2 Steve Midgley FAO.2001 Indonesia

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, addresses participants of the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. UNDP is one of the collaborating UN agencies of the UN-REDD Programme, together with FAO and UNEP.

I thank Jeff for the introduction, and thanks to the World Economic Forum for organizing this important session.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to address this diverse group of leaders, from such a wide range of sectors, on the critical importance of reducing tropical deforestation related to key agricultural commodities. This cross-sectoral dialogue and collaboration is crucial to build on the momentum of the last year and successfully address deforestation.

Since our Davos Forests session last year, I have been very pleased to witness the growing global partnership around addressing deforestation, both as a climate change issue and a development issue.

Importantly, forest countries have made substantial progress on developing and implementing forest strategies, with support from the international community; Parties to the Climate Convention reached significant agreements on how REDD+ will work; and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has included new forest targets in its proposal for the new development agenda.

Dozens of major players in the palm oil industry have also committed to eliminating deforestation and human rights violations from their supply chains. As a result, the percentage of the world’s palm oil trade covered by sustainability commitments has grown from fifteen per cent to over ninety per in the past fourteen months – an unprecedented and inspiring achievement. I know that our Forest session right here in Davos last year contributed significantly to this accomplishment.

This sense of momentum, partnership, and action, was also evident at the UN Climate Summit in New York last September, when a global coalition of countries, states, companies, indigenous peoples, and NGOs announced the New York Declaration on Forests. This Declaration set out an unprecedented public-private commitment to halve deforestation worldwide by 2020 and end it by 2030.

Since September, the number of endorsers of the Declaration has grown to 177, and I take this opportunity to thank those who helped drive this process, many of whom are here today: Prime Minister Solberg of Norway; David MacLennan, CEO, Cargill; Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; Abdon Nababan of AMAN; Ollanta Moises Humala Tasso, President of Peru; Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia; and many others.

As the New Climate Economy Report shows, policies which reduce deforestation can stimulate economic growth and development, spurring agricultural productivity, eliminating rent-seeking behavior, and accelerating the clarification of land rights – thereby reducing social conflict and associated risks to investment.

Commodity production without deforestation can be a win for the climate, and for inclusive development and economic growth, and for smallholder famers and indigenous peoples. But – we will only see these wins achieved if we all act together. We have before us a collective action challenge which requires a global public-private partnership in response. Only if we all do our parts can we achieve these wins.

To build on 2014’s progress, and ensure that 2015 is an equally promising year for the world’s forests, the private sector needs to continue to build on and expand the substantial commitments made over the past year.

At the same time, it is critical that governments and the international community also step up and commit to doing their part. In particular, the international community needs to commit to providing adequate, sustainable, and predictable payments for REDD+ results at a large scale.

With momentum building, the agenda for 2015 must address several key challenges. I urge all of us over the course of this afternoon to consider the following questions:

• What must we do to trigger further commitments to deforestation-free sourcing of other agricultural commodities (beyond palm oil) during 2015? What would it take to have the soy, paper & pulp, and beef sectors in a similar position to palm oil by next year’s Climate Change conference in Paris?

• What must we do to ensure that these commitments are implemented on the ground, and that they contribute to national agendas for economic growth and sustainable and equitable development?

• What must we do to ensure that the all-too-often economically marginalized rural populations benefit from these transformations – particularly smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples?

My thanks again to the World Economic Forum for organizing this session, and for your valuable assistance last year in the preparation for the Climate Summit, and to all of you for being here.

The UN system is committed to working with you to continue to advance the Forests agenda, and to carry forward this spirit of progress and collaboration to Paris and beyond.

helen clark

(This blog post originally appeared on the UNDP’s blog).

As world leaders and heads of business descend on Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, discussions on the crucial role of forests in tackling climate change while helping sustain over 1.6 billion forest dependent people remain key in 2015 – a bellwether year for climate change and sustainable development.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark will open the session “Reducing Tropical Deforestation Related to Key Agricultural Commodities” in Davos with expected participation from President Ollanta Moises Humala Tasso of Peru; Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France; CEO’s Marc Bolland of Marks and Spencer and David M. MacLennan of Cargill; and Jeremy Goon, Chief Sustainability Officer of palm oil giant Wilmar.

“Forest conservation is critical to climate change mitigation. Our forests absorb carbon dioxide and provide a range of other services, but when cleared they become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions,” Helen Clark said, speaking ahead of the event.

