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Interview with Duncan Chiza Mkandawire, chairman of the Nyika-Vwaza Association.

Duncan Chiza Mkandawire - Malawi rt sq

The Nyika-Vwaza Association (NVA) is a community-based organization established in 2000, which stands as an umbrella body for the local communities living adjacent to the protected area of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh in Malawi. The organization’s role is to promote activities with these local communities that serve to reduce deforestation, strengthen rural incomes and increase biodiversity.

Interviewed at a recent REDD+ event, NVA’s chairman, Duncan Chiza Mkandawire, said, “We at NVA focus on the forestry and wildlife, and we have established committees that work collaboratively with the Forestry Department in terms of conserving natural resources. An additional role of these committees is to report any illegal activity—such as poaching, tree cutting, bush fires, charcoal burning—to relevant departments, for action.”

Mkandawire describes himself as a former teacher and he said, “In teaching, we rely on our communication skills, therefore I had to use my experience as a teacher to communicate more effectively with relevant communities when words describing REDD+ were not easy to translate into the local language.”

He explained that had to find a way to introduce REDD+ and communicate REDD+ messages to local chiefs. The ideal medium he discovered was the utilization of visuals (photos, short films). However, he noted, “One of the primary concerns of the communities when I was informing them on REDD+ was the same as in other countries—what will be our benefits?” He says he, therefore, had to help communities to understand the benefits derived from REDD+.

Mkandawire feels that communities are aware of the drivers of deforestation.

“If you go to my community in the north, you will be surprised that they are very aware of the drivers of deforestation and their effects,” he said, adding, “Thus to address them we have instituted committees dealing specifically with each driver of deforestation. We look at main drivers and institute committees to deal with these specific drivers. For instance, if it is fire, we organize training on how to manage these fires, or if it is charcoal burning, the specific committee will be trained to address this issue.”

However, the main challenge Mkandawire said he encountered was how to communicate to communities across large areas. “Even if chiefs are being informed, one needs to monitor if these messages reach the communities – so that is my role,” he explained.

Mkandawire said he is fully aware that communities will receive finance for measured success, which he said will be used to address the drivers of deforestation and improve governance. He also highlighted that innovative communication methods will have an added benefit of reducing fuel costs by enabling critical information to be shared with communities that are many kilometers away. He recounted that through a USAID-funded project, there was an opportunity to integrate Microsoft technology for mobile monitoring, which increased communication and connectivity within and outside the programme areas for more effective landscape management.

In addition to targeted communication, Mkandawire said local knowledge needs to be integrated at the policy level.

“People working on REDD+ projects need to be aware of what happens on the ground, as what is on paper might not be reflecting the reality on the ground,” he explained.

For Mkandawire, the national-level and multi-stakeholder Malawi REDD+ Expert Group meetings have been a crucial platform for sharing more practical challenges and information directly from the field.

“What I have learned is that messages to communities need to be visual (photos, videos) and simplified into local language,” he emphasized. “For example I have found the right terminology in local language for carbon stocks such as mphepo ziheni (bad air), and people associate this term with benefits from REDD+”.

Lastly, he added, “It is important that we combine workshops with field visits, to show others what we can learn from communities, and how to adjust projects to fit the needs of communities.”

(Reporting by Ela Ionescu, UN-REDD Programme Knowledge Management Specialist for Africa.)

Peat swamp

Peat swamp forest Peat swamp forests – Photo by Sophie Furnival/CIFOR

By Gabrielle Kissinger, consultant at UNEP / UN-REDD Programme

Indonesian palm oil production is recognized as a driver of deforestation and source of considerable greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in peat-rich areas. But what are the real drivers for palm oil producers—both large and small—to expand production into forests? Clearly market demand has a role to play, but so do the preferential lending rates, guarantees and tax concessions, streamlined permitting, biofuel blending mandates, and other fiscal incentives that producers can tap into or that motivate decisions to invest.

Agriculture is estimated to be the direct driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide, and yet in order for countries to reverse this pressure, they must influence the underlying or indirect drivers associated with the production of agricultural commodities, which often include government fiscal policies and incentives that promote direct driver activity. Evidence is growing that fiscal incentives can have powerful adverse impacts on forests, and reforming them is a complex and politically sensitive topic. Despite these challenges, a few countries have started to call out the need to review and reform existing fiscal incentives as part of their REDD+ efforts.

In Indonesia, as in many countries that have sought to bring economic development to their forest frontiers, fiscal incentives and subsidy programs were often put in place to promote resource extraction, to encourage settlers to clear forests and make land productive for other uses. But this paradigm is changing, as our natural capital — forests, agricultural lands, water — are increasingly being understood in the context of building social capital and stable economies.

The post-2015 sustainable development goals highlight the key goals of halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss, sustainably managing forests, ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth. One sustainable development target specifically calls for the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourages wasteful consumption and market distortions. Also, the Aichi Biodiversity Target No. 3 calls for the elimination and reformation of incentives and subsidies harmful to biodiversity by 2020. Income inequality and economic efficiency are important indicators for how far countries are along the pathway towards inclusive economic growth. And yet income disparities have increased within many countries, and risk development futures, with an increasing urban-rural divide. For REDD+ countries, forests do not stand in isolation, but rather are part of rural development and commodity production.

Rather than fiscal incentives that promote agricultural expansion being a problem for REDD+, they can be part of the solution to define low-carbon growth and development. The recent New Climate Economy report notes that many countries subsidize key agricultural inputs, such as irrigation water and fertilizer, in order to boost productivity, but evidence suggests these subsidies can also lead to waste and environmental damage. In Indonesia, while fertilizer subsidies are a significant portion of public spending on agricultural production, they have actually had a negative effect on agriculture sector growth. The country’s National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) of 2015-2019 seeks to increase the competitiveness of agricultural commodities, including oil palm, and also identifies forestry/peat lands and agriculture as two of the five key sectors that are key to meeting Indonesia’s GHG emission reduction target of 26% by 2020. How can Indonesia achieve both these goals? The redesign of fiscal incentives can be a powerful lever in the toolkit, and could simultaneously help achieve the country’s goals of improving smallholder palm oil yields, which are currently very low, and increase the amount of certified production, while also conserving forests.

For REDD+ countries to assess options, there are success stories to consider and examples to follow. However, national circumstances differ and each country will have a varied approach to assessing how their fiscal policies and incentives can overcome inherent conflicts between sectors and competing land uses, and to send the right signals to the private sector. India provides a compelling example of how to overcome the perverse incentives that state and local governments had to undervalue and mismanage forests, and their declining revenue from forests was a concern to some states, due to the implementation of the National Forest Policy. India’s 14th Finance Commission recently made a slight shift to the intergovernmental fiscal transfer system, which will have considerable impact on forest management decisions at the Panchayat and Gram Sabha scales. India took action on two fronts: 1) increasing the amount of revenue allocated to states by 10%, and 2) Assigning a 7.5% weight to forest cover in the allocation formula of revenue going to states. The percentage weight allocated to forest cover is expected to deliver $6 billion a year to Indian states, which is perhaps the largest revenue-neutral fiscal incentive in the world to keep forests standing.

India’s recent fiscal policy decision is a decidedly simple one, yet with large potential impact on forests. Yet, solutions will not always be so streamlined, and rather will require the aligning of incentives (such as tax concessions, access to credit), disincentives (such as moratoria, regulations, fees) and enabling measures(such as adequate governance and enforcement), across scales and sectors, for mutually reinforcing outcomes. We can re-envision fiscal incentives and subsidies to support agricultural production that is compatible with REDD+, and anticipates tomorrow’s pressures on land and forests, with the appropriate tools to meet those pressures.

About the author:

GGabyKissingerabrielle Kissinger is a consultant to the UNEP and the UN-REDD Programme, and also principal of Lexeme Consulting based in Vancouver, Canada. She has worked for over 20 years at the interface between government policy and land use pressures, with various levels of government, companies ranging from start-ups to large timber companies and agribusiness, investors, major donors, and a full range of environmental NGOs.  She focuses on strategies for linking science into policy and decision-making in the areas of global land-use and climate change, REDD+, climate-smart agriculture, finance and investment that supports sustainable land use, government affairs and business solutions to sustainability.

This blog post originally appeared on the Global Landscapes Forum blog.

expo 2015

ERB FAO
 
By Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Commissioner-General for United Nations participation in Expo 2015, Assistant Director-General, FAO Forestry and UN-REDD Programme Strategic Group member

The road from Rio+20 The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 summit, held in 2012, reaffirmed that food-related issues are among the most critical that humans face and must seriously address. Expo 2015 has explicitly acknowledged this by selecting the theme, Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. The theme also aligns fully with the United Nations’ focus on food security, nutrition, sustainable development and climate change.

The current discourse on food and a lasting Expo legacy

For six months, Expo 2015 will be at the heart of the public global discourse on food, with visually impressive exhibits and informative events that present the state of the art of food as well as challenges and opportunities in the future. Expo 2015’s organizers are keen to ensure that its legacy will be far-reaching and long-lasting, with guidance on challenges covering a generation.

The United Nations: a key Expo partner

The United Nations (UN) has been a partner at many past expositions, and traditionally represented at a single UN pavilion. For Expo 2015, it opted, together with the Expo organizers and Italy, the host country, for a different and innovative approach. To render the strong synergies between the EXPO 2015 theme and the UN’s global mission more visible, a new form of design and representation was agreed, resulting in the UN being located not just in one place but present in various exhibits and events throughout the exposition site. The UN is also serving as a global advisor on food security to the host country.

Given Expo 2015’s thematic scope, the Rome-based UN agencies (FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme) were entrusted with the coordination of the UN common inputs, which comprise many forms:

  1. The Expo 2015 core basic message, or theme statement, was developed around the principles of the “Zero Hunger Challenge”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s personal vision of a world without hunger and a global call to action, which he launched at Rio+20. The display is prominently visible in Pavilion Zero inside the main entrance to the Expo site.
  2. Multimedia content provided by UN agencies and showcased in 18 “Spoon” installations has been positioned in several thematic areas and clusters around the Expo site.
  3. Three United Nations Days are being marked, including the main global celebration of World Environment Day (5 June) and World Food Day (16 October).
  4. UN guests or keynote speakers will be present at numerous events, and UN staff are designing communication tools and products to promote Expo 2015 in the media and reach people in the rest of the world who will probably not be able to get to Milan.
  5. Participating actively in the Expo 2015 legacy activities, such as the “best practices” competition, in which the UN has won three of the 18 awards, and supporting the Charter de Milano that will be presented at Expo during the meeting of Ministers for Agriculture from 4–5 June.

Expo, forests, trees and food

So what does all this have to do with forests?

First, let us recall the main conclusions of the 2013 International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition as well as the key messages of the State of World Forests 2014. These documents remind us that forestry is about people, and not just trees, and describe how forests contribute directly and indirectly, and in manifold ways, to food security. For more than a third of the planet’s citizens, this forest-food connection starts at the most basic level: using firewood to make raw food edible for consumption. And in 2017, forestry’s contribution to food security will again be under the spotlight when a High-level Panel of Experts will present its report on Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition to the Committee on World Food Security. FAO Forestry submitted a contribution to the scoping exercise for the report’s preparation.

Second, a large number of the Expo 2015 pavilions have been constructed with raw materials obtained from forests – principally wood and to a lesser extent bamboo. Visitors – physical and remote – will be able to see the many inspiring and novel examples of woodbased construction. This will hopefully encourage reflection on increasing the use of forestsourced raw materials in the construction sector, as part of an expanding “green economy”.

Finally, a number of events and pavilions are highlighting forests’ role in food security, such as that of Austria, where a real forest has been created within the pavilion’s perimeters.

On 25 June, the pavilion will also be the site of a special session on forests and food security, where the presence of Andrä Rupprechter, Austrian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Indigenous People’s leader, Rigoberta Menchú, and a leading Austrian chef is foreseen.

I can only encourage you to visit Expo Milano 2015 to enjoy the wealth of perspectives on food that participants, partners and supporters wish to share, and thereby deepen your understanding, knowledge and appreciation of one of the planet’s fundamental gifts to its citizens: food.

Expo 2015 is taking place from 1 May to 31 October 2015 in Milan, Italy. More information on its theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, is viewable here.

This article originally appeared in issue 30 of the FAO Forestry newsletter inFO News.

Ensuring safeguards into REDD+ can benefit developing countries beyond climate mitigation.

Safeguards are central to the success of REDD+. Yet, progress has been slow in most countries, with some notable exceptions. In the current debate, it is often overlooked that sound REDD+ safeguards could benefit developing countries beyond climate mitigation by boosting investor confidence and attracting private and public investments into sustainable land-use.

By Tim Christophersen, UNEP / UN-REDD Programme

To obtain payments for results from REDD+, countries need to address and respect seven ‘Cancun’ safeguards, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). But before such payments can be made, sizable investments are required to implement REDD+ actions at scale. Such investments include the costs for the implementation of policies and measures, and for changing land-use and forest management practices on the ground. Is there a link between REDD+ payments and securing the financing to achieve the required transformation of forestry and other land use sectors? What sort of enabling environment is needed to encourage the large-scale finance required to achieve sustainable productive landscapes commensurate with the level of ambition of the New York Declaration on Forests, as well as significantly contribute to the proposed Sustainable Development Goals?

Many potential REDD+ actions and related investment opportunities constitute complex sets of economic, social and environmental trade-offs. Ensuring a robust enabling environment is in place to remove, mitigate and manage risk will be of paramount importance. REDD+ safeguards can provide this assurance. By mitigating and managing risk, REDD+ safeguards could encourage the flow of private investments, including foreign direct investments, into improved land-use and forest management practices and for forest restoration.

There is growing private and public sector interest in investments into sustainable forest and land management. At a meeting in June 2015 in London, UNEP, CIFOR and other partners will convene a special Global Landscapes Forum event on the ‘Investment Case’ for forests and REDD+. Over 100 global funds, international organizations and key investors are lining up to discuss and learn about ‘bankable’ projects for investments into sustainable landscapes. The main problem is not the lack of funds but rather the lack of sizable, low- or medium-risk investment opportunities with reasonable rates of return. A favourite model that is emerging seems to be investments into sustainable landscape management that aims to combine several objectives, with climate change mitigation being only one of them. Demonstrating that a country applies strong REDD+ safeguards could enhance investor confidence for investments into such relatively complex projects.

