climate

Is Cameroon REDD+ Ready? Stakeholders weigh in

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Cameroon is endowed with a dense tropical rainforest part of the Congo Basin. This natural resource is estimated to cover about 42% of the country’s total land area and bodes environmental, as well as socio-economic benefits for the country, particularly for indigenous forest-dependent communities.  But the forest is threatened by high rates of deforestation,  and degradation.

Field practicals during ASB Partnership training on Estimating Opportunity Costs for REDD+ in CameroonAction taken by the government to curb this trend include being part of the global mechanism REDD+ -(Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).

REDD+ is meant to support voluntary efforts to mitigate climate change by developing countries and provides financial value on carbon sequestered through the initiative. To actively participate in REDD+, a country has to go through various levels of preparation in a process called REDD Readiness.

To determine how far Cameroon is in this process, a recent study employed a framework with a set of universal applicable criteria developed by scientists at the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. The criteria consists of six main functions, several sub-functions and indicators for successful implementation of REDD+. The six main functions are: Planning and Coordination; Policies, Laws and Institutions; Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and Audit; Benefit Sharing; Financing; Demonstration and Pilots. The framework has a standard application and countries can use this framework to evaluate their REDD+ performance against other participating countries.

Cameroon’s score on the functions and indicators provided by the framework was determined through interviews with key REDD+ stakeholders at various levels of government, civil society, development partners, academic, and media. An extensive literature review was also conducted.

Overall, the country seems to do well on planning and coordination, political will and commitment through action taken with regard to institutional aspects; and in demonstration and pilots projects.  Functions that got low ratings were on legal, benefit sharing, MRV and Audit, and financing.

The study proposes a number of recommendations for Cameroon to fast track their readiness process. These include the need to complete the country REDD+ Strategy in order to enhance coordination between government ministries, establishing the National Observatory on Climate Change as an independent body with budget and mandate to implement activities, strengthening enforcement of government legislation within the forest sector, and providing clear channels for conflict resolution and addressing rights issues.

“To draw in the private sector, the idea of a carbon concession in which forest blocks are allocated to companies that can manage and sell carbon and proceeds shared between the government and communities is advanced,” says Dr Dieudonne Alemagi, lead author of the Cameroon study.

“Challenges to do with MRV can be tackled through engagement with regional and international initiatives with developed tools and methodologies that can be modified for local application,” he adds.

Developing a devolved mechanism through existing structures such as the annual forestry fess, Land fees, REDD+ performance-based payments is further explained as a way to improve benefit sharing and financing for REDD+ in Cameroon.

Being a rich forest country, Cameroon could take advantage of ongoing initiatives and opportunities to strengthen its forest sector. This study contributes practical steps for the country in this journey.

Source: REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Alemagi, D. Minang, P. A. Feudjio, M. Duguma, L.A. 2014 REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? Climate Policy 14 (6) 709-733

Focusing on Multifunctionality – achieving success through a landscape approach

By Olivia Freeman

The success to a landscape approach results from its ability to perform various functions and meet multiple objectives by exploring opportunities to link and create synergy between different actors. For a climate-smart landscape, this involves addressing climate change alongside other environmental or social objectives.

Promoting sustainable landscape transformations in multifunctional landscapes requires an integrated approach. Landscape at the foothills of Mt. Elgon National Park in southeast Uganda. Photo credit: Connor J. CavanaghTo achieve this integration, it is important that objectives are clearly defined and potential synergies appropriately identified within the context of the specific landscape. Distinguishing between primary and secondary objectives is part of this process. Primary objectives drive the project priorities. Interventions within the landscape therefore seek to promote multiple primary objectives. In comparison, secondary objectives can be seen as co-benefits (when having a positive effect) or externalities.

In practice, often both primary and secondary objectives are lumped all together. This can result in primary objectives not always being effectively addressed and instead just assumed they are being achieved. An example of this is the performance of improved cookstoves. While they can create climate, health and other livelihood benefits, different kinds of stoves can have varying levels of performance for each type of benefit. Therefore the type of stove chosen should be dependent upon the primary objectives of the project, but this is not always the case. Similarly some agricultural practices will have varying benefits depending on where they are applied. For example, sustainable agricultural intensification may have both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits in some places and adaptation and livelihood benefits in others.

Therefore, synergies sought in integrated landscape approaches need to be specifically focused around the primary objectives driving the approach. To achieve these synergies sometimes compromises need to be made, as it is not always possible to achieve optimal conditions for all objectives.

Landscapes are dynamic systems that are usually in some state of flux. Promoting sustainable landscape transitions will therefore require an iterative, adaptive approach. To effectively achieve multifunctionality there first needs to be a strong incentive to take a landscape approach. This can be driven from the local level based upon the need to reduce land degradation or from the national or global level based upon the desire to address climate change.

Overall landscape approaches are well positioned to promote what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call ‘climate-resilient pathways’: “…development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to realize the goal of sustainable development…for managing change within complex systems.” The success of landscape approaches will be largely dependent on their ability to effectively achieve multifunctional outcomes.

Source: This blog is based on chapter 3: Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Freeman, O. E. (2015). Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 37-49. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

New book on Climate Smart Landscapes: Key Messages

Book Launch

Climate Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

SATURDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2014, 12.15 -13.00

Where: Global Landscape Forum 2014 - The Westin Lima Hotel

MEDIA ROOM

#ThinkLandscape  #GLFCOP20 #COP20

 

Book Key messages

1. Landscapes are shaped by people with different preferences, interests, knowledge and power. Therefore, democratic processes that allow negotiations and fair representation are the best way to achieve changes that will be sustainable

In this book, we describe Negotiation Support Tools such as the Land Use planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which is currently being implemented in all provinces in Indonesia (see Book Chapter 17)

2. Current landscape approaches and practices are not effective in meeting the complexity of developmental, environmental and social challenges.

The book expounds on management processes such as the adaptive collaborative management process that engages with all stakeholders in a ‘learn by doing’ systematic approach.

Overall, the book expounds on a system process approach to implementation of a Landscape approach involving planning, implementation (actions and practice), institutions (policy, knowledge), monitoring, evaluation and audit. See summary guide Table 27.1 on how each chapter describes application of the different steps

3. Landscape approaches need to be grounded in local realities of place (referred to in this book as “Theory of place”) and the ambitions or expected change of the people (referred to in this book as “Theory of change”) – see Book Chapter 26. Building on and protecting existing local resilience of landscapes is important, as climate variability is increasing and climate change effect is felt strongly.  

4. Nesting landscapes to national and global policy platforms such as green growth, MDG / SDG implementation, low emissions development strategies, NAMAs and decision-making (jurisdictional levels) is an important dimension for success.

The CSL book describes a set of good governance and landscape democracy-based dimensions, criteria and indicators. Key dimensions include legitimacy, participation, empowerment, ownership of knowledge and process, respect for local people and indigenous local knowledge, equity and effectiveness and competence – see Book Chapter 27

 

5. Further developing public-private partnerships within landscape approaches is imperative. Incorporating a business case perspective, accompanied by feasible institutional frameworks in landscape approaches will create space for private sector investments, know-how and efficiency.

Book Chapter 21 describes the case of Sasumua reservoir in Kenya that provides 20% water to Nairobi, the capital city. A business case for payment of ecosystem services was identified between the city water company (NWCS) and upland farmers in Sasumua (about $122,924/year Net Present Value). However, this could not be implemented because NWCS already pays watershed management fees to the Water Resource Management Authority. Also, a section of consumers in Nairobi were willing to pay alittle more in their water bill to finance watershed conservation but only the water services regulatory board has the mandate to increase tariffs and not the NWSC)

 

6. The evidence-base from landscape analysis is critical for facilitating negotiations (trade-offs) and forging synergies between stakeholder perspectives, ambitions and functions in achieving sustainable multifunctional landscapes. Therefore practitioners need to pay attention to both analysis and facilitation of processes in striving to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

For instance, applying landscape approach to climate change efforts would mean creating synergies between mitigation and adaptation in their functions, institutions and resources. The current approach to the two interventions as separate streams has been challenged with ineffectiveness and inefficiency as different institutions work towards the same goals while competing with each other

 

7. Landscape approaches can greatly benefit from global policy support. Increasing opportunities for landscape approaches to climate, environmental and development challenges are emerging in the global policy arena with examples such as the CBD, the European Landscape convention and in discussions on Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry (in the CDM context) and on synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation within the UNFCCC.

