carbon

Can REDD+, PES and other payments prevent destruction and degradation of our ecosystems?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Markets can only be a part of the solution to reversing unacceptable levels of deforestation and forest degradation, according to research from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Looking at the whole system and all available options remains the only guarantee, and this means taking a landscape perspective,” according to Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director of Research at ICRAF, who was speaking at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013.Dr Ravi Prabhu (left), Director of Research at ICRAF, with other panelists at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013

Dr Ravi defined a landscape as a mosaic of agriculture, forests, plantations with competitions, trade-offs and synergies between land uses. At this level, there are also multiple sectors, stakeholders and practices. Given that the system is so dynamic, he pointed to multifunctional co-investment mechanisms as necessary means of embracing local people, private and public sectors, PES bundling and stacking as options.

In other words, success was more likely if the needs and interests of all the actors who mattered were taken into account and a framework was set up to allow them to jointly invest finances, time and resources in the landscape in order to derive the values they were looking for. Although this would involve compromises and negotiation, a more diverse and therefore resilient system was likely to result.

The event, hosted by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), focused discussions on a report on non-market based approaches to reducing deforestation and forest degradation submitted to SBSTA by GFC.

According to the report, indigenous communities have always preserved and protected their forests not just for the economic value they derive from them but also for important cultural and spiritual functions. According to the report, there is evidence to show that areas protected by communities are more likely to survive deforestation and negative environment extractions as opposed to areas protected through other means of control such as government bans. As such, empowering communities to manage their forests remains the best option from efforts to protect the ecosystem while promoting livelihoods. But how?

Debates and negotiations have centered on market approaches such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Essentially these approaches are based on a financial compensation to forest users for the opportunity costs of more ‘destructive’ land-use forms based on a market price for the goods in question, e.g. water or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition warns that approaches based on such market mechanisms should be approached with caution as they could present a higher risk to communities particularly with regard to efficiency and equity. Besides, she argues, political and financial commitments do not match these policy frameworks. “For instance, so far, the carbon market has only realized less than 1% of the anticipated REDD+ funding. Financial constraints therefore bring in the issue of who receives funding, who is going to be paid for what and more often than not it is not the individual households that benefit,” said Simone while speaking at the UNFCCC side event.

She noted that there is need to pay attention to non-market based approaches that ensure recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous people and local communities. These should empower communities by also promoting local knowledge and information systems as well as policies for legal and financial support on land reforms, sustainable agriculture and that discourage destructive activities like logging. “Such means of empowering communities to protect their environment ensures sustainability as they do not rely on unpredictable and uncertain funding flows,” said Simone.

A landscape approach takes into account needs and interests of all the actors who matter especially local communitiesPresenting evidence from ICRAF’s work on environmental services, Dr Ravi used results from research sites in Southeast Asia and Africa to explain some of the PES related challenges especially on issues to do with equity and efficiency (see presentation on Slideshare). He emphasized the need for a comprehensive systematic approach, one that can leverage on best options available from various approaches and deliver on securing livelihoods for communities and ecosystem services. “Looking at the whole system is the only guarantee, and this means having a landscape perspective,” explained Ravi. He emphasized that a market price or opportunity costs based approach generally underestimated the full value of the forests, focused as they were on a particular good or service.

He concluded with the message that agroforestry systems can deliver both market and non-market benefits in ways that empower local communities to ensure sustainability.

Read about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+

Meeting explores low emission development scenarios

By Glenn Hyman, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Pucallpa, Peru - Last week more than 25 professionals working on issues related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions met in the city of Pucallpa, Peru to discuss low emissions development scenarios. The workshop was organized by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Regional Government of Ucayali, with participation of other institutions working in sustainable development in the region. The initiative is an activity of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

Group discussion during training on methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development, Pucallpa, PeruThe workshop was a combination of discussions on regional planning and of training in methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development. During the workshop’s first day, participants discussed different development scenarios, including the effects of increases in deforestation and increases in the development of certain crops. Subsequent days were used to estimate the impact of different development scenarios. Toward that end, ICRAF scientists gave training in the ABACUS software. Sonya Dewi and Degi Harja, of ICRAF’s Southeast Asia headquarters, traveled all the way from Indonesia to give instructions and how to use the software tool, as well as explaining low emissions development planning methodology. ABACUS  estimates greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from land-use change and the opportunity costs of avoiding such changes.

On the last day of the workshop, workgroups presented the results of their simulations before a group of decision-makers in the region, including Franz Orlando Tang Jara, director of the Natural Resources Department of Ucayali and Miguel Vasquez, President of the Oil Palm Roundtable, among others. A news article by Peru national REDD Group had earlier indicated that the training would benefit officials from various government ministries.