In particular, two essential ingredients go to creating this enabling environment to incentivise investment in sustainable land use practices. Conducive policies, laws and regulations are required to attract commercial private financing and realise the potential of REDD+ at scale. The right mix of regulatory incentives and disincentives are required to reduce the investment risks and transaction costs for private sector to transition from business-as-usual to more sustainable production. Strong institutions – the right regulatory environment on paper will amount to nothing if the responsible institutions do not have adequate mandates, procedures and capacities to implement sustainable agriculture and forestry polices.

In adopting a country approach to safeguards (as the UN-REDD Programme has), the existing governance arrangements of a country – its policies, laws and regulations, together with institutions and institutional capacities – are deployed and strengthened to meet international REDD+ safeguard commitments. A country approach to safeguards commences with assessments of environmental and social risks and benefits of candidate REDD+ activities that will go to make up the national REDD+ strategy. Such assessments can then inform identification of relevant policies, as well as the institutional responsibilities and capacities to implement and enforce them, which will be needed to minimise the risks and maximise the multiple benefits of REDD+. This sends a positive signal to potential investors.

Up until now, the country approach to safeguards – and the identification of risks, benefits, policies
and institutions – has been entirely framed by the need to meet UNFCCC requirements to obtain payments for emissions reductions. The existing policies, laws and regulations demonstrate how the UNFCCC safeguards are being addressed on paper; the institutional capacity to implement these policies shows how these Cancun safeguards are being respected in practice. But before a country can obtain results-based payments, someone needs to make the investment in the REDD+ actions that will lead to REDD+ results. We have an opportunity to view the design and application of safeguards also in the context of private sector finance and investment requirements.

REDD+ countries are starting to look at the private sector as a possible source of finance for results-basedPhoto by Valter Ziantoni actions. However, the private sector has in most REDD+ countries only been marginally engaged in REDD+ until now. The UN-REDD Programme has started to change this by offering a range of Targeted Support activities to countries to enhance private sector engagement, for example in Costa Rica, Indonesia, Panama and Peru.

Generally speaking, three inter-related conditions are required to unlock private capital at scale: (i) activities that deliver competitive risk-adjusted returns, (ii) access to finance, and (iii) enabling conditions that create a conducive investment environment and reinforce political commitment to the target sectors or activities. Safeguards arguably contribute to all three categories yet we rarely acknowledge this nor frame them as such. There is potential to vastly improve our communication of these attributes. We must also do so in a language that resonates with the actors we are trying to appeal to, if we want to channel future private finance into more sustainable land-use activities.

If the ambitions of REDD+ under the UNFCCC and the outcomes of the New York declaration on Forests – which pledges to end natural forest loss by 2030 – are to be achieved, governments will need to strengthen policy frameworks (address safeguards) and their implementation (respect safeguards), setting higher standards for businesses to operate by. Safeguards need no longer been seen as a burdensome hurdle to the internal climate change agreement, but as a means to improve the investment profile of land use opportunities and, therefore, a strategic means to tap the necessary private capital that will be required to nurture sustainable development in productive landscapes. The UN-REDD Programme is offering partner countries technical expertise and a knowledge platform to explore these linkages and learn from each other on the journey towards REDD+, and ultimately towards a green, low carbon and socially inclusive economy.

More information about Safeguards available here.

About the author:
tim
Tim Christophersen coordinates the activities of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on forests and climate change and he is a member of the UN-REDD Programme Management Group. As a partner organization of the UN-REDD Programme, UNEP focuses on providing support to developing countries on identification and analysis of costs of REDD+ Policies and Measures (PAMs); identification and analysis of non-carbon benefits; innovative finance; private sector engagement and development of environmental safeguards and Safeguards Information Systems (SIS).

This blog post originally appeared on landscapes.org here.

zambia_02 fao

By Ivo Mulder (REDD+ Economics Advisor, UNEP UN-REDD Programme), Ignatius Makumba (Director of Forestry, Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Zambia), Elsie Attafuah (Senior Regional Technical Advisor for Africa, UNDP UN-REDD Programme) and Thais Narciso (Programme Officer, UNEP UN-REDD Programme) 

You can’t manage what you don’t measure! While this certainly relates to establishing forest reference (emission) levels and national forest monitoring systems in order to measure periodic progress against a benchmark, one often overlooked piece of the jigsaw puzzle is the economic case for REDD+.

A major driving force of economic growth in many emerging economies is extraction of natural resources, both non-renewable resources such as copper, aluminium, oil and other minerals, metals and fossil fuels and to a lesser extent renewable resources like timber products. In the case of Zambia, the size of its economy was around US$ 20 billion in 2010 with the wholesale and retail sector (18%), followed by the mining (13%), construction (11%) and the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors (10%) contributing the most to national income.

However, in the words of Joseph Stiglitz, while a private company is judged by both its income and balance sheet, most countries only compile an income statement (GDP) and know very little about the national balance sheet. While Zambia’s income measured as GDP has been constant in recent years at above six per cent, its forest-related balance sheet has been depreciating steadily. It has the second highest per capita deforestation rate in Africa and the fifth highest in the world according to a 2009 study. The main direct drivers of deforestation are charcoal production, agricultural and human-settlement expansion and illegal exploitation of timber.

Depreciation of a country’s forest stocks also leads to significant greenhouse gas emissions and can affect the value added of other sectors such as agriculture, power generation and tourism. The UN-REDD Programme has therefore supported the Government of Zambia, as part of its National REDD+ Programme, to better understand the contribution of forests to the national economy, which are highlighted in the report Benefits of forest ecosystems in Zambia and the role of REDD+ in a Green Economy transformation.

First, in terms of the contribution of actual physical products, this study found that industrial roundwood, firewood and charcoal combined contribute about US$ 395 million per year to Zambia’s economy. In terms of non-wood forest products a wide range of plant and animal species are collected for use as raw materials in house construction, thatching and craft production, as well as for food and medicinal use. While much of this is used on a subsistence basis, these resources also contribute to household cash income, supplementing income from charcoal and timber. It is estimated that these resources combined contribute US$ 115 million to the national economy. The combined value of these products to Zambia’s economy is about US$ 511 million. Taking multiplier effects into account, the contribution is estimated to be US$ 761 million or 3.8% of the country’s GDP. This is in line with how the contribution of the forestry sector to national income is officially accounted for.

zambia forest contribution 04-2015

Second, forests also provide important regulating services, which can help other sectors such as energy and agriculture prevent operational and other costs. For example, in terms of preventing erosion and stabilising soil, forests can contribute significantly to the hydropower and agricultural sectors by preventing dredging costs of sedimentation and water availability for agricultural production. About 80% of Zambia’s electricity is generated through hydropower, and globally, reservoir sedimentation has been estimated to account for about 37% of the annual operating costs. Preventing sedimentation by ensuring that forests keep the soil together is estimated to generate an actual cost saving to the Zambian economy of US$ 247 million. Forests also contribute to the value added of the agriculture sector through pollination. The value of pollination services was estimated based on the output of crops, their degree of dependence on insect pollination, and the costs of alternative means of pollination obtained from the international literature. The value of forest pollination services was estimated to be in the order of US$ 74 million per annum.

