REDD+ Partnership Document agreed in Oslo

While discussions on a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) continue in the UN climate change negotiations, parallel initiatives have emerged to accelerate action. 2008 saw the launch of two significant processes; the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD programme, both of which aim to prepare countries for REDD implementation. Most recently, in May 2010, the ‘REDD+ Partnership Document’ was adopted outlining a plan to serve as an ‘interim platform’ for the scaling up of REDD+ actions and finance—at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference in Norway. Membership is open to any country willing to support or undertake REDD+ actions; 58 countries, spanning the global North and South, are currently partners. As the co-chairs’ summary noted, the partnership ‘allows developing and developed country partners to act together now to reduce deforestation, building on the political momentum from Copenhagen, while continuing the negotiations on a global regime.’

As of late May, total pledges by developed countries for the period 2010-2012 stood at $4 billion. For their part, developing country partners to the Oslo initiative pledged to develop REDD+ strategies, to build the required capacity and ‘create the enabling environment’ for REDD+. They also pledged to establish ‘robust and transparent monitoring systems’ and to ‘provide for the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society.’

A commitment to transparency was also made regarding actions and financing, as well as through the participation of a ‘representative group of stakeholders’ as observers to the partnership. In that respect, the Civil Society Representative from Africa on the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board, Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho, commented that ‘without strict monitoring of the engagement and fair participation of stakeholders, and without a transparent organizational framework, the partnership will face serious difficulties.’ But the extent of openness shown by the partnership has already come in for criticism, with Global Witness—an NGO that seeks to expose the exploitation of the world’s natural resources—stating in June that it appeared to be ‘moving in a direction which undermines its goal of improving transparency.’ At the Bonn Climate Change Talks, held between 31 May and 11 June, Global Witness noted, ‘representatives of civil society, indigenous people and local communities’ were ‘largely excluded’ from meetings held to advance the partnership’s stated goals.

Elsewhere during the conference, Norway and Indonesia announced the signing of a bilateral initiative in which Norway is to support Indonesia’s forest conservation efforts through implementation of a REDD+ strategy. The billion dollar pledge is being tied to the verification of Indonesia’s emissions reductions, and the fund will be distributed over a 7-8 year period. Indonesia nonetheless announced that it would not take away existing licences for deforestation.

Sonia Drobysz, London