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REDD discussions at the UN climate meeting in Bonn: “The only thing negotiators did here was produce more things to disagree on”

REDD discussions at the UN climate meeting in Bonn

For the past two weeks, the UN has been talking about climate change in Bonn. Predictably enough, little was achieved in terms of meaningful actions to address climate change (like finding ways of reducing fossil fuel emissions, say). Neither was any progress made on REDD.

Each time these meetings take place, the title of the meeting gets longer. The Bonn meeting is the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), the seventeenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).

On REDD, the SBSTA meetings were supposed to provide guidance on safeguards, and to identify and address the drivers of deforestation. After making little progress, the work was pushed back to the next Conference of Parties in Doha in December 2012.

Stephen Leonard, President of the Climate Justice Programme said in a statement from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance:

“Addressing the underlying causes of deforestation and assuring that safeguards will be respected are critical to raising finance and achieving results. But countries have spent most of their time debating how to measure forest carbon in expectation of a carbon market. If the underlying issues aren’t resolved, it’s unrealistic to expect adequate finance to be provided.”

Nils Hermann Ranum of Rainforest Foundation Norway said,

“The only thing negotiators did here was produce more things to disagree on. Conclusions were expected on key issues to stop forest destruction, the causes of deforestation, and the safeguards to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Instead, the text points in every direction possible. REDD results must be defined beyond carbon to successfully keep forests standing.”

The Accra Caucus made a statement to the SBSTA meeting, denouncing the lack of meaningful progress during the two weeks of meetings in Bonn. The most recent SBSTA text is available below the statement.


UPDATE – 25 May 2012: The International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change also made a statement to the SBSTA, posted below.


Statement by the Accra Caucus to the SBSTA

UNFCCC climate meeting, Bonn, 23 May 2012

I am Samuel Nnah, from CED in Cameroon, speaking on behalf of the Accra caucus on forests and climate change.

The Accra caucus is concerned that despite two weeks of work, SBSTA has not been able to deliver significant progress on key issues that are essential to stop deforestation and forest degradation. This is very disappointing for people like us working hard every day with local communities and IPs to save the forests that people depend on.

Forests are more than carbon, and improved forest governance will be the starting point for any national strategy which can successfully reduce forest loss. REDD actions should therefore support a broad range of activities needed to address the underlying drivers of deforestation, in particular governance reform and ensuring collective rights to land and territories are recognised and respected.

National forest monitoring systems and the MRV of actions for results based finance must cover information related to a broad range of actions, subject to adequate and predictable financial support in all phases.

The drivers of deforestation and forest degradation globally are now largely industrial-scale uses such as logging, ranching and plantations, as well as oil and mineral exploitation in forested areas.

Forest dependent communities do not cause deforestation and forest degradation except when they are forced into situations where they are unable to maintain their customary practices for managing forests sustainably. Therefore a critical action against the drivers of deforestation is to give secure land tenure to forest dependent communities.

Both northern and southern governments can combat the drivers of deforestation by addressing consumption patterns and incoherent policies across sectors that lead to unsustainable land uses and investments that contribute to forest destruction.

It is the experience of Accra Caucus members that we are already seeing land grabs, intimidation, criminalization and the loss of traditional livelihoods of forest based communities, all in the name of forest protection and conservation. Without established safeguards and a strong system for reporting on these, REDD+ may lead to destroying natural forests and biodiversity, in addition to human rights violations.

The lack of progress on these essential topics will make it impossible to make REDD an effective mechanism to stop forest destruction and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a huge task that SBSTA 36 has now put forward to Doha.

Thank you.

Closing Statement

International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC)

SBSTA Working Group on REDD+

23 May 2012, Bonn, Germany

Thank you chair for the opportunity to present Indigenous Peoples’ views

Indigenous Peoples live from the forests and forests depend on us. Our traditional forest management, conservation and livelihood practices such as shifting cultivation and pastoralism must therefore be recognized and respected. They are not drivers of deforestation.

Drivers of deforestation are all those actions and policies that pose a threat to our survival. Unrestricted demand and consumption of natural resources cause deforestation and should be studied at both the national and international levels. Plans to address them are necessary.

Any activity, program, or action that may be implemented to address drivers must respect our rights to land, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge.

MRV systems should go beyond carbon. Otherwise they will not capture the broad range of forest values, multiple functions, and ecosystem services. MRV systems must comply with all safeguards. Indigenous Peoples’ full and effective participation in developing, planning, and implementing MRV-schemes must be promoted and recognized and subject to our FPIC. We have the right to conduct our own MRV based on our traditional knowledge. Technical assistance and capacity building must be prioritized and supported.

We call for Safeguard Information Systems that recognizes our rights and the multiple values of forests. Reports from such systems should reflect how national laws are aligned with international obligations and instruments such as UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169. Additionally, our internationally recognized rights must be respected and secured within all national REDD+ programs, policies and strategies. Independent recourse or complaint mechanisms must be available at all levels.

Download here:

SBSTA SBSTA REDD text (65.1 kB).

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