With only two months to go before a new climate deal is negotiated in Copenhagen, The Forests Dialogue calls on industrialised nations to ensure robust financial commitments for conservation and sustainable management of forests and on tropical countries to ensure that these new financial streams are fairly shared with forest dependant communities.
This is one of the main recommendations published by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) in 'Investing in REDD-plus' which is launched today and which reflects unique consensus amongst forest stakeholders across business, environmental and scientific sectors and from indigenous peoples and forest-based communities, who met in a stream of intensive dialogues this year.
'Consensus amongst disparate stakeholders in the forest sector is rare,' says Stewart Maginnis, Head of the Forest Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 'Today's recommendations provide a timely roadmap for the financing of forest-related CO2 emission strategies and show that REDD-plus can combat climate change in a cost-effective way while generating crucial, additional benefits for indigenous peoples, local communities and biodiversity.'
REDD-plus should be designed as a performance-based mechanism that achieves real CO2 emission reductions by reducing deforestation and degradation, and through conservation, sustainable forest management and the enhancement of carbon stocks. A phased approach will enable REDD-plus to address the drivers of deforestation according to country-specific circumstances.
'REDD-plus activities in different phases should not only be assessed on changes in carbon stocks but also against social, environmental and financial indicators,' says Roberto Smeraldi, Director of Amigos da Terra - Amazonia Brasileira.
Each phase of REDD-plus should be funded through a portfolio of financial resources that make optimal and coordinated use of both markets and funds, as well as other sources of finance.
'Given the scale of the challenges involved and in order to come to reliable REDD-plus financing, we need to move beyond the markets versus funds discussion,' says James Griffiths, Managing Director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. 'A flexible portfolio approach with different funding sources and reliable donor coordination is imperative.'
'The leaders that participate in our dialogues are concerned that many in the forest sector are pinning their hopes on REDD while the real issue is a REDD-plus design that will be able to deliver when the pressure is on and to which we hope our recommendations will contribute,' says Gary Dunning, Executive Director of The Forests Dialogue. 'Transparent, inclusive and accountable forest management, based on local processes, should underpin REDD-plus.'
Safeguards must guarantee equitable participation and distribution mechanisms for indigenous peoples and local communities as well as biodiversity conservation.
'Forest governance reform requires strong partnerships founded on respect for the rights and active participation of indigenous peoples and local communities,' says Carlos Chex, from the Guatemalan Indigenous Peoples organisation Sotz'il. 'Key areas of concern are the clarification and strengthening of tenure, property and carbon rights.'
The TFD report 'Investing in REDD-plus' stresses the urgency to establish clear financial accounting standards and regulations. TFD also suggests that a global oversight body is set up to mainstream activities with respect to carbon accounting and verification of performance against social, environmental and financial safeguards.
'We do not need to reinvent the wheel to develop robust international controls and monitoring frameworks for REDD-plus activities. Experience managing and disbursing development funds in challenging countries, years of work on carbon monitoring, reporting frameworks and forest certification systems provides a solid learning platform,' says Chris Knight, Assistant Director, Sustainability and Climate Change, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. 'Ongoing discussions need to learn from existing systems and engage the finance sector in order to develop a financial mechanism and future market which is investible and attractive to the mainstream capital markets.'
More than 100 stakeholders have been involved in this collaborative initiative facilitated by TFD to build an effective international mechanism for tackling the climate, community and biodiversity issues associated with deforestation.