 

Innovative framework for assessing country REDD+ Readiness

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins have developed an innovative, universally applicable framework for assessing REDD+ Readiness.

In a new study titled, REDD+ Readiness progress across countries: time for Reconsideration they take a first step towards conducting readiness assessment in four (4) countries in order to develop a set of criteria that can be used for similar process in other countries. The Scientists further conducted a comparative analysis between these countries – Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam; an important step that revealed disparities and offers shared lessons, challenges and experiences. Workshop analysis of the historical deforestation maps for Ucayali. There is need for a rethink of the current REDD+ Readiness infrastructure given the serious gaps observed in addressing drivers of deforestation

“Before, there were only three cases of country REDD+ progress documented and criteria used were specific to the countries studied. It therefore would be inconsistent if the same method were applied elsewhere, explains Dr Peter Minang’, lead author of the study. “As such, this study is potentially ground breaking because it is the first time such a framework has been applied uniformly across countries (note that the world bank has recently developed a framework but that has not been applied in this way),” he says.

The framework provides a criteria of six functions; i) Planning and coordination; ii) Policies, laws, and institutions; iii) Monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and audit; iv) Financing and investment; v) Benefit sharing; and, vi) Demonstrations and pilots. The functions are divided further into nine sub-functions, and given 29 corresponding indicators that can be used to check and assess readiness at country level. (See details in the paper)

Readiness for REDD+ Assessment framework: *Indicates FCPF-specific indicatorsThe criteria were derived from a process of reviewing guidelines and requirements provided to countries through mutually agreed multilateral systems of the UN-REDD and the World Bank FCPF; UNFCCC agreements; among other secondary literature. It was applied in a comparative study analysis through interviews, literature review and developing a set of indicators in scaled units from which numerical representation was drawn up to show how the four countries performed on the different functions. Attempts were made to establish how national circumstances influenced performance.

Countries varied on how they scored on the different functions, although all showed progress on planning and coordination as well as on demonstration and pilots. “Other areas including MRV and audits; financing, benefit sharing; policies, laws and institutions face major challenges,” says Dr Minang.

Progress was largely determined by national circumstance of the country and forest governance history. For example, Indonesia scored highest on policy, legal, and institutional frameworks; an outcome that corresponds with the Environmental Performance Index conducted to evaluate governance systems and political will towards conservation efforts. The readiness process place emphasis on the national level but there is need to focus on the subnational level as operations here determine success at the national and international levels.

“The study identified lack of policies that address drivers of deforestation and/or incentives to be a major weakness in the Readiness process”, says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk, one of the study co-authors,  “which makes it hard to achieve the overall goal of reducing emissions from deforestation.

According to the paper, “there is need for a rethink of the current REDD+ Readiness infrastructure given the serious gaps observed in addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, linking REDD+ to broader national strategies and systematic capacity building.”

The REDD+ Readiness progress across countries: time for Reconsideration study is a synthesis article in a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Minang, P.A. van Noordwijk, M. Duguma, L. Alemagi, D. Trong Hoan Do. Bernard, F. Agung, P. Robiglio, V. Catacutan, D. Suyanto Armas, A. Claudia S. A. Feudjio, M. Galudra, G. Maryani, R. White, D. Widayati, A. Kahurani, E. Namirembe, S. Leimona, B. 2014 REDD+ readiness progress across countries: time for reconsideration. Climate Policy 14(6) 685-708

Peru: Ministry of Environment work with ASB partners to evaluate methodology for low emissions development planning

By Glenn Hyman and Valentina Robiglio

A lot of research and development deals with different aspects of reducing emissions from forest degradation and deforestation (REDD+). But how can we really get change on the ground? Last week collaborators of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins presented an approach to low emissions development planning to the Directorate of Land Use Planning and the National Forest Conservation Program, Programa Bosques, of the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) in a three days demonstration workshop.