The contribution of carbon sequestration was measured using the damage cost approach. Damage cost relates to estimating the cost (to the global economy) of emitting 1 ton of CO2-equavalent. Preventing this from happening by reducing deforestation and forest degradation contributes about US$ 15 million per annum to the Zambian economy. Lastly, nature-based tourism is the dominant form of holiday tourism to Zambia, and forests are an integral part of the nature-based tourism experience. The direct value added by forest-based tourism is estimated to be in the range of US$ 110 million to US$ 179 million per annum.

The total contribution of this second set of forest services is of US$ 446 million. Again, by taking into account multiplier effects the contribution is estimated at US$ 511 million or 2.5% of GDP. The contribution of forests to the income generation of productive sectors such as ecotourism, hydropower, and agriculture is usually not attributed to the forestry sector and therefore not included in the forest-related GDP. However, this study clearly found that if these regulating, supporting and cultural services seize to exist or are undermined, a series of measurable and physical costs will apply to these sectors in the medium to long term. One could therefore argue that depending on the estimate of the contribution of forests to GDP in Zambia, which range from 3.7% to 6.2%, there is an undervaluation of at least 40-68%. Besides, this discrepancy could be even higher as data were not available for many goods and services. For example, the contribution of forests to the provision of water quantity and quality in Zambia remains unaccounted for and directly impacts livelihood and key sectors of the economy such as mining and agriculture.

Taken all together, this study provides a clear rationale for Zambia’s newly installed government to accelerate REDD+ implementation because it makes macro-economic sense for the country itself. Forest valuation and accounting can be seen as an important door opener that paves the way for the government to develop concrete policy options that factor the contribution of forest ecosystem services into national accounts and development planning. The draft Zambia National REDD+ Strategy provides important guidance on how this can take place through its focus on a landscape approach at the watershed level and policy reforms at the national level that lessen the competition for natural resources among different sectors. The results-based payments framework agreed under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change provides a crucial stimulus for the country to implement policies and measures that tackle both the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation in order to have the ability to receive results-based finance.

More Information:

Access additional REDD+ and a Green Economy information and resources

zambia forest undp rt

Personal reflections from Elsie Gyekyewaa Attafuah, Senior Regional Technical Advisor, UN-REDD Programme (UNDP), Africa

As we taxi off the runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on our way to Lusaka, I sit in my seat reflecting on my journey once again to one of the most beautiful countries south of the Sahara, Zambia. I am on my way to support and attend Zambia’s National High-Level Dialogue on the Strategy to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

This process is a journey to join key stakeholders and partners as Zambia deepens her efforts to mobilize support to address some of her most compelling developmental challenges – development, deforestation and forest degradation – and a journey that Zambia has undertaken to navigate challenges and tap into opportunities that REDD+ offers.

This journey brings memories of a blog I did a few years ago, Safaris and Strategies: Zambia’s journey to develop an integrated financing strategy.  As it is still relevant after five years, I have decided to adapt it to Zambia’s present REDD+ journey. It reflects good memories of strategy development processes that I have been involved with in Zambia, and there are clear connections between the two topics. This trip also represents a “home coming” for me. Only two weeks ago, I was working with the team in Zambia from within and as a Technical Advisor to the UN-REDD Programme in the country. Today I am based in Nairobi as the UN-REDD Programme’s Senior Regional Technical Advisor for Africa. It will be good to be back in Zambia.

We fly over Mount Kilimanjaro with its amazing mountain top snow, Mount Meru, Ngorongoro Crater and several rivers. The pilot is excited, telling us about all the niceties and beautiful nature that surrounds us. It sets me in a reflective mood and I reminisce about Africa’s beautiful natural resources, and the need to protect and conserve them; and about all the hard work the government, collaborating UN agencies and key partners have been engaged in to develop this strategy. I also reflect on the importance of Zambia’s REDD+ strategy and how valuable it is to Zambia achieving its Vision 2030 national development goals.

So why a REDD+ strategy? Why the title Safaris and Strategies? Come along with me on a journey towards the development of the national REDD+ Strategy. The journey begins now.

Her beauty and her resources

Zambia has great resources such as land, forests, rivers, plants, animals and biodiversity. It is one of the most beautiful countries on the African continent. The country is richly endowed with a wide range of indigenous energy sources including coal, and renewable energy sources including hydropower. It also has major perennial rivers such as the Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa, Kabompo, Luapula, and Chambeshi rivers, while the 108-metre-high Victoria Falls is a must see. Inarguably, land resources are critical to the human, economic, social and sustainable development in Zambia. Key sectors of the economy depend on land – notably the agriculture, natural resources, tourism, trade, mining and energy sectors, which are key drivers of economic growth and export revenues in the country. Land provides employment and source of livelihoods for many rural communities.

Her challenge: the resource hemorrhage and its impact

One of the most compelling developmental challenges today, though, is deforestation and forest degradation. Between 250,000 and 300,000 hectares of forest are lost every year in Zambia. Deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil erosion produce negative environmental impacts, often worsening the effects of climate change and droughts, while generating huge economic and social costs that hamper the achievement of national development goals such as Vision 2030.

For these reasons, the REDD+ strategy embraced by the country is designed to build on ongoing national processes and programmes to address deforestation and forest degradation challenges. While, the strategy is not a solution to all the challenges faced by Zambia, it is a valuable means to address these.

I wake up from these reflections as disembark from the plane in Lusaka. I am excited. The road meanders and the driver navigates all the curves and some little potholes on the way to town. Perhaps, the road is a good reminder that charting the journey to the development of a REDD+ strategy has not been straightforward – there have been twists and turns.

Zambia is known for its wildlife and natural scenery for safaris. I plan to take one later to the South Luangwa National Park as I have never been. Not a bad idea after all. But as I reflect on the path to the REDD+ strategy, I see a semblance to safaris. A safari is an adventure, it is place to explore the known and the unknown, there are choices to be made, a mix of things to see, and nature’s beauty to enjoy. But going on safari can be tough and rough. The road can be bumpy but exciting and gratifying. The same can be said for developing a strategy.

Safaris and strategies: a journey of resolve, renewal and results

As we get ready to start the high-level REDD+ strategy meeting, I have no doubt in my mind, that it will be a success, though I am just a bit anxious. The country’s vice-president is scheduled to attend with senior officials and nothing must go wrong. There will be commitments to be renewed – and the resolve needed to work together and to achieve results. The high-level meeting is the crescendo and just the tip of the iceberg.

The actual journey towards the development of the strategy has been a long one. It has called for the ability to:

  • rally around a common vision to systematically address the fundamental drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, a vision built on sound evidence-based analytical work;
  • engender systemic change, transformation and innovation by defining key policies and measures that ensure the efficient and effective utilization and use of forest resources;
  • ensure strong stakeholder engagement and participation in strategy development at the national, provincial and local levels;
  • secure cross sectoral buy-in, commitment and support for the development and implementation of the strategy;
  • mainstream REDD+ into national planning, policy, programming and financing processes and to promote and awareness and advocacy at all levels in the promotion of REDD+;
  • have strong government leadership and direction around which people can rally; and
  • weave a strong team that is inspired and enthusiastic to work together and coordinate efforts around a common objective.

