By Angela Dewan
Just one year ago, all hopes were pegged on REDD to slow down global deforestation and mitigate its contribution to climate change.
After world leaders failed to come to a legally binding agreement on REDD+ at COP15 in Copenhagen last December, REDD enthusiasts realised that it may take longer than expected to reach an agreement.
Perhaps there are reasons for the slowdown.
Global agreements on national programmes have been delayed, said CIFOR’s Andrew Wardell on the first day of CIFOR’s Annual Meeting 2010. There is uncertainty about a global climate agreement at COP 15 in Cancun, Mexico, this December, there is little progress on new domestic markets in countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea, and there have been protracted delays in validating REDD+ pilots and new Avoided Deforestation Methodologies, Wardell said.
Despite this pessimism in many parts of the world, countries like Norway are staying enthusiastic, pouring billions of dollars in various forest conservation projects. There is reason for optimism in Indonesia, a nation which still plans to cut its carbon emissions by 26 per cent, or 41 per cent with international help, by 2020.
International companies like Russian gas giant Gazprom and oil company Royal “Dutch Shell have put money into the Rimba
Raya Reserve, a peat swamp, in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan Province.
There have also been substantial governance reforms within Indonesia, such as the setting up of the UKP4, a working unit that reports to the president on a number of issues, including climate change.
“But there are challenges,” Wardell said. “New land allocated for oil palm could be anywhere between 16.5 million to 26 million
hectares by 2020.”
“Only seven provinces in Indonesia account for 75 per cent of emissions, but at the same time, 30 percent of the province’s GDP and 40 per cent of jobs are associated with drivers of deforestation, mostly oil palm.”
Another challenge that remains is discourse. Awareness of and discussion about REDD+ varies drastically from country to country. Maria Brockhaus, who is researching REDD+ strategies, policies and activities in various countries, presented findings from her team’s media analysis. “In Cameroon, only 14 print articles could be identified [as REDD-related between 2006 and 2009], while in Indonesia, we had 190 articles. In Cameroon, 11 pf those were written by scientists, so we can see who is leading the discourse there,” Brockhaus said.
At first Brockhaus thought this could be attributed to the fact that Cameroon has a stronger culture of radio and TV journalism, however, when broadcast journalists were interviewed, they did not know of REDD+.
“So in the media, there is no public discourse…The result is that the debate is happening globally with a small national elite,” she said.