Reflections on Five Years of Achievements at COP19 Side Event
On 20 November in Warsaw, Poland, over 150 REDD+ stakeholders heard auspicious speakers reflect on the UN-REDD Programme’s five years of achievements at a side event to the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP19), where the Government of Norway pledged over US$ 40 million of funding to the UN-REDD Programme.
The discussion on past experiences and the potential for transformational change was hosted by the UN-REDD Programme at a COP19 UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) side event. The CEB is the longest-standing and highest level coordination forum of the United Nations. Comprising the leadership of 29 member organizations, CEB itself is chaired by the UN Secretary-General.
The session was deftly chaired by Ambassador Tomas Christensen, Senior Advisor at the United Nations Secretary General’s Office with responsibility for Partnerships and Climate Change. The CEB side event added value to COP19 and contributed to REDD+ decision making by showing Programme results.
The event featured interventions from Hon. Heru Prasetyo, First Deputy of the Indonesian President's Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight; Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme; Salisu Dahiru, Co-chair of the UN-REDD Policy Board and Nigeria’s REDD focal point; and, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Founder and Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation and the former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Opening remarks were made by Norway’s State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hans Brattskar.
In announcing Norway’s multi-million dollar support for UN-REDD programming for the year 2014, State Secretary Brattskar congratulated the Programme and its partners. “UN-REDD countries are moving from the REDD+ readiness phase to payments for results.” He added, “It is great that UN-REDD has gotten this far in five years and we are thrilled that it will now start working with new partners on illegal timber trade and its effects on deforestation.”
The event’s speakers recognized Norway’s visionary leadership and commitment to REDD+ and to a process that is demanding in time, efforts and resources.
“UN-REDD provides an antidote to those who think that international climate negotiations are failing to bear fruit,” said Mr. Steiner. “Norway, along with partners like Indonesia, deserve credit for systematically and sustainably supporting this initiative with financial and political capital.”
Such commitment and cooperation for transformational change was a theme reiterated throughout the evening.
Mr. Dahiru spoke about the unique features of the Programme’s Policy Board as a truly multi-stakeholder forum that allows for inclusiveness. He also talked about how the Programme is helping countries like Nigeria to increase their capacity for REDD+ implementation, and on the importance of connecting the private sector and a Green Economy.
In this vein, Minister Prasetyo cited REDD+’s value in forging a coalition between sustainable development and climate change and challenged the UN-REDD Programme to sustain its efforts in this direction over the next five years. “REDD+ is not business as usual, so for the transformation we need a UN-REDD that is not business as usual.”
In addition to REDD+ potential to create enabling conditions for sustainable economic gains, speakers cited social benefits already seen for communities, particularly indigenous peoples.
“One of UN-REDD’s most important achievements has been to put safeguards in place for the engagement of indigenous communities, to ensure their full and effective participation in governance,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz.
Representatives attended from government and civil society organizations of partner countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania. Participants discussed technical issues, such as Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV). In a moving contribution from the floor, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Secretary General for Forests and Director of Sustainable Development, Vincent Seya Kasulu, highlighted how UN-REDD has been instrumental in strengthening the capacity technical services and enabling the greater engagement of civil society leading up to the establishment of the DRC’s National REDD Fund now ready to receive contributions.
UN-REDD’s successes were also recognized beyond the COP19 side event by eminent leaders throughout the conference.
Helen Clark, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said at the CEB event the previous day that UN-REDD is the example that comes to mind of UN agencies Delivering as One, with FAO, UNDP and UNEP coming together and working with and for partner countries.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's highlighted at the plenary of the High-level Segment on 19 November how initiatives such as “UN-REDD are reducing emissions and strengthening resilience.”
The UN-REDD Programme and its partners will leverage the collaborative and forward-looking spirit of the conference to turn Norway’s generous pledge into on-the-ground advances in governance and technical skills, such as forest carbon measurement, and global activities to develop common approaches and share knowledge between partner countries.