Side-event with Focali Researchers at the United Nations Climate Conference

Side-event with Focali Researchers at the United Nations Climate Conference

Focali researcher Fariborz Zelli shares his experinces from the side-event "REDD and Beyond: International and Indigenous Strategies in Forest protection" in Lima, Peru, The side-event was held in connection to the COP20 negotiations.

Blog written by Focali researcher Fariborz Zelli.

On 4th December, Focali researchers Tobias Nielsen and my self Fariborz Zelli, initiated a side-event on ‘REDD and Beyond: International and Indigenous Strategies in Forest Protection’. The event was co-organized by Lund University and the German NGO Climate Alliance and took a critical look at a series of incentive-based mechanisms currently discussed in UN climate negotiations. The mechanisms’ purposes are for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.


Moderated by myself, for Lund University and BECC (the strategic research area ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate’), and by Andreas Kress, for Climate Alliance, speakers discussed a series of mechanisms for maintaining carbon stocks in forests in developing countries. They put particular emphasis on the physical and social co-benefits of such mechanisms, i.e. on aspects other than avoiding carbon emissions per se, asking:



- How effective are these various instruments with regard to protecting the biodiversity of the affected forests?

- How socially inclusive are these instruments, i.e. are stakeholders like indigenous communities and small-scale farmers included in the relevant processes (project planning, decision-making, etc.)?

- How fair are the proposed benefit-sharing mechanisms, i.e. who gets compensated for what?


To provide a diversity of opinions on these questions we invited speakers from the public sector, indigenous associations and environmental NGOs that complemented the presentations by Tobias Nielsen and myself.


In our opening talk, Jonas Hein, German Development Institute, and I presented our recently launched publication on ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Peru: a challenge to social inclusion and multi-level governance’. Over the last roughly ten years, REDD has become the most established incentive-based mechanism for avoiding deforestation, with numerous bi- or multilateral institutions and funds evolving. Building on findings from our BECC action group on monitoring carbon stocks, I stressed that this institutional patchwork is reflected by equally complex governance architecture at the domestic level. 


We mapped the various processes currently undertaken in Peru (e.g. a new forest investment plan, a new forest law, several REDD stakeholder roundtables) and found that they are struck by various limitations: lacking financial and technical capacities of the public sector, coordination gaps between ministries and regional governments, a legitimacy gap due to the dominance of certain NGOs and companies, and an insufficient consideration of non-indigenous vulnerable groups.



Tobias Nielsen, Lund University and BECC, presented further results from our BECC action group and his collaboration with Torsten Krause from the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). He compared two ambitious domestic programmes, Ecuador’s Socio Bosque and Peru’s Programa Bosques. He identified various shortcomings of Socio Bosque, such as little inclusion of stakeholders in the design phase and lack of transparency in the programme’s implementation. While arguing that these deficits provide lessons learned for the Peruvian programme, Tobias cautioned that the connection of Programa Bosque to the REDD processes in the country is still not sufficiently clear.


Underscoring their country’s vision for more socially inclusive forest protection measures, María Pía Moreno, GIZ, and Lucas Dourojeanni, Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, presented a new national initiative for collaboration with stakeholders and practitioners in five Amazonian regions. Their initiative aims at building capacities of indigenous forest users to lead conservation projects and, in a next step, at improving coordination between regional governments and local authorities


Alberto Pizango, director of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest, conceded that the government has made significant progress in including indigenous representatives at all levels, but highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach for social inclusion and for combating the root causes of deforestation. He introduced an alternative proposal, Amazon Indigenous REDD+, as a low-cost instrument which is already contributing to the maintenance of carbon stock in forests. He also referred to a model approach for public funding, drawing on the cooperation between European cities and indigenous associations in Latin America.


Programa Bosques


Moving away from public programmes like REDD or Socio Bosque, Linda Rohnstock, OroVerde, presented findings from a recently published report on the role of private investors. She discussed whether instruments like Timberland Investment can generate sufficient funding and fulfil key ecological and social responsibilities.  She deplored that these projects lack a definition of clear biodiversity objectives. Moreover, their monitoring of social and ecological impacts is insufficient and local populations are not actively involved in most cases.


Thomas Brose, director of Climate Alliance, presented various successful forest projects between his NGO and partners in indigenous territories. He referred to practical examples of how local authorities can contribute to forest protection and raised the importance of involving local stakeholders early in such processes.


In the final discussion, the speakers agreed that problems of social exclusion and insufficient biodiversity protection are common to all the different mechanisms discussed. They called for more holistic approaches that encompass different goals and policy areas such as poverty eradication, agriculture, biodiversity and social justice.


Moreover, they discussed whether the various incentive-based mechanisms may be game changers towards fairer forest protection in some countries, or whether these mechanisms can only be as effective and just as the existing land tenure systems, political systems, and overarching traditions of legitimacy and social inclusion in the countries where they are applied.


The side-event had an excellent turnout, drawing over 70 attendants from country delegations and observer organizations of civil society and the private sector. The high interest in our work also came across in the follow-up talks in the corridors, and our various BECC brochures, flyers and publications were gone quickly. All this shows the relevance of BECC research for international climate and biodiversity politics – with side-events at UN conferences offering an excellent opportunity to reach a variety of practitioners and stakeholders and to disseminate our results early on.

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