Archive for the ‘pacific islands’ Category

The October issue of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, featuring news on: five new countries that joined the UN-REDD Programme; the first regional consultation between indigenous peoples’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific and the UN-REDD Programme; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s request for funding of a Congo Basin approach for monitoring, reporting and verification.

Recommendations from the regional consultation included:

  1. taking advantage of the opportunity that REDD provides for engagement among the various stakeholders: CSOs, indigenous peoples, local government, private sector, and others
  2. strengthening the opportunities for multi-stakeholder dialogue
  3. addressing the widespread need for REDD training and awareness raising
  4. a call to the UN-REDD Programme and to the United Nations in general to support governments to improve their means of communication and working relationships with indigenous peoples and their organizations

The Newsletter also includes an analysis on best practices in engaging civil society in REDD in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and promoting co-benefits of forests. It reports on the XIII World Forestry Congress’s support of the inclusion of REDD-plus in the agreement on long-term cooperative action under UNFCCC.

Read the October issue of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter…


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Pacific Comments on REDD
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa




Some 15 participants from Tonga, PNG, Solomon, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cooks, Samoa, NZ and Australia attended a Pacific workshop on REDD held in Nukualofa USP Centre, Tonga, from 29 to 31 July 2009. Representing indigenous peoples, civil society, and governments, they also discussed related issues such as climate change, forest protection, and role of indigenous peoples and local communities that severely impact our region on a daily basis.

Specific concerns of indigenous peoples raised in the meeting included their rights in line with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), particularly their rights to free, prior and informed consent, sovereign right to self-determination and rights to lands, territories, environment and natural resources that needed to be upheld and respected.

Participants were deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development, and experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on Pacific cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability and their very survival as indigenous peoples.

The meeting called consumer nations to adequately address the issue of ecological debt to the global south and not shift liability for their own unsustainable production and consumption to those nations, like the counties in the Pacific, not responsible for the high level of climate emissions.

There was also concern about insufficient capacity building on forests and climate change discussions and negotiations in the communities, the lack of adequate resourcing, funding and representation of indigenous communities at international climate discussions and negotiations, and the failure of governments to adequately and accurately represent the views of indigenous and forest-dependent communities in the region.

The meeting wished to remind governments that Pacific peoples and especially indigenous peoples are on the front line of climate change, whether they are from ‘developed’ nations or not, and do not automatically have access to the benefits of a developed economy.

Call for Action

The meeting, by way of its Tonga Declaration, stated its concern that in its current form REDD is misleading and is a false solution to climate change. It erodes indigenous land rights and fails to account for the long term and ongoing conservation and land management of forested areas by Pacific countries, indigenous peoples, and forest dependent communities. Participants called for all nations in the Pacific to sign on to the UNDRIP and for any agreement on forests to fully and explicitly uphold the rights under UNDRIP, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All rights under UNDRIP must be included into the CBD and UNFCCC, and the customary and territorial land rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities must be recognised and enforced by any international agreement on forest policy.

The meeting called for the suspension of all REDD initiatives in indigenous lands and territories until such a time as Indigenous peoples’ rights are fully recognised and promoted, and community consent has been obtained. The linkage of REDD to markets risks allowing Annex-1 countries to avoid responsibility for reducing emissions in their own countries and could even increase net carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting and the inclusion of REDD credits in carbon markets will do nothing to address the underlying causes of climate change, nor will carbon offsetting and market mechanisms provide the predictable and reliable funding required for addressing deforestation.

Participants demanded that forests not be included in carbon trading schemes, and call on all governments to halt deforestation and keep fossil fuels in the ground; not trade one for the other. Forests need to be protected, but they must be protected by strengthening and enforcing forest legislation, not using market mechanisms.

The meeting supported the call for binding emissions reductions targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 95% by 2050 and other elements of the AOSIS positions. Annex 1 countries must therefore deliver on their commitments to making real and effective emission reductions.

Participants were alarmed that some international climate and forest agreements were not legally binding and that there was a disconnection between these international negotiations and inadequate national greenhouse targets and obligations.

It called for real and genuine solutions to climate change, not false solutions like ocean fertilisation, REDD, bio-fuels and monocultures for plantations that erode and violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and forest-dependant communities, and destroy biodiversity.

Participants objected to the current definition of forests under the CBD, UNFCCC and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and demanded that any definition of forests must strongly differentiate between plantations and natural forests to incorporate fundamental indigenous understandings of forests and account for the vast differences in carbon storage capacity.

Whilst the participants supported the positions of the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on adaptation responses and emission targets, they nevertheless recognised the non-negotiable positions of some small island nations and their sovereign rights to continue to exist as countries and to fight climate change to the end.

Participants were also gravely concerned about inaccurate carbon accounting, and the vast amounts of money allocated by donor nations for the protection of forests through flawed solutions to climate change, including REDD and called for accurate carbon accounting on forests, and for any funding for REDD, appropriate technology transfer must be prioritised for community based forest management schemes, managed through strengthened mechanisms within the UNFCCC that include impacted communities and in accordance with Indigenous rights under UNDRIP. Donor nations should not fund international financial institutions, like the World Bank to implement projects that support flawed solutions to climate change.

The workshop thanked the Kingdom of Tonga and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Tonga for their hospitality, and expressed their gratitude to the Global Forest Coalition and the Government of the Netherlands for their coordination and funding of the workshop.

