A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.
17 December 2012
By Leonie Lawrence, Global Canopy Programme, 17 December 2012 | The recent discord in Doha over the technical aspects of REDD+ does not bode well for progress within the COPs on these more complex social issues. These issues are highly context specific and extremely sensitive. Formal negotiations under the UNFCCC related to these areas remain in their infancy and it is doubtful whether consensus on issues related to social safeguards for REDD+ is achievable, or even desirable, under the current process. Such context-specific problems require prescriptive solutions and do not lend themselves to the broad approach necessary for internationally appropriate answers. The legally binding mechanism we have been seeking under the UNFCCC does not cater for the flexibility needed in an adaptive management approach towards country-specific REDD+ strategies and associated social safeguards.
Ecosystem Marketplace, 17 December 2012 | While REDD remained ahead of the overall negotiations, it is safe to say that progress toward an international REDD framework was left wanting in Doha. One of the major hurdles that negotiators were not able to overcome was how emission reduction results will be verified, with Norway and Brazil standing on opposite ends of the ring. Norway proposed having third-party verifiers taken from a roster of experts from developed and developing countries, while Brazil preferred continuing to use the International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) process, which is substantially softer on developing countries. The two sides did not manage a compromise, and thus the issue will be tossed to the next Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany in June.
18 December 2012
UN-REDD press release, 18 December 2012 | The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, has appointed Mario Boccucci as the Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat. Boccucci’s appointment will be effective on 21 January 2013. Boccucci is currently the Chief of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit in UNEP where he has developed and operationalized strategies for forests, drylands, cultivated land, mountains and REDD+. His experience over the past 20 years has focused on operations and policy related to management of ecosystems, governance of resources, biodiversity, land use and climate change. Boccucci will replace Mette Loyche Wilkie, who has been acting as the Interim Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat for the past six months. UN-REDD is a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNEP.
mongabay.com, 18 December 2012 | The Indonesian government’s announcement at climate talks in Doha that it had approved the country’s forest conservation project under its Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program was premature, argues a new report from an Indonesian environmental group… Greenomics-Indonesia says that Ministry of Forestry documents show the Rimba Raya project has not yet been formally approved… Infinite-Earth, the project developer, says that while the final license for the project has not yet been issued, “all requirements have been met and the license will be forthcoming.” The company also produced a letter from the Ministry of Forestry supporting and encouraging the Doha announcement. “The press announcement given by the Indonesian government at the UNFCCC in Doha, stated accurately that the project was approved by the Ministry of Forestry,” Infinite-Earth told mongabay.com via email.
By Pungky Widiaryanto, Jakarta Post, 18 December 2012 | Ironically, with regard to the Norwegian funds, much of the initial $200 million has been spent on hiring international and national consultants, who earn much more than the Forestry Ministry, to prepare REDD+ mechanisms. The inequality in pay may spark resentment and skeptical views about REDD+ among forestry staff, and without the ministry’s full backing, the program will only remain an idea. International donors that have committed to supporting REDD+ in Indonesia need to inject more assistance to support institutional reform within the Forestry Ministry… Indications rivalry appeared when the REDD+ task force proposed the establishment of a new REDD+ agency. The Forestry Ministry resisted the creation of a new agency from the beginning due to reasons related to the long history of forest governance in Indonesia.
UN-REDD press release, 18 December 2012 | The UN Collaborative Programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (UN-REDD) national programme in Viet Nam has completed its first phase of implementation. Viet Nam is one of the first countries to complete Phase I and the UN-REDD Programme reflects on its successes, highlighting: the adoption of a measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) Framework; the piloting of an free prior and informed consent process (FPIC); and the establishment of processes for the distribution of benefits from REDD+. UN-REDD underscores that these milestones were all achieved through multistakeholder engagement. It stresses that Phase I also resulted in the establishment of an institutional framework for REDD+, including a REDD+ national office, a REDD network and sub-technical working groups.
19 December 2012
By Murray Collins and Naomi Hicks (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE), The Guardian, 19 December 2012 | Redd finance to developing countries is still fairly limited in scale. As an example of what might be required, the 2008 Eliasch Review written for the UK government estimated that some $17–32bn would be needed annually to address tropical deforestation across the world. Current funding remains far off this mark, with Norway alone currently providing 67% of the total, having pledged $1bn for projects in Indonesia over seven years. With limited funds available, it can be difficult to protect forests, as alternative land uses (such as forest clearance for palm oil) can offer more immediate and guaranteed cash returns. Consequently, many experts have called for a scaling-up of Redd commitments and finance flows – though some have argued that even if large-scale Redd+ finance does materialise it may still struggle to compete with other land uses…
Wildlife Works press release, 19 December 2012 | ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. and Wildlife Works Carbon LLC are pleased to announce the validation and verification of the first REDD+ project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The project has earned 2.5 million tonnes of Verified Emission Reductions to date and will generate an average of 5.6 million tonnes annually. H.E. Mr. Bavon N’sa Mputu Elima, Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism of the DRC stated, “The Ministry welcomes the validation and verification of this project in two rigorous standards – the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard. The Department is pleased to work with ERA-Congo and its partners, ERA Carbon Offsets and Wildlife Works, for the protection of forests in the DRC and the improvement of local community livelihood through REDD+ projects.”
By Alister Doyle, AlertNet, 19 December 2012 | Norway, which has led developed nations by investing billions of dollars to slow tropical deforestation, announced plans on Wednesday to step up its efforts as part of “first aid” to slow climate change. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose country is rich thanks to offshore oil and gas, said new measures to slow global warming were needed now because a new U.N.-led climate deal is due to be agreed only in 2015 and enter into force from 2020. “In the meantime we must give the climate first aid,” he told a news conference. “The government will step up its efforts to slow deforestation and work to cut emissions that give the greatest climate effect in the shortest time,” he said. Stoltenberg did not, however, announce fresh investments or targets.
20 December 2012
By Steve Zwick and Beto Borges, Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 December 2012 | To date, only a handful of illegitimate projects have come to light, compared to several legitimate ones. Even if fake projects never generate a credit, however, they can sabotage legitimate credits by tarnishing the reputation of REDD among a public that is hard-pressed to understand the complexities of carbon offsetting in general – let alone of projects that generate credits by saving endangered rainforest. The carbon world should, therefore, welcome the Brazilian Attorney General Office’s decision to file suit against Celestial Green Ventures LLC, an Irish company that signed a questionable deal with the Awo Xo Hwara indigenous community to develop REDD projects. The lawsuit, according to Reuters, seeks to have that deal declared null and void — as it should if it turns out that Celestial Green didn’t follow the rules of free, prior, and informed consent that binds all REDD projects.
mongabay.com, 20 December 2012 | The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has its first Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) project validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project covers 299,645 hectares of forest that was a former logging concession in Bandundu Province, according to ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. and Wildlife Works Carbon LLC, the companies that developed the project. ERA and Wildlife Works estimate the project — the largest to win validation and verification under VCS to date — will avoid 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 30-year life and generate “direct benefits” for a local community of 50,000 villagers. Mai Ndombe is part of the Ngiri-Tumba-Mai Ndombe wetland, an area characterized by high levels of biodiversity, including forest elephants and bonobos.
EIA, 20 December 2012 | Campaigners from the Environmental Investigation Agency visit the remote community of Muara Tae, in East Kalimantan, to highlight and support villagers’ struggle to retain ancestral forests against the bulldozers of palm oil plantation companies.
Rights and Resources press release, 20 December 2012 | Four community leaders in Sinoe County, Liberia have been arrested by local authorities over the past few days, calling into question the government’s commitment to protecting the rights of the country’s indigenous communities. The arrests came after the community met with an international journalist to discuss how they lost their homes and cropland to Golden Veroleum (Liberia) (also known as GVL) for a 350,149 hectare oil palm plantation. “As the eyes of the international community are drawn again to yet another conflict in Liberia, local authorities need to stop the punitive arrests and extralegal harassment,” said Andy White, coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). “We are deeply disappointed at the lack of response by the national government, which has promised to protect citizen rights, yet has allocated over half the lands in the country to industries, often without the consent of the landowners.”
UK Government, 20 December 2012 | Addressing deforestation is a priority for the UK’s £2.9 billion International Climate Fund (ICF). Forests have a critical role as carbon stores and they influence water, climate and weather systems. They build countries’ resilience to extreme weather events and help people adapt to a changing climate. Around 1.2 billion poor people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests are also home to an estimated 80% of the world’s species. As part of a balanced allocation, the UK is working to make sure around 20% of its ICF commitment is used to fund forest programmes by 2015. Through these programmes, the UK is playing its part to help save tens of millions of hectares of forest and boost the incomes of thousands of poor people who depend on forests for their jobs and livelihoods.
By Arun Kumar Pratihast, Martin Herold, Valerio Avitabile, Sytze de Bruin, Harm Bartholomeus, Carlos M. Souza Jr. and Lars Ribbe, Sensors, 20 December 2012 | Monitoring tropical deforestation and forest degradation is one of the central elements for the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD+) scheme. Current arrangements for monitoring are based on remote sensing and field measurements. Since monitoring is the periodic process of assessing forest stands properties with respect to reference data, adopting the current REDD+ requirements for implementing monitoring at national levels is a challenging task. Recently, the advancement in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and mobile devices has enabled local communities to monitor their forest in a basic resource setting such as no or slow internet connection link, limited power supply, etc.
21 December 2012
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 December 2012 | The challenges in implementing a scheme to reduce carbon emissions by avoiding deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) are now more political than technical, said scientists on the sidelines of last fortnight’s UN climate change talks in Doha. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) aims to reward developing nations for protecting, restoring and sustainably managing forests. The technical challenges of making a scheme like REDD+ work are considerable, says Louis Verchot from the Centre for International Forestry Research: how to identify what factors are driving deforestation and design effective policies; how to determine what ‘business as usual’ emissions would be if action wasn’t taken (reference emissions levels or RELs); how to measure, report and verify the emissions reductions claimed by projects or countries (MRV); and how to fund the scheme. But Verchot says scientists from CIFOR…
22 December 2012
23 December 2012
By Daniel C Marotta and Jennifer Coute-Marotta , Truthout, 23 December 2012 | The Mexican government is receiving funding from The World Bank, the UN and other multilateral institutions to create a national REDD program. The objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of national-scale REDD programs on efforts to conserve ecologically intact forests of the Global South. However, trees as a canopy for coffee farms or plantations of palm trees for biofuels – both of which are currently generating carbon credits in Mexico – hardly resemble a forest. Currently, all REDD contracts in Mexico are for five years. On average, however, individual REDD projects have a contract length of 30 years. What happens then? Truthout interviewed Jose Carlos Fernandes Ugalde, the financial director of Mexico’s national REDD program. He refused to respond to several questions, including this one: What happens when the farmer, whose livelihood depends on the reforestation subsidy, no longer receives that subsidy…
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