Over thirteen million hectares of forests are cleared annually, around three times the area of Switzerland – contributing up to 20 percent of global emissions, and threatening economic progress and human well-being.

With a global climate agreement due to be finalized at the Paris Climate Conference at the end of the year and forests to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by UN member states in September, Helen Clark says 2015 matters like no other year since the turn of the century.

Referring to the UN Climate Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in September 2014, as well as recent unprecedented progress advancing deforestation free supply chains, she said “we need to maintain and build upon the momentum made last year,” the year scientists have marked as the warmest on record.

The Climate Summit’s forests action area, which UNDP facilitated, saw the launch of theNew York Declaration on Forests – a ground-breaking partnership of companies, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples pledging to halve forest loss by 2020 and end it by 2030.

Addressing deforestation promises multiple wins – for the climate, for inclusive development and economic growth, for smallholder famers and indigenous peoples – but only if all sectors act together.

Keeping all sectors engaged is crucial and Davos is the key ground for this to take place. Last year, participants at the Davos session on forests focused on advancing deforestation-free supply chains. As a result, 2014 saw the percentage of global palm oil trade covered by ‘deforestation-free’ commitments grow to over 90 percent – an unprecedented accomplishment.

With leaders such as Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Unilever CEO, Paul Polman and Abdon Nababan, Secretary-General, Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of Indonesia (AMAN) in attendance this year, delegates will discuss how ‘deforestation-free’ commitments might be expanded to cover new commodities and new companies, and examine how smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples can benefit from the implementation of these commitments.

“It is hoped that the private sector will build and expand on the significant commitments already made to achieve deforestation-free supply chains. Governments and other must also commit to playing their necessary roles to that end,” Helen Clark said.


(This post originally appeared in GO-REDD+, an information service of the UN-REDD Programme for the Asia-Pacific region)

By Joel Scriven, UN-REDD Programme

Of the five REDD+ activities set out by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Cancun Agreements (decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70), the most cryptic by a long stretch is “the sustainable management of forests” (SMF). It does not make reference to emissions or carbon stocks, as the other activities do, presenting the first barrier to its interpretation: are we talking about an emissions reduction activity or a carbon stock enhancing activity? As with many other aspects of REDD+, the flexibility allows for country-specific interpretation – but also adds to its complexity.

SMF is often taken to relate to productive forests – those that are used for commercial (logging) purposes. Indeed, the Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics’ (GOFC-GOLD) Sourcebook describes SMF as generally referring to “bringing the rate of extraction in line with the rate of increment”. But why should REDD+ work in productive forests – should the focus not be on intact natural forests? What about maximizing biodiversity and ecosystem service co-benefits?

A recently published article by David Edwards and others in Trends in Ecology and Evolution sheds some light on these questions – and, in doing so, on REDD+ implementation as a whole.

The first, simple, answer is that logged tropical forests cannot be ignored: they are now so prevalent that their area is greater than that of natural forests across most of the tropics (the exceptions being the remote forests of the Amazon and Papua New Guinea – though even this is changing).

The second, perhaps more surprising finding, is that logged forests can actually retain a considerable amount of their ecosystem functionality. In terms of carbon storage, for example, studies show that tropical forests can retain 76% of their carbon stocks following logging; and that reduced impact logging practices can facilitate a recovery of 100% of above-ground carbon stocks within 16 years.

When it comes to biodiversity value, the article cites two meta-analyses (each of which considered more than 100 scientific studies) that showed that logged forests in the Amazon, Africa and Southeast Asia retain a similar species richness of animals, insects and plants as compared to nearby old-growth forest. As a specific indicator of the biodiversity conservation value, the case of Borneo is cited, where 42% of the total orangutan population inhabits logged or formerly logged forests (not out of choice, necessarily! – but this exemplifies the potential of logged forests to retain their habitat/biodiversity conservation value).

The study also illustrates the importance of logged forests for regulating temperature, moderating flash floods and conserving soils. In addition, productive forests generate higher revenues than natural forests, which should incentivize their sustainable management, rather than their decline into states of extreme degradation and possible eventual loss.

This is not to say that natural/primary forests should not be prioritized; only that logged forests should not be overlooked as valueless second-tier options for REDD+ interventions. It is also worth noting that logged tropical forests are often highly vulnerable to further degradation – and eventual clearing – as logging roads open up accessibility to the forest.

In the context of REDD+, SMF therefore presents an opportunity to use economically productive forests for climate change mitigation, while sustaining important and substantial ecosystem services. While safeguarding the protection of natural forests, priority should also be given to the increasingly large areas covered by logged forests.

Former Pine Forest - Haiti UNEP 2009
By Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Assistant-Secretary-General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director

The Ayoreo people of western Paraguay, who include the last uncontacted indigenous peoples south of the Amazon, have an enemy that they call the beast with metal skin and an attacker of the world. Their spears cannot penetrate its flanks, although they have tried.

This beast in question is not the giant armadillo, a species native to the region, with its big bony shell and claws that can tear through a termite mound like butter. It is the bulldozer, which instead tears through the Gran Chaco, the forest where the Ayoreo live. Between 1990 and 2011, Paraguay lost more than three million hectares of the Chaco forest, displacing the Ayoreo and threatening creatures large and small, like the giant armadillos as well as jaguars, howler monkeys, and tapirs.

Every year, people destroy more than 13 million hectares of forests around the world, which equals more than 25 football fields full of trees every minute. This destruction separates people from the forests that provide them with their livelihoods, and eliminates habitat for endangered species on the ground, and even in the air. For example, forests provide habitat for more than three quarters of all globally threatened bird species.

Deforestation and forest degradation—due expanding areas for cops, plantations and pastures, infrastructure development, destructive logging, and fires—account for a substantial proportion of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

But the environmental and social damage doesn’t stop there. Forests also shelter a tremendous amount of life, and provide food, medicine and other products to people. They also provide us with services, such as filtering fresh water as it collects and moves downstream, so that urban populations have clean water to drink. In fact, 33 of the world’s largest cities obtain their fresh water directly from protected expanses of forest. Globally, forests contribute to the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people worldwide.

In the case of Paraguay, one quarter of the forests have been cleared since 1990, mostly to grow soybeans and to provide pasture for the country’s livestock industry—two of its biggest economic engines. On the other side of the world, in Nigeria, more than one half of the country’s forest cover has been lost since 1990, making way for not just the expansion of agriculture, but also for mining and oil and gas projects. Forests have also been degraded through the collection of fuelwood, the primary source of fuel for about two-thirds of the country.

What Paraguay and Nigeria have in common is that both countries are looking at an international initiative, REDD+, to help keep their remaining trees standing. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from activities on forested lands and invest in more sustainable forest management practices.

Sustainability is the key to REDD+; countries are exploring how the forests can be protected, and even restored, while still providing livelihoods and sustenance for the people who depend on them.

You can find this sustainability model in Nigeria. Cross River State, which contains more than half of the remaining tropical forest in the country, is implementing REDD+ as a way to protect its standing forests while also promoting their contribution to sustainable development. For many communities who live in or near the forests in Nigeria, products like bush mango, bushmeat and fuelwood play an important part in local livelihoods and economies.

Ecotourism is another growing segment of the local economy for communities in Nigeria. Travelers come to Cross River State not only to look at the ‘charismatic megafauna’—the forest elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees—but to seek out the more than 900 varieties of butterflies that live in the region’s tropical high forest or to experience its rugged mountains. Ecotourism thrives in the deep forests of the world; globally, it is worth as much as US$77 billion annually.

For these forests to survive—those in Nigeria, Paraguay, and everywhere else—REDD+ helps increase the value of trees in the eyes of national and local governments and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors. In mapping out where REDD+ activities could contribute to reducing poverty and inequality, and support the cultures of forest-dependent and indigenous peoples, REDD+ strengthens the hands of the environment ministries in land-use planning.

Put simply, if for all these reasons the forests have a quantifiable value in remaining standing, it becomes easier to argue that economic development should not destroy them. Several initiatives, including the UN-REDD Programme, the United Nations collaborative initiative on REDD+, are helping countries to plan better for REDD+ implementation by identifying the value their forests and REDD+ activities can bring.

The implementation of REDD+ and the launch of markets for the carbon credits that underpin the new value of the world’s forests—and the green economies that prosper in these forests—will be a primary topic at the upcoming international climate change negotiations—the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—taking place in Lima, Peru, December 1-12.

Last year’s negotiations provided guidelines on financing, transparency, and monitoring. This year, though, the stakes are higher and yet the world keeps losing more and more of its tree cover. Governments in Paraguay, Nigeria, and 54 other countries involved in the UN-REDD Programme are looking to REDD+ to stop this trend, help its people who depend on forests, and mitigate the climate change impacts that threaten us all. At Lima and beyond, we need to continue down the path of REDD+ implementation so that we as a global society can finally safeguard our forests.

Roberto Faidutti FAO Brazil 1999

Photo: Roberto Faidutti, FAO Brazil

(This post originally appeared in GO-REDD+, an information service of the UN-REDD Programme for the Asia-Pacific region)

By Joel Scriven, UN-REDD Programme

September 2014 saw the release of the Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) 2014 Global Carbon Budget. The GCP brings together leading scientists to make annual estimations of where human-sourced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are coming from and where they are going. It presents findings within the historical context of global emissions – making it essential reading for anyone with an interest in climate change mitigation.

Some of the headlines are perhaps not surprising: the US remains the highest per capita emitter (at 16.4tCO2/person/year), emissions from China are growing fast (and have surpassed the EU in per capita terms), and coal is the major fossil fuel source accounting for 59% of the growth in global emissions in 2013. All of which is reflective of trends in global geopolitics, commodity prices and development path trajectories. But what about emissions from forestry and land use? The answer may come as a surprise.

global climate project 03-12-14Although emissions from land-use change peaked in 1998, largely as a result of the El Niño effect increasing the intensity of fires in Indonesian peatforests, overall they have been in decline since 1990. In fact, as a proportion of total global emissions, and as a result of the growth from fossil fuels, contributions from land-use change are estimated to have fallen from 36% in 1960, to 19% in 1990, to 8% in 2013.

So why all the fuss about mitigating land-use and forestry emissions through REDD+? Well, the answer lies partly in the global mitigation portfolio and partly in the ultimate resting place of all these emissions. Firstly, it is important to place this relative decline in land-use and forestry emissions in the context of the rampant growth of emissions from fossil fuels. After all, in 2013 these emissions still amounted to over 3 gigatonnes of CO2: not a small amount. Secondly, through addressing emissions from this sector, we can safeguard numerous and well- ocumented other environmental services such as conservation of biodiversity and other environmental services, livelihood provisions for forestdependent people, water quality provisions, and so on. Thirdly, it is considered to be a relatively cost- ffective (read: cheaper!) approach to mitigating climate change than, say, replacing all diesel-spouting buses with electric ones.

So that’s the main reason for reducing emissions from forests. But there’s more: where do these GHGs actually go, once released, from coal, gas or forests? Of the total human-sourced emissions between 2004 and 2013 (approximately 35 gigatonnes of CO2 per year), only 44% ended up in the atmosphere where they play havoc with our climate system. Of the remainder, 26% went into the oceans and 29% was absorbed by forests (technically, the ‘land sink’ – but most significantly comprised of forests). To recap: one third of global human GHG emissions are taken up by forests.

This is of huge importance for 1) the role of forests in preventing emissions from reaching the atmosphere; and 2) further justification for keeping our remaining forests intact as emission sponges. These facts also draw our attention to the ‘+’ in REDD+. As countries develop their strategies for REDD+ implementation, and while the inevitable starting point may be analyzing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, the importance of conserving remaining forests, sustainably managing forests and enhancing their forest areas, should not be overlooked.


(This post originally appeared on the Peru COP20 website)

By: Carla Ramírez Zea / Main Forest Advisor, FAO Peru

“The new policies on climate change demand greater quantity, quality and efficiency of forest information. A truly comprehensive monitoring of forest management involves biophysical – environmental, socioeconomic and governance information needed to guide and evaluate actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

The welfare of citizens worldwide is threatened by increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), mainly from industrialized countries. For this reason, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emerges as a space for discussion to define global agreements to reduce emissions of party countries. During the discussion, the most developed countries have been called to meet their targets for reducing emissions, but also support for the least developed countries has been boosted to plan mitigation and adaptation, through institutional and technical capacity building, as well as through the definition of funding sources.

