Just before the UN-REDD Programme's very productive seventh Policy Board meeting this month (read more in our news section below), I had the privilege of attending the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) High Level Forum on Forests and Climate Change for Sustainable Development from 10-11 October. The event gathered more than 300 participants, including a number of noteworthy national and international officials, including the DRC's Ministers for Environment, Planning, Energy and High level Education, the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Congo and the Climate Ambassador of Norway. This high-level event, which was convened under the patronage of the President, was designed to show how DRC is integrating REDD+ into the country’s green strategy, with the highest level of political commitment.
While highlighting how REDD+ will in advance in the DRC, it was clear that many of the issues and next steps discussed are highly relevant to all countries undertaking REDD+ readiness and implementation. The importance of political commitment to the success of REDD+ was clear, especially if we are to bring about transformation in how we value and use forests. The delivery of the President’s speech by the Prime Minister during the high-level event was one example of this kind of political commitment. It's also clear that political commitment has to be complemented by broad stakeholder participation, institutional strengthening and capacity building. We heard encouraging reports about how this happening in the DRC.
Another key to REDD+ success is understanding and influencing the underlying causes and drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the design and implementation of REDD+. In order to do this, the national context, particularly national policies and economic development, must be taken into account, and we saw how these issues are being addressed with a good deal of success in the DRC.
The urgency of climate change requires that we move towards scaling up from small REDD+ projects to strategic, large-scale action. In order to achieve this, the high-level event also highlighted the importance and need to improve the availability of predictable and sustainable financing for REDD+ in the medium and long-term. In this light, the importance of engaging the private sector was highlighted to define modalities on how national governments and the private sector can work together.
I applaud the DRC's robust REDD+ efforts. Their level of commitment and REDD+ advancements hold valuable lessons for everyone working in the REDD+ space. Moving forward, we will need to ensure we continue to learn from each other, while remaining realistic about the complexity of procedures and demands placed on REDD+ countries by different partners.
Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat