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  • Time to rethink the role of trees, forests and agroforestry in the fight against climate change

Time to rethink the role of trees, forests and agroforestry in the fight against climate change

Open lands used for cabbage plantations in Sukabumi, Jawa Barat, Indonesia. Photo by R.Martin/CIFOR
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The role of forests and trees in mitigating climate change and capturing and storing carbon in biomass and soil is well recognized. Over the past few decades, a variety of schemes, including REDD, REDD+,  4per1000 and AFR100 have been designed to leverage this mitigation potential.

An Acai nursery in Acre, Brazil. Photo by K. Evans/CIFOR

However, much less attention has been given to the role of forests and trees in helping farmers and farm systems adapt to climate change. Today, with climate change impacts already having immediate, dramatic impacts on smallholder farmers, it is time to have a more balanced approach.

That’s why we are calling for a shift of focus from trees and mitigation to trees and adaptation. There is a need to explore what forests, trees and agroforestry can bring to the adaptation of other sectors, particularly agriculture.

This coincides with a need to change perspectives, from a dominant global perspective centered on carbon, to a local perspective centered on what works for farmers in a particular place. There is growing understanding that tree planting initiatives for mitigation won’t happen unless they benefit farmers locally. Farmers, however, will plant trees if they see how they help their livelihood systems become more resilient to climate change.

At the recent 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, our colleagues from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gave a series of presentations that illustrates this farmer-centered, place-based approach. They showed how agroforestry can allow farmers to adapt to climate change, improve their livelihoods and contribute to resilient systems, while also working toward mitigation objectives.

Read also: Agroforestry: Development underdog headed for center stage in global sustainability efforts

Trees for adaptation

During the congress, Roeland Kindt (ICRAF) and collaborators presented their work on a climate change atlas being prepared for Africa, with habitat change projected for 150 tree species native to Africa. This work follows a publication by World Agroforestry (ICRAF), in collaboration with Bioversity International, CATIE and Hivos, on habitat suitability maps for 54 tree species that are widely used in Central America for shade in coffee or cocoa agroforestry systems.

Tea pickers at work in Pangkalan Limus village, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

To adapt to climate change, preserving the diversity of genetic resources is crucial. Alice Muchugi (ICRAF) and collaborators explored the challenges relating to the conservation of high-value tree genetic resources and proposed options to facilitate their conservation and use.

In order to better achieve restoration targets through agroforestry, Lalisa Duguma (ICRAF) and collaborators proposed to change the discourse from “tree planting” to “tree growing”. They highlighted the discrepancy between the short time span of most restoration projects and the time needed to ensure a good survival rate of planted trees, especially when accounting for future shifts in climate.

Soil organic carbon

The increase of soil organic carbon, an indicator of carbon sequestered, should also be seen as an adaptation measure. It is key to soil fertility and to water retention and storage in the soil. It  can therefore help boost and stabilize the productivity of agroforestry systems, even in the face of climate change impacts.

A study by Sari Pitkänen and collaborators conducted in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, showed that carbon stocks in agroforestry systems correlate with tree diversity.

Amango plantation in Yalka village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

However, despite knowing the importance of soil organic carbon, measuring it has long been slow, expensive and difficult to standardize. In response to this, Keith Shepherd and collaborators from ICRAF have tested infrared spectroscopy technology that can provide a robust, low-cost, integrated indicator of soil organic carbon levels. They have demonstrated that inexpensive handheld infrared instruments can be used for measuring soil health changes.

Being able to easily measure soil organic carbon levels allows for evaluating the impacts of restoration initiatives. In another study, Ermias Aynekulu (ICRAF) and collaborators examined the effects of two decades of annual prescribed burning of grazing lands in Burkina Faso and three decades of livestock exclosures in Ethiopia.

Shepherd suggested prioritizing efforts to promote good land management practices at scale to prevent carbon losses, rather than trying to restore already degraded land. This would mean looking at policy interventions to prevent degradation and maintain or enhance soil fertility – for example by promoting agroforestry practices.

Read also: A five-part road map for how to succeed with agroforestry

Local knowledge and land restoration

Land restoration can play a considerable role in addressing climate change, both adaptation and mitigation, and for this agroforestry is key. Several presentations at the congress explored some of the dimensions that determine the likelihood of success for restoration projects. Key among these factors were accounting for and leveraging local knowledge.

A farmer in Tintilou village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Mary Crossland (Bangor University) and collaborators, in a study in northwest Ethiopia, noted that national objectives and local perceptions and priorities are often different. Local actors are often reluctant to accept the exclosure of areas that are not yet highly degraded, even though it has been shown to be a more effective strategy than focusing on very degraded land. Farmers with a large amount of livestock or little land were strongly opposed to exclosures. This example shows the need to understand how livelihoods interact with different restoration interventions and to take measures that compensate for their impacts on the most vulnerable people.

Anne Kuria (ICRAF) and collaborators explored the role local knowledge can play in adapting land restoration options to local contexts and farmers’ circumstances in Ethiopian drylands. Farmers identified 12 contextual factors that influence the suitability of restoration options for local contexts. Biophysical factors were soil erosion type, soil type, soil depth, slope of the field, field location along a slope and field size. Socioeconomic factors were livestock management systems, land tenure systems, labor, gender, technology and skills. This study also demonstrated that farmers utilized their local knowledge to adapt and modify land restoration interventions to suit their needs and context.

Making agroforestry count

Understanding the potential of agroforestry as a climate change adaptation strategy is one thing, but how can it become a key element of countries’ climate policies?

Here, key mechanisms are the national adaptation plans (NAPs) that countries are preparing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an opportunity. Ninety-one countries are currently in the process of developing their national adaptation plans.

An organic cabbage plantation on the mountain of Gede Pangrango Sukabumi, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by R. Martin/CIFOR

In a review that we conducted of the 15 national adaptation plans published so far, the word ‘agroforestry’ is present in two-thirds of the plans, but agroforestry practices are referenced more frequently, as a means of adaptation and as serving a great variety of purposes related to natural resource management. These include restoring degraded land, reducing soil erosion, restoring water catchments, protecting water tanks and rivers, protecting against wind and storms and providing shade.

These recommendations generally focus on single biophysical benefits and often neglect integration of the trees with other crops as well as agroforestry’s potential socioeconomic benefits. The NAPs are generally silent on measures related to the enabling environment needed for planting trees, such as measures for tenure as well as seed and seedling systems.

Because the UNFCCC clearly says that the NAPs have to be guided by the “best available science”, we now have a huge responsibility to bring scientific information to the attention of decision-makers.

By Vincent Gitz, Director, FTA and Alexandre Meybeck, Senior Technical Advisor, FTA.


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Connecting the policy dots: linking adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development for climate-resilient land use planning

Connecting the policy dots: linking adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development for climate-resilient land use planning

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In the land use sector mitigation, adaptation and development policies are all closely linked and can impact each other in positive and negative ways. It is therefore essential that these relationships are taken into account in order to enhance synergies and avoid or reduce trade-offs. This can be achieved through a specific form of Climate Policy Integration (CPI), which integrates first mitigation and adaptation policy processes and subsequently mainstreams climate policies into development processes. We have explored these processes through case studies in the land use sectors of Brazil and Indonesia. CPI in the land use sector presents a number of challenges related to cross-sectoral and cross-level integration. Unless a governmental CPI authority mandates that sectoral ministries integrate their efforts, sectoral competition over control of decision-making processes may prevail, hampering CPI. Cross-level integration is weakened by differences in understanding, priorities and power across levels of governance.

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  • Climate-smart land use requires local solutions, transdisciplinary research, policy coherence and transparency

Climate-smart land use requires local solutions, transdisciplinary research, policy coherence and transparency

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Successfully meeting the mitigation and adaptation targets of the Paris Climate Agreement (PA) will depend on strengthening the ties between forests and agriculture. Climate-smart land use can be achieved by integrating climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and REDD+. The focus on agriculture for food security within a changing climate, and on forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation, can be achieved simultaneously with a transformational change in the land-use sector. Striving for both independently will lead to competition for land, inefficiencies in monitoring and conflicting agendas. Practical solutions exist for specific contexts that can lead to increased agricultural output and forest protection. Landscape-level emissions accounting can be used to identify these practices. Transdisciplinary research agendas can identify and prioritize solutions and targets for integrated mitigation and adaptation interventions. Policy coherence must be achieved at a number of levels, from international to local, to avoid conflicting incentives. Transparency must lastly be integrated, through collaborative design of projects, and open data and methods. Climate-smart land use requires all these elements, and will increase the likelihood of successful REDD+ and CSA interventions. This will support the PA as well as other initiatives as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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  • Where the land meets the sea: Governing mangrove forests

Where the land meets the sea: Governing mangrove forests

Mangroves in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR
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Mangroves in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR
Mangroves in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR

By Kate Evans, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, swept a massive tsunami across the Indian Ocean. The wave forged two kilometers inland in some places, and wiped out towns, crops, lives and livelihoods. In Indonesia’s Aceh province alone, 167,000 people died.

Could anything have reduced its devastating impact? In the tsunami’s wake, global attention fell on the potential of mangroves. Many of Indonesia’s mangrove forests had been cleared prior to 2004 to make way for shrimp farms – and subsequent research showed that mangroves and other forests can help protect coastlines and people from the force of tsunamis, hurricanes, and rising sea levels.

The indigenous people of Pahawang Island already knew that, though. In the 1980s and 1990s, the mangrove forests fringing their island – a speck in a bay at the eastern end of Sumatra – were over-exploited. They were turned into charcoal by Korean companies, cut down for timber, and converted to fish-ponds by migrants from East Java.

By the early 2000s, coastal erosion had become a huge problem for the islanders. Houses, agricultural land and fish-ponds were swept away in storms; fish no longer bred amongst the looping mangrove roots; and malaria and dengue outbreaks became more common.

So village leaders got together and pioneered their own, innovative governance system for their mangroves. They developed an organizational structure, and divided the mangrove area into three territories – a strict protection zone, an area where only non-timber products like firewood could be gathered, and a ‘utilization zone’ where limited timber harvesting was allowed. They also identified areas for reforesting, and secured seedlings and funding.

There’s much to be learned from local experiences like these, say scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research, who have just released a new global study on mangrove governance, involving both a review of international literature and case studies in Indonesia and Tanzania.


BENEFITS OF A BOTTOM-UP APPROACH

“In Indonesia they were very clear: they managed their mangroves to protect their lives, livelihoods and assets from storm surges, from the sea,” says Esther Mwangi, who helped lead the overarching study. “The mangroves are an important buffer against the energy and the strength of the ocean.”

Mani Ram Banjade led the on-the-ground research in Indonesia, focusing on three villages in Lampung province.

 

A researcher measures the diameter of mangrove trees in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Kate Evans
A researcher measures the diameter of mangrove trees in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Kate Evans

In Pahawang especially, mangrove protection was a very bottom-up affair.

“The local community leaders took the initiative and developed their own rules, regulations and governance mechanisms. Then they got the approval from the local government as well, and from their personal and political connections they also got some resources from outside.”

It worked so well in Pahawang, he says, because the local government recognised the islanders’ rights over the land and supported their efforts – and because strong leaders harnessed community awareness of the role of mangroves in coastal protection.

“Even if they’re not getting a direct economic benefit from the mangrove, they still value its conservation,” says Banjade.

“It’s a good model,” says Steven Lawry, CIFOR’s Director of Forests and Governance Research, who also worked on the report. “This is an example of how strong leadership and persistence have led to good outcomes with respect to local mangrove conservation. People are out there up to their waists in water, planting mangroves, because they see the importance to their livelihoods.”

BREAKING THE SILOS

In many places worldwide, these kinds of bottom up approaches to governance are necessary, because mangroves often fall through the cracks at the national level, says Mwangi.

Washed by the tides, simultaneously of the land and of the sea, mangroves don’t neatly fit into governance structures. Globally, it’s rare for countries to have specific rules for mangroves. They’re either governed under a hodgepodge of two or three ministries, or they fall under the forestry department.

That isn’t a perfect match, says Mwangi.

“In mangrove forests, the timber is not the biggest thing – the value is in coastal protection, fisheries, carbon sequestration – things that are not forestry. And yet this resource has been placed in the hands of forestry departments. So there is a bit of a tension.”

Where governance is spread among multiple ministries, coordination is a problem. And many efforts to improve it have failed. Indonesia put together a mangrove management and coordination plan in 2012 – but it hasn’t yet been fully implemented.

Even more telling is the case of Tanzania. In 1991 it was one of the first countries to create an integrated management plan for mangroves – and yet to date, 25 years on, it too has not been implemented.

The reasons behind these failures is a prime area for future research, says Mwangi – but perhaps a better approach, she suggests, would be to bring in new legislation that is specific to mangroves, like the rules pioneered on Pahawang.

One could easily say the village regulations are substituting for a national, mangrove-specific regulation that is missing,” says Mwangi.

GENDER DYNAMICS IN CONSERVATION

Something that’s lacking at all levels – from fishing village to academia – is an appreciation of gender dynamics.

“In the literature review there was hardly anything on gender, and then when we looked at the ground level we saw exactly the same thing – a widespread gender blindness in mangrove management.”

