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Features & Commentary

UN-REDD National Programmes: Where to begin?

On the heels of Indonesia’s recent Inception Workshop at the end of March, REDD+ consultant and redd-plus.com blogger, Chris Cosslett, reviews what these kick-off events mean for UN-REDD National Programmes.

With the traditional ringing of the gong by Minister of Forestry H.E. Zulkifli Hasan (centre), Indonesia's UN-REDD National Programme is underway.

Since September 2009, three of the nine UN-REDD Programme pilot countries have done it. Viet Nam’s will forever retain pride of place as the first. Tanzania’s was split in two parts and included gymnastics for tired participants. And Indonesia’s officially began on 30 March with the ringing of a traditional gong by the Minister of Forestry. Whether known as a ‘launch’, an ‘Inception Workshop’ or a ‘kick-off event’, the end result is that the National Programmes (NPs) of three of the UN-REDD Programme’s nine pilot countries are officially underway.

By now, the events leading up to the Inception Workshops are familiar. The Policy Board, in one of its periodic meetings—PB-4 was recently held in Nairobi—approves the NP document in draft form. Through a series of follow-up missions and consultations, the document is then ‘elaborated’ to the point where it is ready for signature by government and the three participating UN organizations. At this point, with project funds available or nearly so, with project teams in the process of being identified and recruited, and with all partners eager to get started, it’s time to mark publicly the start of another UN-REDD NP.

Before considering what this entails, it may be worth pausing to reflect on the meaning of these events. They are in fact important moments marking each country’s entry into the emerging international REDD+ regime and, indeed, in the emergence of the regime itself. While a number of countries have previously launched REDD+ projects aimed at reducing emissions in specific sites, or for tackling technical issues like monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), UN-REDD Programme pilot NPs are among the first efforts to take a systemic, national-level approach to the many challenges of national-level ‘REDD readiness.’ And while the international community continues its efforts—see Copenhagen, Paris, Oslo, etc.—to fully construct that regime, national governments, with support from the UN-REDD Programme, are wasting no time, in the hopes of being ready for REDD+… when REDD+ is ready for them.


Minister of Forestry H.E. Zulkifli Hasan (centre) and Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia H.E., Eivend S. Homme (centre-right) congratulate one another on the launch of the UN-REDD National Programme.

The three Inception Workshops held to date have provided important opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders to bring their issues and concerns to the table. Not surprisingly, in each country, questions have abounded concerning REDD+ in general and the relevant UN-REDD NP in particular. How exactly will the UN-REDD Programme be coordinated nationally? What will be the respective role of forestry departments versus national-level REDD+ steering groups and committees, where these exist? How will the UN-REDD NP be coordinated with other donor support, including large-scale programmes such as those funded by Norway (in Tanzania) and Australia (in Indonesia), to ensure that programming gaps and/or overlaps are avoided? What mechanisms will be established for learning lessons, at project and national levels? How will the uncertainty caused by the rapidly evolving international policy environment be handled and how will project management adapt to related changes? Finally, how will REDD+ strategies consult and engage Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, while seeking their free and informed prior consent (FPIC) for relevant activities?

For the three participating UN organizations, an additional set of questions surface. How exactly will they work together in ways that minimize the transaction costs facing beneficiary governments? What specific harmonized implementation arrangements will be put in place? What has the ‘One UN’ process taught them about the best way for three UN organizations with different financial, reporting and other systems to work together in the context of a ‘Joint Programme’? And what on earth is a HACT?!? (Hint: it stands for “Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers”).

Inception Workshops, along with their more comprehensive cousins, ‘Inception Phases,’ provide unique opportunities for project teams and stakeholders to address the above questions and to minimize associated uncertainties. In doing so, they may wish to keep certain principles in mind, which have been developed as part of draft national programme guidelines. First, UN-REDD NPs should contribute to and form a constituent element of an integrated national approach to the challenges and opportunities of REDD+. Second, UN-REDD NPs should have effective and transparent systems of oversight. Third, both day-to-day and longer-term, management systems should be streamlined and integrated across participating UN organizations. Finally, financial management systems should be harmonized and transaction costs facing national authorities minimized.

If the above principles can be put to work right from the inception, then NPs should be well on their way to helping countries achieve their challenging but crucial goal of national-level REDD+ readiness. So sound the gong and let the National Programmes begin!

Chris Cosslett is an independent consultant with extensive experience in the formulation of international environmental projects, mainly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and environmental finance. Since September 2009, he has been supporting the UN-REDD Global Programme in developing guidance for National Programmes while attending all three Inception Workshops held to-date. He has also created and operates www.redd-plus.com, a social networking and news website dedicated to all things REDD.

In this issue


Bolivia, DRC and Zambia Secure Critical Funding for their REDD+ Readiness

REDD+ Country Progress… In Their Own Words

FAO Publishes its Latest Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2010) and Calls for Early Action on REDD+
Features & Commentary

Forest Area Statistics Don’t tell Everything By: Petteri Vuorinen

UN-REDD National Programmes: Where to begin? By: Chris Cosslett

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Holds its Course… and its Pace By: Fabien Monteils
Reports & Analysis

Applying FPIC in Viet Nam

REDD+ at the Africa Carbon Forum

IPCC Experts Meeting

The UN-REDD Programme 2009 Year in Review Report
Looking ahead

9th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
19-30 April 2010: UN Headquarters in New York

World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
19-22 April 2010: Cochabamba, Bolivia

UNFCCC Expert Meeting on Capacity Building for REDD
26-27 April 2010, Bonn, Germany

UN-REDD Workshop: Identifying and Promoting Ecosystem Co-Benefits from REDD+, Organised by UNEP-WCMC
27-29 April 2010, Cambridge, UK

Olso Meeting on Interim REDD+ Arrangement
27 May 2010, Oslo, Norway
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