You are currently browsing UN-REDD Programme’s articles.
by Teng Rithiny, the NGO Forum on Cambodia
“The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities” is one of UNFCCC’s Cancun Safeguards. How should a national REDD+ process be designed to include relevant stakeholders, especially indigenous peoples (IP) and civil society organizations (CSO) which have limited engagement in the policy process?
Earlier this year, the UN-REDD Programme organized a regional meeting of sixteen IP and CSO representatives from the Asia-Pacific region to share experiences of how their countries have been approaching this issue [see video]. The current IP and CSO members of the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board and UN-REDD Programme country Executive Boards were given the opportunity to discuss challenges, lesson learned and opportunities to support the full and effective participation of IP and CSO stakeholders in national REDD+ processes. During the meeting, representatives from Myanmar shared how REDD+ is improving the culture of engagement between IP/CSO stakeholders and government representatives, as well as creating new mechanisms and opportunities for participation.
Following the regional meeting and Myanmar’s presentation of its Expression of Interest at the 14th meeting of the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board, a mission to the country was undertaken in August by the IP organization Tebtebba, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, and the Asia-Pacific IP and CSO representatives to the UN-REDD Policy Board.
We had the opportunity to have a dialogue with Myanmar national CSOs and IP constituencies, as well as to learn and share how CSO and IP participation in the national REDD+ strategy process can be strengthened. We were also able to meet with the Forest Department from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Forestry and key development partners including FAO, UNDP and the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We shared with them the results of the national dialogue with CSOs and IPs in Myanmar, while advocating support for CSO and IP engagement in the national REDD+ strategy process.
The CSOs and the IPs we met with identified mining, fire wood consumption, over exploitation of forests and shifting cultivation as drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. By engaging in the REDD+ readiness process, they have an opportunity to address these key challenges through:
- Coordinating and linking up with other like-minded CSO networks to strengthen participation in REDD+ readiness processes.
- Strengthening the Myanmar Ethnic Minorities/Nationalities Network established during the ASEAN Forum in 2014.
- Identifying interested and committed network members to participate in the technical working groups of the national REDD+ readiness process.
- Deciding on an “interim representative” to the national REDD+ process and to coordinate the CSOs and EM engagement in the processes.
- Collaborating in awareness raising activities for local community and forestry staff on REDD+, land tenure and community based forest management, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the process of free, prior and informed consent.
As part of our dialogue with national IP and CSO groups we shared useful examples of how other countries have dealt with complex issues, such as dealing with the representation of IPs in post-conflict situations, as well as providing examples of how other countries have approached challenges to full and effective engagement. During our discussions with the forest department, they expressed support for inclusive and participatory processes and welcomed the role of CSOs and IPs in developing and implementing the national REDD+ strategy successfully.
We will visit other countries in the region over the rest of our term as CSO and IP UN-REDD Programme Policy Board representatives to hold similar meetings. As with this engagement with Myanmar, such opportunities will allow us to build understanding with government counterparts and connect directly with CSO and IP stakeholders in countries so that we can better represent their perspectives at the global level.
By Lola Cabnal, Maya Q’eqchi’, Observadora Pueblos Indígenas ONU-REDD+ para la región de América Latina
Los pueblos indígenas mantienen una relación armónica con sus bosques, agua, recursos naturales, biodiversidad y demás elementos de la Madre Naturaleza. Esta relación tiene su base en su visión cosmogónica de la vida y se sustenta en la estrecha relación e interdependencia, de todos los elementos de la naturaleza. Esta visión se refleja en las relaciones culturales, políticas, sociales, económicas y espirituales, que le dan una visión particular al concepto de desarrollo, entendido como el buen vivir, que se sustenta en el equilibrio y relación armónica entre el universo, madre tierra, la naturaleza y seres humanos.
Para los pueblos indígenas, es fundamental analizar las implicaciones de implementar programas y proyectos REDD+, en susterritorios. Para los pueblos indígenas, REDD+ es una iniciativa que tiene que definirse claramente, que tiene que consultarse ampliamente, se deben definir los derechos y propiedad del carbono, se debe construir un sistema de salvaguardas desde lo que establece el Convenio 169 sobre pueblos indígenas de la OIT, la Declaración de Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y las leyes nacionales que reconocen los derechos indígenas.
En estos momentos REDD+ como planteamiento global y como documentos nacionales (R-PP o ERPIN) deben fortalecerse para que reconozcan, respeten claramente los derechos colectivos particularmente los relacionados a la libre determinación, tierras y territorios, participación, consulta y consentimiento previo, libre e informado, para esto es necesario crear las condiciones para que los pueblos indígenas tengan una participación plena y efectiva.
La visión cosmogónica indígena, plantea que hay una interrelación, entre todos los elementos de la naturaleza, no separa, más bien integra; de ahí nace la dificultad y la critica a las políticas monoculturales, entre ellas REDD+, que además plantear conceptos ajenos a los idiomas indígenas, no se apega a la realidad y modelo de uso, manejo y conservación de los bosques en territorios indígenas.
En lo que se refiere a REDD+, los pueblos indígenas plantean que si no se les involucran en su diseño, planificación, implementación y monitoreo, afectará los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, impactara en el modelo o sistema de uso, manejo y conservación indígena, creara una posible división entre las estructuras organizativas, impactara en el sistema de conservación de los bosques, aguas, recursos naturales y culturales, biodiversidad y modelo económico.
REDD+ considera a los pueblos indígenas como otro actor más de sociedad civil y lo sitúa como partes interesadas relevantes, mientras deben considerarlos como un sujeto político, respetar y reconocerse como titulares de derecho sobre sus tierras, territorios y recursos naturales, y con el derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado, así como a su libre determinación para definir, a través de sus propias organizaciones, reconocer que el papel y función de las mujeres y la juventud es fundamental en estos procesos y asimismo su participación plena efectiva en las tomas de decisiones.
By Mario Boccucci, Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat
As the global community comes together in Durban 7-11 September for the XIV World Forestry Congress, the importance of forests in addressing climate change is set to take centre stage. Deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 12 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than the emissions from all the planes, trains, automobiles and ships in the world. It is only by including forests in a climate change strategy that we can hold the increase in global average temperature below two degrees. While forests hold the key to reducing carbon emissions, forests serve an even greater purpose to the more than 1.6 billion people around the world that depend on them. Forests provide livelihood, food, shelter and financial resources to people, and play a critical role in conserving biodiversity.
The mechanism that brings these two priorities together – reducing carbon emissions from forests and increasing the livelihoods of those that depend on them – is REDD+. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) has now been recognized as not just having environmental benefits, but also social and economic benefits, making it a key for developing countries to realize sustainable development.
This has been demonstrated through key global actions taken over the last two years, including the development of the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2013, the endorsement of the New York Declaration on Forests at the September 2014 Secretary-General’s Climate Summit more than 160 global leaders, and the completion of the UNFCCC’s framework for REDD+ at the 2015 Bonn SBSTA meetings.
The global community has now endorsed REDD+ as an important element to climate change mitigation efforts. Developing countries have already been preparing for REDD+, with the support of the UN-REDD Programme, our partners at the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and others. Since the UN-REDD Programme was established in 2008 as a collaborative initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme, we have grown from supporting 9 pilot developing countries to 62. More than 50 of these countries have benefitted from direct funding to develop and/or strengthen their national REDD+ programmes or actions.
As REDD+ moves to enter its post-2015 phase, and more developing forest countries prepare to move past REDD+ readiness towards REDD+ implementation, the UN-REDD Programme has developed a new 2016-2020 Strategic Framework designed to meet the evolving needs of REDD+ developing countries.
Simply put, the strengthened post-2015 strategic vision for the Programme is one that aligns with the UNFCCC’s now defined requirements and guidelines for REDD+ and leverages not only the technical expertise of its UN agencies, but also the enhanced knowledge and experiences of partner countries that have participated in the readiness phase of REDD+. This readiness experience provides countries with a strong understanding of what are their national and regional REDD+ needs and what tools and capacities they need to successfully deliver REDD+. With this information, the UN-REDD Programme can now deliver support through a country-driven and country-needs based approach. Countries will also be well positioned, through the alignment with the UNFCCC, to realize results-based payments for their REDD+ results-based actions.
Additionally, the UN-REDD Programme recognizes REDD+ as a sustainable development tool, and will be continuing its work to support partner countries to address other REDD+ crosscutting issues including governance, stakeholder engagement, gender, safeguards and tenure among others. The Programme is also positioning itself to deliver its support in increased synergy with other players including our long-time partner the FCPF, and those new to the arena including the Green Climate Fund.
Through this new strategic framework for the UN-REDD Programme, we will be poised to deliver the highest quality and value of support to developing countries striving to realize the economic, social and environmental benefits of REDD+ and at the same time support the global community to progress in its fight against climate change.
Working together, forest-dependent communities, governments, the private sector and multilaterals including the UN-REDD Programme and others can continue this positive momentum and deliver REDD+ for the benefit of people and the planet.
Interview with Duncan Chiza Mkandawire, chairman of the Nyika-Vwaza Association.
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.)
This blog post originally appeared on the Global Landscapes Forum blog.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Three United Nations Days are being marked, including the main global celebration of World Environment Day (5 June) and World Food Day (16 October).
- 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.
- 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.
This article originally appeared in issue 30 of the FAO Forestry newsletter inFO News.
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.
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.
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.
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.