People’s relationships to mangroves are gender-differentiated, Mwangi says. Women might gather firewood, while men harvest timber and fish.

Yet in both Tanzania and Indonesia, women rarely sat on management committees, and their participation in decision-making was curtailed in a number of ways.

In Tanzania, researchers found that meetings were often organized in the late afternoon, when most women were fetching firewood and water to cook the evening meal. When women were present, social customs dictated they sit behind the men and ‘say yes to everything’, even when they disagreed.

“Not only as a matter of right, but also in terms of being effective, it makes sense to have women on governance committees,” says Mwangi. “They too have knowledge and use the resource, so their presence and input in decision-making is important.”

Gender aside, there’s a lot national governments can learn from the innovative ways local communities are managing their mangroves. And it’s crucial those villages receive support and assistance to do that from regional and national bodies, Mwangi says.

“With good local leadership and support from others at different levels of government, communities can organise, develop rules and can work together to conserve their mangroves.”

The study found that a transition is underway in a few countries towards increased community participation in mangrove management. Though Latin America has been most enthusiastic, Tanzania’s government is also starting to experiment with community-based approaches in some mangrove areas, says Lawry.

That is encouraging, he says, because the traditional model of mangrove governance – strict top-down regimes that try to protect mangroves by locking local people out – hasn’t worked very well, in Tanzania, Indonesia and elsewhere.

“Despite government intentions to manage them sustainably, governance regimes are generally ineffective at conserving mangroves. They generally fail to involve communities, and at the some time they don’t effectively regulate large-scale commercial users of mangroves, with a result that mangrove loss is accelerating,” he says.

“Where we do see progress towards sustainable mangrove management, it’s in places where communities have clear rights, and they enjoy clear benefits.”


*This research was supported by USAID

For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at [email protected] or Steven Lawry at [email protected].
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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  • Where Land Meets the Sea: A Global Review of the Governance and Tenure Dimensions of Coastal Mangrove Forests

Where Land Meets the Sea: A Global Review of the Governance and Tenure Dimensions of Coastal Mangrove Forests

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Authors: Rotich, B.; Mwangi, E.; Lawry, S.

This report provides a synoptic analysis of the legal and governance frameworks that relate to the use and management of mangrove forests globally. It highlights the range of challenges typically encountered in the governance and tenure dimensions of mangrove forest management. This assessment forms part of a broader study that includes national-level assessments in Indonesia and Tanzania. It was carried out under the USAID-funded Tenure and Global Climate Change Program. The report provides information on the challenges for mangrove rehabilitation and restoration, legal frameworks for the governance of mangroves, mangrove governance and tenure in practice, and lessons in mangrove governance for policy and practice. Primary findings from this assessment show that authority over mangrove forest management is overwhelmingly vested in state institutions and that mangrove protection is a central objective. Given the ambiguous role of mangroves situated between the land and sea, the configuration of state authority for mangrove management is quite complex. In some countries, there is fragmentation of responsibilities across two or more agencies such as forests, fisheries, environment, and wildlife. This contributes to a high level of segmentation and jurisdictional ambiguity. Frameworks and mechanisms for enabling multi-sectoral coordination across agencies and governance levels are uncommon, and where they exist, they are difficult to put into practice.

Pages: 40p

Publisher: CIFOR and USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change Program, Bogor, Indonesia and Washington, DC

Publication Year: 2016

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  • Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Non-state actors and corporate pledges, from rhetoric to reality

Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Non-state actors and corporate pledges, from rhetoric to reality

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Authors: Gnych, S.; Leonard, S.; Pacheco, P.; Lawry, S.; Martius, C.

