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FEATURE: Talks on REDD+ remain top of the agenda in Durban

by Monica Andrade, CDKN’s Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean and, Senior Technical Officer at FFLA.

The COP17 Climate Change Conference started yesterday in Durban with hope that REDD+ can finally become a reality.  For the past 4 years, considerations around the critical role of forests, and consequently the inclusion of the REDD and then REDD+ mechanism -its architecture, challenges and opportunities- have taken up a major part of the discussions, as it was included in the Bali Action Plan. This year is no exception, as many issues related to this mechanism are still being negotiated.

During the following days, while the Parties will be discussing on the technical issues, the appropriate policy incentives needed, the financial mechanisms, the decisions on MRV for REDD+, among other issues, 30 official side events related to this topic will be hosted during the Conference.

The Ecosystems Climate Alliance hosted an event on the enforcement of law and anti-corruption measures, essential to REDD success.

At the event, Andrea Johnson from the Environmental Investment Agency highlighted four points related to crime, trade and governance to REDD discussions:

  • Law enforcement and anti-corruption activities are essential to successful and equitable effort to reduce deforestation and degradation. The gap between law and practice affects the credibility of available information as the basis for the positive and reliable implementation of REDD.
  • Institutions and activities related to law enforcement and anti-corruption have not been adequately included within REDD+ forest governance or readiness discussions. Depending on the countries different institutions could be involved, such as the security forces environmental prosecutors, judges and including international organizations.
  • REDD readiness needs to incorporate indicators on law enforcement and anti-corruption.
  • Building the institutions for more transparent and accountable law enforcement will have long term benefits for forests and societies regardless of REDD+ outcomes.

Johnson also highlighted the importance of making the space for civil society as transparency and communication generate trust, independent monitoring and oversight is needed, and civil society and media should be part of accountability.

In the same line, Davyth Stewart from the Global Witness Limited, presented corruption risks in REDD and the anti-corruption measures that can be applied. Corruption in the forest sector has been strongly linked to illegal logging which has led to high rates of reduction of the world’s forests, but nowadays, the REDD+ mechanism may present a different face of corruption in the sector. The potential for future REDD+ earnings may bring new corrupt practices, such as land grabs, manipulation of carbon accounting and carbon measurements.

Stewart proposed some anti-corruption measures to be taken into account, including: independent financial audits, publicly available registry of financial and activities, international aid transparency institutions adapted to REDD, land tenure reforms, support community led initiatives to assert land claim (such as social mapping), independent conflict resolution. Stewart concluded by adding that a comprehensive governance assessment (identify reforms and institutional capacity needs) and stakeholder participation can further contribute to ensuring transparency in the design and implementation of the REDD mechanism.

Policy approaches and positive incentives for addressing climate change and for enabling climate finance to flow, represent enormous governance challenges to ensure transparency and accountability. The role of forests and conservation is key in the effort of reducing emissions, but REDD+ will not work if inclusive processes in policymaking and oversight are not assured. All relevant actors, particularly indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities must be allowed to actively participate in the design and implementation of REDD+.  Legitimate participation is not possible if all actors do not have the capacity to provide contributions that build up the process. Capacity building is therefore crucial to ensure effective governance. REDD+ countries must undertake appropriate and sustained capacity building programs for civil society to ensure they engage effectively in the process and for public accountability; but also to strengthen governmental institutions to guarantee effective forest management, reporting, monitoring, and financial control.

Image credit: Chris Diewald (Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil)

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