William Llactayo of MINAM opened the

The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) and involved researchers from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Participants from the various directorates of the MINAM were trained in the Land-Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategies (LUWES) methodology, which consists of the development of future land use and zoning scenarios and the calculation of the impacts of land use change on greenhouse gas emissions. Working in groups and using ABACUS software,  they combined information on land-use, carbon stocks and profitability for land-use systems in the Ucayali  region where research on this topic has been carried out by the ASB partners over several years. The results included an analysis of opportunity costs of avoided deforestation, estimates of CO2 emissions under different scenarios and the calculation of a reference emissions levels for REDD+.  

MINAM is now evaluating the possibility of implementing this methodology in their land-use planning processes. Given that every region of the country has a mandate to create land-use plans, this process could be a vehicle for including considerations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of other ecosystem services in development plans.  The expectation is that efforts to reduce emissions can be more efficient if they are connected to land-use planning processes. Read in Spanish

Working groups discussed low emissions

How Agroforestry can contribute to carbon emission reduction efforts

Agroforestry, which is the practice of integrating trees on farms and landscapes, can contribute to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) directly or indirectly. Directly as part of REDD+ if a country uses the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) forest definition of canopy cover of between 10-30%, minimum height of 2-5 metres in a minimum land area of 0.05-1hectares; and indirectly as a complement to REDD strategies.

Using various examples mainly from Africa, a new study, Prospects for agroforestry in REDD+ landscapes in Africa published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, explores ways agroforestry can have an impact on emission reduction efforts through REDD+.

“Cocoa agroforestry in Cameroon could for instance qualify as forest and directly contribute to REDD+ if the country adopted the UNFCCC definition,” explains Peter Minang’, the study lead author.  “In such a case, sustainable management of agro- ‘forests’, enhancement of carbon stocks within these forests, avoiding degradation, that can result through use of tree systems with less carbon, can become eligible actions within REDD+,” he says.A cocoa agroforestry system in Cameroon (© Mireille Feudjio)

However, if agroforestry does not meet the UNFCCC definition of forest in some countries, it can indirectly contribute to REDD+ strategies in several ways.

i)              Avoid deforestation through sustainable intensification and diversification. By improving soil fertility and boosting productivity through nitrogen fixing trees, farmers can maximize yields in available farm areas without the pressure to deforest to access more farm land. The study cites the example of Guinean forest of West and Central Africa where it was found that if cacao intensification had been adopted in the 1960s, an area of 21,000km2 of forests would have been spared, with potential to reduce nearly 1.4billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere.

ii)            Avoid forest degradation – On farm trees can relieve forests off the pressure arising from demand for fuel-wood, charcoal, and timber, some major causes of forest degradation. Moreover, practicing agroforestry can stall leakage which happens when people do not have access to protected zones and as such over-exploit unprotected areas. In Tanzania, a study found that rotational woodlot systems over a five year period was sufficient to meet household fuel wood needs; and that acacia fallows would take less than half the time to recover carbon lost compared to replanting miombo woodlands.

In addition to these carbon benefits, agroforestry has the potential to deliver on sustainable development gains. But this potential can only be realized if certain economic, policy and research challenges to do with limited knowledge on suitable/appropriate tree species, shade management, tenure issues and access to markets are addressed.

Download paper here

The ASB Partnership turns 20!

In 2014, the ASB Partnership celebrates twenty years of high impact scientific research on options to combat deforestation while improving livelihoods in the tropical forest margins. It is a partnership that has consistently championed the issue of deforestation and has had far reaching effects and contributed to global debates and initiatives on environment, particularly on climate change. Over the years, ASB Partnership has worked with local communities, governments and scientists in finding compromise between livelihood needs, development and environmental conservation

More than 50 institutions through multidisciplinary and long-term co-location of research in benchmark sites across the humid tropics have published more than 1000 scientific publications, including articles, books and book chapters; as well as over 40 signature ASB policy briefs that have become popular with various audiences and especially policy and decision makers.

“The evolution of ASB can well be compared to the story of the phoenix bird that rises after earlier incarnations crashed and burned in the sense that the partnership has had to change and renew focus after challenging afresh old and existing theories,” says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre who was among pioneers of the ASB Partnership.