Forests in public policies

The role of forests in maintaining human wellbeing is being increasingly recognized. Forests are carbon sinks, carbon being the most abundant element in greenhouse gases. They are also a source of food, medicine, and income from lumberable and non-lumberable products; retain and filter water; are cultural and spiritual sanctuaries; and are gene banks of flora and fauna. It has been shown that the loss of forests causes up to 17% of GHG emissions, so reducing deforestation and forest degradation is one of the strongest mechanisms for mitigating GHG emissions. For these reasons, forests are increasingly important in national and international public policy, to be applied within a vision of comprehensive and responsible land use, avoiding deforestation and forest degradation.

In this context, States are increasingly involved in updating and evaluating their forest and climate change policies. To achieve this, comprehensive monitoring of forest management is essential. This involves the generation of information on biophysical aspects of forests and other productive land use, socio-economic benefits of forests to the population and governance for equitable distribution of those benefits. This information as a whole is necessary not only to a solid construction of new policies but for the payment of benefits based on results, as the mechanism for Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

Quantity, quality and efficiency of forest information

In the case of Peru, a country with 57% of forested area , the government is running serious initiatives to improve information on a broad range of needs for forest management, such as the national forest inventory (with its two components: biophysical and socio-economic), satellite monitoring of forest and land use, inventories for evaluation and assessment of the natural heritage,the permanent production forests inventory, the measurement, reporting and verification system for REDD+, the national greenhouse gas inventorysystem, the forest cadaster, the control module of wild wood production, the national forest and wild fauna information system, and information for the national accounts and for the forestry and ecosystem service satellite accounts.

Other initiatives to develop are the national information system of safeguards for REDD+ and the national monitoring of forest governance. All these initiatives jointly managed would truly support comprehensive monitoring of forest management, since they involve biophysical-environmental, socioeconomic and governance information needed to guide and evaluate actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, to face this challenge, you must meet certain principles demanded by users. For example, the scientific community — represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — requests relevant, reliable, complete, consistent and transparent information. On the other hand, the increasing number of actors involved demands more participation to present their goals and needs, and also request that the information is accessible.

Another important principle is the sustainability of monitoring systems, in such a way that States must work hard on financial strategies and institutional coordination to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure system efficiency. Finally, due to the complexity of this challenge, scientific and practical knowledge should be shared among international organizations, as well as national, subnational and local government institutions, scientific communities and civil society organizations.

photo: ILRI-Mann

Guest Author: Stella Gama, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi

In my view an effective REDD+ approach is linked to the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, regardless of gender, and to the promotion of equality and equity in terms of participation in decision-making and access to benefits. Specific attention to women’s needs and contributions is key to efficient REDD+ strategies and activities, and the UN-REDD Programme is helping to guide countries conceptually and methodologically in addressing the gender considerations of REDD+.

The UNFCCC ‘Cancun Agreements’ call for the integration of gender considerations within REDD+ national strategies, and this is reflected in the UN-REDD Programme Strategy 2011-2015, which makes numerous references to gender equality and equity. Moreover, integrating gender sensitive activities in REDD+ efforts can help improve the efficiency, efficacy and the long-term sustainability of forest management.

Malawi joined the UN-REDD Programme in 2013 – we wanted to be part of the global REDD+ network to benefit from the capacity development, and technical and financial support provided by the UN-REDD Programme to implement REDD+ activities. Thirty per cent of Malawi’s land area was once covered in forest. Since 1992, there has been a high deforestation rate, according to statistics 2.8 per cent annually, so we hope to increase forest cover through engaging with REDD+ activities and to enhance sustainable forest management strategies.

There are other advantages — working with the UN-REDD Programme also means having a wider platform. The Programme has created a platform for sharing lessons and best practices particularly for countries who have advanced, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, only to learn from other countries and from the mistakes which have already been made and giving us a pool of knowledge to draw on. Other advantages include support for REDD+ preparedness activities. Malawi has developed a REDD+ Roadmap through support from the US, and now through collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme we will get immediate support in order to implement some of the activities in the roadmap, and address governance and monitoring, reporting and verification. Ultimately we hope we are going to benefit from a national programme.

One of our challenges is that in the past we have had disjointed sector coordination. REDD+ is not just about the forestry sector. We can ensure that we embrace other sectors, and draw a wider range of stakeholders into REDD+, we are looking at the Green Economy approach and livelihoods, sustainable forest management agriculture, biodiversity conservation and other multiple core-benefits.