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The Tuvalu Position on REDD deserves strong AOSIS, Pacific, and Indigenous Peoples’ support in the outcome of COP15 of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI – Samoa

The Different Proposals on REDD in the UNFCCC: REDD proposals will lead to forest protection only if the needs and rights of local communities are being effectively addressed. Unfortunately with the exception of the proposals by Tuvalu and Norway, most do not sufficiently respect local peoples’ rights. With assessments also from FERN and Forest Peoples Program (FPP), the following are pertinent comments relevant to this call for support for the Tuvalu and Norway positions on REDD.

Forest Retention Scheme: Tuvalu has proposed a Forest Retention Scheme to provide incentives to communities for protecting and retaining forests. There are three components to this scheme, which include a Community Forest Retention Trust Account; Forest Retention Certificates and an International Forest Retention Fund to provide funding for communities to set aside forest areas or to manage them in a sustainable manner. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of their own trust account, to establish measures to combat and reduce deforestation and degradation.

Community Forest Retention Trust Accounts (CFRT Account) : Communities that wish to establish projects to conserve forest areas or manage them on a sustainable basis would seek funding to establish a CFRT Account. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of this account to establish measures to combat emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The remaining amount would be set aside in the CFRT Account. A community could then draw upon the interest from the Account on an annual basis, based on the concept of being paid an annual ‘rent for environmental services’.

Forest Retention Certificates: Once the CFRT Account is established, communities could apply for Forest Retention Certificates which are based on an estimate of the amount of GHG reduced by the project (based on current emission trends compared with potential actions to reduce these emission trends). At the end of a prescribed period (five years) certificates equivalent to a determined amount of CO2 avoided would be issued by national governments, which would need to report annually to the COP. A committee would be established under the COP to ensure that there was not an over-issuance of these certificates. At the end of a prescribed period of time (possibly ten years), the area of forest originally set aside or sustainably managed by the community would be independently assessed. An independent auditor would also assess whether the CFRT account was still in operation. If the project and the account are verified, communities could redeem a prescribed percentage of their Certificates. This process would be repeated every ten years.

International Forest Retention Fund: Funding for the redemption of these Certificates would come from a proposed International Forest Retention Fund established under the Convention. Tuvalu has suggested a levy on inter-national aviation and bunker fuels to finance this fund, which could raise in the region of US$24 billion annually. Redemption of the Certificates would be granted ex-post, although communities have had access to interest from the initial CFRT Account. Communities could deposit these redeemed Certificates into their CFRT Account or use the money as the community sees fit. Procedures for assessment and auditing would be kept as simple as possible to minimize transaction costs. The Certificates could only be redeemed to the International Forest Retention Fund. The fundamental component of this scheme is founded on the principle that the certificates cannot be sold, transferred or traded.

Tuvalu does not support forest carbon trading, largely because leakage will inevitably occur so long as the demand for global commodities continues to put pressure on forests. Tuvalu has recently proposed addressing international leakage through demand-side measures. This would mean that importing countries would have to ensure that forest product imports are derived from sustainably managed forest. Ian Fry suggests creating carbon deficit levies (CDLs) for importing countries. Annex I parties would then accumulate CDLs for importing forest products resulting from deforestation activities in developing countries. These would appear as emissions in national GHG inventories and so would in effect be the opposite of certified emissions reductions (CERs), whereby countries would be adding emission increases to their assigned amount.

Norway: Substantial, predictable, results-based and long-term financial flows to developing countries are required for a post-2012 REDD mechanism – and establishing such flows should be the focus of the mechanism, as it is these flows that make REDD different from past forest protection schemes. Therefore a robust, effective and sustainable system for mobilizing financial resources, and a credible results-based mechanism to distribute them, should be the corner-stone of a future REDD mechanism. Biodiversity should be protected through careful policy design, and any regime should ensure the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities, who should be involved in the construction of mechanisms that compensate them for the forest protection they promote.

The proposal advocates a combination of fund- and market-based mechanisms. Markets are needed to mobilize the private sector, although they are less effective for countries with low rates of deforestation, and less relevant for capacity-building activities. REDD must be additional to deep emissions cuts from Annex 1 countries – so a market-based mechanism will require collective emissions cuts from developed countries of more than 25% – 40%. If a fund-based mechanism is used, it is essential that adequate finances are raised (relying on development aid type donations will not be acceptable). To this end Norway has proposed a system for the auctioning of allowances as a potential source of REDD funding.

The focus should primarily be on REDD, but incentives also need to account for conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhanced carbon stocks to provide incentives for countries with historically low deforestation rates, or those who have stopped deforesting. A broad scope including all forest activities will reduce the risk of leakage. An independent monitoring system will be required (of emission reductions and reference levels) to ensure credibility.

Reference levels in principle should be based on historical emissions data, but due to the lack of incentives that this principle would provide for countries with historically low rates of deforestation, Norway is open to other approaches for setting reference levels. A national approach, eventually leading to monitoring of all forests in the country, is needed to account for intra-national leakage. International leakage must be addressed. In the early stages, when fewer countries are participating, approaches to address international leakage need to be explored, although Norway has no specific suggestions in this proposal.

The proposal also suggests that there should be close coordination and integration of preparations made through the United Nations REDD Initiative, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and other initiatives: not as a substitute for REDD under the UNFCCC, but to stimulate early action and capacity building.

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