Earlier this month, I wrote an article for Development Today, in which I asked whether Norway’s rainforest billions have had any influence on rates of deforestation in either Brazil or Indonesia.
The glib answer is that Norway’s money hasn’t reduced deforestation. The rate of deforestation in Brazil has fallen dramatically since 2004, but Norway’s REDD deal with Brazil only started in 2008. In Indonesia, the rate of deforestation doubled in the two years after 2010, when Norway’s US$1 billion REDD deal was negotiated.
Development Today pushed for a re-thinking of Norway’s “hands off” approach to addressing deforestation, arguing that this approach could never work in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Papua New Guinea.
Frances Seymour and Nancy Birdsall discuss this “problem of attribution” in a recent post on the Center for Global Development’s website. Without Norway’s money, maybe Brazil’s deforestation rate would have gone back up and Indonesia’s deforestation rate would have been even higher. Or maybe not.
Seymour and Birdsall argue that it is too soon to know whether Norway’s REDD deals are making a difference to deforestation and add that,
[W]e may never know in a way that can be quantified, because reducing deforestation from what it might have been otherwise is likely to be the outcome of many factors, and the kind of ongoing, adaptive process referred to above.
Meanwhile, Anja Lillegraven, Programme Coordinator for Southeast Asia at Rainforest Foundation Norway, and Rukka Sombolinggi, Deputy Secretary General of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) have responded in Development Today. Their article is posted here in full, with permission from Development Today.
Neither cheap nor quick, but critical
By Anja Lillegraven (Rainforest Foundation Norway) and Rukka Sombolinggi (Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago – AMAN)
Published in Development Today, 3/2014 26 March 2014
In an opinion piece in Development Today, Chris Lang of REDD Monitor questions Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative. He writes that REDD+ turns out to be neither quick nor cheap. Lang argues that Norway’s “rainforest billions” have not contributed to reducing deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia.
We will take a closer look at Indonesia, where deforestation is still high but where Norway’s initiative has triggered promising reformation processes. To be sure, it will not be easy – but rainforest protection is critical to combat climate change, biodiversity loss and human rights violations.
Anyone who has seen the Oscar-nominated film The Act of Killing will appreciate the challenges in Indonesian politics. By putting US$1 billion on the table, Norway is calling for reform of the forest sector, one of the country’s most notorious political domains, plagued by corruption and weak governance. Obviously, success will depend on national will and commitment. One billion dollars cannot compete with income from palm oil, pulp and paper and mining.
According to Forest Watch Indonesia, Indonesia has lost more than 40 per cent of its forest since 1950. Concessions have been generously granted to commercial companies at the expense of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Indonesia is among the world’s five largest emitters of greenhouse gases. A staggering 80 per cent of these emissions come from deforestation and land use change. This is what REDD+ is all about, but it cannot be separated from the systemic issues mentioned above.
Indonesia has not yet been able to change its deforestation rate despite Norway’s support. However, the Indonesia-Norway agreement has triggered positive policy reforms and institutional developments, slowly building the foundation for lasting changes in the sector.
Indonesia has developed a progressive national REDD+ strategy that targets underlying causes of deforestation previously outside the public discourse, such as corruption, weak governance, lack of law enforcement and unclear tenure.
The strategy was developed through an unprecedented participatory process, a result of the call for participation and transparency by civil society and the international community with Norway at the forefront. A REDD+ Agency, whose head has the rank of minister, reporting directly to the President, has been established.
Indonesian civil society organisations have called for a moratorium on forest concessions for over a decade. The agreement with Norway made it happen, although loopholes and serious limitations in scope make it less effective than it should be.
Indonesia’s One Map Initiative, closely linked to the moratorium and also financed by Norway, seeks to develop a reference map for land use in Indonesia, managed and commonly agreed by all line ministries. The Indigenous Peoples Alliance in Indonesia (AMAN) is working together with the government to incorporate indigenous peoples’ territories in the map. The agency coordinating the initiative has already accepted maps produced by AMAN covering 2.4 million hectares of indigenous territories.
The recognition of indigenous peoples has improved since Norway signed the agreement with Indonesia. Their crucial role in forest management has been officially acknowledged. The national REDD+ strategy recognises that tenure reform is a prerequisite for successful implementation of REDD+.
Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled that customary forests are owned by indigenous peoples and not by the state, a major breakthrough for AMAN and supporting organisations. Encouraged by this newly-won recognition, AMAN has developed a bill on indigenous peoples’ rights that is currently being debated in the national assembly.
AMAN’s work is supported in part by Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative. Civil society organisations like AMAN act as watchdogs and advisors to the government, and their role should not be underestimated. Norway has strengthened Indonesia’s civil society in two ways, by setting aside a portion of the “rainforest billions” for civil society and by insisting on participation and transparency in REDD+. As a result, many Indonesian organisations now engage constructively and report improved relations with the government.
We would argue that more has been achieved in forest protection and the rights of indigenous peoples in Indonesia since the signing of the Indonesia-Norway agreement than over the course of the previous 15 years.
Norway’s “rainforest billions” have not yet brought about a reduction in the rate of deforestation in Indonesia, but they have triggered important steps towards improved forest governance. So what does this teach us about REDD+ and result-based payments?
A narrow focus on emissions is not productive. A broad, inclusive and rights-based approach to forest protection is needed. By adopting a phased approach in the cooperation with Indonesia, Norway has been able to support such processes with REDD money.
We recommend that Norway
- continue paying for results beyond carbon,
- increase its support to civil society organisations that are important agents of change, and
- make the investment portfolio of the Government’s Pension Fund Global (the Oil Fund) deforestation-free, by engaging with companies to make them commit to no-deforestation standards, and by divesting those that refuse to do so.
DT 3 2014/2014 March 26, 2014
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PHOTO Credit: Greenpeace.
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