The fifth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change took place in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, and was attended by approximately 100 participants representing 18 countries. The Dialogue engaged representatives of governments, indigenous peoples, civil society, investors and businesses, and conservation and development organizations from around the world.
The Dialogue allowed participants and panelists to consider developments on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD); and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+),particularly concerning governance, efforts to protect the rights and interests of local peoples, and the prospects for REDD at the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Participants convened in four panel sessions throughout the day. In the first morning session, participants took stock of recent meetings, particularly the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference in May 2010. The second morning session addressed challenges in the implementation of REDD. In the afternoon, the third panel session focused on progress towards a framework of standards, in particular assessing recommendations from the RRI workshop on “Systems of Standards, Safeguards, and Recourse Mechanisms for Forests and Climate,” which took place in May 2010. The final session concluded with a discussion summarizing the day’s work towards identifying critical issues to be addressed and next steps to be taken in the lead up to the UNFCCC COP 16 in Cancún, Mexico.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RRI DIALOGUES ON FORESTS, GOVERNANCE AND CLIMATE CHANGE AND RELATED PROCESSES
RRI is a global coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in forest conservation, research and development. RRI aims to promote greater global action on pro-poor forest policy and market reforms to increase household and community ownership, control and benefit from forests and trees.
The RRI Dialogues on Forests, Governance and Climate Change are designed to foster critical reflection and learning on forest governance, the rights of forest communities and indigenous peoples, and forest tenure in the context of global action to combat climate change, including REDD. The Dialogue series builds on the discussions of the International Conference on Rights, Forests and Climate Change, convened by RRI and Rainforest Foundation Norway in October 2008. Previous dialogues have focused on a variety of topics, including the role of forest governance in achieving reduced emissions from deforestation, the status of forests in the global negotiations on climate change, and the implications of UNFCCC COP 15 in December 2009 in Copenhagen for forest communities and indigenous peoples.
OSLO CONFERENCE: RRI co-hosted the International Conference on Rights, Forests and Climate Change, held from 15-17 October 2008 in Oslo, Norway. The event explored how clear tenure rights and community participation can be built into the design, implementation and monitoring of climate change interventions.
FIRST DIALOGUE: Co-hosted by RRI and Chatham House, this meeting took place on 8 July 2009 in London, UK, and addressed four topics: forests and REDD in the UNFCCC climate negotiations; precedents and standards creation through the UN Collaborative Programme on REDD (UN-REDD), the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Forest Investment Programme; rights, rules and emission reductions; and carbon financing mechanisms and forest governance. The report and presentations from this meeting can be found at http://www.rightsandresources.org/events.php?id=199
SECOND DIALOGUE: Co-organized by RRI, Chatham House and the World Resources Institute, this meeting was held from 22-23 October 2009 in Washington, D.C., US. The meeting focused on the international implications of the proposed US climate legislation, as well as the preliminary steps by the UN-REDD and FCPF to establish REDD-readiness in developing countries. The report and presentations from this meeting can be found at http://www.rightsandresources.org/events.php?id=233
THIRD DIALOGUE: Co-hosted by RRI and Chatham House, this meeting took place on 22 January 2010 in London, and addressed the outcomes of UNFCCC COP 15 in Copenhagen and future steps. The report and presentations from this meeting can be found at: http://www.rightsandresources.org/events.php?id=231
FOURTH DIALOGUE: Hosted by RRI, this meeting took place on 6 April 2010 in London, UK. Sessions addressed perspectives on the REDD+ architecture, standards and role of non-governmental actors, as well as issues, options and recommended principles for the proposed interim global REDD+ architecture. Participants discussed the process and proposed outcomes of the Norway-France REDD+ partnership and RRI introduced principles and criteria for effectiveness in emerging REDD+ arrangements. The IISD Reporting Services summary of this Dialogue can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/rri/dfgcc4
WORLD PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH: Hosted by the Government of Bolivia, in Cochabamba from 20-22 April 2010, this meeting resulted in the People’s Agreement on the Rights of Mother Earth, which, inter alia, expressed concern about the use of market mechanisms, including REDD+, in the global response to climate change.
OSLO CLIMATE AND FOREST CONFERENCE: This meeting of REDD+ donor and recipient countries took place on 27 May 2010 in Oslo, Norway. The meeting resulted in the establishment of the Interim REDD+ Partnership, which seeks to support and contribute to the UNFCCC process and promote transparency in financing of REDD+ initiatives. Participants highlighted pledges of approximately US$4.0 billion in financing for REDD+ activities in the period 2010-2012.
