problem for anyone concerned about indigenous peoples’ rights. “In Doha, we will be supporting indigenous peoples who are advocating in SBSTA for a REDD+ decision to include more guidance and details on Safeguard Information Systems,” Silva-Chavez writes.

    SBSTA will conclude its consideration of these issues during COP19 (end of 2013), so nothing much is expected in Doha. Tony La Vina, a negotiator for the Philippines and REDD+ facilitator, told CIFOR that “The decision right now is that this year the safeguards will be kept as it is and it will be reviewed next year.”

  • In Durban, the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus made a statement to the SBSTA on their position regarding safeguards information systems:

    SBSTA guidelines should ensure that Indigenous Peoples are fully and effectively involved in establishing, designing and implementing the REDD+ information system on safeguards. Methodologies and approaches such as community participatory monitoring, participatory mapping of forests in Indigenous Peoples’ territories, human-rights and ecosystem-based approach should be employed in implementing REDD+.

  • Drivers of deforestation and forest degradation: There was some (but not much) discussion about drivers of deforestation in Bonn in May 2012. SBSTA is supposed to report to COP18 on this issues, so further discussion is expected in Doha. Martone highlights three key issues for Indigenous Peoples:

    • The process of the identification of drivers of deforestation should be made “with the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples”.
    • Traditional agricultural practices, such as swidden cultivation, should not be “criminalised”.
    • “Internal” and “external” drivers need to be considered. Industrial drivers of deforestation such as large dams, industrial tree plantations, oil palm plantations, cattle ranching, logging, oil and mining have major impacts on forests, biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and “can be a good way to substantiate calls to consider internal and external drivers”, Martone writes.

    In Bonn in May 2012, SBSTA discussed the need to include agriculture in its REDD activities. In a statement to SBSTA the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus gave its position on this issue:

    There is a difference between industrial and Indigenous agriculture practices on both forested and non-forest lands. We insist that adaptation be the primary focus of any UNFCCC discussion on agriculture. Security of land and territories, including collective rights, and the recognition and integration of Indigenous knowledge systems and practices, must be implemented in any adaptation and mitigation efforts concerning agriculture, and must also include our Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. Finally, emissions from industrial agriculture must be addressed. The expansion of industrial agriculture onto degraded lands requires safeguards, because all too often, Indigenous Peoples are living on these degraded lands, such as the grasslands of pastoralists in Africa.


  • Finance and REDD: There have been several LCA discussions about REDD finance this year:
    • May 2012 – LCA meeting in Bonn, at which negotiators put forward a series of different opinions about financing REDD.
    • September 2012 – LCA organised a workshop on REDD finance in Bangkok prior to an informal LCA session. A technical paper summarising the various positions on REDD finance is available here and a report of the workshop is available here.
    • September 2012 – an informal LCA session in Bangkok, which resulted in an initial draft text from the LCA REDD working group chair.
    • On 16 November 2012, the Chair of the LCA produced an “Informal overview text” outlining the various options that are supposed to be agreed on in Doha (the text is available here, pages 10-14 relate to REDD). This Chair’s text is the text that will be taken into the Doha negotiations.

    Under a list of issues requiring further exploration in the LCA Chair’s draft text is a request for SBSTA to consider what exactly performance-based REDD payments should be for:

    the need for guidance and methodologies for assessing the co-benefits and non-carbon benefits arising from the full implementation of the results-based actions … and to assess the potential of including co-benefits and non-carbon benefits as part of results-based payments.

    How REDD is to be financed has always been one of the most controversial aspects of REDD. The various drafts that the LCA has produced so far this year illustrate that the controversy has not gone away. The key controversy is whether REDD should be funded by a market mechanism, a non-market mechanism or some combination of the two. There is a wide range of views on this issue among the government negotiators in Doha.

    The position of the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus on carbon markets is clear:

    [W]e believe our Mother Earth is not a commodity. In particular, we insist that forests serve a variety of functions and are the source of life for Indigenous Peoples around the world, including those in voluntary isolation. For this reason, they cannot be part of any program or scheme based on the carbon market.
    Funds generated from carbon trading should not be used as source for REDD+, since their unpredictability can not ensure financial sustainability of funding commitments.
    REDD+ shall not be financed by market-based mechanisms or subject to be used in carbon offsetting in order to achieve a net reduction of carbon emission.


Leave a Reply

  1. Lang,

    Your uninformed and cheap remark about EDF’s supposedly not caring about Safeguards in REDD for Indigenous Peoples was unnecessary, especially when the following paragraph where La Vina notes nothing will happen this year. I can send you our technical 1 pager on Safeguard Information Systems to be published if you want it.

    While I respect your right to hold whatever opinion about REDD, carbon markets, etc… questioning EDF’s support for Indigenous Peoples rights to safeguards and insinuating that we don’t care about them is going too far.

    Cheers, Chris

  2. @Chris Meyer (#1) – Thanks for the comment, but I’m afraid you are only reinforcing how superficial Silva-Chavez’s blog post is (“REDD+ almost at the finish line”). I wrote that “Silva-Chavez at EDF skips over this serious problem” – the problem being that if the safeguards information system isn’t fundamentally changed, there will be no way of measuring the impact of REDD on Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

    My point is that rather than taking a realistic look at the current state of the negotiations, in his blog post Silva-Chavez pretends that REDD is “almost at the finish line”, apart from a few “technical” issues (one of which is safeguards).

    At Cancún, Silva-Chavez reported that the “stage is set for a REDD+ decision to come out of Cancún”. You’d think he might learn…