A challenge to fight climate change

Weekender
CLIMATE CHANGE

By PETER S KINJAP
TODAY we will glance through the experiences on REDD+ implementation by few notable countries around the world.
In essence, experiences in other countries have demonstrated that where awareness raising is left to the initiative of individual partners, messages provided to stakeholders on REDD+ may be unclear, confusing or conflicting.
While one of the safeguards for REDD+ included in the Cancun Agreements is the full and effective participation of all stakeholders, it is important to understand that a full and effective participation can only be ensured if stakeholders are effectively and accurately informed about REDD+. Thus, affectively raising awareness and understanding as well as communicating about REDD+ to key relevant stakeholders, especially at the beginning of its programme Readiness implementation, are critical to ensure respect for this safeguard.
What to communicate, when to communicate and to whom are essential questions that remain relevant for any country to seriously consider.
For PNG the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) as a leading government agency on climate change in close consultation with core government communications working group has developed a National REDD+ Communications and Knowledge Management Strategy (CKMS) to support the implementation of PNG’s National REDD+ Strategy.
Yet, an awareness raising plan (ARP) was also developed to further support to the CKMS plan, and to help guide and enhance understanding and raise awareness of broader aspects of REDD+ to larger stakeholder groups, and to meet the set goal as stated in the CKMS.
Actions and activities under the ARP is an ongoing with CCDA and other government agencies.
Before looking at improvement areas as experienced by other countries, let’s see how the REDD+ model was developed from its infant:
REDD+ was created through international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Initially, the negotiations focused on incentives for developing countries to ‘reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’, hence the acronym REDD.
REDD became REDD+ when negotiators extended the list of activities which could qualify for incentives to include: Conservation of existing forest carbon stocks, Sustainable forest management and Enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Traditional systems are important when dealing with REDD+.

After several years of negotiations that refined the concept of REDD+, the parties to the UNFCCC reached a major milestone in 2013 when they agreed the Warsaw Framework for REDD+.
The framework provides a clear set of rules that will enable countries to implement REDD+. It includes guidance on national forest monitoring systems, technical assessment of reference levels, measurement, reporting and verification, and safeguards.
As REDD+ evolved, the concept has broadened beyond what is being negotiated within the UNFCCC, with many actors developing and implementing initiatives to address deforestation and forest degradation, such as FLEGT, deforestation-free commodity approaches and regional and national initiatives.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which parties to the UNFCCC adopted in Paris in 2015 and which enters into force in 2020, includes a package of REDD+ elements that have been debated for more than 10 years.
The Paris Agreement provides a strong signal for REDD+ and treats forests as an integral part of the climate solution.
Continued debate on REDD+ finance
In 2010, the parties to the UNFCCC agreed that developed countries should support developing nations as they design and implement their national REDD+ strategies, policies, and action plans. This relates to the readiness phase of REDD+ and includes support for capacity building.
In 2011, the parties to the UNFCCC also agreed that results-based REDD+ payments to developing countries ‘may come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources’. The parties also agreed that funding should support and strengthen governance, the application of REDD+ safeguards and the multiple functions of forests.
A work programme on results-based finance was launched in 2013 and concluded as part of the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. Among its recommendations the work programme encouraged financing entities, including the Green Climate Fund, to channel adequate and predictable results-based finance in a fair and balanced manner. It also recognised the importance of incentivising non-carbon benefits and established an information hub on the REDD Web Platform, to publish information on results and corresponding results-based payments.
However, the debate within the UNFCCC on the sources of result-based finance was not resolved by the Paris Agreement in 2015. It is therefore yet unclear how public and private funds will be mobilised for REDD+ in the longer term and whether there is a role for carbon markets in relation to REDD+.
In the absence of a regulated market, some REDD+ projects chose to generate carbon credits to sell on the voluntary carbon market to companies, individuals or organisations that wish to offset some or all of their greenhouse gas emissions because of concerns about climate change.
Why REDD+ is special
This are some experiences PNG will face soon. So why is REDD+ so special to PNG?
PNG has a very high level of forest cover at 77.8 making it one of the most extensively forested countries in the world.
Despite this, PNG’s forests have been in decline, with deforestation reducing levels of forest cover and degradation changing the nature of a significant portion of PNG’s forests. PNG’s Forest Reference Level (FRL), submitted to the UNFCCC in 2017, identified that between 2000 and 2015, 261,528 ha of forest was cleared, resulting in average emissions of over 5 metric tonnes of CO2 per annum (source: PNGFA). This deforestation has been primarily driven by the conversion of forest-land to crop-land which accounts for 87 per cent of deforestation.

REDD+ expert training course participants in Kokopo, East New Britain.

Of this shifting agriculture is responsible for 63 per cent of the land deforested and commercial agricultural developments, primarily in the form of oil palm are responsible for 30 per cent of the deforested land.
The trend in clearance for commercial agriculture has increased in the past decade following the rapid expansion of Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs), which were allocated over 5.1m ha.
While only a small number of these have initiated development and there has been an official moratorium and subsequent suspension of them, some logging and conversion has occurred.
Another challenge that is experienced by countries whom have implemented REDD+ is the sectorial policy. Is the PNG Government considering sectorial policy to implement REDD+? Sectorial policy may cover climate actors and all stakeholders from different sectors such as businesses, SMEs, churches, NGOs, CSOs, mining, agriculture, tourism, forestry, rural farming, fishing and other sectors.
In the next article, we will look at the drivers of REDD+ in PNG.

  • Peter S Kinjap is a freelancer and a blogger, email: pekinjap@gmail.com

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