New and emerging issues on REDD+ at COP 17

At the  CIFOR (Center for international Forestry Research) Forest day 5 ysterday, Tony La Vinã who facilitates the REDD+(Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) negotiations in the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Action) track gave updates on the state of the negotiations. He pointed out that there is developing a new breed of negotiators who believe in full transparency and participation of stakeholders in negotiations this is reflected in the SBSTA(Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) text agreed on December 4 2011.

On negotiations at the COP concerning REDD+ are the 3 pillars of REDD+, which are:

  1. MRV (Monitoring Reporting and Verification) systems, National reference levels and emission levels and a good technical bases for assessing national performances
  2. Robust systems of safeguards and informing each other on how we are implementing these
  3. Finance for REDD+

These first 2 pillars were covered the first week of COP 17. He mentioned that at COP 15 in Copenhagen 1 and 2 were agreed on but were not adopted because of the failure of Copenhagen to adopt anything. However, at COP 16 in Cancun they were adopted. In the Cancun discussions on REDD+ finance was put forth but there was difficulty in addressing this. So it was moved to COP 17.  In the second and last week of the negotiations finance for REDD+ will be discussed in reference to the first two pillars. The first two pillars are the technical aspects of REDD+, which were on December 1 2011 drafted by the UNFCCC SBSTA. This text addresses key issues on methodological guidance on monitoring safeguards and reporting on carbon emissions. While many consider this text very robust and emphasize transparency, on the other hand it fails to address verification, an important component of REDD+, says Louis Verchot, CIFOR’s leading climate change scientist. Victoria Tauli-Corpus, an indigenous peoples right speaker and co-chair to REDD+ negotiations said in response to a similar question asked at a parallel discussion at the FD5 on social safeguards that the local communities and indigenous people will be able to verify these.

Also, according to Dr. La Vinã and others there were some few breakthroughs at COP 17 where REDD+ is concerned. These include guidance on Reference Emissions Levels and Reference levels in getting us closer to MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) and the first guidance on safeguard systems.  The SBSTA included in the text that it will consider additional guidance at its next session where necessary. What the SBSTA did not resolve was clear guidance on MRVs, this will be an area of discussion at its next session.  MRV’s and how local communities can be trained to  monitor is what my team (Erica Pohnan and Angela Yeh )I worked on in International Negotiations class and will be important to refer to  our policy memo and earlier blog post: http://environment.yale.edu/blog/2011/11/29/redd-methodological-mayhem-less-technicalities-and-more-communities/

This week’s negotiation on REDD+ in the LCA track is on the third pillar together with references to the 1 and 2. Whilst there are still concerns about the first 2 pillars some think we are not ready to discuss finance for REDD+ yet.  Dr. La Vinã’s response to this was that the main focus will be on financing result based action which is a bit far off therefore we have time to outline the first 2 phases properly whilst discussing finance, because the first two pillars will require funding.  In this week’s discussions the COP will be presented a 1-page text on financing REDD+ that will be discussed. We will know the outcome by the end of the week.  Also funding sources been considered for REDD+ will include multilateral and bilateral public and private sources of finance, market based mechanisms and integrated adaption mitigation mechanisms.

The REDD+ text connects all 3 pillars, strengthening safeguards and its implementation whilst encouraging strong participation of indigenous groups and local communities and also reminding us that forests are not just about carbon sequestration but provide other services too. The new agenda for the REDD+ discussions is the linkages of drivers of deforestation and agriculture and the inclusion of this in the REDD text.