Over the past several weeks, we have made headway in our efforts to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable land use as part of a broader World Bank Group approach to combat climate change. Partnering with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken a major step by assessing its readiness for a large-scale initiative in which developing forested countries keep their forests standing and developed countries pay for the carbon that is not released into the atmosphere. Likewise, other countries in the 47-country FCPF partnership are making strides in their efforts to prepare for programs that mitigate greenhouse gas emission and support sustainable forest landscapes.
This approach is also known as REDD+, or reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Active REDD+ programs can help reduce the 20 percent of carbon emissions that come from forest loss and simultaneously provide support to the 60 million people, including indigenous communities, who are wholly dependent on forests.
A notable shift at the 2014 Forum from previous ones, in addition to the mounting numbers in attendance (the event “sold out” with registration closing weeks early), was the buzz about adaptation. It permeated across panels and speakers, making clear the conversation on land-based sectors and climate change has moved well beyond mitigation. The Program on Forests (PROFOR) contributed to advancing the conversation by convening a high-level panel on “Moving forward with adaptation-based mitigation.”
In my lifetime, I have seen waters that were teeming with multi-colored fish, turn dead like an empty aquarium. I have seen the streets of Bogota, my home town, lose thousands of trees in a matter of years.
It’s tempting to feel demoralized. But as the world’s protected area specialists, conservationists and decision makers gather in Sydney, Australia, this week for the World Parks Congress, there is also much to hope for.
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World Bank Vice President for East Asia & Pacific Axel van Trotsenburg talks about his visit to Central Kalimantan as part of the World Bank's support for the REDD+ initiative.
Last week in Paris, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s partners and stakeholders agreed on groundbreaking rules for investments in tropical forest protection in developing nations – a framework that will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our rapidly warming world.
Capping an intense five days of negotiations, this major milestone unblocks $390 million in funding held in escrow in the facility’s Carbon Fund. The agreement (formally known as a Methodological Framework) spells out how tropical countries should design and implement large-scale protection programs in the lowland and mountain forests of the tropics.
In return, the countries get results-based payments from donor countries that support climate policy and social development goals.
It’s the first time an international organization has put on paper the operational rules for purchasing so-called REDD+ credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (REDD is short for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.)
Reaching consensus on the operational roadmap for REDD+ required input from a diverse set of sometimes-contradictory viewpoints.
Seated at the table to negotiate through the many issues in Paris were donor countries, private corporations, officials from tropical countries willing to experiment with REDD+, civil society organizations and representatives from indigenous groups who were championing the rights of traditional dwellers in tropical forests.
It is not often that you find Indigenous Peoples from around the world meeting in one of the most important baroque castles of Germany. Perched on a cliff, with a natural moat created by the river Lahn, the castle of Weilburg allows a bird’s eye view of the surrounding forest landscape.
These forests were not always lush and thriving. Centuries before, the construction of the castle led to massive logging in the adjacent forests and finally the ruling aristocrat ordered restricted use of timber for construction and introduced a new building code. As a result, Weilburg became the national center of a novel construction technique using clay and straw, which is now seen in towns across Germany.
Coincidently, a new approach to tackling deforestation is also what 80 Indigenous Peoples’ leaders, government representatives, civil society practitioners and international experts from 24 countries discussed this week at a three day workshop in Weilburg’s castle.
The central challenge was to identify practical approaches to ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+, a performance-based mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The meeting was jointly organized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme.
Thick cloudy skies subdued the sunlight on an autumnal day in Paris. That did not stop the group of representatives from the public and private sector attending the 5th Carbon Fund Meeting of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) from making a decision that is a major milestone. Costa Rica is set to become the first country to access performance-based payments through the FCPF. This is the first time a national program is being supported by carbon funds in this global initiative of 54 countries and organizations, heralding a new phase in forest carbon finance.
This decision is a strong vote of support for Costa Rica’s ambitious plan to become the first “carbon neutral” country by 2021. Conserving forests and planting trees that capture carbon dioxide plays a large role in the national endeavor.
An interesting feature of Costa Rica’s proposal to the Carbon Fund is the quasi-national scope of the program that would be implemented in a mosaic approach on additional 341,000 ha of mainly privately owned land. Two-thirds of the targeted area is degraded land that the country aims to restore with reforestation, secondary growth and agroforestry, and one-third is old growth forest that will be protected from deforestation. The resulting emission reductions are estimated at 29.5 million tons of CO2. Close to half of these emission reductions (12.6 million tons of CO2) would be offered to the Carbon Fund, and would require an estimated financing of $63 million (assuming a price of $5 per ton of CO2).
Among all the noise and commitments (or lack of) coming out of Rio, an announcement by the Government of Norway, in partnership with Ethiopia, Kenya and Liberia, is worth highlighting. As part of its contribution to the Energy+ Partnership it established in October 2011, Norway is to enter into three bilateral agreements to scale up access to sustainable energy in Ethiopia's rural areas, replace kerosene lamps with solar alternatives in Kenya, and support Liberia's development of a strategic energy and climate plan, with a major emphasis on ‘payment by results’.
Public awareness campaigns about climate change can be real downers. This one was too scary for children and was eventually pulled off the air. This one scared even the adults and was pulled off the air within hours of its release.
Doom and gloom scenarios seem to be the dominant theme in most of these campaigns. But are they working? According to Futerra’s Sell the Sizzle, these campaigns completely miss the target with this type of negative messaging. While it is true that climate change is aggravating problems like mass migration, overcrowded cities, and food shortages, our message need not be about Armageddon. We are trying to sell a version of climate change hell when we should be selling a low-carbon heaven, argues Futerra.
This past September, we were invited to an unusual event with Indigenous Peoples in the territory of Guna Yala on Panama’s Caribbean coastline recently. A dozen representatives of the World Bank, including the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) secretariat, met up on the tiny island of Gaigirgordub, which is part of the San Blas archipelago.
These islands are specks of land no more than two feet above the water line, surrounded by crystal clear waters, and the verdant mountains of the mainland on the horizon. The Guna people become islanders because of a conflict a century or so ago, but they have not lost their attachment to their forests. You just have to look at the landscape as you drive through Guna Yala to see how dense the forests are, in stark contrast to their adjacent province of Panama, where agriculture and urban expansion have taken their toll. So what better place than Guna Yala to talk about the role of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+ (the acronym for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and conservation of forest carbon stocks)?