REPORT OF THE FIFTH RRI DIALOGUE
In his opening remarks on 22 June, Andy White, RRI, explained that the goal of the Dialogue is to share experiences and improve governance of forests in order to ensure that climate change responses effectively reduce emissions and contribute to economic and social development. He noted that many external events have been affecting REDD, such as the debt crisis, decline in international aid flow and questions of how US legislation will progress.
SESSION ONE: EMERGING ARCHITECTURE, NEW PARTNERSHIPS AND GLOBAL REDD GOVERNANCE
Sally Collins, Department of Agriculture, US, opened the session and introduced the speakers. Donna Lee, Department of State, US, reflected on her experience as a member of the US negotiating team to the UNFCCC focusing on REDD. Highlighting key milestones in the REDD discussions under the UNFCCC, she said the negotiations regarding rights, governance and safeguards issues have come a long way since COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia. She stressed the need to ensure permanent reductions that are sustainable and benefit people on the ground, noting that the draft decision text developed at COP 15 in Copenhagen contains good language on safeguards. She concluded by highlighting the focus of the US on implementation, and describing appropriate next steps, including the need to operationalize safeguard procedures and start thinking about responsibility at international, national and sub-national levels.
On the Interim REDD+ Partnership, Andreas Dahl-Jørgensen, Ministry of Environment, Norway, said 58 countries have endorsed the Partnership, highlighting that it: is not a negotiating process; seeks to be consistent with UNFCCC negotiations; and is open to all countries. He described the Partnership as a platform to scale-up REDD+ actions and coordinate spending. He said Japan and Papua New Guinea would act as chairs of the Partnership for 2010, described the Secretariat services of coordinating a voluntary database and organizing meetings and technical analysis, and said the FCPF and UN-REDD would provide Secretariat services.
Lars Løvold, Rainforest Foundation Norway, reminded participants that REDD must: change the historic use of forests in poor countries; reward protection; and control those who make money by destroying the forest. He added that REDD is a new development model, and noted preconditions for a successful REDD mechanism, including broad stakeholder participation and respect for the collective and individual rights of people who live in forests. On the Interim REDD+ Partnership, he noted some concerns, including: it is a partnership of governments with limited participation of civil society; its architecture is ambiguous; the trend towards bilateralism; and the need to ensure common standards.
Guy Patrice Dkamela, Network for Environment and Sustainable Development, Cameroon, described the discrepancies between international-level discussions and REDD implementation in the field, noting too much discussion on finance and not enough on enabling conditions. He highlighted the lack of a national REDD strategy and multi-stakeholder communications in Cameroon, and noted the need to involve more local actors. He underscored challenges, including: distrust of national government by local people; lack of knowledge about historical emissions; lack of capacity on monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV); historical conflicts between the state and rural communities; corruption; poor experience with benefit sharing; and a lack of experience with administrative decentralization. He asked whether finance would be sufficient and if a REDD mechanism will be strong enough to break institutional inertia.
DISCUSSION: Responding to questions on the role of bilateralism, Andreas Dahl-Jørgensen said the Interim REDD+ Partnership will help to coordinate and identify funding gaps that may be filled through multilateral or bilateral channels. Donna Lee noted the need for bilateralism to complement multilateralism, and that bilateral work offers the advantage of getting “boots on the ground” quickly. She said REDD financing from the US will be split equally between bilateral and multilateral channels. Lars Løvold said he is not against bilateral support, but is concerned about standards and consistency issues. One participant noted that the proliferation of bilateral and multilateral initiatives and the lack of coordination among donor countries puts a “terrible weight” on already weak institutions in some countries. On civil society participation, Lee noted that engagement of civil society in the Norway-France process is complicated by the question of defining who will represent civil society. Løvold underscored the need to include civil society as full and effective partners and said the current broad self-selection process has worked well so far.
SESSION TWO: IMPLEMENTATION: ADDRESSING THE DRIVERS, THE COSTS AND THE RISKS
Andy White, RRI, opened the session and introduced the speakers. Phil Shearman, University of Papua New Guinea, provided an introductory presentation on the drivers of deforestation. He discussed the difficulties in identifying the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation, stressing the complexity caused by the interaction between drivers, and that drivers change over time. On MRV, he highlighted the limitations of satellite data, noting the difficulties of teasing out primary from secondary causes of deforestation in satellite imagery, and underscoring that local knowledge is necessary to do this. He stressed the importance of addressing the impact of logging on deforestation because: tropical logging is a major source of emissions; carbon stocks do not regenerate over standard cutting cycles; logging catalyzes deforestation; and tropical logging companies have a long history of promoting corruption. He concluded by discussing the challenges faced in addressing deforestation in Australia, highlighting the implications for developing countries with more limited institutional capacity.
