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  • Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions

Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions

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Constructive critique. This book provides a critical, evidence-based analysis of REDD+ implementation so far, without losing sight of the urgent need to reduce forest-based emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.

REDD+ as envisioned has not been tested at scale. Results-based payment, the novel feature of REDD+, has gone untested. International funding (both public and private) remains scarce, and demand through carbon markets is lacking.

Better national enabling conditions. Over 50 countries have included REDD+ in their NDCs and developed national REDD+ strategies. REDD+ has improved countries’ monitoring capacities and understanding of drivers, increased stakeholder involvement, and provided a platform to secure indigenous and community land rights – all key conditions for addressing deforestation and forest degradation.

Modest forest and social impacts. Local REDD+ initiatives have achieved limited but positive outcomes for forests. Well-being impacts have been modest and mixed, but have proved more likely to be positive when incentives are included.

National coordination, with a positive narrative. Forest-based mitigation strategies must now be mainstreamed across sectors and levels of government. A strong positive narrative on how forests contribute to economic development and climate goals could boost forest-based mitigation, in spite of the current political uncertainties in key emitting countries.

Evolving REDD+ and new initiatives. REDD+ has evolved, and new initiatives have emerged to support its broader objective: private sector sustainability commitments, climate-smart agriculture, forest and landscape restoration, and more holistic jurisdictional approaches working across legally defined territories.

Access each chapter via CIFOR.

Access the complete book.

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  • What is REDD+ achieving on the ground?

What is REDD+ achieving on the ground?

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The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the importance of the mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and enhance carbon stocks (REDD+). We reviewed 45 articles from the recent scientific literature to understand the outcomes of REDD+ interventions on the ground, in terms of local participation in REDD+, and its carbon and non-carbon (e.g. tenure, well-being, biodiversity) goals. Our review finds few studies that use a counterfactual scenario to measure REDD+ impacts, and relatively little attention to carbon (versus non-carbon) outcomes. The few studies focused on carbon/land use outcomes show moderately encouraging results, while the more numerous studies on non-carbon outcomes (especially well-being) highlight small or insignificant results. To enhance REDD+ performance, these studies recommend improved engagement with local communities, increased funding to bolster interventions on the ground, and more attention to both carbon and non-carbon outcomes in implementation and evaluation.

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  • The jumbo carbon footprint of shrimp

The jumbo carbon footprint of shrimp

Mangroves grow along the coast of West Bali National Park, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
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A mangrove ecosystem is seen in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR

Is eating a kilogram of shrimp worth 1600 kilos of greenhouse emissions?

You’re having dinner with your date. You both order the ‘surf and turf’ special: a shrimp appetizer and a steak. You might not know it, but the carbon footprint of your meal is mind-boggling massive.

If the beef and seafood came from the tropics, where mangroves once grew, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the two dinners alone would be roughly equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City and back – a massive 1632 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Or, to put it another way, those greenhouse gas emissions would weigh about as much as the car you drove to the restaurant.

To come up with these numbers, scientists – including some CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) – spent seven years working in muddy mangrove forests from Southeast Asia to Central America.

Across the tropics, mangrove forests are being cleared to make way for agriculture and aquaculture. Found on the frontier of land and sea, their seaward sides are converted to shrimp ponds, while their drier edges are claimed and drained to become rice fields or cattle pastures.

The scientists examined 55 sites where that conversion is happening, in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It’s the first time that a carbon-footprint study has taken into account the greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation.

When the researchers made their final calculations, even they were surprised.

Read also: The jumbo carbon footprint of a shrimp: carbon losses from mangrove deforestation

For every kilogram of beef produced on land that was converted from mangrove forest, 1440 kilograms of climate-altering greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere. For shrimp (more widely known as ‘prawns’ in the U.K. and Australia), it’s even worse: 1603 kg of emissions per kilo of crustacean.

“We were astounded that the carbon footprints were as high as they were,” says lead author Boone Kauffman, a mangrove expert from Oregon State University.

A Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) researcher stands in a research site for the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR


So why the out-sized emissions?

Mangrove forests store a lot more carbon than terrestrial tropical forests, because they sequester a huge amount in the soil – in some cases up to 98 percent of the carbon stocks in a mangrove ecosystem can be underground.

When those forests are cut and drained, carbon isn’t just lost through the breakdown of leaves, twigs and branches. All that carbon in the soil is also released – and not just at the surface. The study found that deforestation could release carbon stored up to three meters below ground.

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

That’s why mangroves may account for as much as 12 percent of the total emissions for all tropical deforestation, Kauffman says, even though they only make up 0.6 percent of the land area occupied by tropical forests.

“You’re losing centuries of carbon sequestration in just a few years of land use,” says Kauffman.

That’s the other big problem with these conversions – shrimp ponds in particular have very short life spans. Disease, soil acidification, pollution, and market conditions tend to limit their use to just three to nine years (the scientists assumed a conservative nine years for the purposes of the study, meaning that the actual carbon footprint of some shrimp may be even higher).

Once the area is exhausted, the ponds are abandoned – and the farmers move on to next patch of mangroves. 


CIFOR Principal Scientist Daniel Murdiyarso’s research in Indonesia has shown just how much carbon mangrove ecosystems can lock away.

“They store twice as much carbon per hectare compared with terrestrial forests – and in some cases five to six times as much,” he says.

New research is showing that emissions can be reduced during mangrove conversion by limiting the exposure of excavated soil to the air, but finding ways to reduce rampant mangrove deforestation is even more important.

Murdiyarso helped to conceptualise the carbon footprint study with Kauffman.

They wanted to find a way to make the climate impact of mangrove deforestation more easily understood.

“When scientists talk about the role that deforestation plays in climate change, scientists tend to talk about the global picture – petagrams, gigatons, a billion metric tonnes of carbon – and the public can’t really grasp that,” Kauffman says.

“So instead of scaling up to the global, we decided we would try to scale it down to an individual dinner – to report the influences of deforestation at the personal scale.”

Watch: Is your shrimp cocktail destroying the planet?

Mangroves grow along the coast of West Bali National Park, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR

To make the calculations, the researchers compared the carbon stocks in shrimp ponds or cattle pastures with nearby patches of intact mangrove forest.

That was harder than it sounds – they had to clamber through aerial mangrove roots to measure trees, gather every stick of downed wood, and collect muddy soil samples to take back to the lab.

“It brings the child out in you if you like being in the mud,” jokes Kauffman.

But that hard work had a very serious objective.

“We spent seven years on this project to make sure that we got it right,” Kauffman says.

“We are faced with such unprecedented environmental problems, particularly the threats of climate change and its possible environmental and social ramifications.”

“So it’s really important that we convey our science in a way in which the public can comprehend, so they can see how their daily activities affect climate change, and they can manage their lives accordingly.”

The result is a study that uses solid, real-world data from a broad range of sites across the tropics, with the aim of making people think about one simple question: Is a kilogram of shrimp worth 1600 kilos of greenhouse emissions?

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

For more information on this topic, please contact Boone Kauffman at [email protected] or Daniel Murdiyarso at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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  • Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects

Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects

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Authors: Rico Kongsager, Bruno Locatelli, Florie Chazarin

Adaptation and mitigation share the ultimate purpose of reducing climate change impacts. However, they tend to be considered separately in projects and policies because of their different objectives and scales. Agriculture and forestry are related to both adaptation and mitigation: they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and removals, are vulnerable to climate variations, and form part of adaptive strategies for rural livelihoods. We assessed how climate change project design documents (PDDs) considered a joint contribution to adaptation and mitigation in forestry and agriculture in the tropics, by analyzing 201 PDDs from adaptation funds, mitigation instruments, and project standards [e.g., climate community and biodiversity (CCB)]. We analyzed whether PDDs established for one goal reported an explicit contribution to the other (i.e., whether mitigation PDDs contributed to adaptation and vice versa). We also examined whether the proposed activities or expected outcomes allowed for potential contributions to the two goals. Despite the separation between the two goals in international and national institutions, 37 % of the PDDs explicitly mentioned a contribution to the other objective, although only half of those substantiated it. In addition, most adaptation (90 %) and all mitigation PDDs could potentially report a contribution to at least partially to the other goal. Some adaptation project developers were interested in mitigation for the prospect of carbon funding, whereas mitigation project developers integrated adaptation to achieve greater long-term sustainability or to attain CCB certification. International and national institutions can provide incentives for projects to harness synergies and avoid trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation.

Environmental Management, February 2016, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 271–282


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  • Increasing accountability in the Paris Agreement

Increasing accountability in the Paris Agreement

An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
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An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

By Niki de Sy, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

Many countries have included agriculture, forestry and other land use targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to fight climate change as part of the Paris Agreement.

The land use sector is particularly important because it holds many links to food security, economy, well being, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This sector is also unique because of its huge carbon sink potential. In developing countries, land use change (i.e. deforestation) and agriculture are often the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Unfortunately, emissions from land use change are notoriously hard to quantify and monitoring capacities in many developing countries remain low.

The Enhanced Transparency Framework was established to enable the tracking, comparing and understanding of national commitments worldwide to fight climate change. Countries will need to provide necessary information to track progress towards implementing and achieving their NDCs and on reducing GHG emissions.

This information will be used for a Global Stocktake conducted every five years. The Paris Agreement also encourages other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to participate in efforts to address and respond to climate change.

Also read Infobrief on transparency and the Paris Agreement
Also read Infobrief on transparency and the Paris Agreement

This means that land use sector information will be needed for quantifying and tracking progress made at the local, national and global levels, as well as for guiding local mitigation planning and implementation of land use activities, and the accountability of actions and stakeholders (i.e. for tracking corporate ‘zero deforestation’ commitments).

A variety of stakeholders (governments, private sector, land managers, etc.) will increasingly look for trusted and reliable information, ready to-use methods and open-source solutions that would allow them to assess the state, dynamics and drivers of change regarding land resources, livelihoods, social protections and equity indicators.

There is a need for enhanced monitoring approaches that stakeholders can use to achieve their own goals, but that would also be perceived as transparent and legitimate by other stakeholders. They should also support accountability of all stakeholders within the framework of the Paris Agreement.


It is clear that beyond the efforts of national governments to monitor their emissions from the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, there is a need for additional monitoring approaches. A recent infobrief published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) provides insight into the role of independent monitoring approaches in enhancing transparency in the land use sector.

Results from a multi-stakeholder survey show that independent monitoring does not mean one specific tool, but rather a diversity of approaches with the purpose of increasing transparency and broadening stakeholder participation by providing free and open methods, data, and tools complementary to mandated reporting by national governments.

The CIFOR study gives key recommendations on how stakeholders can engage and benefit from independent monitoring. The authors recommend developing a practice of ‘data bridging’, not imposing a one-size-fits-all system, but rather simplifying and streamlining the dialogue between data users and producers.

The scientific community could play an important role by developing harmonized reference data, and guidance and training materials to make the best use of available data and information sources as it increases opportunities for participation and transparency.

Countries seeking to implement forest and agriculture-related mitigation actions could increase the use of open and ready-to-use tools to encourage participatory monitoring.

UNFCCC negotiators and reviewers could contribute by providing modalities and good practice guidelines for enhancing transparency and accountability in the land-use sector.

While the report provides a good starting point for discussions on enhanced transparency in the land use sector and the implications for monitoring, there are many other thorny issues that need to be considered going forth.

One major challenge will be to integrate biophysical information, obtained by field inventories and remote sensing, with survey and census data on livelihoods, social protection and equity indicators to better understand land use dynamics.

We should not only monitor climate goals, but also institutional change and social processes, which makes this even more complicated. Multiple sources and types of monitoring and reporting (i.e. national forest monitoring system, independent monitoring, private sector commitment tracking) will have to co-exist and be integrated into a multi-level, flexible and diverse system.

This is clearly an enormous task that demands a transdisciplinary approach. Enhancing transparency will require a giant effort, but it will hopefully lead to much-needed transformational changes to realize the full potential of the Paris Agreement, and beyond.

For more information on this topic, please contact Niki de Sy at [email protected] or Christopher Martius at [email protected]
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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  • From Paris to Marrakech: forests, climate change and REDD+ in Southeast Asia

From Paris to Marrakech: forests, climate change and REDD+ in Southeast Asia

Photo: Grace Wong/CIFOR
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Photo: Grace Wong/CIFOR
Photo: Grace Wong/CIFOR

By Rob Finlayson, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

The implications of international agreements on the ten countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their extensive forests was explained at an Experts Dialogue in Indonesia

The Paris Agreement is a global deal aimed at limiting the negative impact of climate change. The implications for Southeast Asia’s forests were explained to senior officials of member states at an Experts Dialogue on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in ASEAN held in Bali, Indonesia, 30 November 2016 by Grace Wong of the Center for International Forestry Research. The Dialogue was supported by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris, France in November 2015, reached a consensual deal—the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement—signed by 193 countries, 115 of which have ratified it. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.

Wong explained that the aim of the Agreement is described in Article 2: a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change; b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse-gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; and c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse-gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

Forest area in Southeast Asian countries, 1990–2010. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Forest area in Southeast Asian countries, 1990–2010. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

For the first time, forests were explicitly mentioned, in Article 5.1, which encourages action for results-based payments to keep forests standing, such as the mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus Conservation (REDD+). Article 5.2 states that keeping forests and trees standing and sustainably managed will be crucial in global efforts to reach the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5–2 °C. Especially for forest-rich Southeast Asia, avoided deforestation can provide major reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and is explicit in many nationally determined contributions to the goal.

The Paris Agreement was a complete document that sets out the overarching goals and framework for international climate action. The details of the Agreement are to be ironed out by 2018, with a review of progress in 2017. The recent 22nd Conference of Parties, held in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, began the implementation of the Agreement. Some of the key issues discussed were finance, the global stocktake process and guidance for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and transparency.

Finance: the Parties reiterated their commitment to USD 100 billion per year of public and private finance for developing countries by 2020. The UNFCCC Standing Committee of Finance released its biennial assessment showing an upper, bound estimate of total global climate finance in 2013 and 2014 from all sources added up to USD 714 billion. A greater balance between mitigation and adaptation was also indicated although only USD 80 million was committed to the Adaptation Fund. A new Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency trust fund has begun with an initial USD 50 million funding projects in Costa Rica, Kenya and South Africa. Non-market approaches were considered significant owing to complexities around the implementation of REDD+ policies and measures before results-based payments would be possible. How mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund will deal with both the non-market elements of policy performance and results-based payments will be closely monitored by all REDD+ countries. You can read more about this here and here.

NDCs: each country determines what contribution they should make to reach the global goals. Article 3 requires these contributions to be ‘ambitious’ and ‘represent a progression over time’. After five years, the next ambition should be more ambitious than previous. According to Wong, the challenges in developing guidance for NDCs are in communicating the mechanisms, accounting and developing guidance for different types of NDCs, avoiding double accounting and allowing flexibility for each country depending on their capacity.

Keeping ASEAN’s forests standing is critically important for the future of our planet. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson
Keeping ASEAN’s forests standing is critically important for the future of our planet. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Global stocktake: to evaluate whether the world is on track to limit warming. In 2018, a Facilitative Dialogue will assess progress and plan for the next round of NDCs.

Transparency: the foundation of the Paris Agreement’s ‘ambition mechanism’; a unique approach that allows countries to increase their ambition. A lot of discussion took place on how to create a fair ‘rulebook’ so all countries could have confidence when assessing each other’s climate pledges. The technicalities of the rulebook—setting baselines and methodologies—will likely continue into 2018. For example, decisions on the balance between national sovereignty and global uniformity in the rulebook for monitoring greenhouse-gas emissions were put off till the next year.

‘For REDD+, transparency includes assessing biases related to use of historical periods in forest reference greenhouse-gas emission levels and the systematic choices relevant to national circumstances’, said Wong. ‘Independent monitoring can be critical for credibility of any such system, involving a variety of practices that include elements of free and open methods, data and tools, increased participation and complementarity to national reporting’. A report on an event on transparency held during the Marrakech conference can be read here.

In addition, the implications need to be considered of any measuring, reporting and verification  system aimed at REDD+ shaped by diverse interests, information, institutions and ideas that require multilevel coordination and governance. Understanding the politics of different people at different levels of government and society could lead to a more effective system.

The challenge for ASEAN

All nations recognize that achievement of the Paris Agreement goals as well as the Sustainable Development Goals will be impossible without action to protect, restore and sustainably manage all types of forests […] [T]ransformation of the forest sector requires fundamental  changes from both the public and private sectors. Only determined, sustained leadership and inclusive forest governance will deliver this.

How will ASEAN leaders rise to this challenge? According to Wong, ASEAN member states need to increase transparency in the forest sector if they are to improve the effectiveness of REDD+. This should include efforts to incorporate the needs and interests of all the different groups of people involved through dialogue, communications, trust and participation. They also need to ensure transparency in, and free accessibility to, data and data sources, methodologies and tools.

‘Secondly, ASEAN member states need to increase the ambition of their NDCs and the role of forests’, said Wong. ‘This implies being open to independent review and actively participating in the review of others and also increasing investments into forest conservation, restoration and sustainable management, relative to other sectors’.

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  • FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals

FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals

Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
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Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition

By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

An increasing number of states are embracing commitments made under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. But how do these grand ambitions play out in reality?

In practice, climate action gains traction at the ground level — ‘where the rubber hits the road’, so to speak — and that requires collaboration among a whole range of different stakeholders.

Besides national governments, subnational governments are increasingly involved in action on climate change in the land use and forestry sectors. Non-state actors, including indigenous groups (which sometimes own and manage important territories), non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are also playing a growing role.

So how can the efforts of these various groups be best coordinated to meet national and international pledges, bringing real action on climate change?

A political world

Anne Larson, a Principal Scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), has led research on this issue in five countries as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, including two national studies on systems of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV).

Planting Mangroves. Photo: Putu Budhiadnya for 2016 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
Planting Mangroves. Photo: Putu Budhiadnya for 2016 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition

She says that even with apparently technical issues like MRV, political tensions tend to emerge both horizontally and vertically among stakeholder groups when trying to turn ideas into reality. This shouldn’t discourage efforts to take action but suggests that we need to take a different approach.

“We can’t ignore political realities,” she says. “We have many great ideas, but no matter how great they might sound technically, we always bump into reality when we hit the ground and try to start implementing.”

Also read: FTA project update: Understanding REDD+ across the globe

“Politics is not necessarily good or bad, it just is. We need to embrace this and learn to work in this reality.”

Pham Thu Thuy, another CIFOR scientist involved in the study, says her research in Vietnam found that politics not only influenced coordination, but also shaped perceptions of goals and challenges among different levels of governance.

“Different levels perceive different problems. But also how they actually define the problem is based on their own perception and their political interest,” Thuy says.

The answer to coordinating those differences, she says, is to take a landscape approach.

Click to read: Exploring the agency of Africa in climate change negotiations: the case of REDD+
Click to read: Exploring the agency of Africa in climate change negotiations: the case of REDD+

You have to be aware of these politics and think about how you can bring together every piece of information and every active group to make a policy work,” she says.

“And I think that for the land-use system, if you want something to work, basically it has to be at the landscape level.”

A landscape view

At the Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh, subnational and non-state actors were invited to share their perspectives on the matter of catalyzing action on the ground.

The term ‘non-state actors’ includes researchers, civil society and other community-level groups, but via global climate negotiations in recent years has become shorthand for the private sector.

Also read: COP22 Special: REDD+ monitoring is a technical and political balancing act

Bruce Cabarle, Team Leader of Partnerships for Forests, an initiative for investment in sustainable use of land and forests, said in discussion at GLF that public-private-people partnerships were key to applying lessons learned into the future.

“The more interesting question is: How do we get synergies and complementarity between voluntary certification schemes and government regulations so that they are mutually reinforcing?” he asked.

Christoph Thies, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace, welcomed cooperative efforts among sectors, but maintained that states should take the lead.

“The private sector should never replace the roles and responsibilities of governments,” he said.

For Thies, the answer lies in understanding political factors as both challenges and opportunities for change.

“Technical barriers can be overcome,” he said. “To really address the landscape requires political will.”

On the ground

Fernando Sampaio, Executive Director of the PCI (Produce, Conserve and Include) Strategy State Committee in Mato Grosso, Brazil, acknowledged the importance of both private-sector and civil society involvement in ground-level efforts, from a subnational government perspective.

“The private sector is an important part of the process, but we also need to include other stakeholders who are excluded from the process,” he said.

Excluded groups often include indigenous peoples, whose land rights are not always recognized. Norvin Goff, President of MASTA, an indigenous federation that represents the Miskitus of the Honduran Mosquitia, said that blueprint approaches to land and forest use rarely work at the ground level for indigenous communities.

“We don’t need a set formula that has been used in the past, we need to create an approach together,” Goff said.

He urged closer partnerships between government and indigenous groups.

“Instead of an enemy, they should consider us as part of the solution,” he said.

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  • Peter Holmgren: Sustainable solutions to climate change lie in the landscape

Peter Holmgren: Sustainable solutions to climate change lie in the landscape

Look beyond carbon emissions to find solutions to climate change. Photo: Ian Britton/Flickr
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Look beyond carbon emissions to find solutions to climate change. Photo: Ian Britton/Flickr
Look beyond carbon emissions to find solutions to climate change. Photo: Ian Britton/Flickr

Originally published at Thomson Reuters Foundation and CIFOR’s Forests News

If we are to find sustainable solutions to climate change, we have to look at the bigger picture.

And in that picture climate change – and carbon emissions – aren’t everything. Neither are biodiversity, water, forests, agriculture or coastal habitats and oceans, gender or communities, education, poverty and inequality or energy. In the big picture, the picture that counts, they are all important.

Saying this doesn’t make me a climate sceptic or a climate denier, or even a climate cynic. Far from it. But as the world gathers for COP22 in Marrakesh, a year after the Paris Agreement, it is clear to me that if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meet our climate targets, we have to find a new way of doing things.

The overwhelming tendency, the modus operandi of development, is to operate in silos, or compartments, of our own disciplines, our own organisations, our own ministries and our own sectors, all of us working toward our own targets of success.

Focus on the landscape...Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR
Focus on the landscape…Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR

An agricultural ministry is told to increase production of a certain crop, and if they have to clear 25 percent of the nation’s forests and all the biodiversity within, roll over indigenous groups, so be it. Climate change – let’s leave that to the Environment Ministry. Campaigners and non-governmental organisations often tend to stay in their own silo too – focusing on a single issue with little regard for the relevance of any others. That has to change.

We have to look at each SDG in context with the others, and approach them as a whole. We have to tear down the walls that separate sectors, because they do not represent the situation on the ground anywhere. In the real world, there are broad landscapes within which different interests, demands, objectives and targets compete.

Approaching solutions holistically is at the heart of what is known as the landscapes approach and the global movement that is arising around it. The term is not known beyond development circles but it should be, because every stretch of land or sea touched by mankind makes up the millions of landscapes on this planet.

The approach is neither prescriptive nor inflexible. It is not top-down. It embraces compromise. It accepts that in any dispute about how to manage resources there will be a need for arbitration between different demands – small-scale farmers, big agro-business, international agreements, national and local governments, conservationists.

...and on the people in it. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
…and on the people in it. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR

The objective is to seek multiple measurable benefits from every action and investment in a landscape – more food, more income, greater equality, and a healthy environment. It assumes there will be trade-offs with no absolute winners and no absolute losers.

Enter the Global Landscapes Forum, the biggest event under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Three years ago, a small group of organisations including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme, together with my organisation, the Centre for International Forestry Research, created a platform on the margins of the UN’s climate change meetings where every sector and discipline could connect, through the lens of the landscapes approach, the climate agenda and the 2015 SDGs.

Today GLF is taking on a life of its own. Last year, more than 3,000 people from 105 countries – everyone from California Governor Jerry Brown to a tribal leader from Borneo – joined us in Paris. Its sixth gathering is being held in Marrakesh on November 16.

It has grown into a global community of several hundred organisations, with tens of thousands of people from every continent, including scientists, lawyers, bankers, indigenous and community leaders, farmers and foresters, NGO personnel, journalists and policy makers, actively sharing their experiences, research, initiatives and knowledge. In short, we have created a global conversation on building sustainable landscapes that is changing the way we think, connect and act.

Already we have received pledges to restore 148 million hectares of degraded land from countries all over the world. The next target is to increase that to 400 million hectares – and to devise the action plans needed to implement and measure them.

Our vision is to reach far beyond expert communities and connect and inspire a billion people to join us by 2020. We believe this is vital not just for reshaping the climate and development agenda, but for building a world that is sustainable, more prosperous and more equitable.

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  • Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective

Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective

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As countries experience economic growth and choose among available development pathways, they are in a favorable position to adopt natural resource use technologies and production practices that favor efficient use of inputs, healthy soils, and ecosystems. Current emphasis on increasing resilience to climate change and reducing agricultural greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions strengthens the support for sustainable agricultural production. In fact, reducing losses in soil fertility, reclaiming degraded lands, and promoting synergistic interaction between crop production and forests are generally seen as good climate change policies. In order for decision-makers to develop long-term policies that address these issues, they must have tools at their disposal that evaluate trade-offs, opportunities, and repercussions of the options considered. In this paper, the authors combine and reconcile the output of three models widely accessible to the public to analyze the impacts of policies that target emission reduction in the agricultural sector. We present an application to Colombia which reveals the importance of considering the full scope of interactions among the various land uses. Results indicate that investments in increasing the efficiency and productivity of the livestock sector and reducing land allocated to pasture are preferable to policies that target deforestation alone or target a reduction of emissions in crop production. Investments in livestock productivity and land-carrying capacity would reduce deforestation and provide sufficient gains in carbon stock to offset greater emissions from increased crop production while generating higher revenues.

Source: Word Development, November 2016

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Stretching the carbon goals: Agroforestry experts want new partnerships and a boost for research

Rwanda has vowed to restore two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland. Photo: Alba Saray Pérez Terán/CIFOR
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By Kerstin Reisdorf

Dennis Garrity, UN's Drylands Ambassador and former Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: ICRAF
Dennis Garrity, UN’s Drylands Ambassador and former Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: ICRAF

“The contribution of trees in agriculture into the global carbon balance is still widely ignored. And if we don’t … start really blasting this message around the world, we are missing one of the biggest opportunities that this institution has had for many, many years.”

This is how Dennis Garrity, UN’s Drylands Ambassador and former Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), addressed his colleagues at the annual Science Week held in Nairobi at the beginning of September.

He said that there is a huge carbon storage potential of over four tons of carbon per ha per year on average. “So the main question is: How do we dramatically increase carbon stocks in agriculture?”

Garrity suggested leveraging countries Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC) to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions for the African Forest and Landscape Restoration Initiative AFR100. It’s neither “too late nor too early” because 22 African countries have made commitments of a total of 59 million hectares they want to restore. According to Garrity, these countries will realize that the dominant way they are going to meet their commitments is through agroforestry. Land restoration will also happen in croplands and pasture lands. “In many countries, agroforestry has already been seen as the major vehicle for land restoration,” he affirmed.

Kenya’s land restoration commitments, for example, amount to 5.1 million ha and “farmers in Kenya are planting trees like mad.”

Rwanda has vowed to restore two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland. Photo: Alba Saray Pérez Terán/CIFOR
Rwanda has vowed to restore two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland. Photo: Alba Saray Pérez Terán/CIFOR

Rwanda has committed to restoring two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland, so agroforestry is going to be the vehicle by which they are actually going to accomplish it.

Garrity challenged his colleagues to “stretch their goals” and aim to double the speed of increasing tree biomass by 2030. “We just simply double the rate at which carbon is being stored in agriculture through agroforestry globally. By 2040, let’s double it again. And by the time we reach the target year 2050 for the world to reach carbon neutrality, why don’t we produce 1600 metric tons of carbon annually through agroforestry. ” And trees also provide the environment in which carbon storage in soils can be increased.

Garrity’s presentation was complemented by data from a recent study on tree cover on agricultural land and carbon sequestration. In the journal Nature, ICRAF’s Robert Zomer and colleagues state that the amount of carbon stored on farms is underestimated. Through remote sensing, Zomer calculated that 43% of all agricultural land globally has at least 10% tree cover and that this figure has been steadily rising over the last decade.

Also read: Earth Overshoot Day: Harnessing trees to counter overuse of resources

ICRAF’s Deputy Director General Research, Ravi Prabhu, suggested to use the vast datasets generated in the Sentinel Landscapes under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry to validate the new tree cover findings.

Garrity and Zomer proposed to overlay the new farming systems classification for Africa with the most recent map of tree cover and carbon storage to look at the potential of each farming system to store carbon.

The next steps according to Garitty are

  • Determine the carbon storage potential for each farming system through accelerated uptake of agroforestry
  • Set up national targets for carbon sequestration in agriculture and get countries competing with each other
  • Develop decision-support tools.

Garrity encouraged ICRAF to go beyond agroforestry and take leadership in “reviving” REDD+, developing global partnerships and mobilizing scientists to develop estimates for carbon sequestration “stretch goals” by farming system, country and region.


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