FEATURE: Results-based Reporting for REDD+, Lessons and challenges of a multi-country initiative
The Results-based Reporting for REDD+ project has supported many countries with their greenhouse gas inventories for agriculture, forestry and land use – which help get them ready to access REDD+ funding. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing– as Matt Gilbert of PwC discovers. This Part 2 of a two-part blog; read Part 1 here.
As I describe in this associated blog about the Results-based Reporting for REDD+ (RRR+) project and its work in tropical forest countries, this three-year CDKN project has been successful in developing capacity to enable countries to better measure and report greenhouse gas inventories in the agriculture, forestry and other land use sector.
Measuring carbon stocks in forests and other lands, and emissions from the sector, is an important step in countries’ efforts to secure financing for their forest conservation and climate protection efforts.
However, there have been several challenges and lessons learned throughout this process.
Countries need more than technical fixes
Often, efforts to support countries have been hampered by a lack of robust data, hindered by a lack of institutional, financial or technical capacity. While solutions such as satellite imagery have the potential to fill this gap, their limitations must be acknowledged. For example, in Panama, a cocoa plantation was almost mistaken as mixed tropical forest during data collection. This highlights the need for sensible interpretation of land cover imagery by national or local experts who know the land.
Strong institutions are needed to support REDD+
In several countries, basic institutional arrangements are not present, while in others institutions simply did not communicate effectively with one another. Often departments or ministries have different mandates and are reluctant to openly share data with one another. But given the causes of deforestation go beyond the scope of a single department, it is important to ensure integration and data sharing across different departments and institutions. Moving forward, project support needs to be tailored to individual countries, recognising that they will have different starting points and needs.
Projects face staff turnover and need better coordination
Building greenhouse gas inventories is a time consuming and complex process and developing the right skills can take years. Countries need to develop and sustain the capacity to complete their own inventories without being reliant on external support. Although capacity is difficult to build, it is easy to lose, particularly where there are changes in in-country personnel or government.
Projects need to coordinate with other funding initiatives, as countries are likely to receive support from different sources, and for different purposes.
Climate talks in Santiago could advance REDD+ prospects
As the recent forest fires have underlined, the global importance of rainforests cannot be underestimated. Their loss to satisfy the growing demands of global agriculture underlines the need to protect forests. Pressure to convert forest land to agriculture will only grow as population expansion and rising income levels comes to heads with the need for carbon stores and cleaner bio-based fuels. Projects such as RRR+ are critical in providing the necessary data to incentivise private sector involvement in the forestry sector.
If countries reach consensus on international cooperation mechanisms such as carbon markets, at climate talks in Chile later this year, then transparent, robust and reliable data and reporting will be essential for building the integrity of and confidence in these systems. While much of this hinges on the outcome of these negotiations, should land-based offsets through programmes like REDD+ be included in carbon offset market such as EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the demand for reliable and trusted projects will increase, providing the private sector with the necessary motive to support projects that protect rainforests.
The RRR+ project has provided countries with vital opportunities to build capacity for measuring and reporting on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and enhancement of carbon stocks; has provided critical support to enable countries to navigate through the complex UNFCCC processes for reporting land-based emissions; and provided opportunities for stakeholders to come together and share learning. Given the importance of forests in protecting our climate, hopefully this capacity can enable several countries to access results-based payments to preserve tropical rainforests around the world.
Further information about the project can be found here.
Image: landscape – deforestation, courtesy CIFOR.