Mozambique resists external pressures and drafts own REDD+ strategy

Mozambique aims to build capacity and increase their sense of ownership in REDD+.

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Mozambique - BOGOR, Indonesia (16 August, 2011)_ Mozambique has taken a “remarkable” approach to reducing deforestation, engaging local communities and other stakeholders that will be most directly affected and drafting its own forest conservation strategy rather than relying on external consultants.

This has given the southern African nation ownership over the U.N.-backed process Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which seeks to reward developing countries that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation.

“Mozambique has made a good start in identifying its own way of realising REDD – in fact, this is key in order to ensure that REDD+ is not getting hijacked by different interests,” said Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, CIFOR scientist and co-author of the study which examined the political and economic context in which REDD+ is emerging in Mozambique.

Mozambique is one of the few countries in southern Africa that still has a large area of natural forests, mainly a type of dry forest called Miombo woodlands. These forests harbour 1,725 plant species, nearly a quarter of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

At the same time, it is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a high rate of deforestation and forest degradation due to rapid urban expansion. Fuelwood consumption (charcoal and firewood), agriculture, illegal logging and forest fires are the main drivers of its rapidly disappearing forests.

Mozambique has made a good start in identifying its own way of realising REDD…in fact, this is key in order to ensure that REDD+ is not getting hijacked by different interests.

Wertz-Kanounnikoff, called Mozambique’s approach “remarkable,” saying it differs in many ways from that of other REDD+ countries.

First, the government decided to write a draft strategy before requesting support from the World Bank-managed REDD+ fund: the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), thus reversing the normal sequence of events. Instead of only relying on outside consultants, it also did its own legwork, giving it a higher sense of ownership. And, finally, the country has held large-scale, inclusive consultations, engaging both the government and the public.

As result, Mozambique has been able to resist pressure from politically connected carbon-trading companies — which have applied for rights over one-third of the country — and other actors with vested interests seeking to exert some control over the process.

“We hope that REDD-driven initiatives in Mozambique will be undertaken in accordance with the Mozambican legislation and the recommendations of the consultation processes undertaken for the design of the National REDD Strategy,” said Alda Salomao from the Mozambican civil society organization Centro Terra Viva and co-author of the study.

The country set up a REDD+ working group in 2009 to participate in global efforts to develop a scheme that compensates developing countries as an incentive to change the way forest resources are used, hopefully curbing carbon emissions.

“A national scheme of payments for environmental services would provide incentives for local land users to turn to more sustainable agriculture, encourage reforestation and help meet the demand for wood, including wood fuels,” said Almeida Sitoe, Associate Professor at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique and  lead author of the report.

The study found the development of REDD+ initiatives in Mozambique differs from processes observed in many other REDD+ countries in large because it has a strong tradition of stakeholder consultation, with the Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs now leading engagement and various consultative meetings with regard to REDD+ development.

The approach is novel also because it has sought expertise from Brazil: another REDD+ country, Sitoe added.

“It was the Mozambique Minister of Environment that approached the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) — a conservation institution in Brazil — for advice and support,” he said.

“The idea was they would build capacity within Mozambique itself.”

However, the study suggests that greater capacity-building efforts and consultations are needed amongst communities, in the private sector, and with other sectoral government agencies to improve the content and acceptance of REDD+ strategies and related legislation.

Mozambique’s REDD+ readiness preparation proposal – which built and expanded on the draft strategy document – was approved by the FCPF in April 2012. Mozambique is now implementing the proposal.

With additional reporting by Andrew Wight. Edited by Michelle Kovacevic and Catriona Moss.

This publication was developed as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Australian Agency for International Development, the British Department for International Development, the European Commission and the Department of International Cooperation for Development of Finland.

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