Key messages

  • Article 13 of the Paris Agreement calls for enhanced transparency in climate actions. At the same time, non-state actors (NSAs) are increasingly referred to within the text of decisions and initiatives by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, the continued use of such a broad and undefined term to represent a complex set of stakeholders – ranging from academia to private sector, civil society to indigenous peoples groups – is unhelpful. There cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to NSAs
  • The private sector is a complex and diverse sub-set of NSAs, with significant variations in capacity, motivations and priorities across companies and value chains. Their response to climate change will be key to setting and achieving the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) made by Parties to the UNFCCC.
  • A large number of international corporations have made voluntary commitments to reduce their negative environmental and social impacts in the agriculture and forestry sectors, within their own operations as well as those of third-party suppliers. Many of these pledges have now been registered on the UNFCCC non-state actor platform (NAZCA). As yet, however, there is no systematic way to track and verify these pledges and their impacts.
  • One major risk is that stringent and rapidly implemented corporate commitments related to sustainable and ‘deforestation free’ supply chains will exclude already marginalized smallholders, who often operate within broader informal economies, resulting in indirect detrimental social and environmental impacts. Aside from the Cancun safeguards, such risks remain unrecognized by the UNFCCC.
  • Public funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), could be used to financially support smallholders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and upgrade their production systems through the adoption of improved practices and by facilitating their access to sustainable supply chains.
  • Governments, indigenous peoples groups and civil society organizations, as well as corporations themselves, are monitoring the progress and impact of NSA pledges at different spatial scales. But significant challenges remain regarding the alignment of methods, metrics and data sets, disclosure of information, and the verification and monitoring of indirect impacts.
  • There is currently no systematic way to track delivery of voluntary commitments through transparent processes that are open to wider society. Additional efforts, including national and international political architectures are needed.
  • There is justification for the UNFCCC to develop guidance around NSA engagement in climate mitigation and adaptation actions. This can help to distinguish between different groups of NSAs and track the activities undertaken by diverse private sector actors, to better understand how they contribute to achieving NDCs.

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 157

Pages: 8p.

Publisher: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia

Publication Year: 2016

DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006257

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  • Climate change: Time to combine mitigation and adaptation

Climate change: Time to combine mitigation and adaptation

It is important to combine climate change mitigation (here ICRAF's SAMPLES program for smallholders) and adaptation. Photo: ICRAF
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It is important to combine climate change mitigation (here ICRAF's SAMPLES program for smallholders) and adaptation. Photo: ICRAF
It is important to combine climate change mitigation (here ICRAF’s SAMPLES program for smallholders) and adaptation measures. Photo: ICRAF

Yoly Gutierrez interviewed scientist Bruno Locatelli on improving the design of climate change projects, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

To combat climate change, one can avoid it via mitigation, or cope with it via adaptation. Even though these objectives are two sides of the same coin, their synergies and conflicts tend to be overlooked.

“Because of the way international negotiations and national policies have separated adaptation from mitigation, two different communities of practices have emerged and they don’t talk to each other,” says Bruno Locatelli, a scientist working for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CIRAD, a French research institute specializing in international agricultural and development issues.

“This separation also occurs on the ground, as projects developed to fight climate change tend to match donor or policy requirements, which generally focus on either adaptation or mitigation.”

This conclusion was drawn after Locatelli and his colleagues analyzed 201 project documents from across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Researchers were surprised to find that 42 percent of the mitigation project documents mentioned a contribution to adaptation while 30 percent of the adaptation project documents mentioned a contribution to mitigation. What’s more, they found, most or all of these projects contained opportunities to contribute to the other objective.

Locatelli spoke with Forests News on the importance of marrying the two to achieve better results when it comes to climate change.


Why is it important for mitigation and adaptation strategies to be combined in climate policy?

In climate change discussions and negotiations, we tend to address the cause of climate change (via mitigation) and its consequences for people and ecosystems (via adaptation) separately. This makes sense analytically because mitigation and adaptation have effects at different timeframes (long vs. short term, respectively) and spatial scales (global vs. local). It makes also sense for some sectors; for example, energy tends to be concerned mostly by mitigation because of its large emissions, whereas health is mostly concerned by adaptation because of its sensitivity to climate variations, such as heat waves.

Photo: CIFOR

But when it comes to on-the-ground activities in land-use sectors such as forestry and agriculture, it does not make sense to separate adaptation and mitigation objectives because land-use management affects both the volume of emissions and the vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate variations.

Forests and trees produce multiple ecosystem services that are relevant to fight climate change: they store carbon (mitigation) and they protect local communities from climate impacts (adaptation) by regulating water, reducing soil losses, protecting coasts from storms, and diversifying livelihoods.

When a mitigation project in forestry (such as a REDD+ project) aims at livelihood diversification, this may be a first step toward thinking how diversification can reduce people’s vulnerability to climate variations and toward increasing adaptive capacity.

You cannot say that you will plant one tree for its adaptation benefits and another one for its mitigation benefits. Focusing on solely one objective and forgetting the other can be dangerous because of the potential trade-offs and adverse effects.

What are some examples of these trades-offs?

