REDD+ debates in full swing at Durban

Durban is now in full swing – as are the discussions on REDD+, which are set to produce results by Saturday. The Norwegian delegation announced at a packed contact meeting yesterday that they had ‘already been for a jog this morning and had a double espresso’ which is just as well given that the REDD+ negotiators will be up night and day to have text agreed by Saturday.

This should give the REDD+ crowd plenty to chew over by the morning of Forests Day on Sunday, and following on from my last post this means my Sunday morning speak will be more REDD+ finance, reference emission levels and safeguards, rather than my usual caveman mono-syllables.

Over in the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC) – the designated stomping ground for us NGO types – there has been a bombardment of REDD+/forestry side events. Navigating this festival of intriguing events is a tricky task, and like Glastonbury it means you always miss out on star acts. Highlights for me so far have been:

  • The Environmental Investigation Agency providing sobering reminders of the mammoth task afoot in improving forest governance (one slide showed entirely fabricated forest inventories approved all the way through up the Peruvian forest agency). This ‘Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Measures’ event led to a energetic debate on whether strengthening ‘on the ground’ enforcement penalizes the ‘little-guy’ when REDD+ should really be used to address corruption and criminal activity further up the value chain.
  • CIFOR’s ‘How is REDD+ unfolding on the ground’ showed that REDD+ Developers are hedging their bets in light of future REDD+ market uncertainty. An interesting side-effect has been that some developers choose not to use the phrase ‘REDD+’ in their outreach to communities, as they don’t want to raise false expectations. This is a justified approach, and avoids a problem now being faced by many projects in limbo where previously promised carbon finance is not forthcoming. However it was highlighted that this reduces the ability to carry out full Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as communities are not told and therefore cannot agree to selling the carbon in their forests. As a sneak preview, this issue crops up in our ‘Are capacity building services meeting countries’ needs’ policy brief, which is launched here on Thursday 1st December with UN-REDD.
  • The ‘Status of monitoring, reporting and verification in setting up REDD+’ presentation within the CIFOR event stimulated challenge from the floor. These challenges were on what MRV should cover, and if countries are ‘jumping the gun’ on using large chunks of limited readiness funding on MRV, rather than addressing the massive forest governance challenges they face. Admittedly the last challenge came from yours truly. The sensible reply was that we need to strike a balance between addressing both MRV and forest governance, with the admittance that often MRV takes up donor readiness money because it is easier to show progress, as opposed to the greater difficulty in clearly showing forest governance results. I walked away feeling slightly worried that the need to show clear results for donor money may mean that the ‘high risk/high reward’ options get sidelined in favor of less ambitious aims.

My highlights list will have doubled or tripled in length by the time you read this and I’m sure my fellow bloggers inside and outside of RECOFTC will cover the issues they raise. For those of you at Durban we look forward to seeing you at RECOFTC’s Forests Day booth. If you aren’t here please keep tuned for more blog posts soon!

Written by Jim Stephenson, RECOFTC

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About REDD-net

REDD-net is a network to share the information and experience among organisations working for REDD . The power of interests surrounding climate change and REDD , means that, even where governments are well-disposed, pursuing a pro-poor agenda will largely depend on the capacity of southern NGOs to assimilate the new knowledge and use it to champion the interests of the poor.
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