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
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.
about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+