Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Real achievements in bringing avoided deforestation into the Copenhagen Agreement

A lot can happen in four years. At COP11 in Montreal, Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea proposed that developing countries with large amounts of forests should be compensated for reducing deforestation (now causing about 15% of all global emissions). The other parties said that they were interested, and a two-year study phase was launched. At COP13 in Bali, the parties once again agreed that this was a good idea, and a two-year phase of capacity building and demonstration activities was launched. My co-authors and I summarize some of the readiness activities and demonstration projects in: http://www.asb.cgiar.org/pdfwebdocs/ASBPB12.pdf

At COP15 in Copenhagen, it is now clear that REDD+ will be a key part of the final agreement. REDD+ is Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Developing Countries + improved forest management and conservation. Developing Countries that can clearly demonstrate that they reduce emissions relative to an agreed reference level will be able to claim compensation payments from developed countries, provided that they abide by certain standards of good practice in forest governments and ensure that safeguards are put in place.

The research community has played a key role in advancing REDD, including the ASB partnership that I used to lead. The ASB partnership estimated the opportunity costs of reduced emissions from deforestation, and found them to be very low compared to other emission reduction activities. This has proven to be a large part of the attraction of REDD for developed countries. ASB pushed for national-level strategies and accounting, while recognizing the need for concerted local action. This has been agreed by the negotiators. (check out www.asb.cgiar.org for more on the ASB work).

The international research and NGO communities have done a great job of synthesizing and presenting the evidence to policy makers. A key part of this has been Forest Days 1, 2 and 3, organized by the Center for International Forestry Research and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests during the last 3 COPs. Check out the CIFOR website for information on Forest Day 3 http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/, which was held on Sunday in Copenhagen. (I've attended all three Forest Days and helped to organize the first two.)

At the closing session on Sunday, Yvo DeBoer, said (paraphrasing) , .... never have I seen such a good science base, clarity of issues, and resounding political agreement. ... politics will help us with an agreement on finance, targets, etc., but will not ensure delivery of the outcomes that the planet needs. ... We need an architectual that is sound for the same that the spotlight shifts elsewhere. Forestry is not just a climate change response, it is a sound way forward for sustainable development. The research and NGO community needs to safeguard the nitty gritty in the negotiations on things like ecological integrity, social integrity and rights of indigenous people. Continue to be the conscious of the process. Please ...

My colleagues and I with ASB are happy with the progress made, but frustrated that a failure to consider definitions of forestry may undermine the performance of REDD+. See more on this topic at: http://www.asb.cgiar.org/blog/?p=1528.

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