Forest Carbon Must-Reads for CancĂșn

Misc Image
By David Diaz

The 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs from Monday, November 29, through Friday, December 10, and the months leading up to it have generated a dizzying array of finance, policy, and project events contributing to the current state of play. From the various UNFCCC negotiating tracks, to the emergence of the (Interim) REDD+ Partnership, negotiators will be sitting down in Cancún to hash out some important details regarding what REDD+ means, how to finance it, how to make sure activities done in the name of REDD+ are good for communities, and how to measure, report, and verify all of the above.

The REDD+ Partnership met this evening with plans to deliver a new work plan for 2011 and 2012 on Wednesday, December 1, and a final work plan emerging on Monday, December 6. In order to avoid detracting from formal negotiations, feedback on the Wednesday draft will be handled via e-mail – meaning Sunday's talks may be the last of the year. On January 1, Brazil and France take over from Papua New Guinea and Japan as new partnership co-chairs. Look to Ecosystem Marketplace for details Monday morning.

Although numerous publications have emerged over recent months coming up to where we are now, a few reviews and policy documents distinguish themselves as must-reads. Here are our recommendations:


For the Big Picture:

FIELD REDD-Plus Briefing Paper

If you only have time or interest to read one document surrounding REDD+, LULUCF, and related topics, this is the one. Prepared by the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), this 7-page document prepared earlier this month gives a whirlwind tour of the various negotiating tracks, links to key documents, and the critical decisions standing in the way of current policy and a finalized REDD+ Mechanism many are hoping to emerge from Cancun. This brief was intended to provide an un-biased overview for negotiators from developing countries, and in my opinion does a great and neutral job of covering the big ticket items. Find this document on the FIELD website in English, Spanish, or French here.

The Emergence of the REDD Hydra

To get a bit more perspective on how we got to the current state of play, this 11-page report from July, 2010 by Francesco Martone of the Forest Peoples Programme gives good coverage of the events through the first half of 2010. From the announcement of billions in REDD+ fast start finance to the mid-2010 meetings of UNFCCC subsidiary bodies in Bonn and formation of the REDD+ Partnership, this brief digs into the evolving negotiating texts and outcomes with an emphasis on highlighting the struggles to get meaningful language and actions supporting the roles and rights on indigenous peoples in the multiplying number of REDD+ frameworks. Since relatively little has changed within the UN policy arena since this document was written, it is still current on nearly all the REDD+ and LULUCF topics it covers. Find it on the Forest Peoples Programme website in English, Spanish, or French here.

The History of REDD Policy

To take a deeper dive into history, this 20-page white paper put together by Vivienne Holloway and Esteban Giandomenico for Carbon Planet Limited in December 2009 on the eve of the Copenhagen negotiations gives the long view of REDD+. Beginning in 1997 with the Kyoto Protocol, this document traces the roots of REDD+ in the UNFCCC arena through the Marrakech Accords, the actions of relevant multilateral groups such as the European Commission, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, and of course, the Bali Action Plan. For those unfamiliar with the general policy history of REDD+, this document lays the foundation that is often not mentioned in more recent briefs. If you feel like registering as a user with Carbon Planet Limited, you can download the document from their website here, or you can simply find it on the Forest Carbon Portal here.


Digging into the Details:

For the serious forest carbon policy wonk, the following documents will have you using more acronyms than any of your friends or co-workers could ever understand, but will also clue you in to exactly how the international climate policy sausage-making gets done.

Negotiating Text for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)

As negotiators gather in Cancun, the AWG-LCA is likely to be the venue where most progress is possible on REDD+. Expect negotiators to wrangle with issues of social and environmental safeguards, including monitoring and verifying implementation, whether to identify specific financing mechanisms and bodies to pay for REDD+, and other technical decisions such as whether to push for separate decisions on the LCA outcomes by the Conference of the Parties or whether they intend to bury any REDD+ progress in a more general “balanced” or “unified” proposal. Access this document (also known as FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/14) from the UNFCCC website here in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese or Russian here. The REDD+ section begins on p. 22.

In-session draft texts and notes by the facilitators prepared at the twelfth session of the AWG-LCA

For those really looking to get into the weeds, this is your chance. This is where the many of the specific textual choices and jockeying for preferred financial mechanisms and safeguards options feeding in to the negotiations may be found, although this document does not hold any formal status or recognition in the negotiations. This document deals more with underlying issues affecting REDD+ as opposed to some of the more explicit REDD+-related policy choices included in the negotiating text above. Included also in this document are the notes by facilitators who have attempted to help bring the various drafts and options together. Access this document (also known as FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/INF.1) from the UNFCCC website here.

Chairs Proposed Text for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)

This document, prepared by the AWG-KP chairs to serve as a launching pad for negotiations deals with more general forest carbon topics including how LULUCF and other emissions accounting and mitigation activities occur within the Kyoto framework. From the much-discussed “logging loophole” regarding measurement and reporting of forestry activities to the potential for a post-2012 role for offsets from beyond the current limited scope of afforestation and reforestation projects, the AWG-KP, this document may be the seed from which these policy choices emerge over the first week of the Cancun meetings. Find this document (also known as FCCC/KP/AWG/2010/17) from the UNFCCC website here.


David Diaz is a Forest Carbon Associate with Ecosystem Marketplace. He manages the Forest Carbon Portal, and can be reached at

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.