Monday, October 11, 2010

Papua New Guinea unready for REDD


Was someone 'Unready' for the UN REDD + talks?
Papua New Guinea media report that PM Somare has arrived back in the country and reported that the REDD + talks (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) were successful.
Having redd, sorry read the reports coming from the REDD+ meeting in China one may well ask: "Successful for whom?'
A simple check on the Internet reveals an entirely different picture to that being portrayed by PM Somare.
Clearly the talks ended in a debacle with PNG being held responsible to the failure to agree on any real achievement.
 In fact, it is reported that the PNG co-chair was not actually a PNG national and had to take instructions over the telephone from a mysterious third party.
A quote from the following website says:
"The Coalition for Rainforest Nations (associates of the PNG co-chair) contend that industrialised nations have used the stakeholder issue as a smokescreen to cover their unwillingness to meet financing commitments, according to this report from Ecosystem Marketplace. " But this is disingenuous.  Indonesia, Nepal and Viet Nam have all received multilateral funds.
" CfRN officials, on behalf of PNG, have actively stalled the initiation of the UN-REDD country programme.
" It appears that they are unhappy with the scrutiny that UN agencies would have over the funds."
So exactly how was this conference so successful for PNG?
Clearly the PM must be using a different definition of success to everyone else.


Don't Blame PNG!
Posted on October 7, 2010 by recoftc
The REDD+ partnership descended into a public farce on Tuesday evening
. I'm not letting any cats out of the bag by noting that the Papua New Guinea delegation is being pointedly blamed for derailing these important discussions, by the whole spectrum of participants here in Tianjin.
This is a tragedy for PNG.
Two years ago, the country and its negotiating team was still central to the rapid development of REDD as a concept and as a model of progress for the wider climate debate.
As well as initiating the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, PNG was a key early target of the UN-REDD and World Bank-funded FCPF, the main multilateral funding channels for REDD readiness.
The country had credibility as a serious player, even a leader, in the development of REDD.
That credibility is under serious threat.
It has been deteriorating rapidly with civil society, at home and abroad, for some time.
After the last few days, it must surely be severely damaged in the eyes of fellow delegates.
On Tuesday evening, the co-chair of the partnership, representing PNG, infuriated a roomful of delegates and civil society observers by single-handedly blocking - again - any discussions on stakeholder participation.
Against the express wishes of the vast majority of delegations, stakeholder participation was at the bottom of the agenda.
Two hours went by, agonisingly, as delegates, one after another, proposed discussing the topic immediately and the co-chair, with rapidly diminishing authority, continued to claim a lack of consensus to move forward.
 She proposed (and was denied) a closed meeting to discuss the matter, contrary to a clear decision at the weekend to keep all partnership meetings open to civil society.
Eventually, visibly distressed by the experience, she requested a five minute recess to confer with her Japanese co-chair, but instead made a half-hour phone call to a mysterious contact.
However, PNG must not be blamed for this.
 The co-chair herself is not from the country - apparently she has never set foot there.
This is but the latest in a trend of outsourcing of REDD matters to non-nationals, often at considerable expense and nearly always to the detriment of the interests of the people of PNG.
As Thomas Paka of Eco-Forestry Forum points out, how can such a strategy build the local skills and competencies required to run a sustainable national REDD programme?
Why are these resources spent on exorbitant consultancies instead of practical, domestic readiness activities?
PNG's civil society representatives continue to gain respect through their frank, constructive engagement at these talks.
There is clearly no shortage of home-grown talent which could enrich the delegation.
For the time being, they can only stand by and watch as PNG's  opportunity for international influence and investment diminishes.
Don't blame them.

Ben Vickers, 6 October 2010

Cancun Dead Ahead for REDD.

Posted on October 10, 2010 by recoftc

So we move on again.
 For the REDD+ partnership, the next stop was to be Nagoya, where the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will meet for its 10th COP later this month.
 A ministerial meeting at this event, which would have made REDD+ a bridge between the CBD and UNFCCC processes, is off.
After several wasted meetings, on Friday the Japanese co-chair announced the cancellation of the Nagoya summit. 
There is nothing of practical significance for ministers to endorse.
 As the delegate from the Dominican Republic put it; 'I cannot ask my minister to fly 24 hours to announce the launch of a website'.
The painful, embarrassingly slow progress of the REDD+ partnership talks at Tianjin is the reason for this backtracking. 
The partnership meeting on Friday did approve a 'non-paper' on stakeholder participation devised by the co-chairs, but this has no formal weight.
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations (associates of the PNG co-chair) contend that industrialised nations have used the stakeholder issue as a smokescreen to cover their unwillingness to meet financing commitments, according to this report from Ecosystem Marketplace.  But this is disingenuous.  Indonesia, Nepal and Viet Nam have all received multilateral funds.  CfRN officials, on behalf of PNG, have actively stalled the initiation of the UN-REDD country programme.
 It appears that they are unhappy with the scrutiny that UN agencies would have over the funds.
What can we expect in Cancun? 
Well, the Mexican government expects this conference to be the 'REDD COP', where the main headline will be a binding UNFCCC decision on REDD+. 
This is, of course, not a formal position, as it would be an official lowering of expectations. 
But at least such an ambition is still achievable, and would represent considerable progress.
This week's talks have put a dent in such hopes. 
But some indigenous peoples' groups are encouraged by the travails of the REDD+ partnership.
They would like to see the UNFCCC itself regain control of the REDD agenda.
At a recent workshop in Xcaret, Mexico, with indigenous peoples groups and key REDD participating states, Mexico indicated that it would like to see social safeguards mainstreamed throughout the UNFCCC protocols, not just confined to REDD+ discussions, as it often is at present.
Bolivia would like the backing of global indigenous peoples' groups for their strident anti-market position on REDD+. 
But, despite the sympathy of many IPs with this position, formal support is unlikely. 
These groups value their independence above all, and will probably not formally tie themselves to any government body.
The launch of a Climate Fund, to allow developing countries to access finance for adaptation, is likely to be a key feature of the Cancun talks.
The Fund will probably be managed by the World Bank, but under the oversight of the COP itself, which will temper the opprobrium that many in the South naturally feel towards the Bank's track record.
RECOFTC will be in Cancun to follow these developments.
 In the meantime, keep expectations low and ambitions high. 
Catch up with us again in Mexico.

Ben Vickers, 9 October 2010

(in part only...)

Why should journalists cover forests and climate?

Tropical Asia is collectively a "biodiversity superpower," possessing vast natural capital crucial for the well-being of future generations.
About 3.7 million hectares of natural forests are destroyed every year in the Asia-Pacific,*risking the stability of ecosystems, communities, economies and the planet's fundamental capacity to support life.
Tropical forest destruction frequently involves conflict between people, often violent conflict.
Forests have a critical role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilising the climate. It is estimated that forest destruction results in global CO2 emissions equal to the transport sector, or about 17% of total emissions.
Ongoing international climate change negotiations have so far not produced the results that scientists and many policy makers argue are necessary to prevent catastrophic changes in the global climate. But efforts to reach agreement on the role of forests in addressing climate change are moving ahead much faster than other facets of the talks. This effort, known as "REDD+" is currently leading the way in UN climate deliberations.
REDD+ (which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is still a work in progress, and the future impact of REDD+ on conflict, environment, and poverty could be either positive or negative. What emerges will be one of the biggest stories of our time.
The 450 million people living in and around Asia-Pacific forests have a stake in the success of REDD+. The extent to which they have a voice and a say in REDD+ will determine its success.

and further on.....

Credits, cowboys, and other money matters
The matter of scale raises questions of how to get started with REDD+ (Where? Who? How much money?). Some early controversies suggest the obstacles ahead. These also make for great stories.
In general, of course, it pays to follow the money. A recent and disturbing story to consider comes from Liberia, where "carbon cowboys" allegedly bribed Liberian forest officials in a deal that could have bankrupted the entire country. A similar story emerged in Papua New Guinea in 2009.
Speculators and swindlers will naturally try to profit from the confusion of a new concept like REDD+. Journalists can help clarify matters and expose abuses.

and more yet ...

Who owns the forest?

In Brazil, the Juma project rewards communities with direct payments from local government for good forest stewardship.

In many Asia-Pacific countries, national authorities still claim ownership of the nation's forests, inhibiting a sense of local stake in forest protection.
REDD+ "refocuses us on the question, who do forests belong to?" said Joseph Zacune, a climate and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth.
 "In the absence of secure land rights, indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities have no guarantees that they'll benefit from REDD+.
There's increased likelihood of state and corporate control of their land, especially if the value of forests rises."
While REDD+ didn't create the problem of insecure rights, it affects ongoing efforts to address this issue.


Yet in today's on line The National, PM Somare reports the REDD + talks ended successfully and he is mobilising further funds for REDD + in PNG. Hmm.....

Voluntary carbon schemes risky, says prime minister

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare says the trading of forest carbon through voluntary carbon schemes in PNG is risky, premature and undermines an equitable REDD+ approach that is being promoted by the government.
REDD stands for "reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation", which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gases while delivering "co-benefits" such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.
The prime minister said in a statement that a domestic climate framework was not yet finalised to protect and safeguard the interests of landowners dealing with carbon trading issues in voluntary arrangements.
Rather, he encouraged forest owners to involve themselves in REDD+ demonstration projects with the guidelines being developed by the government through the Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD).
He said this was because additional readiness efforts were required to allow for the sustainable and equitable participation of landowners under a global REDD+ framework.
"The voluntary trading of forest carbon is inadvisable at this time."
Sir Michael expressed concern that voluntary carbon trading schemes were thinly capitalised (around US$350 million per year globally) and were outside of the international REDD+ framework.
The REDD+ partnership, for which PNG is co-chair along with Japan, had received pledges of US$4.5 billion over the next two years under the Copenhagen Accord.
The REDD+ partnership meeting successfully concluded on Saturday at the margins of the UNFCCC climate conference in Tianjin, China, having reached agreement on stakeholder participation and agreeing to complete the 2011-12 work programme by December.
As a first step, PNG recently submitted its application to access the first US$6.4 million from the international UN-REDD programme to develop a new system to help landowners monitor and verify their forest resources, which would help PNG prepare for the implementation of REDD+ initiatives.
"Moreover, my government is holding ongoing discussions to mobilise further funds for REDD+ in PNG," the prime minister said


  1. Anonymous6:54 AM

    given the late furor caused by the environemntal bill, how does REDD+ figure?

  2. Very good blog