In December, REDD+ took another significant step forward when an official agreement on REDD+ was reached at COP16. The UN-REDD Programme applauded the decision, and upon further reflection over the past month, we remain encouraged that REDD+ is on the right track to achieving its goal of reducing emissions from the forestry sector in developing countries.
The COP16 agreement defines REDD+ from a policy perspective, outlining the scope, type of eligible activities, safeguards, and main elements, as well as identifies pending methodological issues to be addressed. Safeguards were one of the biggest breakthroughs in the REDD+ negotiations. The agreement now recognizes the need to “promote and support” safeguards, and requests that a "system for providing information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected" is developed. Safeguards include critical issues such as forest governance, respect for the knowledge and rights of Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities, and actions that are consistent with conservation of natural forests and biological diversity.
Technically, the agreement ratifies definitions and provides methodological guidance to continue working on national REDD+ strategies. Politically, the REDD+ agreement provides a positive signal for donors and REDD+ countries to keep working on and investing in the readiness phase.
The REDD+ agreement builds on some of the early lessons from REDD+ programmes and initiatives. Initial REDD+ activities in countries have provided vital knowledge which has helped to identify gaps and overlaps. The REDD+ Partnership was another response that helped coordinate donor efforts and contribute some early learning on REDD+. Multilateral, bilateral and NGO initiatives also played a role in the implementation and coordination of many REDD+ activities. All of these efforts underscore how critical initial activities are in helping to further articulate the details on which a comprehensive agreement can be built.
The hard work on implementing the Cancun agreement is just beginning. For the UN-REDD Programme and other actors involved in the readiness and fast-start activities, we now have clearer guidance on what the REDD+ framework will include and what work needs to be done. The work that REDD+ countries undertake in implementing readiness activities between now and 2012 will be important next steps in supporting the Cancun agreement. The framework provides some elaboration on the activities that developing countries need to undertake in the development and implementation of REDD+, such as a national plan, national reference emission levels, and robust and transparent national forest monitoring systems. Since these are the activities the UN-REDD Programme has been supporting over the past two years, we remain in a good position to further support and inform the UNFCCC process, as it works towards a comprehensive REDD+ agreement.
Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat