Climate Governance: Ensuring a Collective Commitment

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From left: David Bottomley, Dow Jones; Patrick Alley, Founder and Director of Global Witness; Iruthisham Adam, Maldives' Ambassador to the UN; Andrew Wardell, Governance Programme Director at CIFOR; and Daphne Wysham, Fellow and Board Member of the Institute for Policy Studies. CIFOR Photo/Angela Dewan


By Angela Dewan

Concerns of human rights abuses and a lack of consultation with forest-dependent communities in REDD+ design are not new, and they are very much being considered in international level REDD+ design and discussions. In a plenary session today on climate governance, however, Iruthisham Adam, the Maldives’ ambassador to the UN, said that not enough is being done and that the developing world feels a true sense of threat.

“There is almost zero trust between states on the issue of climate change, developing states do not believe [developed countries] are commitment to finance adaptation and mitigation policies. They want to see procedures in place that will hold developed countries to their pledges,” she said.

Policies must be rolled out in a way that the most marginalised groups can have full participation in negotiation, she said, adding that the Maldives was willing to participate if measurement, reporting and verification  is taken seriously.

Her country’s concerns are warranted. The Maldives is among the first nations likely to be seriously affected by climate change, as rising sea levels threaten their existence.While some parties are desperate to get the REDD+ ball rolling, convincing the public that REDD+ is the right move is a difficult task. This is in part because REDD+ is a complex scheme that poses tradeoffs that can be difficult to measure, but also because of the swathes of misinformation conveyed in the media.

CIFOR’s director of climate governance, Andrew Wardell, said that while the internet ensures a global and rapid reach, there were few mechanisms to check the accuracy of this information.

“We feel the critical role of independent research institutes in providing accurate science-based policy advice, particularly in the context of the growing role of the media and the internet, and as I suggested, the misrepresentation of science,” Wardell said.

One misconception he pointed to was the idea that two-thirds of deforestation is driven by low-income people in poor countries.

“There is ample scientific evidence that suggests this is not the case,” he said.

He said that this misinformation was the work of corporate lobbyists, and that even NGOs have distorted facts to push their interests.

This concern was formalised on October 25 in an open letter issued by William F. Laurance of James Cook University in Australia, along with other scientists. The letter criticised the World Growth Institute and International Trade Strategies Global, as well as their affiliated leader, Alan Oxley, for spreading misinformation, including the false claim about poor people being the main drivers of deforestation.

A recent technical report by ITS also falsely claimed that there was no substantial deforestation in Papua New Guinea, which contradicts quantative and remote-sensing scientific studies.

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Topic(s) :   REDD+ Peruvian Amazon
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