The opportunities presented by REDD+ can potentially create a fairer gender balance in forestry decision-making. In Malawi we have both matrilineal societies and patrilineal societies. REDD+ represents an opportunity to involve women and offer a greater participation in society, and also to enhance the benefits that women get from REDD+. With regard to benefits it is about the access and control of benefits, e.g. secure forest land tenure from REDD+ due to the need to consider women’s contributions in REDD+ implementation.

During discussions for developing the National REDD+ Strategies – Africa, gender mainstreaming was on the table. This will also help to enable even better gender balance. Specifically with the inclusion of gender-sensitive safeguards in the development of national REDD+ programmes in order to develop a gender-transformative strategy so that the new paradigm specifically contributes to the advancement of gender equality while safeguarding women’s rights, thereby contributing to climate change solutions. In addition, use of the affirmative action to ensure gender balance in REDD+ Academy. The tools designed for training delivery should integrate gender. We also need gender balance indicators for participation as well as impact of REDD+ activities — for both women and men.


Stella GamaBio: Stella Gama is the REDD+ focal point for Malawi at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. Ms. Gama discussed gender mainstreaming while participating in the UN-REDD Programme Workshop “Regional South-South Exchange – Africa: Developing National REDD+ Strategies” Workshop, being convened in Nairobi at UNEP, 14-17 October 2014.  View workshop agenda.

Guest author: Stuart Clenaghan

In my view there is a critical missing link in REDD+ thinking, and that relates to the high cost of finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in developing countries. SMEs are widely acknowledged to be the real engines of economic growth, and account for between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of forest enterprises. Yet SMEs face strong headwinds when it comes to accessing funding. For many SMEs, the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources – or “natural capital” – is a substitute for financial capital.

This perspective draws upon insights gained as a co-founder of a private sector sustainable forestry company, striving to deliver strong financial, social and environmental results in Peru (a UN-REDD Programme partner country), as well as my experience of capital markets as a former investment banker.

The link between the high cost of capital for the private sector in developing economies and the unsustainable exploitation of the natural capital of forests has received little attention in the global debate on REDD+.
Yet the behaviour of the private sector is fundamentally influenced by the availability of finance – both equity investment and loans – and by how much it costs. This is as true for a farmer working a two-hectare plot as it is for a forestry company working two hundred thousand hectares. Where capital is expensive, or difficult to obtain, the only option for many is to turn to the exploitation of natural capital. Conversely, where cheap finance targets forest-friendly enterprise, business follows.

For REDD+ to succeed we must overcome the shortcomings of financial markets in countries where forests are at risk. And because the drivers of deforestation are rooted in the wider economy (think charcoal supply chains, or urban markets for agricultural produce), investment is needed not just in forests, but in other areas too. Anyone with experience in building businesses in developing economies will attest to the difficulties in raising money. Equity investment is often tightly controlled by wealthy elites, and there are few other sources of venture capital or private equity. Bank loans are expensive, frequently at rates of 15-20% or more, available only to those offering guarantees and collateral. Additionally, businesses in poorer countries face costs that peers in developed markets do not have. True, labour bills are generally lower, but poor infrastructure and lack of service providers force companies to invest in vertically integrating their operations. One company, a 5,000 hectare rice farm in east Africa, has had to build its own hydro and biomass power plants, construct rice drying polishing facilities, invest in packaging and marketing, and on top of that maintain a 100 kilometre stretch of road. This expenditure would be unnecessary had it been a potato farm in eastern England, where outsourced services are readily available.

It is hardly surprising, then, that some turn to the exploitation of natural capital. We can see examples across the globe, from East Africa’s charcoal trade (estimated to be worth US$ 350 million a year in Dar es Salaam alone and employing hundreds of thousands of people), to the destruction of mangroves in India for shrimp farming, and agricultural frontiers where forest is cleared for ranching or crops.

Historically, the transformation of natural capital to financial capital has underpinned the growth of some of today’s biggest economies. Waves of deforestation in England fed agricultural expansion, maritime trade and the early industrial revolution. The great Hanseatic port cities of Germany and the Baltic expanded on the back of trade of timber pulled from northern hinterlands. Indeed, the very foundations of monetary systems were built upon natural capital – the world’s first coins were forged in Lydia (in today’s western Turkey) from bronze and silver smelted with charcoal from deforested uplands.

To achieve lasting REDD+ results, access to financial capital must replace the exploitation of natural capital. We need more than investment in forests: we need to effect deep-rooted socio-economic changes across whole economies. If we ask forest nations to do a job in protecting forests and sinking carbon, then we must provide financial capital for sustainable growth.
By linking financial capital, economic development, and the goals of REDD+ we can gain insight into the type of mechanism required:

  • First, countries that deliver reduced emissions – or even carbon sinks – need to be paid for results at agreed prices, and on a bilateral basis. Market-priced payments introduce too much uncertainty and income volatility. And, as we have seen with the much-criticised Clean Development Mechanism, project-based accreditation brings high transaction costs, uncertain financing and drains scarce management resources.
  • Second, forest nations need national development banks that supply low-cost finance – equity and loans – to spur REDD+-friendly private sector enterprise from micro-scale to national-sized corporations. As a model, take a look at Brazil’s BNDES, or even Germany’s KfW (set up to support post-war reconstruction).
  • Third, result-based payments must be ring-fenced for REDD+. The more successfully a country reduces emissions the more it earns, and the more capital it has to invest. REDD+ benefits will show up throughout the economy and that should be incentive for countries to adopt a holistic strategy. In fact, many governments have already started to identify where investment is needed in REDD+ Readiness plans produced with the UN-REDD Programme and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.


stuart clenaghan2

Two interesting outcomes might result from such arrangements:

  • The first is that REDD+ development banks could operate at a profit – REDD+ investment can make money.
  • The second is that ring-fenced REDD+ payments could enable countries to enhance their creditworthiness and issue bonds. In other words, a lot more private investment capital could be leveraged into REDD+.

Deforestation is driven by economic factors. For sure we need better land rights, governance, enforcement and conservation. But at the heart of the matter is the challenge of achieving non-extractive sustainable growth in forest nations. That can only happen if REDD+ bridges the deficiencies of financial markets.


stuart clenaghanBio: Stuart Clenaghan is an investor in environmental and sustainable forestry businesses. In 2008, he co-founded Green Gold Forestry, an FSC-certified sustainable forestry company operating in Peru, producing sawn hardwoods. Alongside its 154,000ha of forest concessions, GGF also sources logs through its programme of community forestry partnerships.  His consultancy, Eco System Services Limited, specialises in developing financing models for large-scale land-use projects. He is also a senior fellow of the Climate Bonds Initiative and a trustee of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and a former investment banker with Lehman Brothers and UBS.

uganda undp


(This blog post originally appeared on the UNDP blog).

The process to establish a UN REDD+ programme in Uganda is underway, with calls from the civil society for government to step up enforcement of environment laws and regulations to address the underlying drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in order to develop a more sustainable forest sector.

This recommendation was one of several that were made during a three-day review of the project document for the UN-REDD+ programme support for Uganda.

The aim of the workshop was to provide an update and progress of the National REDD+ Programme implementation, present a draft UN-REDD National Programme Document; and to seek input from Non-Government Actors including the civil society.

Uganda is preparing to implement REDD+, and is currently in the readiness phase, a crucial stage that involves developing the necessary policy and institutional framework before REDD+ can be implemented.  Allowing for input from multiple stakeholders in to the country’s Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) is a key principal of achieving REDD+ readiness to ensure it is inclusive and participatory so as to lead to effective, efficient and equitable outcomes.

In 2011, government under the Ministry of Water and Environment set up the Environment Protection Police Unit to enforce environmental laws and prevent the degradation of protected areas. The cops were also tasked to sensitize members of the public on the environmental laws such as the National Environment Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003. However, a combination of lack of capacity, poor facilitation, and increased encroachment by communities for economic livelihood, have made it difficult for this specialized police unit to enforce compliance.

REDD+ — reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries — is a climate change mitigation mechanism launched in 2008 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by funding conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests, including paying developing countries to stop cutting down their forests. It builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tropical deforestation currently accounts for 12-17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, a share larger than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships, planes, and trains combined. The National Forestry Authority estimates that 80,000 hectares of private and protected forests are being cleared annually in Uganda for the unsustainable production of charcoal and timber.

Ms Ahunna Onochie-Eziakonwa, the UN Resident Coordinator, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, described REDD+ as timely as it will build on the on-going implementation of the National Climate Change Policy, and also feed in to the on-going preparation processes for the second National Development Plan, and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

“The impacts of deforestation and forest degradation are significant contributors to climate change. As REDD+ development takes shape in Uganda and internationally, it is essential to ensure that it is effectively implemented, putting into consideration the potential challenges and risks,” Miss Onochie-Eziakonwa said, in a speech that was delivered on her behalf by Mr Daniel Omodo McMondo, Programme Analyst, Energy and Environment at UNDP.

