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Is the REDD+ Partnership closing down? And should we care?

In a recent message to REDD+ Partners and observers, the co-chairs of the REDD+ Partnership write, “We work under the assumption that the Partnership work program ends in Lima.” Will the REDD+ Partnership close down after its meeting in November 2014?

The REDD+ Partnership started in 2010. The first two meetings, in Paris and Oslo, raised concerns from civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations that they were being excluded from the discussions.

In its first year, the REDD+ Partnership slipped from one blunder to the next. Since then, it has become a cosy talk shop, achieving little.

In 2012, Greenpeace’s David Ritter asked, “Whatever Happened to the REDD+ Partnership?” Ritter wrote that,

One delegate described the feeling of the gathering as ‘like a family’. Another privately cautioned on saying or asking anything too critical ‘because this is a partnership, it is meant to be friendly’. Politics, it seemed, was ostensibly to be left outside so REDD could be reduced to a seemingly technocratic and harmonious discussion among family and friends.

The REDD+ Partnership is supposed to serve “as an interim platform for its partner countries to scale up actions and finance for initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+)”.

The most recent meeting of the REDD+ Partnership took place in Bonn in June 2014. During the lunch break Global Canopy Programme held side event during which Matt Leggett gave a presentation on the financial challenges that REDD faces. The co-chairs’ summary of the meeting notes that,

At present, global demand for REDD+ emissions reductions is around 253 MtCO2e, a tiny fraction of the 3,300-9,900 MtCO2e in emissions reductions that is needed to reduce deforestation by 50% by 2020 and so help maintain a trajectory to limit global warming to 2°C.

So much for scaling up actions and finance for REDD.

The REDD+ Partnership has managed to set up a Voluntary REDD+ Database (VRD). Launched in October 2010, the VRD website provides information about REDD financing. By June 2014, the website had successfully run up a bill of US$1.5 million. “The yearly cost of the VRD seems high,” the co-chairs’ summary notes.

The database relies on information provided both by countries giving money and countries receiving money for REDD. One of the more interesting features of the database is the difference between the two. Indonesia, for example, reports having received US$189.2 million for REDD, but the funding countries report having given US$613.37 million to Indonesia.

The VRD explains that providing both figures “promotes transparency by allowing the figures to be compared”. This may be true, but it raises questions about Indonesia’s capacity to report incoming funding and how seriously it takes the REDD+ Partnership.

The co-chairs’ summary of the June 2014 meeting states,

Partners requested that information on financing provided by donors should be verified with REDD+ countries as one way to address discrepancies between what donor arrangements are reported in the database and those reported by recipient or REDD+ countries. This issue continues to be important for the Partnership…

The REDD+ Partnership has commissioned a Fast Start Financing Study which is being carried out by Kouami Kokou of the University of Lomé and Alain Karsenty from the Centre for Agriculture Research for Development (CIRAD). So far, only 11 recipient countries and nine funding countries have responded to the questionnaires sent out as part of the study.

The REDD+ Partnership has hired Donna Lee (ex-USA lead negotiator on REDD) and Tony La Viña (a lead negotiator for the Philippines) to carry out an assessment of the results of the REDD+ Partnership. At the meeting in Bonn, the consultants “clarified that the study will not give a recommendation on the future of the Partnership but the basis to inform such decision by Partners”. Their report is due in mid-October.

At their meeting in November 2014, the members of the REDD+ Partnership will decide, whether the Partnership will continue after 2014. I can hardly wait.

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  1. The VRD mainly raises the question of how anything remotely related to forests is being reported by developed countries as REDD financing, including double counting of CBD financing and, believe it or not, loans to forest management companies…..

  2. Please kill it! Done nothing more than wasting money and time “in the name of forests”.