Beto Borges, Forest Trends, described the importance of strengthening indigenous peoples’ rights for effective REDD intervention. He said local communities are stewards of global forests and that 25% of forests in Latin America and Asia are owned or managed by indigenous communities. He described REDD+ experiences of the Suruí indigenous group in Brazil, noting that while demarcated forest tenure and property rights are important, they are not adequate on their own to halt deforestation. He also described the importance of defining ownership rights for carbon. Underscoring the Suruí’s 50 year autonomous development plan, he said REDD should not be an end in itself but rather should be used to strengthen autonomous decisions.
Gerhard Dieterle, World Bank, discussed the underlying causes of deforestation, stressing the need to address issues embedded within society, such as unequal distribution of resources and poverty. He underscored the importance of land tenure issues and agricultural practices, noting that a uniform response to addressing drivers is not possible. Dieterle emphasized the role of energy in deforestation, noting that 70-80% of total energy consumption in Africa comes from charcoal and firewood, and that this will increase in the future. He further discussed international trade and goods consumption in driving deforestation, saying demand for wood is rapidly increasing. He concluded by underscoring the need for multiple approaches to addressing deforestation, and the potential role of improved forest management in addressing this problem.
Janis Alcorn, IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, noted differing national contexts in Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia, highlighting that in some cases REDD implementation threatens to negatively impact rights of local communities. Underscoring a “REDD gold rush,” she said communities are willing to sign onto agreements without fully understanding the implications.
DISCUSSION: Opening discussions, Andy White described the initial assumptions that REDD would be cheap, easy and fast, noting that none of these assumptions have proven accurate. He noted that even if drivers are identified, they may be extremely challenging to address.
On recent developments in Papua New Guinea, White highlighted discord between its international leadership and policy regression at the national level. Phil Shearman noted the lack of national-level coordination between logging, agriculture and REDD policies, and the challenges of dealing with long-term logging contracts and agroforestry leases.
On funding, Dieterle noted that while public funding is necessary during the initial phase, it will not alone be sufficient to change the course of deforestation. Stressing the importance of developing self-sustaining structures, he noted that carbon markets are important but not the sole solution. He predicted a slowdown in some aspects of readiness processes as national interests compete and conflict. He noted that indigenous peoples are not the only marginalized group, and that there are many inter-community conflicts that may not be addressed simply by engaging the “local community.”
On demarcation of indigenous lands, one participant underscored problems that arise from legislation failing to recognize traditional land rights. Saying REDD has caused a “big push” to start demarcating, she emphasized the need for international safeguards to ensure that rights are protected in reality. Beto Borges responded by noting differences between countries in this regard, and stressing the importance of free, prior and informed consent.
On monitoring, Shearman highlighted the importance of independent monitoring, but noted sovereignty challenges. Borges suggested using local communities for ground truthing, and Janis Alcorn highlighted the role of civil society in monitoring. Dieterle noted pressure from some developing countries to relax safeguards in order to facilitate implementation.
On scaling-up efforts, particularly monitoring, Shearman noted the challenge of accessing data and distributing it in a useful form. One participant noted transferable lessons from successful monitoring schemes from other policy implementation arenas. Borges highlighted cost barriers and noted the need for social innovations on monitoring to complement technological advances.
SESSION THREE: ACCOUNTABILITY, STANDARDS AND SAFEGUARDS
Uma Lele, former Senior Advisor, World Bank, opened the session and introduced the speakers. Augusta Molnar, RRI, described outcomes of the RRI workshop on “Systems of Standards, Safeguards, and Recourse Mechanisms for Forests and Climate,” which took place in May 2010, highlighting that safeguards are about identifying and managing risk and deciding what level of risk is appropriate. Underscoring that many safeguards require long-term iterative processes, she noted challenges, including: incentivizing compliance; setting thresholds; generalizing standards; undertaking consultations; and distributing benefits. She highlighted national issues, including a lack of political commitment, and the perception of safeguards as a regulatory burden.
Tim Clairs, UN Development Programme, presented on a risk-based tool aimed at developing minimum standards and coherence. He noted that the tool’s three core principles are good governance, stakeholder livelihoods, and policy coherence, explaining that the tool attempts to categorize risks. He welcomed feedback on the approach from participants and noted that next steps include consulting across the UN-REDD partners and a public comment period.
Charles Di Leva, World Bank, described potential differences in the interpretation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (UNDRIP) language on free, prior informed consent and World Bank language on free, prior informed consultation. He noted the challenge of consistency across countries that have different levels and interpretations of safeguards, and pointed to the costs of implementing and following up on safeguards. He highlighted the difficulty of advancing on REDD when other sectors in national economies, such as mining and forestry, have development frameworks that are not necessarily compatible with REDD objectives.
