REDD+ in the East African Community – why effort is much needed in communications and collaboration, both within and across borders


Written by David Mwayafu, REDD-net Coordinator East Africa, UCSD

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, and other East African SusWatch partners, SusWatch Kenya and Tanzania Coalition for Sustainable Development, had an interesting day on May 31st at the 2nd National Ugandan CSO fair. With the fair’s theme of ‘managing the dynamics of transition to the East African Community’, the core issues at the fair are closely aligned with UCSD’s experiences working across East Africa, for example on management of trans-boundary natural resources, such as the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project, and The Mount Elgon Regional Conservation Programme

In fact, it seems that partnerships such as East African SusWatch Network are not just an example of the importance of cross-boundary coordination on natural resource management, but how such schemes could be integral towards supporting the transition to an East African Community. The Guest of Honor, Commissioner in the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Ms Rhona Serwadda, welcomed the efforts of the Network, noting how specific initiatives like this contribute to the wider East African integration process, reiterating the importance of sharing information and knowledge across borders as an important inroad to genuine gradual integration, and advising on the continued importance of translating information into the region’s key languages.

Ms Serwadda formally launched two new pieces of work that the Network has produced with pan East African implications:

  • a popular version of the East African Community Climate Change Policy, The document provides accessible information about the policy, which aims to address the adverse impacts of climate change in the region, in response to the growing concern about the increasing threats of the negative impacts of climate change to national and regional development targets and goals.
  • UCSD’s Toolkit to assess proposed benefit sharing and revenue distribution schemes of community REDD+ projects. UCSD’s Toolkit has been developed as part of REDD-net’s aim of strengthening the ability of community-based institutions to address REDD+ issues, with benefit sharing being a key issue in the design of equitable REDD+ policies and projects at the national and community levels. This Toolkit – which has received positive feedback from various actors in East Africa – will assist practitioners, civil society and policy makers to assess the proposed benefit sharing and revenue arrangements of REDD+ Projects that will impact upon forest-dependent communities

The experience from the fair demonstrates how important outreach activities are in supporting understanding of complex issues such as REDD+ in all countries. Uganda had its R-PP approved by the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Forest (FCPF) in May 2011 with recommendations that there was need for the country to address issues of the ’awareness and communication strategy’ and the conflict and grievance management mechanism’. Unless resources are put into addressing these, the issue of deforestation and forest degradation will continue to be a major threat to the forestry sector, and of course the livelihoods of local communities.

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If international drivers of deforestation are such a big deal, why were they left out of the climate negotiations?

While there was much talk in Bonn about the international drivers of deforestation, the text agreed by countries curiously left out all mention of it.  Surely tackling the international drivers, for example unsustainable demand for timber or agricultural crops, needs to be a key part of our efforts if we have any hope of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation?

At present, the only formal commitment is in the  Cancun decision text on REDD+, which encourages “all Parties to find effective ways to reduce the human pressure on forests that results in greenhouse gas emissions, including actions to address drivers of deforestation”, but falls short of any specifics about what needs to be done. Much of the conversation on REDD+ relates purely to what developing countries will do to address emissions from forests. But for progress to be made locally, there must be stronger support to address the international drivers of deforestation.

A paper by Eric Lambin and Patrick Meyfroidt highlights the need to address international drivers stating that “the acceleration of economic globalisation in tandem with a looming scarcity of productive land globally may render [strategies in developing countries to reduce deforestation] to be less effective”.  The Union of Concerned Scientists use the analogy of squeezing a balloon at one end resulting in pressure pushing the balloon out at the other end, leading them to conclude that “reducing growth in the demand for commodities that drive deforestation will be important to future successes”.  Addressing these international drivers will take measures that  both stem demand for products that accelerate deforestation as well as measures that dissuade investment in activities that result in deforestation and forest degradation.

There are worries that any measures might affect trade, for example in timber or agricultural commodities, which play a key role in many national  economies. Countries are also concerned that measures to curb emissions from forests might undermine their development. This of course gets to the heart of what is needed to deliver climate compatible development and further highlights the value of natural capital accounting and GDP+ approaches, so hotly debated in the lead up to Rio+20.

So, does dealing with international demand have to result in trade restrictions?  The cornerstone of the EU’s FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) action plan – the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) – would suggest not.  The EU FLEGT action plan includes a number of measures aimed at excluding illegal timber from EU markets, while also improving the supply of legal timber and increasing the demand for responsible wood products.  The key is in the name –  VPAs are voluntary agreements between the EU and a timber-producing country to ensure that only legally harvested timber is imported into the EU, with support provided to help countries develop and implement their side of the bargain.  On one hand measures are being put in place to outlaw the trade in illegal timber within the EU, while also actively working with timber-producing countries to tackle illegality and continue to access the EU market. So, tackling international drivers does not have to mean reducing or restricting trade then.

We know it won’t be possible to slow, halt and reverse carbon loss – as parties have agreed to in the Cancun text – without tackling international drivers.  So, it’s disappointing to see that the (limited) references to drivers coming out of Bonn refer specifically to developing countries – leaving international drivers untouched (paragraph 72 of the Cancun decision, for those who want details)  This is simply not good enough.

If efforts to tackle emissions from forests are going to be effective, they need to be compatible with a country’s development.  But this should not mean shirking action on the international drivers of deforestation.  Instead, there’s a need to ease concerns that these steps will hamper development by exploring what options are available, how these might affect trade and what can be done to mitigate any negative impacts.

Written by Emily Brickell, ODI, reporting on Bonn

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Drive on by? Will upcoming meetings in Bonn take the opportunity to make progress on addressing drivers of deforestation?

The upcoming REDD+ Partnership meeting and the UNFCCC intercessional in Bonn are key opportunities to make progress on tackling the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, both so critical for stemming climate change.

Many advance submissions from governments and observer organisations stressed the need to look beyond the forest sector to address the way other sectors drive deforestation. For example, the EU point out that ‘given the importance of rural development, food security, mitigation and adaptation in the agricultural sector and of agricultural expansion as a driver of deforestation, the implications of REDD+ implementation should be considered from a broad perspective’. The relationship between forests and sectors that drive deforestation and forest degradation is crucial to efforts to reduce emissions and achieve development objectives.

The ODI-led REDDnet’s work on REDD+ and other sectors has examined how REDD+ can be designed in a way to not only address the drivers of deforestation, but to also contribute to key economic and development objectives (including the agriculture and energy sectors).  Our report ‘Making REDD+ cross-sectoral’ calls for the drivers of deforestation to be addressed through participatory processes involving all relevant sectors and recognising local and regional contexts. This is reflected in the Japanese submission:  ‘it is important to establish a cross-sectoral system which includes … dialogue and coordination between sectors’. This approach is critical to understanding the different motivations, constraints and demands on forested land.

However, while there is recognition this needs to happen, it is easier said than done.  While in many cases countries are taking steps towards such coordination, it often remains weak and has been fraught with challenges.  A REDDnet study focussed on opportunities for cross-sectoral implementation in East Africa found that broad, multi-sectoral processes related to REDD+ are often hampered by disagreements in policy creation. Unclear working modalities, fragmented communication challenges and confused decision-making are just as prevalent in cross-sector processes related to REDD+ as they are in other similar processes. Some participants cite bureaucratic challenges while others talk of the blinkered ‘cultures’ of home institutions.

Cross-sectoral processes related to REDD+ are further complicated by the need to identify solutions that deliver multiple objectives, or at least do no harm to other sectors. While there may be some win-win solutions, in many cases tough decisions need to be taken. How are the needs of agriculture, energy and forests going to be balanced? How can poverty reduction, economic development, environmental and climate change objectives be reconciled in this context? How will conflicts over decisions be resolved? These are echoed in a recent CCAFS policy brief which states that ‘there are serious obstacles to creating meaningful cross-sector links [which are] able to alter strong economic forces and existing government targets and mandates’, with a particular challenge being how to reconcile sector conflicts.  There are examples where progress has been made – an EDF report outlines that, from 2003-2007, the state of Acre in Brazil achieved a reduction in deforestation by 80%, while the value of agriculture increased by 40% and the state’s cattle herd grew by 15%, alongside growth in GDP per capita of 40%.

So, as governments and other stakeholders meet to discuss these issues in Bonn, it will be interesting to hear of practical experiences of efforts to address drivers of deforestation:

  • What challenges are being faced and what lessons learned or solutions have been identified?  What interventions are being implemented and how effective are they?
  • How are countries approaching trade-offs and conflicts that they come up against?
  • How is REDD+ and recognition of the need to curb emissions from forests feeding in to the dynamics?  Are REDD+ funds helping to find solutions, or change the dynamics, in efforts to tackle the drivers of deforestation?
  • Is REDD+ helping to create more of an incentive to prioritise decision-making that supports conservation and sustainable management of forests?  Or is the remaining uncertainty about a long-term incentive for REDD+, coupled with increasing demand for alternative land uses, holding this back?

