REDD Pledges Delivering In Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

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By Ramiro Escobar

3 April 2014 | Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013 report found that 80% of the world's REDD (Reduced greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) credits originated in Latin America during 2012, and that Brazil leads the region in funding commitments to REDD.

Beyond that, however, the funding picture has always been a bit nebulous. Until now

Forest Trends' REDDX Initiative has been following REDD+ finance in 14 countries – six of them Latin American. It finds that, out of $111,334,638 pledged to those three Latin American countries, $54,052,851 – or nearly half – has been delivered to date.

"It surprised everyone," says Marta Echavarria of Ecuador's EcoDecision, an organization specializing in ecosystem services markets.

Tracking REDD Finance in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

The Latin American region is vast and full of natural resources. REDD activity is taking place high in the Andes Mountains, down to the coastal areas of the Caribbean Sea, throughout the Orinoco River Watershed, and across the Amazon Rainforest.

Roberto Leon Gomez Charry, of conservation organization Colombia Fundacion Natura, led the analysis of REDDX data in Colombia from 2009 to 2012, and unveiled many of the findings recently at the Bogota Regional Exchange, during a workshop arranged by Ecosystem Marketplace’s sister site, Valorando Naturaleza.

Over those four years, he says, nearly USD $30 million was pledged for REDD activities in Colombia, with $13 million delivered (see the exact figures below). Most of the funding came from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Other donors include the Moore Foundation and the governments of Finland, the Netherlands and Norway. The funds were administered through Colciencias, the Colombian government Agency of Technology, Science and Innovation.

REDDX has identified 15 international funders and five domestic funders in Colombia so far, with less than 1% coming from domestic sources.

REDDX Ecuador Chart

Colombia's southern neighbor, Ecuador, holds 10 million hectares of forest – 80% of that within the Amazon rainforest. It received several international REDD funding pledges as well, according to REDDX. The total amount pledged between 2009 and 2012 was $38.4 million.

2012 saw $15.8 million in commitments delivered to Colombia, with another $2.6 pledged to REDD. The funding came in the form of bilateral finance from the Netherlands, Finland, the US and Germany and multilaterally from the United Nations, European Union, Inter-American Development Bank and COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin).

In Ecuador, Echavarria says, most of the funds go directly to the government. This includes the money directed to the National Environmental Fund (FAN) because it's supported by the state despite it being a separate organization.

REDDX Ecuador Chart

The funds are also channeled through NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the Rainforest Alliance. This money finances REDD projects and the activities that support the projects like MRV, stakeholder engagement, policy, implementation and the development of safeguards.

Echavarria defines what funds should be considered as part of REDD finance.

"They're the international financial transfers that are used to support mechanisms for REDD+ initiatives, as currently defined by the UNFCCC, with the intent of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions in the forestry sector."

A flagship project for Ecuador is the Socio Bosque Program that helped create incentive-based policy for forest conservation. The program ran from 2008 to 2011 and during that time achieved conservation agreements with individual landowners and indigenous groups protecting 883,223 hectares of forests and Andean grasslands.

Peru is also using a program similar to the Socio Bosque Program. The nation struggles with land-use change that is causing deforestation. 47% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions came from this deforestation. So the Ministry of Environment (MINAM) initiated the Forest Conservation Program. They are also encouraging the nested approach for their REDD activities. According to Jose Luis Capella of the non-governmental Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA), there are 41 REDD projects in Peru and nesting will give them coherence.

"There is the opportunity of a paradigm shift where the forest is worth something standing," he says.

SPDA is a partner of Forest Trends in the REDDX initiative. MINAM was also in collaboration and obtained support and data from the National REDD Committee. 65% of respondents provided information regarding funding sources for the 2009-2011 period.

Peru also received finance from Germany, the US, Norway and Finland and from the Moore Foundation and NGOs. Other sources were a little outside the ordinary. Finance came from companies Nike and Disney and academic institution, Columbia University. Peru's 41 REDD projects ties with Kenya and follows Indonesia, which has 63 ongoing projects.

REDDX Ecuador Chart

The findings gathered from REDDX and other sources on REDD+ activity and progress will play a prominent role in the upcoming UN COP. Ecuador, Colombia and Peru will also play an important role in the conference-particularly Peru because the nation will host the event in Lima in December.

"We must continue to learn from the existing REDD+ projects to find meaningful data," says Capella.

Charry, as well, hopes to use what they've learned to improve and garner more support for REDD at COP 20.

The previous COP in the Polish capital continued to make progress in the forest carbon sector. Clearer trajectory on finance as well as the role of the carbon market was laid out and delegates moved forward with a well-designed monitoring system. These advancements and more act as a valuable contribution for not just those living in or near the forests but for all of humanity.

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Ramiro Escobar is a journalist and university professor specializing in environmental and international issues. He writes columns and stories in the newspapers La República in Peru and El Pais in Spain. He can be reached at meditamundo@gmail.com.
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