Through an interpreter, Carlos Mamani, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said that REDD has been addressed in the Forum, including through a half-day session on forest issues. He said there was a split among the indigenous peoples represented at the session on REDD, with some accepting and others condemning it. He explained that this split has to do with past and current colonization that indigenous peoples experienced and continue to experience, noting recent conflict in Bagua, Peru. He underscored that the International Labor Organization Convention 169 and UNDRIP both clearly establish indigenous peoples’ rights, noting that they recognize prior consultation and free, prior and informed consent respectively.
DISCUSSION: In ensuing discussions, Uma Lele highlighted the gap between statements on safeguards and implementation. On safeguard enforcement, Charles Di Leva highlighted the importance of contracts, underscoring that carbon would become a commodity. He expressed concern about achieving economically sound incentives for REDD. Tim Clairs said safeguards would strengthen assurances for all REDD stakeholders, not just financers. Di Leva noted the critical role of recourse and grievance mechanisms, but highlighted additional costs to establish and operate these mechanisms.
On holding donors accountable for payments based on performance, Clairs noted that UN-REDD has not implemented carbon performance contingent payments, but suggested that some bilateral donors are doing so. On safeguards in the FCPF charter, Di Leva outlined the World Bank’s process for considering both World Bank safeguards and national laws.
Participants then asked, inter alia: how to operationalize safeguards from the FCPF charter; how to avoid donor shopping for countries with the lowest standards; and what concrete steps can be taken to move towards a more coherent framework. Di Leva noted that the increasingly fragmented nature of financing decreases opportunities for coherence, with Clairs adding that UN-REDD is not looking for institutional equivalence, but minimum standards. On donor shopping, Clairs noted an upcoming discussion about opening up delivery partners, saying that this situation raises the question about how to agree on standards.
SESSION FOUR: PRIORITIES FOR GOING FORWARD
Arvind Khare, RRI, opened the final session and introduced the speakers. Charles Barber, Department of State, US, noted the “incredible progress” made on REDD, highlighting, inter alia: stronger recognition that forests have multiple goods and services; increased funding for forest issues; a platform for stakeholder participation; and increased accountability. He highlighted challenges, including opposition to REDD, and a “myopic focus” on funding and finance, which he said is important but is not the only issue. He stressed that if we do not consider REDD in the development context, REDD will fail. He said MRV is inherently a political process, and that REDD needs to be thought of as one function of forest ecosystems, and should supply one of many income streams.
Cécile Ndjebet, Cameroon Ecology, highlighted the lack of discussion on: participatory community rights mapping; equity and tenure issues with respect to gender; local governance; and issues related to conflict.
John Spears, former Senior Advisor, World Bank, reflected on the day’s discussions. On architecture and partnerships, he said we have not spent enough time thinking about institutional frameworks at the national level. On drivers of deforestation, he lamented the lack of discussion surrounding what we already know about how to deal with existing drivers. He further noted the lack of discussion on involvement of the private sector, underscoring the need to influence the policies of individual companies, and the importance of company-community partnerships. He concluded by stating that afforestation and reforestation present huge opportunities for involvement of local communities in tree planting.
DISCUSSION: In ensuing discussions, on seeing safeguards as enabling conditions rather than conditionalities, Charles Barber noted the need for international standards saying “one size does not fit all, but there has to be a dress code.” He underscored the need to simplify procedures, highlighting the complexity of many existing tools. Arvind Khare underscored that, without safeguards, there will be a “race to the bottom.”
Participants then asked about: prospects for decentralizing finance; if carbon credits are commodities; and how to make REDD operational. On carbon as a commodity, Barber noted that carbon credits can be seen as a service that anyone can own. On operationalizing REDD, Barber noted that the UNFCCC process has taught us about the potential of international processes to effect change as well as their limitations, and Spears noted progress using examples from Brazil and Indonesia. On involving local communities in REDD, Ndjebet said these communities must be involved in project design and decision-making. On drivers of deforestation, Khare broadly differentiated between poverty drivers and “greed” drivers, noting that we don’t know the relative contribution of each.
On the way forward, Barber noted the need for citizens to engage their politicians. Khare said a comprehensive climate agreement would not be reached at COP 16, but that if an international legally-binding agreement on REDD does not emerge from COP 16, countries would continue to move towards bilateral partnerships. He underscored the need to move towards cohesion on standards to force governments to move forward.
CONCLUDING REMARKS: Drawing the Dialogue to a close, Andy White noted that the next RRI Dialogues would be at the regional level in: Kathmandu, Nepal in August 2010; San Salvador, El Salvador in September 2010; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2010. He said there would also be a global Dialogue in Mexico in October 2010. He closed the meeting at 5:08pm.