Features & Commentary
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Holds its Course… and its Pace
With almost US$9 million in new REDD+ funding, National UN-REDD Coordinator, Fabien Monteils, highlights DRC’s REDD+ readiness priorities moving forward.
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After presenting its Readiness Preparation Plan to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Participants Committee in March, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has gone quickly back to work, backed by two additional funding agreements totalling US$8.9 million and the endorsement and congratulations of its peers. Now, the DRC’s national REDD team and Civil Society organizations are continuing their REDD+ work, focusing on one key area: integrated pilot projects.
In the DRC, many REDD projects have been launched over the past few years, especially by international NGOs, in addition to the many initiatives set up by various Ministries, businesses, international technical and financial partners or by the national civil society. For the national REDD+ process, there's a pressing need to coordinate these various initiatives in order to draw lessons and to develop the most robust, fruitful and operational national REDD+ strategy possible. From agriculture microfinance projects, to awareness-raising workshops among civil society, production of briquette and improved cooking stoves (which reduce the consumption of firewood and charcoal), or carbon credit monitoring and sales, one common factor stands out: they can all contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation at a sectorial level. Acting through the National REDD Coordination, the Ministry of Environment (MECNT) is also working to help these initiatives organize and coordinate themselves, and to identify key quantitative and qualitative lessons which will be the bedrock of REDD+ strategic planning. Initiated in December 2009, this process will continue over the coming months, and a degree of standardization will be applied across these sector-based initiatives, with the participation of all stakeholders.
Leveraging the analysis and information that already exists, the MECNT also wishes to take the lead by testing integrated or systemic approaches through the National REDD Coordination. T For example, in January of this year, a civil society mission in Mambasa observed and assessed how these integrated approach could be put into place. Using comprehensive consultations, the territory's stakeholders, supported by the civil society, the Parliament's Environment Commission, representatives of the provincial government and the National REDD Coordination, drew up a preliminary diagnostic of deforestation causes in their area and defined potential tasks for REDD+ strategies. A comprehensive action plan, set up with the involvement and commitment of multiple partners, included both enabling activities (land security, increased law enforcement, land use planning, improved governance) and sectorial activities (support for agricultural settlement, reforestation, services to small companies, organization of mining activities). A similar process was carried out across the DRC. In late February, six concept notes for integrated REDD+ projects were personally endorsed by the Minister, before being finalized and submitted to the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF). After the facility managed by the African Development Bank and funded by Norway and Great Britain gave a first approval, the project papers were written and submitted to the CBFF in early April.
This key area of the REDD+ process in DRC naturally involves a financial component. The six pilot projects should help inject around US$20 million into the country to test not only REDD+ operational options, but also and specifically the potential synergies between these options, in order to best assess and plan a national strategy. However, beyond these operational considerations, the aim is to sustain the political impetus, at a time when national elections will take place next year. The pilot projects yield substantial co-benefits, which include a civil society partnership, operational capacity-building, an evolving dialogue with the private sector and the involvement of local administrations in a large-scale national programme. Once again, the ability of the international community to consistently support DRC's innovative and ambitious initiatives will be key in gaining national momentum.
The UN-REDD Programme was the first to send a strong signal on 19 March in Nairobi, followed by the FCPF’s endorsement the following week in Gabon, and the Congo Basin Carbon Fund which is now guiding the finalization and funding of the first integrated pilot projects. There's no doubt that when the DRC makes progress in REDD+, it is REDD+ as a whole that progresses in the Congo Basin and on the agenda of the international community.
Fabien Monteils works as Chief Technical Advisor for the UN-REDD Programme in the DRC, and is seconded to the country’s National REDD Coordination, at the Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism.