The success of any major endeavor depends to a large degree on leadership, and REDD+ is no exception. Showing remarkable leadership by example, Mexico is helping create the conditions for REDD+ success through its increased financial commitment to the forestry sector, giving high priority to indigenous people, especially women, in the development of community-based forest enterprises.
This was a key message of Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, Juan Elvira Quesada, in his opening remarks at the Workshop on Forest Governance, decentralization and REDD+ in Latin America and the Caribbean, which began today in Oaxaca, Mexico, where hundreds of community-based forestry projects are now under way.
Such projects have “put Mexico on the right path in forest management,” said Elvira Quesada, contributing to a 24 percent decline in deforestation over the last 5 years, while generating significant benefits for rural people. They also demonstrate the 360-degree perspective on forests, encompassing the whole range of forest benefits, which Jan McAlpine, director of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), stressed in her opening remarks.
The workshop at Oaxaca is the fourth in a series of country-led initiatives focusing on forest governance and decentralization. It will feed into a UNFF meeting taking place in early 2011, marking the launch of the International Year of the Forest. Organized by Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) and the Swiss government with scientific support from CIFOR (whose research is enriching the discussions), the workshop also marks a key milestone in preparations for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) to be held in December in Cancun, Mexico, including Forest Day 4, an influential day-long event taking place alongside COP16.
In search of a binding agreement on REDD+ in the run-up to Cancun, it is critical for the governments of Mexico and other developing countries to find the “missing link” of good forest governance, said Christian Küchli of Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment, avoiding top-down approaches that would undermine rural communities and doom REDD+ to failure.