An example is related to reforestation. If I want to maximize carbon sequestration in one area facing the problem of water scarcity and I start a forest plantation with intensive management and fast-growing tree species that consume a lot of water, it wouldn’t add up. Sure, I would achieve my goal of addressing global climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere, but I would exacerbate the local water problems. People living downstream may suffer water shortages and become more vulnerable to climate change.


Another example is related to adaptation in agriculture. For example, I can reduce the vulnerability of agriculture to drought by using energy-intensive irrigation, or by increasing fertilization, both of which would emit more greenhouse gas. My crops would be less sensitive to climate change but I would contribute to an increase in global climate change.

It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? But this is what happens when we think too narrowly about either adaptation or mitigation.

Photo: CIFOR
When I am sick, my doctor tries to fight the cause and the consequences of the disease at the same time. If an infection (the cause) results in high fever (the consequence) and a doctor gives me medicine that treats the infection but increases the fever, we are in the same situation as with mitigation initiatives having adverse effects on adaptation.

If this doctor gives me medicine that lowers the fever but increases the infection, we are in the same situation as with adaptation initiatives having adverse effects on mitigation. In both cases, the narrow analysis of the doctor can lead to severe problems. This is exactly what could happen with climate change initiatives that fail to see the big picture.

So should all projects and policies address adaptation and mitigation jointly?

We should not force the integration of adaptation and mitigation in all projects and policies. Project developers and policymakers must have a good reason to do it. But first, they must be aware that this is possible.

Many opportunities for integrating adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture and forestry sectors can be captured without forcing a marriage between adaptation and mitigation through the provision of adequate information, tools and guidance to project developers or policy makers, as well as by providing incentives.

How can international funds and standards help projects to harness synergies?

The institutional settings of most international climate funds do not create incentives for projects to search for synergies between adaptation and mitigation. International funds could provide more information and technical assistance, or prioritize projects that integrate both goals or assess the costs and benefits of considering the other goal. For example, mitigation projects that assess climate risks and decide on integrating adaptation.

There is hope that the development of the Green Climate Fund can lead to better consideration of synergies between adaptation and mitigation. This organization could ensure that projects capture opportunities to provide multiple adaptation and mitigation benefits without excessively increasing project cycle complexity and costs.

The Green Climate Fund could test innovative approaches to the integration of adaptation and mitigation and stimulate changes at the national level in recipient countries and at the local scale in projects, contributing to the mainstreaming of climate change in development.

International standards can also play a role in improving the integration of adaptation and mitigation. For example, we saw in our analysis that mitigation project documents developed in the framework of the Climate Community Biodiversity standards more often described adaptation measures and outcomes, as these standards provide guidance on adaptation and require adaptation to be addressed to achieve a Gold Level certification.

Verification on the ground of implemented projects could help us understand whether such standards make a real difference in practice, or whether they simply provide lip service by adding adaptation elements in project documents.

For more information on this topic, please contact Bruno Locatelli at [email protected].
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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  • An integrative research framework for enabling transformative adaptation

An integrative research framework for enabling transformative adaptation

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Authors: Colloff, M.J.; Martín-López, B.; Lavorel, S.; Locatelli, B.; Gorddard, R.; Longaretti, P-Y.; Walters, G.; van Kerkhoff, L.; Wyborn, C.; Coreau, A.; Wise, R.M.; Dunlop, M.; Degeorges, P.; Grantham, H.; Overton, I.C.; Williams, R.D.; Doherty, M.D.; Capon, T.; Sanderson, T.; Murphy, H.T.

Transformative adaptation will be increasingly important to effectively address the impacts of climate change and other global drivers on social-ecological systems. Enabling transformative adaptation requires new ways to evaluate and adaptively manage trade-offs between maintaining desirable aspects of current social-ecological systems and adapting to major biophysical changes to those systems. We outline such an approach, based on three elements developed by the Transformative Adaptation Research Alliance (TARA): (1) the benefits of adaptation services; that sub-set of ecosystem services that help people adapt to environmental change; (2) The values-rules-knowledge perspective (vrk) for identifying those aspects of societal decision-making contexts that enable or constrain adaptation and (3) the adaptation pathways approach for implementing adaptation, that builds on and integrates adaptation services and the vrk perspective. Together, these elements provide a future-oriented approach to evaluation and use of ecosystem services, a dynamic, grounded understanding of governance and decision-making and a logical, sequential approach that connects decisions over time. The TARA approach represents a means for achieving changes in institutions and governance needed to support transformative adaptation.

Pages: 10p.

