REDD+ all over the place

I arrived to Cancun last Sunday and attended as many REDD-related side events as I could. Is interesting to see how these side events can range from being very broad and without any substance to actually represent unique learning opportunities.

For the most part I attended side events organized by IETA (International Emissions Trading Association). In these side events one could find all sorts of people working in REDD+ from project developers to multilateral institutions.  Topics ranged from finance to new methodologies to quantify projects’ risks.

What I liked the most about these talks was their practical approach, giving insides of what works in the field and what is merely theory. Practitioners shared valuable insides on how uncertainties can be included in a REDD+ project’s feasibility study; how permanence, leakage and benefit distribution are being incorporated in a REDD+ project design; what is the current state of finance for national level REDD+ strategies and what the timeline for those strategies to be implemented is.

What was a divided topic is the inclusion of environmental and social safeguards for REDD+ projects. Some state that having donor countries demanding for compliance with these safeguards would undermine a recipient country’s sovereignty. Others ask for safeguards to assure biodiversity and forest dependent people’s rights would be respected by REDD+ projects.

It’s interesting to see how quickly REDD+ is taking over the climate change mitigation scenario. There are several private as well as sub-national REDD+ initiatives going on right now. For example, last night I was at a reception of the GCF (Governor’s Climate and Forest Taskforce) where the REDD+ initiatives from Wisconsin, California and Chiapas were presented and in a couple of the EITA talks I came to know of investors looking to develop or to fund ongoing REDD+ projects.

Of course all the expected benefits from REDD+ are still to be confirmed and much work is still to be done to assure its potential negative impacts are not greater than its benefits. However, for someone like me interested in REDD+ this was a very encouraging week.