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REDD readiness: learning lessons & building momentum —

A report from the UN-REDD Programme side event at the UNFCCC Climate Change Talks in Barcelona, Spain, 4 November 2009

UN agencies and other partners working on REDD highlighted lessons learned from initial readiness activities. They addressed the challenges of REDD monitoring and discussed how REDD can help ensure equitable development for forest-dependent people.

A hundred audience members gathered in the Cipres room at the last round of UNFCCC climate change talks in Barcelona, Spain to get a taste for what the UN-REDD Programme side event had in store for them.

The message at the event was clear—increased capacity at the national level, strategic partnerships and stakeholder participation are key elements of the REDD readiness phased approach and are vital to the future of a successful REDD mechanism.

An approach shaped by principles of inclusion and engagement

Speaking about the UN-REDD Programmes’ national readiness management arrangements, Tim Clairs, Senior Technical Advisor for REDD of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), underscored that country-led delivery, capacity building and facilitating the stakeholder engagement process were crucial. He highlighted that the UN-REDD Programme’s approach to readiness support was shaped by the human rights-based approach to development cooperation. This approach ensures that all programs and activities are in support of the weak and the vulnerable, and is based on the advocacy of their rights and principles of inclusion and engagement.

Building systems based on science

Regarding progress in the area of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), Peter Holmgren, Director of the Environment, Climate Changes and Bioenergy Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), underlined that the scope for MRV/Monitoring for REDD include, among others, safeguards both social and environmental, multiple benefits, governance, and actions to avoid leakage. He emphasized the importance of delivering on C-MRV (accounting for carbon emissions) within the broader scope of MRV/Monitoring. “There are cost effective ways to do this,” he said. “Using a phased approach and taping into the large pool of experience, this was very doable, but would take time.” He also highlighted the need for long-term institutional development on MRV.

FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment Portal provides countries with useful data on the change in vegetation and this information can be accessed and used in MRV aspects of country programmes now, noted Mr. Holmgren. Work was being done to engage country teams, internationally to engage experts, and to provide countries with practical ways to develop MRV systems in countries. In conclusion, he underscored the importance of relying on science-based methodologies to give guidance, and a key element in the design and verification phase was the country approach. “Robust and transparent are the two key words in the negotiation text,” he added.

Early and continuing engagement

Xueman Wang of the World Bank, speaking on lessons learned from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) support to readiness in countries, noted that countries may need to place REDD at the centre of national development policy to mainstream REDD and enable cross-sectoral guidance, management and processes. Early and continuing engagement of key stakeholder groups is also crucial for national REDD readiness efforts to be fairer and more sustainable.

Biodiversity maximizes long-term stability of the carbon pool

Presenting on the efforts to address ecosystem services in supporting REDD readiness, Anne-Marie Wilson of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat underscored the importance of including biodiversity experts, landholders and indigenous peoples. Best practices can be drawn from opportunities for synergies and multiple benefits in the planning phase and at landscape scale through protected areas gap analysis. This national analysis identifies high priority sites to expand or improve protected area systems or networks. Protection of priority areas under REDD could maximize biodiversity, store carbon and secure key ecosystem services such as provision of water and support sustainable livelihoods, stressed Ms. Wilson. In conclusion, she underscored that REDD activities should take biodiversity into consideration to help maintain forest ecosystem resilience and thus the long-term stability of the carbon pool.

Yemi Katerere, Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, chairing the event stressed in his closing remarks that the discussion is now about REDD+. “Forest policies need to take into account how climate change will affect peoples’ livelihoods,” he said. “Capacities at the national level and strategic partnerships are critical, and without the absolutely indispensable stakeholder participation this won’t work.” Mr. Katerere underscored that a broader scope was needed, and that carbon issues and safeguards required robust and transparent processes.

Please click here for the full programme and list of speakers.