As much progress as REDD+ has made in international talks since its introductions, there is a world of difference between working out policy and technical kinks and implementing a REDD program on the ground. As more and more REDD projects take off and national REDD Readiness programs are implemented we’ve seen debates about three issues pop up again and again: stakeholder engagement (particularly with forest communities and indigenous groups), the co-benefits of forests, and issues surrounding monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV). This 12-page UN-REDD Programme document, Perspectives on REDD+, is a quick read that explores these issues and offers some suggestions for overcoming the challenge associated with each. Access the report in English, French, and Spanish here
Whether or not you’re a negotiator at this year’s COP, you should get your hands on the updated Guide for REDD-Plus Negotiators from the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD). It walks through UNFCCC negotiations to date and explains how REDD+ will fit into the two negotiating tracks at Durban. They’ve also included key documents from previous negotiations. Although the guide was developed with negotiators from developing countries in mind, it provides an unbiased overview of REDD+ and related issues and should be useful for anyone in Durban trying to follow REDD+. Find this document on the FIELD website in English, Spanish, or French here
The Tropical Forestry Group’s report Justification and Recommendations for a UNFCCC REDD+ Mechanism gives a quick look at the state of play for REDD+ within the upcoming UNFCCC negotiations, breaking down the outcomes in previous meetings and situating REDD+ in the current landscape of initiatives outside of the UNFCCC process. The report is a must-read for those trying to understand how and why REDD+ looks like it does going into COP17 and provides a well-thought out rationale for a UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism. Find the report at the Tropical Forest Group's website
Forest in Exhaustion: An ECA Guide for the Perplexed
The Ecosystem Climate Alliance has put together a great explainer of what's happening in the CDM with "Forests in Exhaustion." The term refers to commercial plantations that are nearing the end of their cycle of productivity and will not regenerate naturally after the final harvest of timber. Brazil has proposed that reestablishing a commercial plantation on that land should be eligible for credits under CDM. There are some compelling arguments for and against the proposal, and unfortunately this article is heavy on the "against" arguments. Still, it provides a good introduction to a hotly debated topic. See the article here.
Status Report on Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions
Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)are likely to be a hot topic at this year’s COP. The First Annual “Status Report on Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions,” published by ECOFYS, The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, and Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, is a helpful guide to current NAMA developments around the world, as well as a guide to understanding their origins in past UNFCCC talks, and lessons learned in NAMA development. Stick to the first 9 pages for a good backgrounder on the topic that should get you up to speed for the upcoming discussions of NAMA inside the COP and out at NAMA side events. See the report here.
If you’re trying to figure out where parties stand on the issue of REDD+, you can sift through Ideas and proposals on the elements contained in paragraph 1 of the Bali Action Plan. Submissions from Parties. While some parties gloss over REDD+ and LULUCF, or fail to mention them entirely, other parties go into depth with their vision of a REDD+. Expect to see parties call for COP17 to deliver definitions, modalities, rules and guidelines for a REDD+ mechanism, as well as clarification on a potential market-mechanism to fund REDD+. Access this document (also known as FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/MISC.9 and the subsequent addendum FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/MISC.9/Add.1) from the UNFCCC website here
Although REDD+ has made significant progress under the aegis of the UNFCCC and other organizations (the UN-REDD Programme, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, etc.) there are still some serious technical issues to be resolved. At the top of the list are establishing baseline levels moving forward. Those levels will set the amount of land subject to LULUCF accounting for developed countries and inform developing countries of the size of possible REDD+ activities. The Ad Hoc Work Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties released the Synthesis report of the technical assessments of forest management and reference level submissions, which puts the key conclusions of official reports on forest reference levels in one place. Negotiators will look to this document to make decisions about what forest reference levels will look like from a technical level, but they’ll also inform policy on baselines and MRV for REDD+. Access the document (also known as FCCC/KP/AWG/2011/INF.2) here