Lessons learned

I have learned several lessons and experiences from the journey so far. It reminds me of political economy – what I call the political economy of REDD+. The issue of REDD+ cannot be devolved from other social, economic and political processes. It is not a stand-alone issue. It is about the relationship and interconnectedness between individuals and society, between markets and the state, between a sector and other sectors, between a person’s vision and building a corporate vision. It requires methods drawn from economics, political science and sociology among others. It is about leadership, communication and perseverance. A charm offensive works, as well as being strong in character to navigate all the complexities in developing a REDD+ strategy. It is about being passionate about a course.

Zambia is ready for a new dawn

I wake up early on the day of the meeting. My eyes pop open and I can not sleep anymore. Waking up at dawn can bring some great feelings – at least – if you look at the symbolism it brings. The dawn signifies a new beginning and freshness. So perhaps it is a new dawn for Zambia as it sets out its vision to address deforestation and forest degradation – a new dawn as we set off towards the implementation of the REDD+ strategy and Zambia’s transition from REDD+ readiness to implementation. Hopefully, it is not just another strategy and it will be given all the attention it deserves – as it is about people, their future and their destiny.

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By Iain Henderson, UNEP Finance Initiative

A long, long time ago, in an age when the REDD+ acronyms that both comfort and confuse were but a twinkle in negotiators’ eyes, the world was a very different place. This was the ‘pre-smartphone period’. This was a world without Twitter, or Facebook, and it was one where ‘text neck’ had yet to enter the medical lexicon.

It was in this bygone era in the late 1990s that I started my first job. Twice a day, I joined an anonymous tide of millions traversing London on the Underground, or ‘Tube’, as it is known.

Casual observers of the British will notice that when cast into an intimate space with strangers – such as on the Tube at rush hour – the stereotypical Brit will often ignore those around him or her, and stoically stare upwards in silence.

Capitalising on this trait, and without the distraction of smartphones, head high adverts lined the inside of the Tube carriages, as they still do. One advert that remains seared in my memory 15 years later was for a company that prided itself on its innovation and lateral thinking.

The advert began that at the peak of the 1960s space race with the Soviet Union, America spent millions of dollars developing a ballpoint pen that astronauts could use in orbit. The demands of space travel required that the pen should work in near zero gravity conditions, upside down and at extreme temperatures. After years of toil, the Americans succeeded in creating just such a pen having crushed each and every obstacle in their path thanks to the most brilliant minds of their generation and a multi-million dollar R&D budget. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Soviet Union simultaneously solved the conundrum of writing in space. Their cosmonauts would carry pencils.

Ignoring the inconvenient truth that the legend behind this advert is an urban myth, it has some interesting lessons for REDD+. The column inches devoted to the design and function of financial mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund seemingly increase with every passing month. These mechanisms will channel new and additional funds – about which there is justified and historical concern – required to plug the various ‘financing gaps’ we are all aware of in development circles. The international community is essentially working furiously on the design of a development ballpoint pen that at times feels like it needs to be all things to all people.

But aren’t we overlooking something? Is it possible that we aren’t spending enough time looking at the ‘pencils’?

A new report commissioned by UNEP analyses the nature and scale of agricultural commodity subsidies and examines how they can shape the prevailing investment climate, which in turn might positively or negatively influence forest loss. These subsidies are the instruments that already affect capital flows in landscapes by influencing behaviour through price, legality or information. Arguably, given that these incentives already exist, they can be thought of as ‘pencils’ in the context of REDD+.

Several key points stand out from the report on a topic I have little doubt will be one of growing interest for the REDD+ community. The most significant message for me, however, is one of opportunity.

The authors highlight the vast gulf between REDD+ finance and agricultural subsidies provided through a range of government tools in the two countries profiled – Brazil and Indonesia. Annual domestic agricultural subsidies for commodities often associated with historical deforestation exceed REDD+ finance by factors of 70 and 164 times, respectively.

Despite these vast multiples, it would appear that this is not an area many countries have been able to look at in the development of their REDD+ plans to date. Based on the assumption that these huge flows will probably have a far greater impact on private sector behaviour in a landscape than REDD+ funds used in isolation, it is suggested that REDD+ funds could be used to help identify and potentially reform existing subsidies that are working against development objectives, creating a significant multiplier effect.

This is a clear opportunity to try and generate a ‘double dividend’ by redirecting resources that currently might have unintended negative consequences with regards to REDD+ objectives. This opportunity exists as some subsidies will, to paraphrase UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Pavan Sukhdev, have been designed to deal with yesterday’s priorities, which might not be entirely aligned with today’s objectives or tomorrow’s problems.

As with many development challenges, however, reforming subsidies is arguably easier in the rarefied world of economic theory and perfect markets than in life as the report points out. Subsidies are hard to identify and even harder to estimate. The research team only managed to quantify around half of the relevant subsidies they found. Subsides are also rarely commodity-specific and manifest themselves in many different ways under many different names (e.g., aid, incentives, support, aid, fiscal instruments, etc.) which adds another layer of complexity to the challenge.

However, if these hurdles can be overcome, the report alludes to well-designed subsidies being an important tool in the policy-maker toolbox. This has already started to happen, and the report provides encouraging examples of subsidy reforms that support REDD+ in both countries profiled. The next step for UNEP and the UN-REDD Programme will be to take the analysis to a deeper level and explore in finer detail how subsidies could be reformed for (almost) everyone’s benefits and for significant forest and climate gains. Indonesia has volunteered to go this next step and during the Tropical Landscape Summit called for by the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board on 27/28 April, the Government will start its scrutiny of counter-productive land-use subsidies. The topic will also be on the agenda at the Global Landscape Forum event on investment in London on June 10/11.

The key message I gleaned from reading this stimulating report is that while it is vital to continue to focus on the important race to develop the ballpoint pen in REDD+, let’s not forget the pencils.

The ‘Subsidies to key commodities driving forest loss’ report can be downloaded here.

Bio: Iain Henderson joined the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in Geneva in 2012 and leads their work on REDD+ and Sustainable Land Use. He was previously an investment banker for over a decade in London and more recently worked for WWF on sustainable finance in Hong Kong. He is part of the UNEP team working on private sector engagement under the UN-REDD Programme and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Forests.

This article was originally posted on Landscapes.org. Click here to read it.

Argentina_Bosque Patagónico rt crop

(Ver el texto en español más abajo)

By Patricia Toquica, UN-REDD Programme Knowledge Management Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean, with contributions from Leandro Fernandez, Argentina’s Government REDD+ Focal Point, and Marco Chiu, UN-REDD Programme Regional Technical Advisor.

A significant step forward in the preparation phase to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) can be expected in Argentina thanks to successful coordination between the country’s government, the UN-REDD Programme and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).

In many countries, one government team is often in charge of coordinating work related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF. Yet for partner countries, this poses challenges in terms of coordinating processes, project documents and requirements from each of the Programmes, sometimes resulting in duplication of efforts.

In several REDD+ forums in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), countries have spoken of the need for effective coordination to optimize financial and human resources, streamline processes and enable further progress towards common goals of the REDD+ readiness phase.

An example of effective coordination in this regard was recently initiated in Argentina. Following meetings among the government and representatives of the UN-REDD Programme and FCPF, it was agreed that a common work plan would be developed, a single project unit created and that the main elements would be identified for a conceptual framework around Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) and Stakeholder Engagement in the context of REDD+. This framework was developed on the basis of a common approach for the development of the country’s future REDD+ National Strategy.

These agreements in Argentina have been helpful in clarifying other topics and led to content edits of the country’s R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal). Beyond Argentina, this coordination will be also beneficial for countries such as Paraguay and Honduras, as well as other Latin American and Caribbean countries that are mobilizing resources for REDD+ programmes in the readiness or implementation phases. Like Argentina, these countries must reduce transaction costs and define, to the greatest extent possible, common conceptual and methodological approaches to support programmes with similar objectives. Argentina’s experience

After joining the UN-REDD Programme in 2010, Argentina was invited to apply for funding through the National Programme modality in June 2013. The country is currently in final negotiations to sign the project document that will give way to the implementation of REDD+ activities. With the FCPF, the Argentine government is also in the last administrative steps for signing the grant agreement. It is expected that implementation of the two programs will start in 2015 and be developed in coordination among the government, the UN-REDD Programme and FCPF.

In 2014, during the design phase of the activities that the UN-REDD Programme and FCPF will support in Argentina, several factors contributed to a favorable collaboration among stakeholders. These included political will, openness for discussions on technical issues, and a willingness to find solutions to the challenges encountered. Two editions of UN-REDD Programme targeted support have also strengthened capacities to create an environmental and social Safeguards Information System and allowed for a platform to be set up to disseminate information for the National Forest Monitoring System.

In June 2014, the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board accepted Argentina’s proposal and allocated approximately US$ 3.8 million for its National Programme. From then on, both the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF expressed their intention to coordinate actions. A preliminary agreement was subsequently reached to share information and work plans in order to avoid the duplication of efforts.

In October 2014, a joint mission and trilateral meeting took place with government focal points and representatives from the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF to work on stakeholder engagement – achieving substantial progress. A common conceptual framework for the SESA and complementary activities was defined, while the stakeholder engagement processes was agreed on by the government and UN-REDD Programme. This framework builds on a specific proposal for the creation of a REDD+ National Strategy. SESA will be developed gradually in way that allows for inputs to be taken into account while the strategy progresses. Work on stakeholder engagement cannot be disconnected from the SESA process, it was furthermore agreed, with critical moments and actions defined for avoiding this.

A further key agreement reached in Argentina will see a single project operating unit work with both the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF. The unit already has a draft organigram, while roles and functions have been identified to serve the initial objectives.

Finally, the general elements for a joint UN-REDD Programme-FCPF workplan on SESA and stakeholder engagement was drawn up.This is an unprecedented milestone for the REDD+ programme in the region and will not only allow for more efficient organization but will also facilitate progress in how resources for REDD+ are managed in the country.

 

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Exitosa coordinación en Argentina en preparación para REDD+

Un avance significativo se anticipa la fase de preparación para reducir las emisiones por deforestación y degradación de bosques (REDD+) en Argentina tras la coordinación establecida entre el gobierno y los programas ONU-REDD y FCPF.

En muchos países el mismo equipo y recursos humanos de las entidades de Estado, usualmente se encargan de los temas relacionados con la Convención Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático, el programa ONU-REDD y el Fondo Cooperativo para el Carbono de los Bosques del Banco Mundial (FCPF por sus siglas en inglés).

Desde la perspectiva de los países socios, esto supone retos en la coordinación de procesos, documentos de proyecto y requerimientos de cada uno de los programas, causando en ocasiones duplicación de esfuerzos y requisitos. En varios foros sobre REDD+ los países en Latinoamérica y El Caribe han mencionado la necesidad de lograr una efectiva coordinación para optimizar recursos financieros y humanos, agilizar procesos y permitir un mayor avance en objetivos comunes durante el desarrollo de la fase de preparación para REDD+.

Un ejemplo de una efectiva coordinación fue iniciada recientemente en Argentina, donde tras reuniones tripartitas entre el gobierno y representantes de los programas ONU-REDD y FCPF se acordó desarrollar un plan de trabajo general, crear una unidad de proyecto común, así como establecer los elementos generales de un marco conceptual conjunto en torno a los temas de Evaluación Estratégica Social y Ambiental e Involucramiento de Actores (más conocidos como SESA y SE por sus siglas en inglés) en el marco de REDD+. Dicho marco conceptual fue elaborado teniendo como base un enfoque común para el desarrollo de la futura Estrategia Nacional REDD+ del país.

Estos acuerdos en Argentina han permitido clarificar otros temas, que han sido extendidos a ediciones en el contenido del R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal por sus siglas en inglés) del país.

Este logro será muy beneficioso no sólo para Argentina, sino también para países como Paraguay y Honduras por ejemplo, así como otros en la región de Latinoamérica y El Caribe que están gestionando su involucramiento formal para movilizar recursos bajo los programas de preparación para REDD+ o que están ya en fase de implementación de las actividades de preparación. Al igual que Argentina, estos países tienen la necesidad de reducir los costos de transacción y definir, tanto como sea posible, enfoques conceptuales y metodológicos comunes con los programas de apoyo de objetivos similares.

La experiencia de Argentina

Argentina es miembro del Programa ONU-REDD desde el 2010 y en junio de 2013 fue invitado para postular a financiamiento mediante la modalidad de Programas Nacionales. Actualmente se encuentra en las gestiones finales para la firma del documento de proyecto que dará paso a la implementación de las actividades de preparación para REDD+. Con el FCPF, el Gobierno argentino aún se encuentra también en los últimos pasos administrativos para la firma del acuerdo de donación. Se espera que la implementación de los dos programas inicie en 2015 y se desarrolle de manera coordinada entre el Gobierno, el Programa ONU-REDD y el FCPF.

Durante la fase de diseño de las actividades que el Programa ONU-REDD y el FCPF apoyarán en Argentina, en 2014 se evidenció un entorno de colaboración favorable entre las partes involucradas, incluyendo factores como voluntad política; apertura para discusión de aspectos técnicos; y una buena disposición de las partes para encontrar soluciones a los desafíos encontrados.  Asimismo, dos apoyos dirigidos (Targeted Support) del Programa ONU-REDD han fortalecido las capacidades en torno a la creación de un sistema de información de salvaguardas ambientales y sociales y permitido la construcción de una plataforma de difusión de la información del Sistema Nacional de Monitoreo de Bosques, integrando información social, registro de planes y proyectos en el terreno y otros datos asociados a la información forestal.

Es en junio de 2014 que la Junta Normativa del Programa ONU-REDD  acepta la propuesta de Argentina y asigna aproximadamente US$ 3.8 millones para su Programa Nacional. Desde entonces se hace manifiesta, junto con el FCPF,  la intención de coordinar acciones y se establece un preacuerdo de compartir información y planes de trabajo con el fin de evitar la duplicación de esfuerzos.

En octubre de 2014 se lleva a cabo una misión conjunta y reunión trilateral entre los puntos focales del Gobierno de Argentina a cargo del tema, y representantes del Programa ONU-REDD y el FCPF en torno al trabajo de involucramiento de actores. En la misma, se logró un substancial avance al definir un marco conceptual común para la Evaluación Estratégica Social y Ambiental (SESA por sus siglas en inglés) y actividades complementarias tanto de este proceso como en el de involucramiento de actores que el Gobierno argentino había acordado con el Programa ONU-REDD. Este marco, toma como base una propuesta específica para el desarrollo de la Estrategia Nacional REDD+, a través de la cual, se acuerda desarrollar SESA de manera paulatina, a medida que se desarrolla dicha Estrategia y de manera que provea insumos para el afinamiento de esta última. Igualmente, se acuerda que el trabajo en involucramiento de actores, no puede ser desconectado del proceso SESA y se definen los momentos y acciones críticas para ese efecto.

Así mismo, un acuerdo fundamental que se logró dentro de este marco en el caso de Argentina es el de trabajar con una sola unidad operativa del proyecto, tanto para el Programa ONU-REDD como para el FCPF. Esta unidad cuenta ya con un borrador de organigrama, así como roles y funciones que sirven para alimentar los objetivos iniciales de estos acuerdos.

Finalmente, también se consiguió establecer de manera general los elementos para desarrollar un plan de trabajo común entre el FCPF y el Programa ONU-REDD, hito sin precedentes en el programa REDD+ en la región, en las áreas de SESA e involucramiento de actores, aspecto altamente relevante pues no sólo apunta a una más eficiente organización sino que facilitará el avance en la gestión de los recursos de preparación para REDD+ en el país.

 

Armando Cuichán / La Imagen Libre

 Photo: Armando Cuichán / La Imagen Libre. NJP Ecuador (Programa Nacional Conjunto ONU-REDD Ecuador).

perspectives  Fischer cropRemco Fischer, Programme Officer, Climate Change, UNEP Finance Initiative

There are grounds for cautious optimism as world governments intensify their efforts to achieve a global agreement on climate change at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) which will be held at the end of this year in Paris. These efforts could lead to a global deal aimed at effectively tackling climate change and, with it, address not only greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from the combustion of fossil fuels, but also emissions due to deforestation and forest degradation.

One reason for optimism includes the recent agreement between China and the United States, which heralds the importance of global decarbonization by the world’s two largest GHG emitters and ensures that both assume a leading role in these efforts. Equally encouraging is the current determination among rich countries to adequately provide capital to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), with a view of supporting developing countries in embarking on “climate-compatible” – meaning low-carbon and climate-resilient – development paths.

Ultimately, success in Paris will largely depend on progress and agreement on the issue of climate finance, as well as the prospect of mobilizing it at the pace and scale required. Equally, lasting, sustainable success in accomplishing REDD+ objectives will depend on the availability of financial resources required to effectively shift land-use behaviour from conventional, high-deforestation patterns towards smarter, more sustainable, low-deforestation patterns that support livelihoods and green growth.

In the financial arena, there is now more than ever a shared understanding that in order to tackle climate change – and with it REDD+ and sustainable land-use challenges – a major mobilization, or “re-channeling”, of private finance will be required. The underlying rationale is simple: tackling climate change, of which REDD+ is a significant component, requires a transformation of common business practices in the private sector. This in turn requires unprecedented investment at a scale which can and should only be financed privately.

It should, however, be noted that this does not make the role of public finance any less important. The misconception of a rivalry between public and private finance has inhibited progress in these discussions for a long time. Mobilizing private finance of the right scale requires bold public action, be it of a regulatory, legislative, and/or jurisdictional nature. All public action, in turn, requires both public investment and finance. However, as is often the case, public finance is scarce.

Therefore, for both the UNFCCC and GCF, a central question on REDD+ finance should be focused on how scarce public finance can best be used to achieve the greatest possible impact in terms of verified reductions or removals of forest carbon. For the reasons mentioned above, it is clear that the notion of unlocking private REDD+ finance will have to play a central role one way or another. The good news is that both the GCF’s mandate and its emerging design are explicitly geared towards this thinking. This is made clear by the existence of a Private Sector Facility as well as a Private Sector Advisory Group. The question again is “how?”. What are the “interventions” that the GCF should take, the instruments, facilities and mechanisms it should deploy, to achieve an unlocking of private REDD+ finance?

International negotiations have started to yield encouraging answers but many more are needed. In finding answers, the following aspects/questions should be taken into consideration:

Results-based payments are essential for a business case for private REDD+ investment

Private finance, mostly in the form of debt and equity, will always be available for activities that offer a competitive rate of risk and return. In fact, due to this reason, commercial land-use actors often have no difficulty in securing finance to implement such activities that contribute to deforestation or forest degradation. What is wrong then with the risk-return ratio of activities that reduce deforestation? One immediate impediment is that activities at the very core of REDD+, namely the simple act of leaving a forest standing (basic “forest conservation”), often generates no, or an unattractive, direct return compared to many alternative land uses (e.g. agriculture, mining, real estate development). There will never be “naturally occurring” financial revenues and with them a “naturally occurring” financial return associated with conserving forests. An exception may perhaps be found in business models based on ecotourism and non-timber forest products. The consequence is simple: “no revenue” equates to “no return”, which equates to “no entrepreneurial interest in pursuing the activity”, which ultimately equates to no demand for debt or equity investment. From the perspective of commercial land-use actors, no clear business case exists for REDD+ captured by traditional economic measures — at least for forest conservation REDD+ activities.

It should be noted that a robust business case articulated in a language that resonates with the relevant stakeholder is important to more than just commercial land-use actors. National governments of developing countries are likely to share this sentiment and their train of thought will be similar: that “no revenue” equates to “no jobs-creation”, and to “no tax generation”, and to “no poverty alleviation”. It is obvious that this local perception is in stark contrast to the more international perspective that an overwhelming economic case for effective climate change mitigation and the protection of tropical forests globally exists.

Tension does exist between the interests of the global community in a stable climate and the priority of developing countries to alleviate poverty by rapid economic growth through the full exploitation of natural resources including land surface. This tension, when coupled with the absence of a naturally occurring financial return on forest conservation, becomes quite telling with regards to interventions that the GCF should prioritize when aiming to unlock not only private financial flows of debt and equity for REDD+, but — even more importantly — private sector entrepreneurial initiatives. It becomes hard to conceive an international financial framework for REDD+ that is not built around a robust global mechanism for results-based payments. Such payments would then be funded by the wealthier countries in the Climate Convention and disbursed to developing forest countries that demonstrate positive REDD+ performance. Ultimately, they would provide the basis from which financial revenues for forest conservation (and the required lessening of agriculture- and commodity-related pressures on forest frontiers) could be derived, and financial returns for commercial actors generated, which, in turn, would unlock private-sector engagement and investment in REDD+.

Results-based payments are necessary but likely to be insufficient

This highlights the relevance and appropriateness of both theUNFCCC’s Warsaw Framework on REDD+ as well as the subsequent Logic Model for REDD+ Results-based Payments for the GCF, from the perspective of a mobilization of private REDD+ finance. But while it is true that a reliable and efficient system of ex-post results-based payments is a necessary condition for the required paradigm shift in commercial land-use patterns, it is unlikely to be a sufficient condition.