” I therefore would like to reiterate the support of the United Nations Country Team to ensure successful implementation of the UN REDD Programme in Uganda and to appeal to all of you to actively engage and ensure successful preparation and implementation of the UN REDD+ National Programme as well as other related interventions in Uganda” she added.

The Assistant Commissioner, Margaret Mwebesa of the REDD+ National Focal Point in the Ministry of Water and Environment said the draft national programme document for UN-REDD still needs to undergo additional review and committed to consult more stakeholders to refine it further.

“We are going to have other consultative meeting with other stakeholders between this and next month before this document is endorsed, validated and sent the UN-Redd Secretariat for international peer review,” she explained.

Mr. Nicholas Soikan, a Social Development Specialist in the Anglophone region for the World Bank, said the consultative meeting was important because stakeholder engagement is very critical for the World Bank and REDD+ partnership.

“Without involvement of CSOs, without involvement of indigenous people and local communities REDD+ might not meet its objectives and that is basically why we are here; to communicate well. We are here to get their position, on how to address Redd+ issues in general and how they can participate more effectively in this process that is now in a high gear,” Mr. Soikan explained.

He said the World Bank is supporting several climate change initiatives in Uganda, and revealed US$3.6m has so far been provided by its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to government to get the country ready for REDD+,  and formulate a strategy that will outline some of the strategic options for addressing drivers of deforestation.

Participants commended government for coordinating the REDD+ preparation process and ensuring it is multi-stakeholder driven, participatory, gender sensitive, transparent and accountable.

The UN-REDD+ Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. The Programme supports national REDD+ readiness efforts in 55 partner countries, spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, in two ways; direct support to the design and implementation of UN-REDD National Programmes and complementary support to national REDD+ action through common approaches, analyses, methodologies, tools, data and best practices developed through the UN-REDD Global Programme. By June 2014, funding to support countries totalled US$195.7 million.

For more Information contact:

Daniel Omodo McMondo, Programme Analyst, Energy and Environment Unit, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 414 112100 Ext. 140. Email:daniel.omodo@undp.org

(This post originally appeared on the UNFCCC blog).

At the New York Climate Summit on 23 September, the United Nations is expecting clear commitments in the area of forest climate action.

Countries that are home to tropical forests have the opportunity to present priority actions on deforestation and forest restoration in their summit statements, including actions that are conditional on international support.

Developed countries can in turn outline their financial contributions to sustainably manage forests.

A new declaration – the New York Declaration of Forests – is expected to catalyze action from public and private sector as well as civil society organizations to combat deforestation and to ensure that new forests are planted.

The Declaration is likely to be accompanied by the announcement of a number of significant, concrete and tangible commitments to take action on forests by multilateral institutions, subnational jurisdictions, companies, financial institutions, and civil society organizations.

Why action on forests is important for the overall fight against climate change

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), action in the area of forests is essential to stay below the two-degree warming limit.

More than a million hectares of forests are still lost globally every year. The release of carbon dioxide through the burning and cutting of trees and other biomass is responsible for around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.


In New York, key commitments are expected to be made specifically to REDD+, which is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

What commitments at the UN Summit mean for the UN climate process

Long-term commitments made in New York towards action taken after 2020, when a new universal climate change agreement is to take effect, can have a positive influence on raising immediate climate ambition.

Last year, governments completed the methodological guidance for REDD+, paving the way for its implementation.

Raising immediate climate ambition has been one key focus of work under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this year through so-called Technical Expert Meetings held in 2014, also through action on forests.

For example, at a meeting in Bonn in June, China and Brazil presented what they are doing in this field.

China said it had committed to increase its forest cover by 2020, and had already achieved more than half of this. China also plans to integrate forest carbon into its national pilot emissions trading scheme.

Brazil, home to the largest part of the Amazon rainforest, said it had achieved a decrease in deforestation during recent years, and would be able to do more with international support.


Read about highlights of the UNFCCC Technical Expert Meeting on land use

Extensive information on REDD can be found on the UNFCCC REDD Web Platform

Read more about the action area of forests on the UN Climate Summit website

UN Photo/ Eva Fendiaspara


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