Looking South for climate change expertise to save rainforests

Home to the largest rainforest in the world, Brazil is keen to share its REDD+ experiences with other forest-rich developing countries, in what would be a move away from a long-standing model of knowledge sharing from countries in the 'North' to those in the 'South.'
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SAO PAOLO, Brazil _ Home to the largest rainforest in the world, Brazil is keen to share its REDD+ experiences with other forest-rich developing countries, in what would be a move away from a long-standing model of knowledge sharing from countries in the ‘North’ to those in the ‘South.’

“I think South-South cooperation is a concept that is very important, particularly on REDD that speaks so much to a development agenda that is very different from the developed, industrialized world,” said Virgilio Viana, director-general of Brazil’s Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, which manages one of the largest programs in the world of payments for environmental services.

REDD+ is a global mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. It is hoped it may offer one of the cheapest options for cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Viana’s comments came ahead of a planned Three Rainforest Basins Summit in Brazzaville on May 31st – June 3, 2011. The meeting was expected to bring together up to 500 participants from the three tropical forest basins (Amazon, Congo, Borneo-Mekong), as well as other experts.

“I think there is a very interesting opportunity to change the old pattern of North-South exchange,” Viana said.

He said his organization’s Bolsa Floresta payment for environmental services program, which covers 10 million hectares of the Amazon, had been visited by experts from 30 countries, including from nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“This is what gives me confidence to say that we should change the concept of North-South technical assistance to a more South-South one,” Viana said. “Looking at the future of REDD, not only in Brazil, but also in the international arena, I think it is very important to place a greater emphasis on exchanging lessons learned within developing countries.”

The idea of a South-South sharing of information on REDD+ started in 2007 when Indonesia convened a meeting for heads of state of forest countries present at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. This led to the establishment of a grouping of 11 tropical forest countries known as F-11: Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Gabon, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The idea (behind Bolsa Floresta) was to have something that could speak to the international community to say this is doable and also could speak to the Amazon society to show that this is a sample of what we would like to have in a bigger scale in the future,” Viana said.

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