Daily report for 7 December 2015

Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at UNFCCC COP 21

The RCP at UNFCCC COP21 convened on Monday, 7 December 2015, addressing issues regarding REDD+. In the morning, two panel sessions were held, where participants discussed country approaches to safeguards and safeguard information systems (SIS). In the afternoon, participants turned towards finance and policy issues, with three panel sessions on: the economic rationale of REDD+; where and how REDD+ can deliver the most benefits; and, innovations in private finance for REDD+.

REDD+ Day was closed with a reception.


REDD+ Day opened with a movie on an expert consultation event on REDD+ safeguards and SIS with countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, and Viet Nam, sharing their experiences, reflections, and lessons learned.

Following the film, moderator Jaime Webbe, UNEP, introduced the panel, outlining the progress made since the adoption of REDD+ safeguards at UNFCCC COP16, in Cancún, Mexico, during December 2010. She emphasized the panel as being a “platform for discussion” to take stock, and identify opportunities and persistent challenges.

DRC APPROACHES TO AND EXPERIENCES OF SAFEGUARDS FOR REDD+: Rubin Rashidi, National REDD+ Coordinator, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), spoke on the DRC’s process and experience integrating the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards within the national programme, and developing a strategic environmental and social assessment. He described taking an integrated approach to develop standards that, working with UNFCCC, national legislation and partner frameworks, supported both environmental and social co-benefits of REDD+, and also addressed risks. He outlined existing gaps, inter alia, limited capacity, safeguard monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, and data availability.

WHAT WE LEARNED IN PERU: Claudia Ochoa, Ministry of Environment, Peru, stated that increasing deforestation is a large source of emissions, and underscored the need to ensure that implementation reduces deforestation and does not just “move it” elsewhere, while at the same time respecting safeguards. The challenge, she said, is including everyone in the process of safeguards saying, “we need to do institutional frameworks better,” highlighting the need to include regional and local actors and not just address them within national-level frameworks.

ZAMBIA’S APPROACH TO SAFEGUARDS: Deuteronomy Kasaro, Ministry of Development Planning, Zambia, described a number of studies completed to understand how to address and support REDD+ safeguards in Zambia. He underscored Zambia’s approach of drawing on and integrating existing frameworks to create a single harmonized SIS. Frameworks, he said, included the Forest Act, Environmental Management Act, Town and Country Planning Act, and Lands Tribunal Act.

Robert Chimambo, Africa Representative, UN-REDD Policy Board, provided an overview of the seven safeguards, which includes respecting the rights of indigenous peoples’ and local communities, and ensuring their full and effective participation. Noting the role of CSOs and others in monitoring policy, he said that policy should address forest usage so that indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ usage is taken into account. He also underscored that the policy should be a plan and iterative process, not “an end in and of itself.”

The ensuing discussion covered: using an iterative approach drawing on consultative processes in developing safeguard systems; working on all four pillars of REDD+ simultaneously; needing to effectively communicate what safeguards are and the role they play; anchoring safeguards within existing policies, and the challenge of doing so; seeing safeguards as a measure of REDD+ performance; and, needing to use “translators” to facilitate cross-sectoral approaches for stronger REDD+ institutional arrangements.

Participants also addressed inclusion of local communities and indigenous peoples, including ensuring sufficient consultation, with some noting that national policy may contribute to the exclusion of certain groups. Others underscored that the planning and revision of REDD+ policies should be a transparent and ongoing process.

Steve Swan, UN-REDD, then introduced the new UN-REDD publication, ‘Country Approaches to REDD+ Safeguards,’ which drew on three regional South-South knowledge exchange workshops, held in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.


Steve Swan moderated the session, discussing the need to share safeguarding experiences.

Jorge Mario Rodríguez Zúñiga, Director, National Forest Financing Fund, Costa Rica, shared his country’s progress on SIS, calling it a “dynamic” work in progress, and underscored the need to focus on long-term planning. He stressed the need to communicate results, and noted the use of videos and documents, as well as engaging with stakeholders to benefit from their “complimentary” work.

DEVELOPMENT OF SIS FOR REDD+: INDONESIA’S EXPERIENCE: Acknowledging that Indonesia’s SIS was developed four years ago, Novia Widyaningtyas, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia, shared existing lessons, inter alia: using a phased-approach when including CSA; using existing policy instruments and best practices as a starting point; remembering that implementing SIS is an iterative process; and ensuring stakeholder participation. She said that next steps include creating a legal umbrella for operationalization and to improve the involvement of local communities.

SIS: PRACTICAL DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS: Kimberly Todd, UN-REDD, introduced the SIS concept, which aims to provide information on how safeguards are being implemented. She shared early experiences from countries, and referred to two already published REDD+ SIS documents that address the objectives, functions and institutional arrangements of SIS. She shared several key lessons, including that SIS can be integrated with existing systems, and SIS implementation is different in each country, as countries build their own systems.

During the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia, SIS implementation at the local level, including local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ involvement in implementation.


Ivo Mulder, UNEP, opened the session, saying that economic considerations are either direct drivers or indirect drivers of deforestation.

Pavan Sukhdev, CEO, GIST Advisory, and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, stated that the initial REDD+ architecture operated largely at the national level, and typically focused on payments between two states. He noted that this has evolved to now consider forests as entire living ecosystems. He said that financing of REDD+ has similarly evolved, citing the advent of green bonds as a signal of increasing private sector involvement. He stated, however, that a systemic solution involving the private sector must be sought.

