UNFCCC

Framework to identify mitigation-adaptation synergy potential

Study develops an analytical framework of enabling conditions necessary for synergies between mitigation and adaptation

By Elizabeth Kahurani

The new IPCC report calls for “sustainable-development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to reduce climate change and its impacts."

Indeed, it is becoming more apparent that linking mitigation and adaptation is a more effective and efficient approach to climate change. Discussions at UN climate talks are heavy on the benefits of synergy; and climate finance mechanisms are increasingly looking for projects with linkages to both.

A field extension officer (middle) explains cacao agroforestry farming methods in Cameroon. Findings of a new study show that in developing countries, institutional setup is an area with strong potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptationGiven that initial framing has had the two elements working in parallel, there is need to identify where there exists strong potential to actualize harmony needed to optimize strengths and benefits of mitigation and adaptation approaches.

In a journal paper titled “A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries” published in Environmental Science and Policy, Dr Lalisa Duguma and  his colleagues from the ASB Partnership have developed an analytical framework within which they explore four conditions necessary for integrating mitigation and adaptation. These are: i) policies and strategies ii) institutional arrangement iii) Financing iv) Programs and projects.

“After a comprehensive review of publications on climate change integration, particularly those on mitigation and adaptation, it was clear that these four conditions are crucial for countries to move towards synergy,” says Dr Duguma.

The four conditions were examined using eight indicators (see table below) to score the synergy potential of 53 developing countries that were selected based on national communications submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Overall, the countries had strongest potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptation on institution setup, mainly because countries had committees to work on national level climate change strategies and also to participate and ensure compliance to mutual climate agreements and submissions to international conventions. Moreover, two thirds of the countries surveyed had programs dealing with both mitigation and adaptation.

The countries were found to be weak on the potential to finance both strategies simultaneously and to develop policies. “This weak link in potential could be because most of these countries are in the early stages of developing policies on climate change and normally funding/budget allocation is informed by already existing policies. Moreover, majority of these countries are almost entirely dependent on multilateral funding, most of which is given for mitigation activities,” explains Susan Wambugu, a co-author in the study.

A comparative assessment between the countries showed interesting variations, with middle-income countries having strong potential to synergy. “Other studies that we have done show that these fast growing economies exhibit strong potential for synergy as they want to boost their image to be seen as responsible global citizens; also to maintain credibility and attract more climate funding,” says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk who was part of the study. Strong potential was also identified with countries exposed to high climate change vulnerability such as the small island states. “Having been among the most affected by climate change already, these countries have no much option but to take on adaptation even as they implement mitigation approaches,” Dr vanNoordwijk explains.

Other least developed countries had a weak potential score for synergy. According to the authors, this is contrary to expectations given that they are also among high climate risk countries and they are strong proponents for adaptation in international policy debates. However, the study is quick to point out that limited large-scale programs within which they implement climate objectives could explain the tendency seen in these countries.

Further analysis of the synergy score against development and environmental indices such as GDP, Human Development Index, and Environmental Performance Index (EPI) confirm the findings of the study. “Among the countries studied, Indonesia and Jamaica are exceptional on this assessment. Indonesia for example has an independent body reporting directly to the office of the president. Such institutional measures with political will and commitment have largely contributed to a high EPI score for the country,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the study co-authors. “ A similar trend is seen among least developed countries, with countries like Malawi and Ghana emerging with strong synergy potential scores in an environment where the governments have made deliberate efforts to integrate development and climate strategies,” he says.

As climate change discussions focus on ways to generate meaningful impact from actions to deal with the challenge, this framework and evidence presented is among pioneer studies that governments and practitioners could benefit from in an endeavor to gain lost opportunities from the previous siloed approach to mitigation and adaptation and embrace far more beneficial avenues of a synergy approach.

“With the push for global climate communities towards synergies between mitigation and adaptation measures in order to effectively address climate change, it is important that the necessary enabling conditions be known and made to use. This paper is therefore the first attempt to come up with such key elements to promote synergies particularly from developing countries context” Says Dr. Duguma. 

