Setting standards to measure, monitor and financially value forest-related greenhouse gas emissions is a difficult process due to the wide range of variables at play, said delegates attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow .
Every year, about a quarter greenhouse gas emissions are released due to land degradation linked to deforestation or agriculture due to biomass burning, practices such as converting land to pasture for livestock and production of monocultures.
REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) – a policy initiative that was discussed at COP11 in 2005 and later was fully recognized in the 2015 Paris Agreement – has been conceived provide incentives to reduce the release of emissions through tropical forest conservation.
Initially, the initiative was conceived as a way for developed countries to compensate owners and users of forests in developing countries to achieve results based on emission reductions and to contribute to efforts to meet climate goals. global. However, the funding available for REDD + did not meet initial expectations or was not fully implemented.
“Much of the REDD + funding comes from a small group of donors for activities aimed at strengthening forest monitoring systems and improving forest governance,” said Stibniati (Nia) Atmadja, scientist at the Center for Forest Research international and global agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).
Additionally, “because REDD + funding is channeled to a small number of countries and a small number of actors – mostly international entities – this creates limited incentives for the public sector, local communities and organizations. indigenous peoples to participate in REDD +, ”said Pham Thu Thuy, who leads the CIFOR-ICRAF team on climate change, energy and low carbon development.
Related discussions focus on how to increase funding for climate change policies, including REDD +, but less attention has been paid to whether funds have actually reached target groups, and to what extent. they have been spent transparently and equitably, or if they adequately address the drivers of deforestation and degradation. , she added.
Delegates participating in the “Fair and equitable REDD + financing and benefit-sharing mechanisms for climate goals and justiceThe side event at COP26 addressed some of the challenges surrounding equity and access and the need to develop more effective monitoring capacities.
Support for REDD + has increased slightly in recent years, but increasingly through indirect rather than direct channels, Atmadja said. While public funding is generally transparent, it tends to flow consistently to the same recipient countries, while private funding has not been distributed transparently, she added.
“The sources of finance and recipients of REDD + assistance must be distributed more widely to reduce the risks and burdens on particular countries,” Atmadja added.
Private sector contributions are one way to share the financial burden but need to become much more transparent than they are now.
“There is still a challenge to be overcome to provide a level playing field for all countries,” said Anke Herold, Executive Director of the Oeko Institute, who conducted a study on credit rating standards for financing REDD + activities.
While many standards attempt to ensure environmental integrity, what that looks like from a justice and fairness perspective has yet to be clearly defined, she added.
His study focused on establishing credible baselines, addressing issues related to leaks and non-permanence to provide adequate, accurate and consistent monitoring.
Fair and equitable REDD + requires inclusive standards development and access to credit in developing countries, he says.
Accurate measurement of forest emissions allows countries to better tailor their efforts to meet their climate and development commitments and to establish Nationally determined contributions (NDC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Many developing countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Peru, with the support of donors and international projects, have made considerable efforts to improve their monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems. .
However, designing a fair and equitable benefit sharing mechanism is difficult.
The DRC has so far submitted two NDCs – the first in 2017 and the second at COP26, said Blaise Pascal Ntirumenyerwa Mihigo, associate professor of international environmental law at the University of Kinshasa, which works in partnership with CIFOR-ICRAF on the REDD + Global Benchmarking Study (GCS).
The second NDC is more ambitious than the first NDC. It promotes a 21% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 4% more than the first NDC. It also incorporates waste as an emissions reduction sector, which was not included in the first NDC.
Since 2005, the DRC has tried to maintain a moratorium on logging concessions, but some have been illegally allocated, said Blaise-Pascal.
“This raises questions about who benefits, what it means for the local population and for the competition for land,” he added, saying that it would be beneficial to conduct an analysis of the distributive, procedural aspects, recognition and contextuality of equity.
The equitable distribution of results-based funding – also known as benefit sharing – is rooted in Peru’s approach to REDD +, said Milagros Sandoval Dias, director of greenhouse gas mitigation at the ministry. of the Environment of Peru. Working through a participatory process is at the heart of the country’s approach to decision-making, she added.
A conducive environment for collaboration – where indigenous communities – or REDD + beneficiaries – are at the forefront of discussions, the private sector feels confident that it is investing in REDD + and where governments can meet their expectations. commitments to the UNFCCC should be the goal, said Claudio Schneider, Senior Director, Conservation International Peru.
Equity challenges exist in terms of transparency and accountability, represented by risks of leakage and permanence visible in the current status quo of logging, which can adversely affect the quality of claimed credits and, for example, therefore fail to deliver on the global climate deal and locally, said co-moderator Maria Brockhaus, professor of international forest policy at the University of Helsinki. In other words, no climate justice, just compensation with the same global economic model of land use at the expense of forests and land used for and by local people.
“We work with the imperfect – we also need to build in mechanisms that allow for iterative improvements along the way,” said Michael Huettner, advisor to the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), adding that REDD + cannot solve all equity issues. Standards alone will not be enough to solve the problems of fair and equitable benefit sharing – countries have a big role to play, he said.
“There is a need to have more flexibility and reduce the complexity of standards – but a strong tension with responsibility and quality, and the ability to monitor and evaluate projects,” added Brockhaus.
“We have a lot to do in terms of design,” said Christopher Martius, Director General of CIFOR-ICRAF Germany. “Learning from experience is the key. “
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