7 January 2013 | The global community has landed on REDD as possibly one of the best strategies in halting deforestation and thus slowing global warming. But implementing this mechanism in individual countries has resulted in varying styles and approaches.
For instance, the small Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam is taking an aggressive stance in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, and has developed a REDD+ National Action Plan that set out key legal and institutional roles and priority actions.
Vietnam's government supports a national framework for its ultimate domestic REDD+ approach, and is exploring the possibility of nested REDD+ approaches for establishing voluntary carbon markets, regulating REDD+ project‐based investments and maintaining environmental integrity.
A recently published paper from Forest Trends, Climate Focus, the Vietnam Administration of Forestry and Japan International Cooperation Agency, titled, "REDD+ in Vietnam: Integrating National and Subnational Approaches" provides background and preliminary information on applying a nested REDD+ approach in Vietnam. The report is based on the current understanding of how to integrate national and subnational approaches to REDD+.
Despite the significant progress made to date on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) it is still unclear how a future REDD+ mechanism may be implemented in practice, and in particular how to design REDD+ to deliver ecosystem conservation and restoration in an economically efficient and socially sustainable way.
“Nested” approaches to REDD+ offer countries an opportunity to account for overall emission reductions and removals (ERRs) from REDD+ activities at the national level as well as at the level of nested subnational programs and/or projects within the national system. Nested approaches to REDD+ require consideration of approval, registration and review, substantive policy issues and carbon rights and crediting.
Although nesting can add considerable complexity in carbon accounting, risk‐sharing, and institutional arrangements, the advantages to nested approaches seem to outweigh this increased complexity. This is true especially as the UNFCCC discussions focus increasingly on accounting and performance at national levels and away from project‐level activities that have dominated voluntary carbon markets to date. Yet countries will benefit greatly by building on their project‐level capacity.
Issues and options like accounting, regulatory framework and incentives require special consideration in regard to nesting. In establishing incentives, governments will first need to figure out their options in terms of programs and project funding and what private and public sector finance sources are available. They will then have to decipher the best pathways for distributing this finance to appropriate recipients.
Accounting issues relevant to nested REDD+ can draw on the work of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and its Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ Initiative, which has provided guidance on establishing jurisdictional and nested reference emissions levels (RELs); monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV); leakage; issuing credits and avoiding double counting; and accounting for reversals and forest loss.
Arguably the most complex of these issues is creating a jurisdiction‐wide R(E)L to incorporate smaller R(E)Ls such as those at project‐level, given the numerous factors that must be considered such as determining the boundary, scope and calculation of the R(E)L, creating rules on how to nest different scales and ensuring additionality.
While the UNFCCC has not established methodologies for setting R(E)Ls, Vietnam is working to adopt interim performance indicators in pilot provinces for each type of REDD+ activity to be implemented, which will be monitored and assessed at the provincial level. This includes calculation of “top‐down” jurisdiction‐wide R(E)Ls and smaller scale R(E)Ls- from a project or series of projects- or how it relates to projects developed after the jurisdiction‐wide R(E)L is set.
According to the report, the pilot subnational activities studied in Dien Bien Province, Kon Tum Province and Lam Dong Province demonstrate both the opportunities and complexities of REDD+. The study reads that Vietnam has considerable flexibility in designing a nested approach to REDD+ that can ensure integrity in environmental accounting and maximize financial flows for REDD+ activities and local stakeholder benefits.
Essential areas of work include the following:
Vietnam is also working to establish a REDD+ National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), to provide MRV for both REDD+ activity outcomes and mitigation performance, with the aim to reach an accuracy assessment that will bring Vietnam to report at the higher Tier 3 level, which will reduce uncertainty but increase the complexity and resources needed. Policy and regulatory considerations for nested REDD+ will depend on how nesting is designed and developed within Vietnam. If a national scheme is chosen, provinces could fall under the authority of the national system, or the national government could create institutions or systems tailored to that province.
Fortunately for Vietnam, the National REDD+ Action Plan supports the formation of carbon credit markets and encourages private sector participation in REDD+. The Constitution and laws in force in Vietnam appear to support legal land users owning carbon rights.
As Vietnam moves into Phase II, they will build provincial MRV capacities, implementation strategies and benefit distribution systems. Further Phase II work is focused on creating conditions for results‐based finance to flow into such provinces “nested” within the national framework.
More work, however, is needed on how accounting for results at different scales will be carried out and any different approaches or inconsistent findings reconciled.