 

Enabling conditions with their respective indicators used to determine countries’ synergy potentials 

Enabling conditions

Indicators used for each of the enabling conditions for synergy

Policies and Strategies

Does the country have a climate policy that addresses both M+A?

 

Is there a common climate strategy/action plan for both M+A?

 

Has the country submitted NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions)/REDD+

 

R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) and/or NAPA to the UNFCCC?

Institutional arrangements

Is there a national-level committee addressing both M+A

 

Is there an implementing body (institution/agency/department/unit) addressing M+A together?

Financing (Funds)

Is there a climate fund for both M+A?

Programs and projects

Is there a joint program addressing M+A?

 

Are there subnational projects addressing both M+A

 

 

Available on open access

Duguma, L. A., Wambugu, S. W., Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M. (2014) A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.Environmental Science & Policy 42 (2014) 138-148.

 

Dragging a knowledge chain through the peat

Lack of understanding of peat is not the weakest link in the chain, say Meine van Noordwijk and colleagues

By Amy C. Cruz

The high emissions of greenhouse gases from tropical peatlands caused by changing their land use have become a problem for policymakers that they can no longer deny, as their own scientists have now confirmed what external critics told before.

Researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia are assessing the viability of rubber agroforestry on peat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe emissions need to be reduced to mitigate the effects of climate change but because of the complex issues involved, governments, societies and private businesses are still ‘muddling along’ when it comes to conserving peatlands. The peat models we have so far are as clear as mud.

Given the urgency and political sensitivity, peat and peatlands have become an interesting test ground for understanding the chain that links knowledge with action. Who needs to know, who can act and where is knowledge the weakest link in the chain's limiting action?

Such a ‘knowledge value-chain for peatland conservation’ can trace steps from fundamental understanding of peatlands all the way to multilevel actions towards conservation and reduction of emissions.

‘We found that there are four separate parts of an overall knowledge value-chain concept that links fundamental understanding to action’, said Meine van Noordwijk,  leading a team of authors in a recent publication in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, ‘and there are several weak links that need to be strengthened in a complex chain. Coordinated research and action is needed to achieve positive policy actions and behaviour changes.”

The research team had looked at how people’s understanding, willingness, ability and actions towards peatland conservation have progressed over time. Understanding peat and its processes was the first section in the value chain, including the fundamental point of agreeing on the definitions of ‘peat’ and ‘peatland’ so that they can be correctly identified and assigned more attention, if necessary.

Towards this, different studies had been carried out to develop more accurate ways of quantifying and attributing emissions from peatlands and yet there was still room for improvement, especially because peatlands are variable by nature, making it hard to ensure accurate measurements. In addition, different land uses on peat also result in differences in emissions.

‘Hard science may seem easy compared to what it takes to get a globally agreed set of default values that can be used for transparent emissions’ accounting’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

The second section of the chain is the willingness to act to reduce emissions. For example, in the past, policymakers could not ignore the problem of smoke haze caused by peatland conversion because its effect on visibility was too obvious. Conversion without use of fire seemed an acceptable alternative. The invisible carbon emissions from the conversion and drainage itself could be ignored. However, when emission estimates, mostly from peat drainage and fires, identified Indonesia as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases there were hardly any Indonesian scientists who had experience and data to challenge or corroborate the claims.

‘Now that weak link has been strengthened, as is evident by the four papers by Indonesian scientists in the REDD-ALERT special issue. Indonesian policymakersnow acknowledge the importance of reducing emissions from peatland as part of the broader debate’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

But willingness to act is not enough. Third, relevant authorities need to be able to influence companies and people to actually reduce emissions. While peatland conversion appeared to be attractive to companies because it brought less conflict with local people and their land-right claims than conversion elsewhere, peatland use now gives oil-palm companies a bad name internationally and potentially affects their sales. Where the long process of issuing permits has already started, however, it is not easy for a local government to stop the conversion and reverse permits. Players at this level need to be aware of how emission reductions are calculated and valued. Local governments need to secure jobs and revenue, so alternative scenarios need to meet their expectations.

The fourth section of the chain is formed by farmers and their communities living in or near peatlands. Slowing current conversion and redirecting land-use changes without alternatives that provide improved livelihoods for local people is not attractive for any policymaker.

‘There are not yet sufficiently viable, alternative uses of peatlands that do not contribute to higher emissions but provide for local incomes and livelihoods’, said Dr van Noordwijk. ‘Thus, the primary focus for this section of the chain needs to be on testing and improving the various locally developed solutions, such as agroforestry involving locally adapted trees for which a market exists’.

Looking over the whole length of the knowledge chain, Dr van Noordwijk and colleagues conclude that progress has been made in the first three sections but peatland countries, such as Indonesia, and international supporters now have to focus on improving the fourth section. 

‘If good science, accurate numbers, a willingness and ability to act on emission estimates are not accompanied by viable alternatives for local livelihoods then the ultimate goal of reducing emissions cannot be achieved,’ conclude Dr van Noordwijk and the research team.

Read the article

Van Noordwijk M, Matthews R, Agus F, Farmer J, Verchot L, Hergoualc’h K, Persch S, Tata HL, Khasanah N, Widayati A, Dewi S. 2014. Mud, muddle and models in the knowledge value-chain to action on tropical peatland conservation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

 

 

 

 

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)

The 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 study is a synthesis article in a journal special issue published in Climate Policy.

Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project: Lessons for national readiness processes

Tremendous growth in REDD+ pilot and demonstration projects has been observed following the Bali Action Plan and Cancun agreements. The question is, how can lessons from such projects be used to enhance national-level REDD+ Readiness processes?

A recent study published in Climate Policy draws on the example of a case study from Kenya – the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project – and attempts to shed light on how this subnational-level private-sector-driven REDD+ project interacts with and contributes to national-level technical, policy, and institutional readiness for REDD+. The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities

“The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project led by Wildlife Works Carbon was chosen from among many projects in Kenya and Africa because it is the world’s first registered REDD+ project issued with Verified Carbon Units under the Verified Carbon Standard and is one of the few REDD+ projects currently selling REDD+ credits on the voluntary market,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre and study lead author.

From the study, she explains a number of key innovations brought by the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, including demonstration that REDD+ has potential for implementation in dryland forests. “This is likely to be a strong incentive for Kenya and other countries to initiate projects in other dryland forest ecosystems,” says Florence Bernard.

According to Bryan Adkins, Director of Regional Engagement at Wildlife Works Carbon and co-author of the paper, the project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities, something that has informed the design of strategy options for addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation while strengthening community engagement and prioritizing ‘pro-poor’ REDD+ activities at the national level. “In addition, there exists a transparent benefit distribution disbursement process for carbon-derived revenues in Kasigau, on which the national level could capitalize,” says Bryan Adkins. 

Another key successful feature of the Kasigau Corridor project was the ability of Wildlife Works Carbon to negotiate upfront investments with external private sector and therefore secure start-up capital needed for initial project implementation and operational costs. “While this private sector finance model might be of further interest at the project level, this should also urge the national level on attracting further private-sector investments in REDD+ pilots and demonstrations projects, especially at a time of public finance shortage for Readiness and REDD+ in general, as well as on promoting a more attractive investment climate for private sector ” explains Florence Bernard.

While the national REDD+ Readiness process in Kenya is beginning to learn and draw from local level projects through such private sector project lens, dialogue with and between partners is crucial in order not to miss out on potential benefits from interactions with subnational-level actors.

The study further emphasizes the need for developing frameworks and modalities for stakeholder participation, a robust private sector engagement process, and platforms for cross linkages at different levels.

The article is available under open access: Florence Bernard, Peter A. Minang, Bryan Adkins & Jeremy T. Freund (2014): REDD+ projects and national-level Readiness processes: a case study from Kenya, Climate policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2014.905440

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2014.905440

UN talks make inroads for Landscapes

At the UNFCCC COP 19 talks, negotiations on Land use, Land-use change and Forestry (LULUCF) saw a decision made to have ‘modalities and procedures for possible additional LULUCF activities under the CDM’ Read more here

“This move is encouraging as it means developing countries will have a pivotal role and more value placed on the role of landscapes in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts,” says Peter Minang, Co-leader, Environmental Services at the World Agroforestry Centre and Global Coordinator, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

Another major development was the inaugural Global Landscape Forum held on the margins of COP 19. The forum brought together leading scientists and institutions as well as policy/decision makers who provided clear direction towards a landscape approach as a next best alternative and or compliment to existing efforts dealing with climate change.

Key messages highlighted ways in which a landscape approach could help move forward the UNFCCC process for instance by bringing discussions on agriculture back on the negotiating table. The approach is also essential to sustainable development goals in several ways well summed up by the recommendation “the landscape approach addresses development across scale ranging from farm to watershed and land-use systems, thus showing viable solutions to the realization of Sustainable Development Goals,” Read more here

New report on implementing Landscape Approach

Further, the ASB Partnership released a report: Towards a Landscape Approach for Reducing Emissions: A Substantive Report of the Reducing Emissions from All land Uses (REALU) project with lessons learnt and recommendations from a three year pilot study at benchmark sites across the tropics in the Amazon, WestAfrica and South-east Asia. Landscapes represent complex systems with sets of social, biophysical, human ecological and economic dimensions that interact with each other

According to the report, “Landscapes represent complex systems with sets of social, biophysical, human ecological and economic dimensions that interact with each other. Such interactions happen at multiple levels -the plot, farm, field levels and beyond. Integration enables understanding of such cross-scale interactions which determine numerous landscape-level patterns and changes. Understanding and building on interactions and feedback loops is thus important for success.”

Lessons and recommendations below are drawn from an analysis of landscape approach feasibility studies in the four countries that in a participatory way looked at potential for emission reduction from all land uses including peatlands; financial & non-financial emission reduction incentives needed at landscape level; enabling conditions for effective landscape-based strategies; as well as methodology and tools for implementing and collaborating with the various stakeholders and institutions across scales.

“One important tool generated by the project that has been recommended for use by the Indonesia government for local governments to plan their actions to reduce GHG for entire provinces in Indonesia is the Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which helps to explore land use options for supporting low carbon intensive development,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at ASB Partnership for the tropical Forest Margins.

 

Lessons

Recommendations

Incentives targeting non-forest high carbon stock land uses such as agroforestry, tree-based systems and peatlands were found to be attractive, potentially effective and efficient options for achieving REDD+, global climate change objectives and promoting sustainable livelihoods

Further linkage of REDD+ discussions in the international arena with the emerging Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) framing is needed to create rules and incentives for landscape approaches and investments.

 

Success in emissions reduction initiatives will need entry points beyond a sole emissions reduction focus given that carbon and its associated finance is unlikely to be a

priority concern for local stakeholders

Emissions reduction planning and implementation needs to be integrated into the wider development aspirations of stakeholders if it is to succeed

 

Landscape approaches would benefit from greater effectiveness and efficiency when synergy is sought between emission reductions and other environmental, social and economic objectives including climate change adaptation and green economy approaches.

 

A co-investment approach is emerging as a necessary condition for achieving multiple landscape-level objectives

Key frameworks and models should be developed to enable better private sector involvement (financing and sharing of technical expertise) in emission reductions and sustainable development schemes at the landscape level. This could allow and involve innovative financial mechanisms for public and private investments. Such a mechanism could allow integration and optimization between currently separated mitigation and adaptation funding streams for example.

 

Landscape and jurisdictional approaches to emissions reduction can be complementary

Better research is required to understand and identify potential options for landscapes and jurisdictional interactions under different political economy contexts.

 

 

REDD+ readiness (and indeed future climate change readiness –

NAMA, climate smart agriculture and others) needs to invest more in sub-national level

REDD+ designs in order to enable landscape approaches for emissions reduction to

thrive. Current readiness focuses more on international accountability structures and

national levels, which does not automatically translate to a nested-systems architecture

required to address drivers of deforestation at the landscape level.

 

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

To RSVP or for more information, please contact:

Paul Stapleton on Tel: +254 717 718 387 or  P.Stapleton@cgiar.org 

Elizabeth Kahurani on Tel: +254 721 537 627 or e.kahurani@cgiar.org   

For Immediate Release

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

Discussions on climate change are increasingly pointing to a landscape approach as the next best alternative or compliment to REDD+ whose takeoff has been hampered by challenges drawn mainly from the initiatives narrow focus on forests. However, there still remains need for clarity on definition and feasibility of the Landscape approach concept.

To provide evidence that adds to the body of knowledge to understand and implement the concept, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre has released a new report based on landscape approach pilot studies conducted in four continents across the tropics in Cameroon, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam over a period of three years.

Understanding the Landscape Approach

According to the report, “Landscapes represent complex systems with sets of social, biophysical, human ecological and economic dimensions that interact with each other. Such interactions happen at multiple levels -the plot, farm, field levels and beyond. Integration enables understanding of such cross-scale interactions which determine numerous landscape-level patterns and changes. Understanding and building on interactions and feedback loops is thus important for success.”

The project further considered key operational concepts for landscape approaches that include heterogeneity, integration and interactions, multifunctionality, synergy and scale.

Landscape Approach: Lessons and recommendations on implementation

Lessons and recommendations below are drawn from an analysis of landscape approach feasibility studies in the four countries that in a participatory way looked at potential for emission reduction from all land uses including peatlands; financial & non-financial emission reduction incentives needed at landscape level; enabling conditions for effective landscape-based strategies; as well as methodology and tools for implementing and collaborating with the various stakeholders and institutions across scales.

“One important tool generated by the project that has been recommended for use by the Indonesia government for local governments to plan their actions to reduce GHG for entire provinces in Indonesia is the Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which helps to explore land use options for supporting low carbon intensive development,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at ASB Partnership for the tropical Forest Margins.

Lessons

Recommendations

Incentives targeting non-forest high carbon stock land uses such as agroforestry, tree-based systems and peatlands were found to be attractive, potentially effective and efficient options for achieving REDD+, global climate change objectives and promoting sustainable livelihoods

Further linkage of REDD+ discussions in the international arena with the emerging Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) framing is needed to create rules and incentives for landscape approaches and investments.

Success in emissions reduction initiatives will need entry points beyond a sole emissions reduction focus given that carbon and its associated finance is unlikely to be a priority concern for local stakeholders

Emissions reduction planning and implementation needs to be integrated into the wider development aspirations of stakeholders if it is to succeed

Landscape approaches would benefit from greater effectiveness and efficiency when synergy is sought between emission reductions and other environmental, social and economic objectives including climate change adaptation and green economy approaches.

A co-investment approach is emerging as a necessary condition for achieving multiple landscape-level objectives

Key frameworks and models should be developed to enable better private sector involvement (financing and sharing of technical expertise) in emission reductions and sustainable development schemes at the landscape level. This could allow and involve innovative financial mechanisms for public and private investments. Such a mechanism could allow integration and optimization between currently separated mitigation and adaptation funding streams for example.

Landscape and jurisdictional approaches to emissions reduction can be complementary

Better research is required to understand and identify potential options for landscapes and jurisdictional interactions under different political economy contexts.

REDD+ readiness (and indeed future climate change readiness –NAMA, climate smart agriculture and others) needs to invest more in sub-national level REDD+ designs in order to enable landscape approaches for emissions reduction to thrive. Current readiness focuses more on international accountability structures and national levels, which does not automatically translate to a nested-systems architecture required to address drivers of deforestation at the landscape level.

Nesting landscapes to the national level is a necessary condition for success and scaling-up

 

Rules and guidance for nesting landscapes to the national level are needed. These could include specifying among others issues related to ownership rights to carbon, duties and royalties to be paid on investments, crediting, distribution of national emission targets, benefit sharing, risk management, MRV and baselines.

Identifying and understanding leverage points and potential levers of emissions beyond landscape boundaries is necessary to address drivers effectively.

 

The design and use of approaches that aim at identifying leverage points and levers for addressing drivers, as opposed to the current identification of land uses responsible for most conversions and a description of the processes, is needed.

 

The report is attached and can also be downloaded here: Towards a Landscape Approach for Reducing Emissions: A Substantive Report of the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) Project

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+

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