Features & Commentary
Early Lessons on REDD+
At the start of a new year, UN-REDD Programme team members reflect on the early lessons that are emerging in the Programme's work with REDD+ partner countries.
After a little over two years in operation, early lessons are emerging from the UN-REDD Programme's work with partner countries, which are important to take stock of in order to design and implement robust REDD+ strategies moving forward. Below are excerpts from recent interviews with UN-REDD Programme team members, discussing what the Programme has learned so far in some of the work areas related to REDD+ readiness and implementation.
On the Multiple Benefits of Forests...
Barney Dickson, Head of Programme, Climate Change and Biodiversity, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
What are some of the inroads that have been made in the area of REDD+ and the multiple benefits of forests?
"What I think there is, is the increasing recognition of the many benefits, in addition to climate mitigation, that REDD+ can deliver. This is being seen at both the international level in negotiations themselves on the REDD+ mechanism, but also most importantly at the country level where we are seeing a number of countries within the UN-REDD Programme who are really keen to take the multiple benefits of forest forward, and ensure that when they are implementing REDD+, they are not just thinking about the carbon benefits, but also about the other benefits REDD+ can deliver."
What is a concrete example of the current work the UN-REDD Programme is doing related to the multiple benefits of forests?
"In Tanzania, one of the Programme's partner countries, they have been working with Tanzanian GIS experts over the past year to produce maps showing the relationship between carbon stored in their ecosystems and other potential co-benefits. So we are talking about areas of biodiversity importance, areas of importance for production of non-timber forest products, and so on. A small indication of how successful that was, we printed 500 copies of those maps, and Tanzania a little while later came back with a request for additional 1000 copies. Clearly they see it useful for raising awareness within the country."
Moving forward, what are some of the biggest challenges related to the advancement of multiple benefits?
"The biggest challenge or objections in this work area is why bother? REDD+ is a mechanism about climate mitigation, the finance that REDD+ is going to deliver will likely be based on performance on reducing carbon emissions, so why should a country bother about the impacts on biodiversity and why should they bother about the impacts REDD+ activities may have on other ecosystems services?
Part of addressing this objection is showing the sort of magnitude of the benefits can be delivered with relatively small inputs. By adjusting the way that REDD+ gets implemented to a relatively small degree, we can see significant benefits being delivered so it’s not a matter of countries having to radically overhaul their plans, but it is a matter of paying some attention to the consequences of REDD+ for these different ecosystems services."
Alberto Sandoval Uribe, Senior Officer Climate Change, FAO
Almost 2 years into the UN-REDD Programme's work in the area of MRV, what have we learned about MRV capacity in countries?
"One of the most important things we've learned is that although some countries had already initiated efforts a long time ago on forest inventories and efforts to monitor vegetation, what we are trying to do now is to put all the pieces together so that they act in a more integrated way. This way, countries will have systems that consider all the vegetation areas, while also being able to measure the effects of REDD+ like measuring carbon emissions."
What is a concrete example of the current work the UN-REDD Programme is doing related to MRV?
"In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for example, they already had a process of forest inventory, but the training we have been doing there together with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has allowed that the satellite monitoring systems of vegetation are now integrated into DRC's forest inventories, creating an efficient system to measure a country with complex vegetation and with difficult access to vegetation areas. This way, DRC will be able to integrate not only their forest inventories but also the remote sensing data in order to reach the most complex areas of the country in an efficient way and within the time required by climate change."
What are some of the most challenging aspects of MRV systems development that we have to figure out as we move forward?
"One of the advantages that the world has now is the great availability of satellite images. However, we will have to find a way to standardize them and make them easily available for all countries so that we can reach homogenous solutions, in order to have results from various countries that can be compared... Some of the difficulties and challenges that we have is how can we get to countries with the necessary training and tools so that they don’t have to start from scratch and they can use these technologies in a centralized way. Nowadays there are already suppliers that can distribute satellite images through the internet. So moving forward, we might look at ways of having these suppliers provide simple solutions to the process that will allow countries to dedicate themselves exclusively to interpret the data since they would not need to get the images or develop techniques of processing the information that already exist."
On Stakeholder Engagement...
Nina Kantcheva, Stakeholder Engagement (REDD+), Environment and Energy Group, UNDP
What have we learned so far in the area of stakeholder engagement for REDD+?
"One of the most important lessons that we have learned over the past two years is that stakeholders such as Indigenous Peoples and forest dwelling communities are an essential part of the equation of the success of REDD+, and they must be involved from the very early design, and early stages of the REDD+ process."
What is a concrete example of the current work the UN-REDD Programme is doing related to stakeholder engagement?
"One of the items that we have been working on for the past year is the issue of obtaining free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous communities in the REDD+ process. This is an essential way in implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was passed by governments in 2007 and which most of our pilot countries have adopted.
In an effort to help support countries' implementation of the Declaration, we are carrying out workshops with Indigenous Peoples in each of the three regions (Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean). This process is fascinating and its very important because even though FPIC is acknowledged as a right of Indigenous Peoples, there is not so much guidance on how to carry it out, and obviously it is essential for our programmes to have an operational guidance on how to do that."
Moving forward, what are some of the biggest challenges related to stakeholder engagement and REDD+?
"Some of the questions that still come up are how to make sure that all necessary information reaches the community level so that stakeholders can give consent and make informed decision. There are also tough questions around how do you ensure that there was no coercion or pressure from any other party and how to ensure that the right governance structures of Indigenous Peoples are respected. Part of our response to these concerns is to continue to consult widely through the regional workshops we are currently undertaking to address the issue of how to respect the right to FPIC."