Sub-national regions push ahead with REDD+

PALANGKARAYA, Indonesia (11 October, 2011) _ Many sub-national regions in developing countries are moving ahead with preparations to implement REDD+ projects on the ground despite policymakers at the national level oftentimes lagging behind, said William Boyd, Governors Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) Senior Adviser and Project Lead.
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Photo by Center For International Forestry Research/Manuel Boissiere

PALANGKARAYA, Indonesia (11 October, 2011) _ Many sub-national regions in developing countries are moving ahead with preparations to implement REDD+ projects on the ground despite policymakers at the national level oftentimes lagging behind, said William Boyd, Governors Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) Senior Adviser and Project Lead.

He made the comments in an interview with a writer for CIFOR’s Forests blog on the sidelines of a workshop the GCF held in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province in September that attracted more than 200 experts from around the world to talk about REDD+.

Q: Why was it important to establish the GCF?

The GCF emerged under Governor Schwartzenegger at his first global climate summit in 2008 when it was realised that states and provinces were actually moving much faster on climate policy, including REDD,  than national governments. In terms of REDD+, they have a key level of governance, especially in terms of forest governance, that gives them the authority to actually make the changes needed to implement REDD on the ground.

The GCF and the groups of states and provinces recognised the importance of finding a common voice, of sharing experiences and that by learning from some of the ‘early movers’ adopting  REDD+ programmes, that they could adapt them to their particular circumstances. The unique thing about the GCF if that it’s a sub national collaboration, which involves communication between different jurisdictions that covers more than 20% of the world’s tropical forest. If REDD+ is ever going to work, the states and provinces are key to making it happen.

Q: What are some of the common challenges that emerge when working with GCF state and provinces on REDD?

One of the major challenges has been to manage international expectations. There was a lot of initial enthusiasm at the UNFCC level and international level about channelling public and private finance into forest protection efforts, but when you start to understand the difficulties and challenges of reforming the forestry sector, issues that CIFOR and others have been documenting for years, you begin to understand how difficult it is to do rural social development.

It’s about making people understand that REDD+ is not going to drop out of the sky as a carbon market emerges, it is going to require a sustained commitment to institutionalise reforms and improve governance.  The task is enormous and there are no easy solutions.

Then there are the social issues around rights, interest and safeguards, and benefit sharing. Designing programmes to ensure the rights of communities are respected and that the benefits actually reach communities. There are technical challenges including setting baselines, MRV and accounting. My view is that the technical aspects are less important than the institutional and governance challenges.

For me, REDD needs to be seen as a new paradigm for reduced emissions and rural development. Generations of social scientists have taught us that rural development is hard but if we don’t put REDD+ into this larger context; if we think of it as ‘just some experiment in climate change mitigation’, then it won’t work

Q: The GCF is currently working on a draft sub national REDD+ framework, what is the progress and when do expect it to be finished?

The idea behind developing a sub national strategy was to bring together all the experiences of the GCF states and provinces in developing REDD+, and to capture conversations with California as it begins to develop its own Cap and Trade programme – a programme that will potentially write the rules for recognising REDD activities.

Not only did we want to capture state-of-the-art thinking on issues relating to safeguards, accounting, benefit-sharing mechanisms and MRV, but we wanted provide concrete examples of really innovative approaches being adopted. We have taken the draft to workshops in Brazil and have received a lot of feedback from the provinces in Indonesia. The idea is to have a draft ready by the end of this year/beginning of next year.

Q: Which sub-national regions are making significant progress on REDD+?

All the GCF states have made significant progress in light of different political and economic circumstances. In Brazil, the state of Acre has moved quite far in developing a legal framework that takes a comprehensive state-wide approach to REDD+.

The states of Matto Grosso and Para have also made great strides in building a programme to engage multiple stakeholders in the agricultural community. Amazonas has been moving ahead on REDD for a very long time, with benefit sharing projects like the Bolsa Floresta.

I have been struck, since being in Central Kalimantan, at the progress made in building the base for an emerging REDD+ pilot project under the Norway partnership, and the way that Indonesia is trying to create a new paradigm that will try and balance the needs of the sectors that are so important for its economy, as well as protects its forest.  Aceh and Papua are different in that they have special autonomy status, but both of them have made significant strides.

The newly elected Governor Irwandi in Aceh has established a moratorium and is really committed to protecting the forest of Aceh. To me, he is a real GCF leader.  There are so many other examples but what is clear is that despite the institutional and governance challenges and the slow progress at the national level, these provinces and states are pushing forward with their own ideas of what a REDD+ programme should look like on the ground.

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