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Leaders Push for REDD+ as Countdown Begins

"Think about it for a moment – any alternative to it is less global, less inclusive, less serious in the commitments it contains."

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Pressure is mounting on delegations to decide the direction of REDD+ as COP16 enters week two. CIFOR Photo


With one more week for the parties to agree on rolling out REDD+, influential leaders called on delegations to go full steam ahead with REDD+. As REDD+ stands the greatest chance at this conference than it ever has before, leaders are hoping for nothing less than a binding comprehensive agreement that benefits all.

At Forest Day 4’s Global Update session, John Ashton, the special representative for climate change at the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office, said that there was no alternative to building a global legally binding framework “to harness the world’s collective efforts in response to climate change”.“Think about it for a moment – any alternative to it is less global, less inclusive, less serious in the commitments it contains. How can you justify something that’s not inclusive when you are dealing with a problem that affects everybody?”

Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark 2006 Stern Review on climate change, warned that wise spending and balanced REDD+ design was essential to ensure funds are used as effectively as possible.

“We must make sure those methods of support don’t lock in the separation of the battle against deforestation and the battle for development,” Stern said.

One challenge that needs greater attention is the lack of official land and resource tenure, Stern said.

“If you look at Indonesia and palm oil which is absolutely at the heart of deforestation process, you could grow a lot of the palm oil on that degraded land. But how would you do it? Well, it would be a major exercise in land reform.”

Stern pointed to progress in land reform in India, where he says despite “chaotic governance”, two rounds of land consolidation have occurred.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of Indonesia’s REDD+ taskforce, recognizes the magnitude of the challenge, but is confident Indonesia can undergo rigorous land reform.

Indonesia, he said, has made ambitious commitments to emissions reduction – 26 percent alone, or 41 percent with international help. Land reform is crucial to avoiding deforestation, which accounts for around 70 percent of carbon emissions in Indonesia.

Kuntoro said Indonesia had proved to the international community it could administer the fund distribution needed under REDD+.

“We have done it before in Aceh. The tsunami that hit Aceh was the biggest disaster we’ve had in modern history. Around 160,000 people were killed in Aceh alone, and we had difficult elements  – conflict was there for 25 years, total devastation, a history of corruption in Indonesia, to put it bluntly.”

Under Kuntoro’s supervision, Indonesia disbursed $7.2 billion in aid, 70 percent of which came from overseas.

“We had never before had this disbursement of 93 percent. That’s trust coming from the international community.”

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