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Everything you always wanted to know about REDD but were afraid to ask (part 1)

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Everything you always wanted to know about REDD+ but were afraid to ask

This is perhaps not quite everything you wanted to know about REDD, but it covers quite a lot of ground. (With apologies to Woody Allen for the headline.) Recently two organisations have put out very useful information on key areas of the on-going REDD discussions. This post is the first in an occasional series of information posts about the REDD negotiations leading up to Cancun (hence the part 1 in the title).

Here are two recent sources of information: the first about the REDD-plus UN level negotiations from the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD); and the second on the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility from the Bank Information Center (BIC).

FIELD

FIELD describes its work as “part campaigning, part research, and part the work of a conventional law firm.” Since 2005, FIELD has been an independent subsidiary of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The two organisations share the same office and the same board of trustees.

On REDD, FIELD has set up a website and is “providing support to REDD-plus negotiators from developing countries in the UNFCCC negotiations between now and the UN Cancun Climate Change Conference in December 2010 on a neutral, non partisan basis.”

click to download pdf file - 146 kB

FIELD recently produced a Briefing Paper for the UN negotiating session in Tianjin (4-9 October 2010). The report is available here in English (pdf file 146 kB) and French (pdf file 154 kB) (Spanish coming soon).

Since Copenhagen, there have been three meetings of the AWG-LCA (Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention) and the AWG-KP (Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol), in April, June and August, all in Bonn.

At the AWG-LCA negotiations in August, two opinions on REDD emerged:

Countries such as Bolivia and Saudi Arabia made several proposals for changes. Proposed changes included: not allowing developed countries to use REDD-plus activities as offset mechanisms to fulfil their emission reduction commitments; proposed new eligibility criteria for funding forest related activities; and removing the words ’emissions from’ so that for example reducing emissions from deforestation would become ‘reducing deforestation’. The African Group expressed strong concerns about these developments and the risk of REDD-plus negotiations being undermined.

As a result, the new AWG-LCA negotiating text (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/14, pdf file – 392 kB) has two options in Chapter VI, the “REDD text.”

The first option includes several changes proposed by Bolivia and other countries, including that REDD would “Be consistent with the principle of environmental integrity,” and “Guarantee rights of indigenous peoples under the basis of international normative instruments and local communities.” The right to free, prior and informed consent is also explicit. Market mechanisms and offsets would be excluded. Industrial scale logging would be excluded as would conversion of forest to plantations. There is also a proposal to remove the words “emissions from” in “reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”.

The second option is the version of the text before the August meeting.

The proposals from Bolivia and other countries are in square brackets in the negotiating text and will be discussed in Tianjing.

The other negotiating track that may affect REDD is the AWG-KP. This is where LULUCF comes in (that’s Land Use, Land Use Change and Forests, which currently only applies to rich countries). FIELD notes that

At the AWG-KP session in June 2010 the member states of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) argued that many requests are made to developing countries in the REDD-plus discussions, while developed countries are introducing more and more flexibility for themselves in the LULUCF discussions. For example, the COMIFAC countries noted that a developed country is allowed to replace an existing forest with a plantation under current rules, while the proposed REDD-plus safeguards would not allow a developing country to do so.

Also included in the current AWG-KP draft proposal (FCCC/KP/AWG/2010/CRP.2) is a request to SBSTA to look into the possibility of merging LULUCF and the clean development mechanism. REDD-Monitor discussed the potential implication of this here: “LULUCF, loopholes and REDD .”

FIELD concludes as follows:

Many Parties are interested in reaching agreement on some REDD-plus issues in Cancun and starting implementation of REDD-plus activities under the UNFCCC.

It is not clear how the REDD-plus negotiations will progress after the AWG-LCA discussions in August. Agreement on REDD-plus is also linked to agreement on other issues in the negotiations, such as financing, new emissions reduction targets and institutional questions.

It is possible that COP16 in Cancun may adopt decisions on some issues, where progress in the negotiations has been good. A COP decision on REDD-plus might be one of them.

BIC

The Bank Information Center is a Washington-based NGO that “partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability.” BIC has set up a “Forests” page on its website, providing information on Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Forest Investment Program, UN REDD and the REDD+ Partnership.

click to download pdf file - 812 kB

Last week, BIC issued the first issue of “REDD Alert,” “a resource for civil society engaged in the global REDD+ process, with a special focus on the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.”

The September issue of REDD Alert includes information about the 6th Participants Committee Meeting of the FCPF (28 June – 1 July 2010), and the forthcoming 7th Participants Committee Meeting (4-5 November 2010). It also provides an overview of international REDD workshops and events in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

BIC’s notes from the 6th Participants Committee Meeting of the FCPF are posted below:

Highlights from the 6th Meeting of the Participants Committee of the FCPF

The Sixth Meeting of the Participants Assembly was held in Georgetown, Guyana June 28th -July 1st 2010.

Resolutions on R-PPs All of the R-PPs presented for formal consideration were approved. These included Argentina, Costa Rica, The Republic of Congo, Kenya and Nepal. Each resolution was accompanied by an annex, which identifies the remaining issues with each R-PP as identified by the TAP and the PC to be resolved before a grant agreement can be signed.