During phase I of the partnership, the hypothesis was to stop deforestation through agricultural intensification, maximizing on yields in available agricultural land in order to spare forests. With time however it was realized that this could actually lead to more deforestation as agriculture became more profitable. Phase II was an effort to explore whether intensification would work if integrated with appropriate policies, technology and institutional reforms through a win-win hypothesis. This approach encountered challenges on implementation particularly across scale from local to national government. This led to Phase III of incentives hypothesis where environment and development needs could be met with the right mix of incentives supported not just by the governments in developing countries but through global investments such as payments for ecosystem services.

The partnership is currently at Phase IV -sharing-sparing-caring hypothesis- where emphasis has been on a multifunctional landscape approach to emission reduction. Through the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses project, ASB is among pioneer institutions to provide evidence on the need for a landscape approach to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), as it overcomes implementation challenges related to a narrow focus on forests. This has been picked up in various forums with negotiators at the last United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP 19) saying that a landscape approach is the next best alternative to REDD+. A global forum on landscapes was also held for the first time at the margins of COP 19.

“The success of the ASB Partnership lies in the diverse, dynamic, multidisciplinary team of scientists drawn from national and international research institutes, universities, community organizations, and farmer’s groups,” says Dr Peter Minang, ASB Partnership Global Coordinator.

The ASB approach provides the right mixes of disciplines to test various theories and working with communities informs their practicality and application on the ground.

“Going forward, ASB will continue to work on issues around the agriculture-forest interface,” says Dr Minang. “Shifting cultivation remains a huge challenge in the Congo Basin and more attention would thus be given to that part of the world. Overall, research will focus on promoting multi-functionality in landscapes along tropical forest margins in the context of green economic development.”

Over the next 20 years, ASB Partnership hopes to continue reporting positive impact on lives, livelihoods, forests and ecosystem services.

The ASB Partnership 20th anniversary celebrations in New Delhi

The ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins held its inaugural 20th Anniversary celebration in New Delhi, India on Thursday, February 13 2014 as a special event during the World Congress on Agroforestry.  

Key highlights of the celebrations included the release of a new book Partnership in the Tropical Forest Margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn which consolidates the ASB twenty year journey as documented in the ASB policy brief series. A video with a narration of the ASB story within the framework of a twenty-year timeline was also screened. 

In his opening statement, Prof Tony SimonA panel of ASB Partners and scientists who have worked with the Partnership over the 20 year period give their reflectionss, the ASB Partnership Chair and Director General at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) noted that, “There is no other single partnership agency that has stayed the cause in working with all of those issues at the agriculture –forestry interface in the tropical forest margins.”

In attendance at the celebrations were ASB partners, some who have been working with the partnership since its inception in 1994 and were part of even earlier discussions leading to its formation. These included: Dr Dennis Garrity, Senior Board Fellow at ICRAF and former ASB Chair; Dr Tatiana Sá, former Executive Director, Embrapa and now a senior researcher with the same institution; Prof Fahmudin Angus of the Indonesian Soil Research Institute (ISRI); Dr Vu Tan Phuong, the ASB Partnership national facilitator in Vietnam; Dr Jofel Feliciano, ASB national facilitator in the Philippines, working with The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Dr Peter Minang, the current ASB Partnership Global Coordinator indulged them in a panel discussion on their work and reflections with the partnership over the years.

They acknowledged ASB’s impact over the years in shaping policies and debates both at national and international levels, training of farmers and government officials at local level and producing high impact scientific publications, manuals and other resources that have widely been used by decision makers. But they also mentioned some of the challenges and work areas within the Partnership’s mandate that still need to be tackled. “There still remains a need to explore options for sustainable agriculture among the poor farmers practicing shifting cultivation in the Congo basin,” said Dr Dennis Garrity. New Book: Partnership in the tropical forest margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn released at the inaugural ASB 20th anniversary celebrations

The celebrations concluded with a virtual tour of the ASB benchmark sites in form of a poster session and an art gallery that illustrated various activities on shifting cultivation as practiced in Southeast Asia.

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