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 1462-9011

Source: Environmental Science and Policy

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.11.007

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  • Reflections on COP22 and gender

Reflections on COP22 and gender

Photo by Marco Simola for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
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By Markus Ihalainen, originally published on CIFOR’s Forests News

Thanks to lobbying efforts by gender equality advocacy groups, the recent climate talks in Marrakesh yielded a significant decision that extended the mandate of the Lima Work Program on Gender (LWPG) over the next three years.

The two-year work program – first adopted at COP20 in Lima – contains a two-fold objective of: 1) Enhancing the gender-balance in the negotiations and 2) Providing guidance to Parties on gender-responsive climate policy.

Actions under the program included trainings for delegates on gender-responsive climate policy, capacity building for women delegates, and developing guidelines for implementing gender considerations in climate change activities.

While the extent to which the LWPG has achieved its objectives is debatable, it has opened up a space for more specific discussions and recommendations with respect to enhancing the gender-responsiveness of various policies and mechanisms under the UNFCCC. The decision to extend the mandate of the work program was thus received with much appreciation by gender equality advocates at COP22.

Here’s a look at some key dimensions of this decision in the context of the broader debates around gender and climate change.

Photo by Marco Simola for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Photo by Marco Simola for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

ALIGNING CLIMATE POLICY WITH COMMITMENTS

One of the criticisms of the previous iteration of the LWPG is that despite its mandate, it “failed to articulate work on gender-responsive climate policy in relation to broader international obligations to human rights and gender equality”. This, in turn, allowed for a fair amount of confusion with respect to what ‘gender-responsive climate policy’ actually means.

It is thus positive that the preamble to the new decision maintains the ‘importance of coherence between gender-responsive climate policies … and the provisions of international instruments and outcomes’, including the Beijing Declaration, the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What this text actually means for policy design, implementation and monitoring remains unclear. It is, however, essential that the above provision guide the work under the new iteration of the LWPG, as it opens up a crucial space for conceptualizing the role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in climate policy and action in a much broader sense.

Instead of viewing empowerment or equality as a vehicle for achieving other policy objectives, this framing allows us to flip things around and look at how various policies can impact equality or empowerment across a much wider set of political, economic, social and cultural indicators.

As such, this ‘rights-based’ framing departs from popular ‘business case’ arguments, which assert that women’s empowerment will lead to better economic, environmental or social outcomes. A rights-based argument does not ignore women’s contributions to promoting development and conservation; however, it does not make the granting of rights contingent on how effectively women contribute to the latter.

A strong rights-based framework is especially important now that policies and programs are increasingly aligning themselves to the SDG framework. Anchoring ‘women’s empowerment’ in broader international conventions could help mitigate the unfortunate tendency to water down empowerment to tokenistic participation in meetings simply to allow policies and programs to ‘hit as many SDGs as possible’.

Instead of simply assuming win-wins between social, economic and environmental objectives, a rights-based approach also allows us to have a much clearer and more honest conversation about leveraging synergies – as well as reconciling potential tensions – between the different SDGs.

Photo by Tomas Munita for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Photo by Tomas Munita for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

FROM GLOBAL PLEDGES TO NATIONAL ACTION

In addition to a continued mandate, the new decision also requests the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to ‘develop a gender action plan in order to support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates under the UNFCCC process’.

While the development of a gender action plan under the UNFCCC was not a given, it follows the trajectory of the other Rio conventions, which already have such plans in place. The priority areas for the action plan still needs to be defined, but this decision invites Parties, observers and other stakeholders to provide inputs to the formulation of the action plan.

A collaboratively developed, comprehensive Gender Action Plan (GAP) could prove useful for coordinating the efforts of various bodies and stakeholders, channeling funding towards specific actions outlined under the GAP, and for developing salient indicators for evaluating the gender-responsiveness of various climate policies.

However, it is important to note that the content of the GAP is to be defined over the coming year. So given the urgency of beginning the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the immediate priority in terms of gender equality in climate policy is still to ensure that all Parties to the Agreement take substantial actions on the national level towards safeguarding women’s rights and enhancing the gender-responsiveness of the climate policies and actions as outlined in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

This is particularly important given the fact that out of 188 INDCs submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat prior to COP21, only 63 submissions included specific references to women or gender. A closer look shows that these references are often very general and superficial, mostly just outlining women as ‘vulnerable populations’.

It is also noteworthy that all of the 63 INDCs mentioning ‘women’ or ‘gender’ came from developing countries. Despite high-flying rhetoric, there seems to be a tendency among donor countries to view gender-responsive climate policy mostly as a priority for developing countries.

Concerns are being raised over whether donor commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment actually translate into concrete funding. A recent OECD DAC report estimated that investments in women’s economic empowerment remained unchanged in the period from 2007-2012, and represented only two percent of total bilateral aid. This is a significant concern, especially as many commitments in developing countries’ INDCs remain conditional on the availability of funding.

During a discussion forum on gender held at the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum, panelist Lorena Aguilar, Senior Advisor of the Gender Programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), stated that 21 countries have developed specific climate change and gender action plans (ccGAP). Yet, she warned, a lack of funds is hindering many governments from implementing these plans.

To enhance the implementation of gender-responsive climate policies, it is thus crucial that the operating entities of the Financial Mechanism – including the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility – are held accountable vis-à-vis the gender policies that both entities now have in place.

It is reassuring that the COP22 decision requests financial entities to provide information on the ‘integration of gender consideration in all aspects of their work’. However, it contains no references to the allocation for financial resources towards the implementation of gender-responsive climate action. Issues around financial responsibilities, targets and accountabilities thus remain largely unresolved.

At the same GLF forum, Eleanor Blomstrom, Co-Director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), stressed the need to improve gender-responsive tracking and monitoring of finance for enhancing – and enforcing – the implementation of gender-responsive climate policies at the national level.

Ugwono Pauline plants Gnetum (okok) in the village of Minwoho, Lekié, Center Region, Cameroon.   Photo by Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

CONNECTING POLICY FRAMEWORKS TO LOCAL REALITIES

While it is important to monitor what policies are in place and to track their implementation, it is arguably even more important to understand the impact of these policies on the lives of local women and men. Policy processes removed from local realities are less likely to yield transformative results on the ground.

CIFOR’s research shows that climate change vulnerability tends to be highly contextual and depends on various socioeconomic, cultural and environmental variables. Despite this, gender is still primarily tackled as a men-versus-women dichotomy in climate change studies, according to a recent CIFOR paper.

One of the key hopes of CIFOR gender experts at COP22 was thus to contribute to a more nuanced picture of gender and climate change. Understanding that the vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities of women and men are structured by various societal power relations – and not just by virtue of their sex – can help enhance the responsiveness of climate policies. In order to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, it is vital that such ‘intersectional’ thinking is translated into implementation processes and impact assessment tools and instruments.

This requires that the voices of local people be accounted for in policy processes, particularly when it comes to adaptation, says Houria Djoudi, a scientist at CIFOR who was a panelist at the GLF event. Women in impacted communities are not sitting around waiting for international agreements to come in place – they use various strategies to adapt to climate change every day. However, rural women often lack a voice in national policy processes. As a result, many locally grounded, potentially up-scalable adaptation and mitigation initiatives risk going unnoticed, or replaced by top-down, inflexible programmatic responses with little local ownership.

It is therefore good to see the new decision taken in Morocco encourage Parties to recognize the value of grassroots women’s participation in gender-responsive climate action at all levels.

However, much remains to be done to move beyond lip-service towards meaningfully integrating local-level action in national climate policy and action, and to ensure that adequate capacities and resources are in place at the national and sub-national levels to support and scale up successful initiatives.

For more information on this topic, please contact Markus Ihalainen at [email protected].
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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  • Beyond dichotomies: Gender and intersecting inequalities in climate change studies

Beyond dichotomies: Gender and intersecting inequalities in climate change studies

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Authors: Djoudi, H.; Locatelli, B.; Vaast, C.; Asher, K.; Brockhaus, M.; Sijapati Basnett, B.

Climate change and related adaptation strategies have gender-differentiated impacts. This paper reviews how gender is framed in 41 papers on climate change adaptation through an intersectionality lens. The main findings show that while intersectional analysis has demonstrated many advantages for a comprehensive study of gender, it has not yet entered the field of climate change and gender. In climate change studies, gender is mostly handled in a men-versus-women dichotomy and little or no attention has been paid to power and social and political relations. These gaps which are echoed in other domains of development and gender research depict a ‘feminization of vulnerability’ and reinforce a ‘victimization’ discourse within climate change studies. We argue that a critical intersectional assessment would contribute to unveil agency and emancipatory pathways in the adaptation process by providing a better understanding of how the differential impacts of climate change shape, and are shaped by, the complex power dynamics of existing social and political relations.

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 0044-7447

Source: Ambio 45(Supplement 3): 248-262

DOI: 10.1007/s13280-016-0825-2


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