REDD+ Partnership and International Demand Side Drivers

REDD+ Partnership Work Plan Meeting in Cancun

As part of the Yale delegation, I am working for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to promote the adoption of policies and language in the negotiating text that addresses international demand side drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.  The EIA is working in tandem with the Environmental Climate Alliance (ECA) a conglomeration of international NGOs that have similar goals with regards to REDD and international forest policy.  Prior to arriving in Cancun, I analyzed the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) REDD readiness plans (R-PPs) and UN REDD National Programme documents (NPDs) of several REDD countries to determine how they have incorporated drivers of forest degradation and deforestation into their REDD planning processes and specifically if the planning documents address international demand side drivers.   The EIA synthesized that analysis along with other research to develop a white paper to be presented at COP-16.

The EIA first started to lobby for the inclusion of international demand side drivers in REDD discussions several years ago as an extension on their efforts to curb illegal logging.  According to the EIA, If REDD programs are going to be successful, a fundamental element of REDD+ readiness activities must involve an exhaustive assessment of the drivers on forests in a REDD country that are leading to deforestation and forest degradation.  To be fully effective, this evaluation must include an identification and analysis of both domestic and international drivers.  Without identifying and addressing all these drivers of deforestation and degradation, REDD+ programs will fail even if REDD countries fully implement a domestic REDD strategy.  International drivers include, but are not limited to, the consuming countries’ demand for illegal forest products, the consuming countries’ demand for agricultural products that requires the conversion of forest lands (i.e. biofuels), and insufficient legal policies and regulations that monitor and prohibit illegal products from entering their jurisdictions.  While the U.S. has attempted to address some of these issues with its amendments to the Lacey Act to include illegal traded forest products, other countries such as China have failed to implement the same type of legislation.

However, after years of efforts to push REDD countries to consider and address international drivers, the REDD Partnership had an incredible breakthrough.  Today was the REDD Partnership’s Work Plan Meeting at the COP in Cancun, a meeting to determine the Work Plan for the REDD+ Partnership for the next two years.  The REDD Partnership is somewhat unique at the COP because they allow direct interventions and comments from not just the Partners (member countries) but also Stakeholders (NGOs).  The purpose of the meeting was to comment on the draft Work Plan for 2011-2012 and to prioritize actions of the Partnership over the next few years.  Here, for the first time, Partner after Partner including Singapore, Indonesia (referring to international demands as “transboundary” demands), India, Switzerland, Australia, UK, Norway, Germany, and Ghana, and stakeholder after stakeholder including the WWF, Humane Society International, and Global Witness, acknowledged that the consideration of international demand side drivers should be a priority for the REDD+ Partnership Work Plan.  This is extremely significant especially where any discussions of international drivers have been considered taboo by REDD countries because of trade policy implications.  The countries and Partnership are finally realizing that REDD will be unworkable and a failure without first dealing with these international demands.

I focused on the subject of international demand side drivers for the purposes of this blog, but there were several other interesting developments at the REDD+ Partnership meeting including the failure to elect new co-chairs after the objection of Brazil (who ironically is to be named one of the next co-chairs) the insistence of parties requesting more time to comment on the draft plan where, in some cases, Stakeholders and partners were never informed of its existence prior to the meeting, and the continual struggle to determine the role the Partnership will play in REDD.

Still, noticeably missing from the meeting were the representatives of indigenous peoples.  While some Partners and Stakeholders supported the rights of the indigenous throughout the meeting, it is axiomatic that the indigenous are not represented if they are not there.  More efforts need to be made to give indigenous peoples a seat at the table in future REDD+ Partnership meetings.

As a result of the meeting, a new work plan will be drafted and hopefully adopted by the following Monday.  However, with the short amount of time that the Partners and Stakeholders have to comment on the draft again, the outcome may be even more contentious than it was at the meeting today.

Still, it was a good day for the EIA and a good day for REDD.  International demand side drivers have finally been given priority and a complete conversation regarding a successful REDD strategy can begin.

For information about international demand side drivers visit this site.