Celebrating UN-REDD’s Birthday at the Oslo REDD Exchange
Perched atop the highest point in Olso, and affording a fabulous view of the city, 89 REDD+ practitioners, policy makers, stakeholders and UN-REDD friends gathered on October30 at the Voksenåsen Hotel around dinner tables to celebrate five years of the UN-REDD+ Programme.
It was fitting that at this meeting place, certified as a climate neutral enterprise, and on the rooftop of a city which is synonymous to REDD+, the fifth birthday of the Programme was marked.
Launched by the UN Secretary General and Norway in 2009, the Programme was developed in response to developing countries’ demands for support to build capacity to meet UNFCCC requirements for REDD+. Today the Programme has expanded from 9 to 48 nations containing 56 per cent of the world’s tropical forests and is supported by six donor countries; Norway, Denmark, the European Union, Japan, Luxembourg and Spain.
The high supper began with remarks from Ibrahim Thiaw, the Deputy Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Thiaw welcomed the gathering and thanked the Government and people of Norway for their enabling policies and unprecedented leadership role across political parties and civil society in climate change and sustainable development processes and their support to the UN-REDD Programme.
Invitees had just attended the Olso REDD+ Exchange, a re-energising and cerebral event for all REDD+ stakeholders, and real testimony to the interest, respect and acknowledgement that all the actors have for Norway, of their leadership by example, with humility and mutual respect; indeed a Norwegian trademark. The importance of long-term and regular financing is crucial for the success and sustainability of REDD+, and it was welcome news that Norway would continue to fund the UN-REDD Programme till 2020, providing the much needed security and commitment for REDD+.
Lars Andreas Lunde, Norway’s State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, solidified the comments made by Mr. Thiaw by saying how confident she was that UN-REDD could deliver. Frances Seymour, who had ably chaired and moderated the Oslo REDD+ Exchange with her fresh perspectives and infectious energy and style, shared how the UN-REDD Programme had been ready and opened up the space to deal with the difficult and sensitive areas in REDD+, including FPIC, safeguards, indigenous issues, tenure and redistribution issues. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Founder and Executive Director of Tebtebba former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and negotiator for the Philippines noted the importance of the indigenous territories for REDD+.
In his remarks as he toasted the UN-REDD Programme, Victor Kabengele Wa Kadilu, National Coordinator of REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo saluted the UN-REDD Programme; “If DRC is a leader in REDD it's thank to the UN REDD Programme who have helped us from the first day. We are very proud to be part of this family and to set an example to the World.”
Mr. Heru Prasetyo, newly appointed Head of Indonesia National REDD+ Agency noted how the UN Agencies were pulling together to deliver REDD+ as one.
As the dinner progressed, further points where brought up by Elly Baroudy, Head of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and Kevin Andrasko from the World Bank. UN-REDD works closely with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to deliver REDD+ and although there had some tensions at the formative stages, the two initiatives had learnt much and were increasingly working together. Veerle Vandeweerd, head of the Environment and Energy Group at UNDP, picked up on this point and noted that the UN-REDD Programme is also working closely now with other initiatives and countries such as UNODC.
Marisa Ortiz of Globe International pointed out the importance of legislative framework and reform for REDD+. The Viet Nam Minister of the Environment congratulated UN-REDD for the excellent work in the countries. Dr. Pham Manh Cuong, head of the REDD+ Office in Viet Nam, recalled the delays in setting up REDD readiness in his country that were caused by a complexity of terminology as well as delays related to coordination. He called on those present to endeavor to “make things simple.” His wise words at the end of the festive dinner re-emphasized the continuing work needed for REDD+ readiness in countries, including achieving fundamental objectives such as working with local people, and improving their livelihoods. Keeping in mind this goal, Viet Nam went from being heavily deforested to its current 40 per cent forest cover.
The dessert was complemented by Edwin Usang, UN-REDD Policy Board representative, who noted that as a full member of the Policy Board, civil society and indigenous peoples were taken seriously and had a voice in the REDD+ dialogue and development.