Features & Commentary
Making the Case for REDD+
The Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, Dr. Yemi Katerere, recently authored two editorials, looking at how REDD+ has brought conserving and sustainably managing forests back to centre stage and highlighting the challenges that lie ahead for REDD+.
Below are excerpt from two recent editorials from the Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, Dr. Yemi Katerere:
Published June 2011 in Our Planet magazine, on pages 12-13
Achieving reductions in carbon emissions from forests may be the raison d’être of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). However, it also presents an opportunity to address many of the challenges related to the underlying drivers of global tropical forest loss. It is therefore, a potentially powerful policy instrument for influencing how tropical forests are managed and valued. Yet, despite this apparent “win-win” option – or perhaps because of it – there remains animated debate on how the REDD+ mechanism should be designed and implemented.
One explanation lies in its complexity. Every country has its unique institutional architecture and capacity, political commitment and forest-resource endowment. All are looking at how, through REDD+, they can balance social and environmental goals, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Each nation's uniqueness calls for understanding the relative importance of the different drivers of deforestation and the roles that diverse stakeholders play in them.
REDD+ has brought forests back to centre stage, forcing a debate and a re-examination of issues related to Sustainable Forest Management. REDD+ is effectively enabling countries to drill deeper and define the role of forests in their national economic development, the amount of forests they need to preserve, and the transformation of their economies to low carbon. Irrespective of whether a nation ever trades a single ton of carbon, it needs a national debate about where its forests fit into national economic development policies: REDD+ is proving a critical catalyst for such a debate.
"The Road Ahead for REDD+"
Published May 2011 in the G8 edition of Climate Change- The New Economy, on pages 42-45
The text on REDD+ in the COP16 agreements now recognizes the need to “promote and support” safeguards and requests that a "system for providing information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected" is developed. It also supports a phased approach to countries reaching their readiness objective and provides methodological guidance to continue working on national REDD+ strategies. Politically, the agreement on REDD+ provides a positive signal for donors and REDD+ countries to keep working on and investing in readiness efforts.
The agreements provide some elaboration on the activities that developing countries need to undertake in the development and implementation of REDD+, such as a national plan, national reference emission levels and robust and transparent national forest monitoring systems— all of which are work areas that the UN-REDD Programme and other readiness initiatives have been supporting for the past two years.
The Challenges Ahead
From now until Durban, the remaining key elements will need to be finalized, including how REDD+ financing will work. At the same time, REDD+ efforts around the world are rapidly evolving outside the UNFCCC process. If this continues without the guidance of a fully-defined mechanism, the risk is that REDD+ could easily become a series of fragmented and uncoordinated approaches too weak to address one of the world's most immediate sources of global emissions.
The challenges ahead may be great but so are the opportunities. As livelihoods improve and poverty is eradicated, the capacity of developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change is likely to increase. By providing an incentive for developing countries to further invest in low-carbon development REDD+ remains a critical component of the climate change mitigation solution.
|Dr. Yemi Katerere is the Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat based in Geneva.