The reasons for this include, firstly, the risk side of the equation (given that performance-based payments only address the return side of the equation). Secondly, the fact that addressing, more systemically, commodity-related drivers of deforestation may require a greater array of public interventions to remove a greater and complex array of barriers in developing countries, beyond the mere prospect of there being results-based payments at the end of the tunnel. Lastly, one has to put into perspective the overall volumes of performance-based payments required in the REDD+ space. In the past, these have been estimated at roughly US$ 20 – 40 billion per year, which is several times the total capital that, for instance, the GCF has secured to-date from donor governments or the cumulative scale of REDD+ finance pledged to date (which is around US$ 9 billion).

Prohibitive risks associated with commercial REDD+ activities can easily inhibit private sector investment even in the presence of financial revenues associated with them. Examples of risks that are typical of investments in many developing countries are overall country and political risks, currency risks and, importantly, policy and regulatory risks, including those associated with land-use and REDD+ related policy frameworks nationally. The latter will be of particular potential detriment to private investment, given that it will be precisely through such national policy frameworks that international results-based payments will, in a second step, be passed on to the implementers of the underlying REDD+ activities on the ground, including private sector actors and financiers. If these frameworks are perceived to be opaque and risky, then private investment will not flow, whether an international system for results-based payments is in place or not. Therefore, helping mitigate, reduce and transfer such risks should be a complementary objective of the GCF, especially through its Private Sector Facility. This could occur by replicating, or by expanding and strengthening existing instruments such as those provided by the multilateral investment guarantee agency, and by tailoring those to the needs of land-use actors in the private sector and their investors.

The need for a nuanced discussion on financial needs for REDD+, barriers to private finance and the required public interventions

Lastly, there are, beyond risk and return, many other barriers that keep commercial land-use actors from changing behavior. These barriers also prevent the providers of capital from re-channeling investment from unsustainable to sustainable business models, and they will be different from one activity type to another. Barriers faced by the proponents of reforestation and afforestation activities are likely to be different from those faced by actors working towards land-efficiency gains in agricultural production, which are in turn likely to be different from those embracing sustainable approaches to forest management. Understanding and considering these nuances is important when designing public interventions aimed at removing barriers. One of UNEP Finance Initiative’s 2015 objectives in the REDD+ and land-use domain sheds light in this area, having developed a study on Demystifying private REDD+ finance — to be published later this year as a follow-up report to the first iteration titled Demystifying private climate finance launched at COP21 in Lima.

 

The world is on track to deliver the largest-ever ecosystem restoration effort: restoring 150 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2020. To keep the momentum, countries need concerted coordinated support and finance from the international community for action on the ground.

The world is on track to deliver the largest-ever ecosystem restoration effort: restoring 150 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2020. To keep the momentum, countries need concerted coordinated support and finance from the international community for action on the ground.

By Tim Christophersen, UNEP Senior Programme Officer, Forests and Climate Change and UN-REDD Programme Management Board member.

(this post originally appeared on http://www.landscapes.org)

Nature has developed powerful carbon sequestration machines: they are called trees. And we are now at the point where just reducing emissions will not be enough,” said Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, at the Bonn Challenge Ministerial meeting on 20 and 21 March 2015. “We must actively remove carbon out of the atmosphere. Forest restoration is the most cost-effective carbon capture option we have”. Ms Sundtoft’s call for more forests and trees in the fight against climate change was echoed by meeting participants from around the world. Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Liberia and the Republic of Korea provided detailed insights into their restoration actions. Already 61.5 million hectares have been taken under active restoration since the first Bonn Challenge meeting in 2011, with further pledges in the pipeline. The target was recently made even more ambitious in the New York Declaration on Forests which added another 200 million hectares to be restored by 2030, putting the total envisaged total area at 350 million ha, equivalent to the size of India. Achieving this target could remove up to 1.7 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year and create well over 80 billion USD per year in ecosystem services.

I have been following the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration for eight years, and we have made some progress. But what we saw at the Bonn Challenge meeting last week was truly a game-changer. The world has finally woken up to the fact that the magnitude of the climate crisis requires equally large and comprehensive responses, which must include the way we manage ecosystems. Planting trees to restore degraded landscapes is not only a mitigation effort: it helps enhance the ecosystem services people desperately need to adapt to a hotter and water-stressed world. Powerful examples of successful restoration from Ethiopia, China, and Tanzania show socio-economic transformations towards a green economy triggered by large-scale landscape restoration.

Participants in Bonn were reminded about the historic precedent of the economic, ecological and social re-birth of South Korea from when forest cover was less than half of what it is today and the country experienced soil erosion, malnutrition and drought. In the 1950s, Korea looked similar to how Haiti looks today: a once lush country turned into a near-desert, barely able to feed its population. The turning point in Korea was a nation-wide concerted forest restoration effort. Today, Korea has a forest cover of 65 per cent of its land mass, worth over 100 billion USD in ecosystem services or about 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. In the process of the decade-long and centrally controlled restoration effort, hundreds of thousands of jobs were created and agricultural output grew more than four per cent each year.

However, it is important to note that the Korea example would proceed very differently today. We now live in a world where participatory approaches have largely replaced top-down and command-and-control actions and where the awareness of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) has been growing in the wake of REDD+ efforts. This is a huge opportunity, because forest landscape restoration that builds on the aspirations and contributions from local communities will be even more durable and more easily attract external and local investments.

Broad and inclusive restoration approaches are emerging in many countries. In Brazil, new legislation is under way to restore 12.5 million hectares within 20 years and create up to 190,000 new jobs in the process. In El Salvador, the Government has pledged to restore over half of all land area following a detailed LIDAR assessment of its forest baseline. They see landscape restoration as an essential investment into ‘natural infrastructure’ for sustainable development.

Political vision and leadership in both these examples is key. El Salvador has set up a ‘sustainability cabinet’ including the Ministries of the Interior, Tourism, Environment, Agriculture and others to collaborate on making investment decisions and developing legislation for sustainable development. And Brazil is contributing to all relevant global commitments with their restoration efforts, on biodiversity, climate change, and desertification. While these efforts are encouraging, the international community is often not yet ready to respond to such efforts in an equally well-coordinated way, and with adequate financial support. The emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give us a unique window to demonstrate the contribution of well-managed forests and landscapes to poverty eradication, food and energy security, and a green economy.

Linking forest landscape restoration with REDD+ is becoming increasingly important. The large and growing body of experience with REDD+ safeguards and stakeholder engagement and planning cost-effective actions can and should be a foundation for restoration efforts. In Uganda, the UN-REDD Programme and IUCN aim to fully integrate forest landscape restoration efforts with national REDD+ planning and implementation. The results will be made available to all 58 UN-REDD partner countries, with a view to ensure the international community helps developing countries to integrate land use and climate change. . This would also make for a stronger business case for further public and private sector investments.

UNEP, CIFOR and other partners will convene 150-200 of the world’s leading experts from private, corporate, finance and other sectors in London on June 10 2015 to make a strong case for investments into sustainable land use and forestry. A clear signal of coordination from the UN and other bilateral actors on forests and REDD+ and a close alignment with the SDGs would certainly support a strong business case.

About the author:

Tim Christophersen is the lead expert of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Forests and Climate Change. He is a member of the Management Group of the UN-REDD Programme, a collaborative effort of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNEP, which is currently supporting 58 developing countries in REDD+ readiness and implementation.

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