The participants produced many interesting results and many questions to be answered with future research. Finding a balance between economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have its complications and difficulties. Some projections for growth of the oil Palm industry are going to imply substantial conversion of forests simply for the lack of other available lands. The development of new transportation infrastructure may have enormous impacts and requires much more research to understand the costs and benefits of these planned developments. The ASB  Partnership will publish a final report of the workshop at the end of May.

Read this article in Spanish here

Download: Landuse Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy

Guestbook

Tony La Viña: Landscape approach is a stronger signal to REDD+

By Elizabeth Kahurani

According to Tony La Viña, a REDD+ facilitator at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP 18) talks, a landscape approach holds potential to unlock ambiguities and uncertainties that threaten to stall implementation and scaling up of the REDD+  (Reducing emissions form Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism.

“We are looking at the new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) process as the future frameworkPanelists at the private sector side event organized at the sidelines of COP 18 that will merge REDD+, Agriculture, Land-Use Change and Forestry into a land use approach that might make more sense with stronger signals,” Tony said while speaking at an event organized to disseminate findings of a study on engagement of private sector in REDD+ conducted by ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB-ICRAF) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The event was co-organized with The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) at the margins of COP 18 in Doha, Qatar.

Tony’s views affirm ongoing research on viable ways of Reducing Emission from All Land Uses (REALU) that is being implemented by the ASB-ICRAF. REALU is based on the premise that REDD+ is only effective to some extent as it only addresses part of the total emissions from land-use change, and implementation of the mechanism is challenged by issues to do with measurements, monitoring, unclear forest definitions, leakage, respecting local communities rights and equity.

One of the key outputs from this research that is piloting landscape approaches demonstrations sites in the Congo Basin, Latin America and Southeast Asia is a strategy on Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development (LUWES) that has been applied in Indonesia to provide a guide on multistakeholder participation and emission reduction scenarios within specific zones of a landscape, or across an entire landscape.

Indeed, from debates and future plans being discussed here at COP 18, a landscape approach seems to be the future to REDD+. With the theme Sustaining Landscapes, this will be the year when Forest Day transits from an exclusive focus on forests to encompass other land uses. “Forest Day 6 will be the last one that is organized during the UNFCCC COP. We are looking forward to building on the Forest Day experience, joining forces with a wider range of partners in agriculture and rural development, and holding a Landscape Day at the UNFCCC COP next year,” notes Peter Holmgren, Director General at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Governments urged to mitigate REDD+ risks for private sector

At the side event, private sector actors underscored the role of governments in boosting private sector confidence by creating demand for REDD carbon credits and mitigating risk levels. “REDD investment credit cycles take long before they develop to a grade that investors want to buy. They require a lot of money and represent a huge amount of risk. We in the private sector are looking to the governments as the proxy for quality and assurance,” said Jonathan Shopley, Managing Director, The CarbonNeutral Company. Similar sentiments were echoed by Armin Sanhoevel, CEO, Allianz Climate Solutions GmbH.

Alfred Gichu, REDD+ focal point in Kenya noted that while at the international level there was need to create demand for the carbon market, the national governments need to have strategies and policies in place.  A key recommendation from the private sector study was that governments should encourage collaboration with private sector, provide proper governance structure and conducive environment for REDD+ implementation.

“A conducive policy environment would be one that addresses challenges to do with land tenure and carbon ownership, legal basis for private investment as well as appropriate social and environmental safeguards,” explains Florence Bernard, Programme Assosciate at ASB Partnership who led the study on private sector engagement.

Further, she noted that the benefits of involving the private sector as part of a solution to addressing deforestation and degradation go beyond meeting the current climate-finance gap, as they can also provide technical expertise, capacity building and technological innovation. “The private sector can, be part of the solution to mitigating climate change by addressing key drivers of deforestation,” Florence said.

With the title The Private Sector in the REDD+ Supply Chain: Trends, challenges and opportunities, the new study highlights  i) who are the private actors, including their areas of strength and capabilities that can be synergized to leverage on opportunities; and ii) Incentives needed to attract private sector engagement and investment at scale. These are vital steps to harnessing the potential and ability of the private sector in REDD+ efforts.

Download presentation

Read full private sector study report

Read policy brief and Press release

Watch Climate Change TV Interview here

Is the window of opportunity for REDD+ closing?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

This question was the subject of discussion during a UNFCCC COP 18 side event organized by the European Union (EU) to present findings from two EU supported research programmes; i) Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation through Alternative Land-uses in Rainforests of the Tropics (REDD-ALERT) and ii) Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Carbon Stocks (I-REDD+).

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