Scope of REDD+ and its benefits

Weekender

By PETER S. KINJAP
AS promised last week, we will now look more closely at REDD+ (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and plus (+) conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
First of all, let us look at how REDD+ is relevant to Papua New Guinea.
The country has a globally significant area of forest that provides vital environmental benefits at the local, national and international levels.
PNG’s forest resources contribute significantly to the national economy, through commercial timber exports exceeding US$800 million (K2.4b) per annum – nearly 10% of total exports as well domestic timber and fuel wood use being critical to rural construction and energy needs (Source: Observatory of Economic Complexity online).
The long-term sustainability of these (and other land use-based) economic activities, as well as the provision of environment services by forests, however, rests on PNG’s ability to effectively manage its forest resources while navigating the broader development challenges of population growth, poverty alleviation and economic and social development.
Achieving a sustainable approach to managing the country’s forests will require strong political leadership, sustainable financial commitments and the ability to manage long and short term economic development interests from national to local levels.
The Government has emphasized its commitment to the long-term future of PNG’s forests through key national strategies and policies including Vision 2050, the National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development for PNG (2014), the PNG Development Strategic Plan (2010-2030) and the National Climate Change Action Plan (2010).
These plans set out ambitious goals for the protection and sustainable use of forest resources. How these goals will be achieved, however, has not been so clearly stated.
Within this context REDD+ offers PNG the opportunity to help achieve its development plans and objectives through: REDD+ investment finance, which can help the country implement policies and measures for sustainable forest management, and REDD+ results-based payments, if PNG shows that it has reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forest-related activities.
The Government, with coordination and leadership by PNG Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA), is leading national efforts to realize these opportunities offered by REDD+.
What is being done already with REDD+ programmes in PNG?
According to (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), for countries to be able to receive results-based payments for REDD+ under the UNFCCC they must develop four (4) things that come in stages of implementation, which are known as the ‘Four Design Elements of REDD+’.
The Government, in partnership with development partners such as the UN-REDD Programme, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the European Union (EU) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has started to build capacity and knowledge around these four design elements.
Further work in each of these areas is needed with particular focus on developing a REDD+ National Strategy/Action Plan that will specify exactly what REDD+ implementation in PNG will look like.

The four elements of REDD+ in PNG are as follows:
National strategic Actions Plans (NSAP)
At this stage, the requirements are to provide information on what a country will do and how it will implement REDD.

Left: Discussions around REDD+ and its impact in
Papua New Guinea at the workshop in 2019.
– Image supplied by UNDP

The UNFCCC requests countries aiming to implement REDD+ to develop and implement a National Strategic Action plan that ensures the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders. The action strategic plan should outline a country’s vision and objectives for REDD+, and how these will support national development priorities. It should also provide a clear plan for the implementation of national policies and measures that will reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Safeguard Information System (SIS)
Under this stage, the UNFCCC requires that countries to provide information on how REDD+ safeguards are being addressed and respected. The UNFCCC has specified seven REDD+ Safeguards (commonly referred to as the Cancun Safeguards). These are intended to ensure that REDD+ actions do not cause any social or environmental harm. For example, policies to reduce deforestation should not negatively impact local people. Countries are required to demonstrate that they have addressed and respected these safeguards, through a safeguards information system. The safeguard information systems (SIS) can vary in their design but should provide information to all relevant stakeholders that are comprehensive, accessible and up to date.

Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL)
Under this third stage in implementing REDD+ programs, it is an international requirement that an assessment of trends in land use changes over time and emissions from land cover change.
Countries throughout the world are required to develop a forest reference emission level (FREL) that will be the benchmark against which the implementation of REDD+ will be measured.
Before PNG begins reducing emissions from the forest sector, it must determine a starting point based on historical levels of emissions: this is known as the Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL). According to international guidance, National Forest Reference Emissions Level (FRELs) should consider historical land use change trends and national circumstances such as future development scenarios.

National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS)
The fourth is stage is the development and designing of the system to monitor land use change, and link with a national forest inventory to provide information on emissions from the forest sector. A National Forest Monitoring system (NFMS) provides transparent information on the status of forests in a country. It has two core functions, the first is to monitor changes in a country’s forests, which will help improve forest policy making and planning. And the second is to measure, report and verify (MRV) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forests. The Government will use the National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from the land use sector to the UNFCCC.

Until then I will come back to this column next week, this time to look more closely at each of the four stages of REDD+ programs we have seen above and more specifically, what is happening now in the country with those stages and their status, as implemented by CCDA in partnership with UNDP.

Note: This article has been vetted by CCDA and UNDP for publicity.

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

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