The Republic of Congo’s R-PP generated significant controversy at PC6 due to issues of lack of inclusion of forest dependent groups in the consultation process and a lack of proposals to address capacity gaps. A group of international NGOs as well as Plateforme Congolaise pour la Gestion Durable des Forêts submitted a letter to the PC, urging it not to approve the RoC R-PP. Another conflicting letter was submitted by an additional group of Congolese civil society groups refuting the claims of the former groups. Nevertheless, the R-PP was approved on the condition that the RoC government will submit a revised R-PP to the FMT before PC7.

Read the joint statement on the Republic of Congo’s R-PP from RFF, Greenpeace and Global Witness

Civil society groups, including Rainforest Foundation and Global Witness also voiced concerns regarding the Peruvian R-PP. They contend that the Peru R-PP did not present a complete picture of drivers of deforestation or governance issues, specifically ongoing conflicts between indigenous groups and industrial logging companies and mining concessionaires.

Read a letter from AIDESEP (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana) to the FMT highlighting their concerns regarding the FCPF process in Peru (available in Spanish only)

TAP review process At PC6, many observers felt that there has been be a decline in the level of criticism of the TAP reviews, with some, such as Costa Rica, tending to downplay any weaknesses. Even more worrying, countries are able to submit revisions of the R-PP after the TAP review takes place- revisions which PC members do not see before formal discussion. Although the TAP makes reference to the latest revised submissions in their presentations, the lack of access to these new versions for the PC creates confusion as to which version of the document is actually being discussed, and undercuts (the often very critical) recommendations from the original TAP review.

An additional concern is the increasing weight the PC seems to be giving to the TAP review. For example, there was notable reluctance among a number of PC members to be more critical of the Republic of Congo R-PP than the TAP had been, despite last-minute R-PP drafts unseen by the PC and an apparent 11th-hour switch from negative to positive by the TAP. PC members described their reluctance to deviate from the TAP position as a matter of fairness to countries, however if this trend continues, it could effectively result in an abdication by the PC of its quality-control and decision-making responsibilities.

Carbon Fund There was discussion at PC6 about moving forward with the FCPF Carbon Fund. The Carbon Fund, envisioned when the FCPF was created in 2008, has not yet been operationalized. The FMT has recently circulated an Issues Note on the Carbon Fund, based on the original Information Memorandum of the FCPF that was discussed in the design phase of the FCPF in 2007-2008. Of note is the typology of activities eligible for ER credits. The FMT divides activities into two broad categories: non-forest policies and measures and
forest policies and measures. The latter may include agricultural zoning, rural electrification or rural credit, among others, while the former includes traditionally-conceived REDD+ activities such as reforestation and payment for environmental services. The first information sharing session with civil society will take place on September 17, to be followed by further consultations with civil society and the private sector.

Multiple Delivery Partners The Participants Committee approved a proposal from the FMT to draft an amendment to the FCPF Charter which would increase the number of delivery partners for REDD funds beyond the World Bank. This came in response to pressure from many REDD participant countries, who have criticized the FCPF for its delivery speed and performance, specifically citing its failure to disburse a single readiness grant thus far. The FMT also argues that countries where the Bank does not have a strong presence require a delivery partner.

Obviously, civil society expressed concern about the implications of multiple delivery partners and saw the move as a watering down of safeguards. Observers worry that the lack of uniform policies and procedures will result in a “race to the bottom” while countries seek to obtain REDD funds quicker, rather than comply with more rigorous and time-consuming World Bank safeguard policies.

CSO working group and consultations on multiple delivery partners The PC requested that the FMT establish a Working Group, which includes REDD Country Participants, Donor Country Participants, Carbon Fund Participants and Observers, as well as representatives of potential Other Delivery Partners such as multilateral development banks and UN agencies, to determine:

  • The process and criteria for selecting Other Delivery Partners by the PC, including a recommendation for consideration at PC7;
  • Principles and conditions under which Delivery Partners would be considered to provide services to REDD Country Participants;
  • Clarification of the activities and responsibilities of Other Delivery Partners; and
  • Elaboration of a common approach for the provision of readiness support for REDD countries, drawing on the ongoing work of the FCPF and its application of environmental and social safeguards.

The working group met in Washington September 15-16 to discuss proposals for the criteria listed above and will present concerns and proposals at PC7. The most important outcomes of the meeting were the following:

  • The Working Group agreed that a “common approach” to delivery partners means that FCPF will develop an “overlay” of operational principles that all delivery partners must meet, including environmental and social criteria, with sufficient detail to allow for monitoring and accountability. This is a significant step forward from the proposal made in Guyana, which suggested that the existing safeguards of the various delivery partners would be accepted as sufficient.
  • A task force composed of civil society, donor and recipient governments, the FMT, UNDP, and IDB representatives will be created to develop a common approach for application of safeguards and minimum social and environmental standards. The task force will present a draft proposal at PC7.
  • The Working Group agreed to take an incremental approach to MDPs, beginning with a number of pilots; however the number of pilots has not yet been established. It was agreed that the common approach standards will be completed before any of the $3.4 million grants are approved to other delivery partners.
  • For the time being, the FMT has decided to forgo a Charter amendment to allow piloting with other delivery partners. They will instead draft a resolution that will be narrowly focused on providing authority for piloting.
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