Responding to a question from Mulder on the extent of time it has taken the private sector to become actively involved in REDD+, Sukhdev stated that, to an extent, the private sector has always been involved, albeit indirectly, as they were encouraged by their respective governments to invest, once an agreement on REDD+ had been reached bilaterally.

Ivannia Quesada Villalobos, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica, stressed the importance of working with smallholder producers to improve their productivity and revenues, noting this can reduce the impact on primary and secondary forests. Highlighting that 52% of Costa Rica’s territory is covered in forest, and noting ambitions to increase this to 60% by 2030, she stated that common strategies across ministries need to be developed to achieve this goal.

Underscoring that climate change and deforestation have become “mainstream issues,” especially regarding charcoal dependence, Maria Kiwanuka, Senior Presidential Advisor, and former Finance Minister, Uganda, referred to efforts to formalize the agriculture sector and support non-farm jobs, such as those in the hydroelectric sector. She noted Uganda’s goal to increase forest cover to 24% within five years, urging for financing and quantifying forest resources, and suggesting the commercialization of forests. 

Satya Tripathi, Head, UN Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia, stated that, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” underscoring the importance of the valuation of forest services. He stated that approximately 75% of the earnings of forest-dwelling communities come from the forest, and stressed that this needs to be accounted for.

The ensuing discussion addressed the important role that smallholders play, and the challenges associated with financing them. It was recognized that both public and private financing is needed to fill the smallholder-financing gap. Other issues raised included: using simple technological solutions to improve livelihoods and address drivers of deforestation; that funding alone does not guarantee successful implementation; ensuring forest communities’ rights within conservation and REDD+ frameworks; distributing “carbon money” at community, regional and national levels; harmonizing NGO efforts; ensuring sustainable investments that reduce reliance on subsidies and grants; and, investing in REDD+ initiatives that ensure social and environmental co-benefits.


Valerie Kapos, UNEP-WCMC, moderated the session. Lera Miles, UNEP-WCMC, noted that the choice on how to implement REDD+ affects the extent of the benefits and risks, stating that the safeguards also aim to enhance the social and environmental benefits of REDD+. Providing an overview of the Cancún safeguards and the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, she said that identifying realistic options for REDD+ is key to realizing benefits.

THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF MAPPING FOR REDD+ IN THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Saturnine Carine Milandou, Ministry of Forest Economy and the Environment, Republic of Congo, said that, due to the extent of the Republic of Congo’s forest cover, REDD+ is being used as a tool for sustainable development in the Republic of Congo. She stated that the mapping exercises in the Republic of Congo have been conducted to provide a deeper understanding of the uses and benefits of the forests. She outlined that a number of maps had been produced, including on land usage, carbon density, non-timber forest products, and fauna potential. Milandou described the results of mapping, saying findings included that the carbon sequestration potential of forests was four times higher than that of grasslands.

Delegates were then invited to share ideas on ‘How Could Information on the Valuation of Ecosystem Services be Brought Together with Mapping Work to Better Inform REDD+ Choices?’ They suggested, inter alia, that: co-benefits should be linked to a country’s development; environmental valuation be incorporated within GDP; and, actions should be “people-centered” with a focus on land tenure.

CBA OF REDD+ POLICIES AND MEASURES TO INFORM THE DEVELOPMENT OF CAMBODIA’S NATIONAL REDD+ STRATEGY: Elina Väänänen, UNEP-WCMC, on behalf of Chivin Leng, Deputy Director, Department of Forestry and Community Forestry, Cambodia, presented on efforts to incorporate a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of REDD+ in Cambodia. The analysis, she stated, undertook several activities, including: developing a CBA ‘Spatial Decision Support Tool’; using geographic information systems (GIS) to combine spatial and economic data; building capacity among Cambodian partners to use the tool; and, using the results to inform the national REDD+ strategy.

The ensuing discussion, addressed, inter alia, clarification on the CBA approach, and whether indigenous species were promoted.


Will McFarland, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), describing private sector finance as a “catch-all phrase,” outlined a study looking at the range of different private finance actors and institutions to better understand where finance is needed to scale-up investment in sustainable resource management activities. Three main recommended investment areas identified in the study, he said, included agricultural intensification, sustainable plantation establishment and management, and sustainable use of fuel wood. Each, he stated, needed a specific policy mix to unlock action and innovation.

Clément Chenost, Moringa Partnerships, described the approach of his impact investment fund, investing in agroforestry projects to deliver environmental, social and financial returns. Providing an example of investing in the restoration of degraded coffee areas in Nicaragua, he called for mobilizing more capital in landscape restoration.

Bruce Duguid, Hermes Investment, spoke on Hermes’ ‘Equity Ownership Services,’ acting as a stewardship service provider, using a long-term sustainable business model to drive pension fund clients’ investments. Focusing on consumer good companies, including food and forestry products, and clothing companies, he gave an example of working with an oil palm company to improve the sustainability of their operations.

Helen Bellfield, Global Canopy Programme, described the Forest 500 Agency, the first rainforest rating agency tracking 500 powerbrokers influencing forest risk commodity supply chains, constituted of companies, investors, and governments. She said that it acts as a tool to help investors benchmark against competitors and screen investment, but a remaining challenge is the implementation of the policies and commitments made.

Facilitated by moderator, Iain Henderson (UNEP), panelists and audience members discussed, inter alia: understanding the impacts of divestment; harmonizing methodologies for social and environmental indicators; working closer with investors, including on implementation; addressing the conservative nature of pension funds; supporting the growing demand for high quality commodity products; moving from the narrow view of credit ratings to a focus on “natural capital”; integrating environmental risks into sovereign credit analysis; and, getting the “small amounts of money” invested on the ground.

Further information