Features & Commentary
Ever heard of SEDD+?
In this month's feature commentary, UN-REDD Programme Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, Thomas Enters, uses some clever wordsmithing and playful straight talk to clarify what the REDD+ mechanism is all about.
By: Thomas Enters
Since you are reading this newsletter, we can safely assume that you are aware of REDD+ and its make-up. But have you ever heard of SEDD+ (“Stopping Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation”)? Perhaps you have not come across this acronym, which is not surprising, because it does not exist. I invented it in order to make a very important distinction between the concepts of "stopping" and "reducing" deforestation and forest degradation.
The concern I often hear from government agencies, the private sector, NGOs and community-based organizations, is that the REDD+ mechanism once implemented in a country would have serious negative consequences for many forest users, including local communities and Indigenous Peoples, logging concessionaires and/or the wood processing industries. They remain concerned that under REDD+, non-timber forest product collection would have to stop, logging operations would cease and land-use change would become history. They fear that economic and infrastructure development in many developing countries would be frozen in time, as industrial countries would pressure them to focus almost exclusively on reducing emissions through mitigation in the forestry sector.
These concerns are why I invented the "SEDD+" acronym, which is how many stakeholders continue to understand REDD+. SEDD+ has rooted itself in the minds of many people, although it does not exist.
It is very clear that “stopping” and “reducing” are two rather different concepts. This becomes very clear when you think about trimming some of the fat that has accumulated in your body over the years (lucky you, if you are not affected by this development). To get your weight down, would you decide to stop eating altogether or simply reduce the amount of food – and drinks – you consume? The latter, I suspect. You would probably also consider changing your lifestyle. But it's entirely doubtful if anyone would stop eating as the preferred way to rapidly lose weight.
In the forestry sector, the requested or required changes are very similar to the lifestyle change, I referred to above. Under SEDD+, any activity with potentially negative consequences to carbon stocks would have to cease. Under REDD+, on the other hand, developing countries and their stakeholders would mitigate the impacts they have on forest ecosystems and would go about enhancing carbon stocks. For logging concessionaires, this would mean improving their operations by, for example, applying reduced impact logging. Plantations of industrial crops would be established on land not currently covered by forests. I am sure you can think of many other mitigation actions in the forestry sector.
I find SEDD+ a very useful concept or acronym and use it in explaining what REDD+ is all about. Try it the next time you are asked whether poor people can still cut timber to build their houses or canoes. Under SEDD+, they would have to switch to plastics and concrete. Under REDD+, they would continue what they have done for centuries, but perhaps plant ten trees for each tree felled. Some are doing this already. Others may do so if they get paid for it.
|Thomas Enters is the UNEP-UN-REDD Regional Coordinator in the Asia-Pacific region.