Recognition of the need to reduce emissions from forests as part of efforts to avoid dangerous global warming has helped push forests up the political agenda.  Whether these efforts are able to face head on the trade-offs and conflicts that exist and find solutions to these challenges will be one of its biggest tests.

Written by Emily Brickell, ODI, reporting on Bonn

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Reading between the lines – what the Durban text means for REDD+ in 2012

The high-level politicking of international climate negotiations can sometimes hide the nuances of the issues being discussed. During the calm weeks following the storm of negotiations in Durban we have had an opportunity to assess what all 36 decisions that came out of the conference will really mean for climate change practitioners.

In this blog, published by CDKN, I identify key areas for activity in the next 12 months for those working towards a fair and equitable REDD+.

William McFarland, Acting REDDnet coordinator, ODI

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REDD+ finance: More than a numbers game

Finance has been a key theme of COP17. Even Ban Ki Moon  has seized every opportunity to focus attention on the urgent need for progress on finance in the next 24 hours. And, as in many of the other negotiation tracks, finance has also become a key issue in the REDD+ negotiations in Durban.

Clarity on REDD+ finance is crucial for three reasons.

  1. REDD+ countries are investing in REDD+ readiness processes that require significant investment, human resources and political support. Why? REDD+ countries want to make sure that they are ready to participate in a REDD+ mechanism, where they are paid to reduce emissions from the forest sector and land use change. Without certainty that they will be paid, momentum towards this goal could evaporate.
  2. Private sector investment in REDD+ has been hailed as an essential source of the investment needed to generate the finance required to achieve emissions reductions at scale. This private sector investment relies on policy and legal certainty that does not exist in most REDD+ countries at present, but has to date been provided by developments under the international policy framework for REDD+. Lack of continued progress may reduce private sector appetite to invest.
  3. In negotiations where developed countries have shown extremely weak commitment to reduce domestic emissions, strong financial commitments to REDD+ may help restore to the faith of developing countries in the process. Many recognise that REDD+ has multiple benefits for climate change mitigation, biodiversity, poverty alleviation and even adaptation efforts, so moving this along will make progress towards a number of global goals.

The current draft text from the AWG-LCA for adoption by the COP identifies a range of options for REDD+ financing. This is a useful outline of the range of sources of finance that countries might pursue, but it provides little certainty for REDD+ countries that any of them will materialise. Another stumbling block to the much-needed certainty for REDD+ countries is the commissioning of a ‘technical report’ on finance sources. This is to be considered at the meeting of the SBSTA in Bonn in June 2012, for report back at COP18.

It is too early to tell what this report will cover or what detailed financing options it might explore, but one thing is certain: it is likely to be a general, global level report, and is extremely unlikely to provide relevant information on the specific sources of finance appropriate for particular country circumstances and goals.

So, given that the issue of REDD+ finance is a crucial one, how can it progress in the absence of solid progress in Durban? Finance needs will be diverse, and depend on how a country is going to implement REDD+, what other goals they are also pursuing through REDD+(such as poverty alleviation), how ‘ready’ they are, and their existing multilateral and bilateral relationships with development partners.

One thing that has been agreed in Durban is that national ownership of REDD+ is essential for it to be effective and sustainable in the long term. There has also been agreement that, in the medium term anyway, REDD+ finance will need to come from a range of disparate sources. So, with the support of contributor countries, REDD+ countries should start thinking more strongly about what types of finance they want to attract to achieve their national REDD+ strategy, and how to go about doing that.

Brazil has been very effective at this, retaining strong national ownership over how it achieves emissions reductions and obtaining finance to support that effort. Encouragingly, Mexico also seems to be going in the same direction. At an event the other day I heard that Mexico is developing its national REDD+ strategy, and will then decide which sources of finance are most appropriate to achieve its strategic objectives, and will only then decide how to leverage the right type of finance.

Complete certainty over international REDD+ frameworks, and long term finance for REDD+ will not be found in Durban. But, there is hope that the operational structure of the Green Climate Fund will be endorsed, which will include REDD+ funding under the mitigation window and is expected to include a private sector window (under which REDD+ may also be eligible).

There is also hope that, with recognition of the broad range of sources of finance for REDD+ under the UNFCCC, countries can get on with the more important job of working out which sources are best for them. Once this is done, policy and legal frameworks can be put in place to leverage this finance. In the absence of an international agreement on emissions reductions for developed countries, this will go a long way towards providing the certainty to leverage the much needed private sector finance. This demonstrates that REDD+ finance is, truly, more than just the money on the table.

 Written by Kristy Graham, ODI

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Climate smart REDD+

It has been a busy week in Durban. Most of the action has been on the sidelines, in the many side events, but there are indications that the negotiators are also getting down to business, particularly in relation to the Green Climate Fund, and hopefully on REDD+ finance as well.

One of the main themes I took out of last week was that everyone is talking about linking different sectors and achieving multiple goals with climate change mitigation. There is also quite a bit of discussion about making sure that the mitigation and adaptation agendas are better aligned, particularly at the local level.

REDD-net has been working on these issues in relation to REDD+ all year. Our work on REDD+ and other sectors has examined how REDD+ can be designed in a way to not only address the drivers of deforestation, but to do so in a way that also contributes to the objectives of key economic sectors (including agriculture and energy), and of course development.

More recently, REDD-net has also been working on building better linkages between mitigation and adaptation in forests, and has particularly been looking at how REDD+ can be designed to contribute to adaptation goals at the local level.

Our side event, held on this topic explored this issue further from a range of different perspectives. Resham Danghi, from the Ministry of Forests in Nepal spoke on the topic from an adaptation perspective.  He highlighted how community based adaptation, which is being undertaken by many communities in Nepal has many similarities with REDD+ initiatives, and outlined the many synergies between community based forest management (which is likely to be pursued as a REDD+ strategy in Nepal), and adaptation actions. He also outlined the key challenges, particularly the knowledge barriers and the weak institutional capacity of the forestry sector, to really optimising the synergies that exist. Highlighting that the trade-offs and synergies were very site specific , he concluded by suggesting that strong engagement of local government was needed to mainstream coordinated planning, and that further capacity building was needed.

The following speaker, Erneus Kaijage, from the Clinton Climate Initiative in Tanzania, highlighted that it was the specific design and implementation of REDD+ that would determine its impact on the adaptive capacity of local communities. He suggested that REDD+ could be used to provide training and educational opportunities and that in Tanzania, there were many entry points for maximising the synergies, such as through community based forest management. He closed by suggesting that ensuring that REDD+ contributed to adaptive capacity would enhance community support for it.

Finally, Steve Panfil, from Conservation International provided a particularly interesting analysis of projects seeking validation under the CCB standards which were actively seeking to contribute to adaptation. Of the 43 validated, and 3 verified projects, 6 have been validated using the optional Adaptation Criterion. He discussed the types of adaptation activities that these projects were pursuing, with most focussing on alternative livelihoods and income diversification. He highlighted that improving the contribution of projects to adaptation goals would likely require additional guidance for project developers, as there seemed to be a low additional cost for early projects doing this.

Following the speakers presentations, discussions focussed on how to scale up activities from the project to larger levels, and how to strike a balance between locally driven initiatives and government led programmes.  The discussion demonstrated that there is a lot of interest in this topic and that as REDD+ policies are being designed, and projects being implemented there is the need for these synergies and trade-offs to be more explicitly considered.

The REDD-net side event and the key themes from the past week all really highlight that REDD+ must be designed in a way that is ‘climate smart’ (to borrow a phrase from the agriculture crowd). In order to be a politically, socially and environmentally sustainable mechanism in the long term, it must be designed in a way that contributes to mitigation, adaptation and development goals. I’m sure that the negotiators in Durban would agree with this, the challenge is now for all countries, is to make sure that this starts happening in practice.

Written by Kristy Graham, REDD-net Coordinator, ODI

Posted in REDD+ and Adaptation, UNFCCC negotiations | 1 Comment

Who are the real decision makers in REDD+?

As Government Ministers and Heads of States arrive in Durban to thrash out an agreement on climate change, there have been many meetings and events on how to move ahead with REDD+. Many of them have been focussed on reference levels, safeguards, governance and legal measures that are needed to implement REDD+, but if the needs and aspiration of the man with an axe are not given utmost importance it will be hard for REDD+ to succeed.

For REDD+ to work, we need to recognise that the most important decision maker is the man with an axe, or the saw. It is that man that needs to be incentivised to change his behaviour without compromising his ability to meet his or her daily needs. REDD+ can only succeed if it is designed through effective involvement and participation by these decision makers. Sustainable management of forests will only be achieved if there is the will and ability by micro level decision makers and policy makers to make changes, and effective incentives are given to the man with an axe to keep trees standing.

Nigerian CSOs organised a side event at the COP17 at the Africa Pavilion; on Friday, 2nd December 2011. This event was aimed at “Increasing Awareness on REDD+ Governance in Africa”. Its discussion focused on the contribution to addressing the key challenges for developing and implementing REDD+ mechanism in Africa; increasing awareness and capacity building for African stakeholders on REDD+ and promoting strategic governance frameworks on REDD+ to further enhance the UNFCCC negotiation processes at COP17. It was one of the many events that was organised to discuss issues of REDD+ and governance in Africa.

There is need for us to move from policy decisions on climate change to action on the ground i.e. from policy to reality.  Policy making around REDD+ is no exception, whether at sub-national, national, regional or international levels. REDD+ can only work if the communities have real and reliable incentives to conserve or sustainably manage the forests.  

There are many pressures on the man with the axe, which must be addressed for REDD+ to work. Questions must be asked – what makes him go to the forest to cut the trees? Is it to clear land for agriculture for cash crops? Is it to clear land to ensure that he can continue to produce enough food for his family? Is it for fuel wood? Is it to extract timber for sale, or for his own use? Is it because there are no alternatives for his household to obtain essential forest products?  

At the moment, there are various reasons why deforestation and forest degradation is continuing, in many areas they are the main source of community livelihoods. REDD-net has explored the extra-sectoral approaches on how deforestation is linked to various key sector of the economy in East Africa which include: Agriculture, food security and REDD+ in East Africa , REDD+ and energy for rural development in East Africa ,and  Water resources management and REDD+ in East Africa.

Immediate action on finance is needed to address then livelihood issues that are linked to deforestation and forest degradation. Finance needs to be delivered effectively and equitably to the man with the axe. REDD+ therefore will only be successful if it is implemented with a human face by moving from just mitigation action to ensure that it contributes to rural development.

As the negotiations here in Durban move towards advanced stages, the real decision makers continue with their business as usual scenario of deforestation and forest degradation. Therefore the policy makers must speed up the pace of policy decisions if we are to have forests remain standing. Delaying an agreement on REDD+ finance will leave the rate of deforestation unchecked.  The ‘man with an axe’ will not wait for finalisation of the policy decisions to stop deforestation and forest degradation. If we want real progress on REDD+, clarity and a strong signal on long term finance needs to be provided in Durban.

Written by David Mwayafu, REDD-net Coordinator East Africa, UCSD

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Linking climate change mitigation and adaptation: harnessing local communities is the key

Storms and typhoons are battering the community of Da Loc in coastal Vietnam on an increasingly frequent and intense basis. In 2005, Typhoon Damrey forced some 330,000 evacuees from their homes in Vietnam alone, with regional damages resulting from the typhoon estimated to be at US$1.2 billion. Almost seven years later Da Loc commune continues to suffer the impacts of saltwater that Damrey swept several kilometers inland, destroying rice fields and seeping into fresh water wells.  In the wake of Damrey one thing was clear, those areas that had been buffered by mangrove forests were left relatively unscathed. Those that did not continue to experience the repercussions.

With support from CARE International, the community established mangrove forests along the mudflats lining Da Loc and were awarded some of the country’s initial mangrove community forestry certificates. In addition to the protective functions the mangroves play in extreme climate events, they serve as a tremendous carbon sink. While this was not an underlying objective in the planting of the mangroves, which was foremost an adaptive strategy, it serves as a powerful ‘additionality’ contributing strongly to mitigation aims.

Adaptation and mitigation have long been treated in isolation at international levels, in sectoral planning and in academic discourse. At local levels however, they are often two sides of the same coin. As we resign ourselves to the need, not only to reduce our carbon emissions, but to adapt the way we live and sustain ourselves in the context of climate variability, it is becoming clear that the distinctions between them are blurred.  Moving forward we must seek to predict, to link and harness the synergies between these two approaches, and in particular entry points offered by REDD+.

As Bruno Locatelli, CIFOR scientist and leading researcher on the link between forests and climate change adaptation, notes, “Adaptation and mitigation can clearly work together in forest projects. Adaptation can increase the local legitimacy and acceptance of REDD+ projects, because adaptation is focusing on local needs, whereas mitigation is sometimes perceived as driven by global interests.” On the other hand, according to Locatelli, adding mitigation components to adaptation projects can bring new funding opportunities from carbon funds or markets.

The REDD-net side event on December 2nd at COP17 on the synergies and tradeoffs between adaptation and mitigation echoed this.  Panelist Resham Dangi, Joint Secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, pointed out that while the potential for adaptation and mitigation initiatives to be mutually enhancing is compelling, the implementation of this and its effectiveness is highly context dependent.  Unraveling site-specific dynamics is no small feat, but will be necessary in efforts to strengthen the positive contributions of mitigation to adaptation and vice versa, as well as avoid negative tradeoffs between them.  Local communities understand the intricacies of local contexts better than outsiders do regardless of how much technical expertise they bring. The key to maximizing potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation lies with harnessing the capacities and wealth of knowledge at local levels.

Written by Regan Suzuki, REDD-net Asia Pacific Coordinator, RECOFTC

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Progress on pro-poor REDD+

Prior to the negotiations kicking off in Durban, IIED held an event on how pro-poor REDD+ is progressing. The event provided a forum for NGOs, researchers, donors and REDD+ country governments to share experiences and learn lessons from progress so far.  This blog provides key highlights from this meeting, suggesting that REDD+ 2.0 needs to change its focus towards locally controlled forestry, with emissions reductions as a co-benefit.

For further information on the main themes discussed, see the full blog.

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Canada, the new pariah

 Hillary Clinton is en route for the first United States diplomatic mission to Burma in 50 years. Texan congressmen advocate offering olive branches to Iran. The age of the isolated pariah state has passed.  Or has it? Within international climate change circles at least, Canada seems most keen to make a name for itself – no longer simply as an uncooperative party to climate change discussions, but as an increasingly trenchant obstructer to a range of social and environmentally inclined international negotiations.

In its mission to safeguard economic returns from the fuming tar sands of one of its wealthiest provinces, Canada has made itself foil to the best of intentions being showcased at Durban.  Day 1 of COP 17 has seen Canada crowned winner of 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for the Fossil of the Day. This is for its poorly veiled plan to divorce itself of the Kyoto Protocol, for its continuing exploitation of the tar sands, and for its policy of playing ‘hardball’ in Durban, respectively.  By Day 3 even China is accusing Canada of undermining global efforts to combat climate change, damaging its reputation in the process.

Canada is not alone in the black sheep ranks at the COP. Japan, Russia and Australia are similarly indisposed to re-committing to the agreement unless, a miracle happen and the big polluters, namely the US and China, sign up. The United States came second place to Canada as Fossil of the Day on Day 2 for its unwillingness to accept targets that represent much more than business as usual until 2020. This dashes hopes of the Obama administration, essentially absolving them of any responsibility until long after Mr. Obama has left office.

In 2010, at Cancun’s COP16, I similarly reported my dismay at Canada’s backwards and antagonistic approach to the negotiations. I had hoped that the Canadian public would not allow a repeat performance. There is discordance between the negotiating position taken at Durban and polls suggesting Canadians to be among the most pro-environment people on the planet. Prompted by a recent blog by Stephan Lewandowsky referring to Canada’s media, and in particular the conservative National Post, as being willfully negligent at best and hostile at worst to action on climate change, I paid a visit to the website of the more progressive of the two national newspapers, The Globe and Mail. 

I was astounded to discover that, of the 75 headline stories on the newspaper’s site on Day 2 of the COP (the final one prior to the Kyoto Protocol ending), not one headline mentioned the international climate change negotiations taking place in Durban. While tips on winter travel overseas with pets made the daily highlights, not one in 75 headlines concerned itself with the COP.

What does this mean for forests and local communities? There is a pattern, which extends beyond political posturing in international fora. It represents a subjugation of environmental and social concerns, particularly for marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples (who are largely forest-based), in favor of powerful industry interests. To suggest there is no linkage would be wrong. The same conservative government led Canada to be one of only four countries to refuse to sign the United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007. It eventually did sign on, but only to be soundly condemned at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan last year for being obstructionist. There, it was the sole Party to call for removal of all references to UNDRIP in the negotiations towards the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

 As a Canadian, I am deeply concerned. What next? Sadly, Canada is no longer negotiating in good faith, is undermining the process here at Durban and, as is being suggested by international civil society, needs to be politely asked to leave the negotiating table. Second, and much more difficult, is getting Canadians to turn off the hockey and pay attention.

Written by Regan Suzuki, REDD-net Asia Pacific Coordinator 



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