Synergy of REDD+ and Indonesia’s land-based NAMA commitment provides model
Indonesia now has a presidential decree on land-based NAMA, which converges to REALU (reducing emissions across all land uses), combining REDD+, peatland emission reduction, restocking of above- and-below ground carbon pools regardless of forest/non-forest status of the land, and reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. It probably is the first non-annex 1 country in the world to have such a holistic perspective on emissions from the land-based sectors, in parallel with efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions from transport and waste. The presidential decree gives substance to the NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) commitment to reduce its 2020 emissions by 26% that Indonesia made to the international community, as part of the UNFCCC climate negotiations. Within 12 months all districts and cities (more than 400 in total) will have to provide their own action plans within the sectoral priorities that were established at national scale. The choice for local governments as integrators of economic growth, livelihoods and local environmental issues is a bold step.
Both the NAMA and REDD concept were part of the Bali Action Plan in 2007 and Cancun Agreement in 2010 – but the relationship between the two has not been very smooth. Initially it appeared that the REDD or REDD+ debate was moving fast and NAMA was on a slow track, but they are now seen to be fully dependent on each other- at least in Indonesia. The land-based NAMA is an overarching concept that embraces REDD+ and complements it with important emission sources (such as peatlands in Indonesia) and agriculture that otherwise would have to be accounted for anyway as part of the ‘leakage’ considerations of a restricted REDD+ implementation. Early on in the REDD+ debate, the interpretation emerged that AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use) accounting rules would have to be used to measure the net impact of REDD actions. Reducing leakage is as important for any ‘project’ design as achieving its primary emission reduction targets, given the accounting rules. Any REDD+ design will therefore, in effect have to be based on REALU ideas, i.e., embracing the AFOLU scope on all land.
However, common ‘project’ design rules, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) scheme, suggest that a much more limited concept of leakage (restricted to a zone of 5-10 km around a project site) may be sufficient, and that voluntary investment in emission reduction on specific locations does not have to be linked to a success of the emission reduction programme at the national scale. Indonesia’s land-based NAMA conceptualisation is substantially ahead of such ideas, and insists on a more comprehensive accounting approach.
A major obstacle to any REDD+ implementation is that the term forest, at its root, does not have an internationally agreed definition. Biophysical definitions (objectively verifiable statements about canopy cover, size of trees and minimum areas) were the basis of forest concepts in afforestation/reforestation, but the institutional concept of ‘forest lands’ and domains of jurisdiction by forestry departments is used in practice. This means that ‘forests without trees’ and ‘trees outside forest’ are both challenges at the interface of ‘forest’ efforts and effective land-based emission reduction. The Indonesian action plans explicitly list the various types of tree cover (several of which easily meet the internationally agreed standards of biophysical forest definitions): natural forest, agroforest and mixed tree crop systems outside of the ‘institutional forest’. Calculations by the ALLREDDI project suggest that the leakage potential in these categories can offset 5-7 years of current, high institutional-forest based emissions. Clearly, REDD+ efforts without accountability links to the land-based NAMA accounting standards cannot be trusted to achieve the emission reduction goal.
Resistance by the REDD+ stakeholders to being linked to NAMA were driven by issues of finance: all REDD efforts were expected to be financed internationally, and the idea that a national co-investment was needed to make Indonesia a credible target for emission reduction was seen as undermining the bargaining position. The positive press for Indonesia’s commitment shows that the president had a deeper understanding of the emotions evoked by the naming and shaming of Indonesia as 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter than most of the national climate change pundits. This pioneering effort by Indonesia in enabling synergies between REDD+ and Land-Based NAMAs provides a great example for the global climate community. At the same time, it challenges strongly held positions within the climate negotiations that argue for REDD+ and NAMA to be kept separate. As Indonesia forges ahead with implementation, it is hoped that greater interactions with international partners will enable better understanding of the interactions across all land uses and the need for a holistic approach to emission reduction from all land use (REALU or Land-Based NAMA) .