Ecuador, an early pioneer in creating incentives for forest conservation and valuing the social and environmental benefits of forests, is now an established leader in the effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (commonly referred to as REDD+). Even as the concept and technicalities of REDD+ were being developed and negotiated under UNFCCC, Ecuador was applying innovative approaches to creating economic incentives for the maintenance of forest cover through its Socio Bosque program, beginning in 2008. These efforts, parallel and independent from early REDD+ initiatives, positioned Ecuador as a pioneer in REDD+ leadership.
As an early country partner to the UN-REDD Programme, Ecuador's REDD+ process has benefited from UN-REDD support since 2011. As a result of this support, Ecuador is the second country in the world to complete all the requirements to receive results-based payments for REDD+ set out in the UNFCCC (second only to Brazil).
The Programme played a key role in developing technical inputs and facilitating consultations with stakeholders in the development of Ecuador’s National REDD+ Action Plan (AP), which was launched in November 2016 and officialized by the Ministerial Decree No. 116. The Action Plan builds on the policies and measures (PAMs) that the government has been implementing since 2008 to reduce deforestation, including expansion of the Socio Bosque model. It also lists those priority PAMs that address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and the barriers to sustainable management of forests, conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks.
The Action Plan also describes the legal context and institutional arrangements for implementation. The plan includes actions within and outside the forest, command and control measures, as well as incentives for the creation of a sustainable agricultural commodity supply chain covering both the supply and demand side. The implementation of these actions involves both public and private sectors, as well as a broad range of institutions, from national sectorial and local government entities, NGOs and local stakeholders, including indigenous people and local communities.
In the process of developing the National REDD+ Action Plan, the UN-REDD Programme made critical contributions to the recognition and guarantee of the rights of indigenous peoples in the implementation process, including support for the development of the National Consultation Guide for the Implementation of REDD+. The process was guided by advice received from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (OHCHR) and the National REDD + Roundtable- the official mechanism for consultation with civil society actors.
The Programme also supported the development of an Implementation Plan for Measures and Actions for REDD+ in Kichwa territories. This plan demonstrates how to promote national policies and institutions at the local level; develop local and multicultural policies, as well as policies with a gender focus; and how to promote concrete actions to reduce deforestation and the degradation of forests in the Aguarico Canton in the province of Orellana.
In 2014, Ecuador was among the first batch of countries to submit a FREL to the UNFCCC. In October 2016, Ecuador reported an emission reduction of over 28 MtCO2 from 2008 - 2014 in its REDD+ Technical Annex to the Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC, demonstrating success in reducing emissions from deforestation at a national scale. The FREL submission, technical annex and BUR submission all benefited from UN-REDD technical support. Preliminary results indicate that emissions were further reduced in 2015 - 2016, a reduction from LULUCF that will be included in Ecuador’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.
Ecuador's REDD+ Action Plan was informed by a robust and inclusive participatory consultation process. Its leadership in documenting REDD+ emissions reductions under UNFCCC was critical for the country's entry into the investment phase of REDD+, serving as the basis for the development of the Amazon Programme (a $54 million USD program implemented by UNDP combining resources from both GCF and GEF) as well as the REDD Early Movers Programme supported by KFW and the Forest Investment Programme implemented by the World Bank. Furthermore, the investment foundation andgreen has shown interest in supporting the efforts of palm oil producers and the government in removing deforestation from palm oil production.
Looking ahead, thanks to an early and sustained commitment to forest conservation and the technical and policy advances made with UN-REDD support, Ecuador hopes to secure additional finance from the international community in the form of results-based payments for REDD+ from the GCF in 2018.