• Home
  • Global commitment growing for gender equality in climate action

Global commitment growing for gender equality in climate action

Rice farmers work on Indonesian peatlands. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Rice farmers work on Indonesian peatlands. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Researchers are backing the development of a gender-responsive policy for the Green Climate Fund.

Climate change may affect everyone, but not always equally. Women — especially those living in poor, rural communities — often face additional burdens.

“Generally, you see that women have weaker land rights, they usually have less input in determining how natural resources are managed or how income is spent. These types of inequalities play a big role in determining how different groups experience climate change,” says the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s Markus Ihalainen, research officer at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

One example is in Northern Mali, where researchers found that due to increasingly frequent droughts, men decided to leave their homes and seek work elsewhere. Women were left behind to deal with not only the changing climate, but the work men would normally do in their village. Their capacity to adapt was further hampered by a lack of secure tenure and command of financial resources.

Addressing issues such as these is at the core of efforts to introduce and improve gender policies in climate initiatives. At the recent COP23 climate summit in Bonn, Germany, a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan was agreed on that supports women’s participation in climate action and promotes gender equality in the process.

Read more: FTA at COP23

THE FIRST STEP

For gender equality advocates, another process of interest is the ongoing review and update of the Green Climate Fund’s gender policy and action plan.

The GCF was the first multilateral climate fund to include gender considerations in its operations from the offset, and in 2015 it adopted a gender policy and action plan. The three-year policy and action plan is due to be revised next year.

Earlier this year, the GCF called for inputs to the review and update of the gender policy, and at the moment, a consultation copy of the new Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Policy and Action Plan 2018-2020 is circulated for another round of inputs.

This draft summarizes the intent of the GCF Secretariat to more effectively and strategically address gender equality, and incorporates a number of recommendations from various stakeholders, including CIFOR.

“The new draft policy document signals a more robust commitment and approach to gender equality, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, the document is still open for revisions and it will need to be approved by the Board, so we will have to wait and see what the final version looks like,” says Ihalainen.

He points out that the GCF is one of the main financial instruments supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement. As the agreement failed to incorporate language on gender in many key articles, including those on mitigation, finance and technology, a strong GCF gender policy could help mitigate some of those shortfalls.

An elderly woman sits on the terrace of her home in Nalma Village, Lamjung, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

With respect to addressing gender equality in climate policy and action, Ihalainen says there often is a disconnect on many levels. He says that even when there are policies in place, there are guidelines that aren’t mandatory or being monitored, or there can be a lack of capacity in assessing the gender components.

In their submission to the GCF, the researchers argued that despite a clear global mandate to address gender issues in climate policy and action, these tend to get sidelined or watered down at national or program level.

“Too often the gender aspect is seen as an add-on and not something that needs to be considered from the outset and integrated into each phase of the project,” Ihalainen adds.

Read more: An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

SENSITIVE OR RESPONSIVE?

The current GCF gender policy adopts a ‘gender sensitive’ approach. This is commonly understood as being attentive to, or aware of, gender differences. But the researchers say a ‘gender responsive’ approach will have a far better outcome.

“Being gender responsive is about trying to understand and actively challenge unequal roles that are at the core of those differences — not just being mindful of the differences, but actually doing something to transform them,” says Ihalainen.

“To achieve this, the new policy needs to not only safeguard but advance women’s rights,” he says.

The research team says the new gender policy should also aim to minimize gender-related risks and safeguard women’s rights in all aspects of climate change action.

ALIGNING WITH THE SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a standalone goal (SDG 5) on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It includes a number of targets addressing underlying facets of gender equality, including full and effective participation, equal rights to productive resources, and unpaid care and domestic work.

The researchers say aligning the updated gender policy with the SDGs — and SDG 5 in particular — will allow for a more heavily rights-based framework for addressing gender equality in climate action. It would also allow for a more comprehensive set of targets and progress indicators that can be used to assess the Fund’s contribution to gender equality.

Ihalainen says now is the time to take action. He points to a recent analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in which countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The study shows that only 40 percent of these actions included any reference to gender or women, and most of were very generic, and were justified on the grounds that women belong to vulnerable populations.

The team says projects funded by the GCF need to clearly show how they will address gender inequalities through climate action. This will require both identifying and safeguarding against gender-related risks, as well as leveraging potential synergies between gender equality and mitigation/adaptation outcomes.

It is vital, they say, that National Designated Authorities and Accredited Entities, as well as Implementing Entities, have gender experts onboard and a budget to support gender activities. After all, a policy is only as strong as its implementation.

“It is critical that we have proper transparency in how different agencies address this issue, proper monitoring of these indicators and a clear understanding of the responsibilities and accountabilities of the different actors,” says Ihalainen.

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

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, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • Global commitment growing for gender equality in climate action

Global commitment growing for gender equality in climate action

Rice farmers work on Indonesian peatlands. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Rice farmers work on Indonesian peatlands. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Researchers are backing the development of a gender-responsive policy for the Green Climate Fund.

Climate change may affect everyone, but not always equally. Women — especially those living in poor, rural communities — often face additional burdens.

“Generally, you see that women have weaker land rights, they usually have less input in determining how natural resources are managed or how income is spent. These types of inequalities play a big role in determining how different groups experience climate change,” says the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s Markus Ihalainen, research officer at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

One example is in Northern Mali, where researchers found that due to increasingly frequent droughts, men decided to leave their homes and seek work elsewhere. Women were left behind to deal with not only the changing climate, but the work men would normally do in their village. Their capacity to adapt was further hampered by a lack of secure tenure and command of financial resources.

Addressing issues such as these is at the core of efforts to introduce and improve gender policies in climate initiatives. At the recent COP23 climate summit in Bonn, Germany, a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan was agreed on that supports women’s participation in climate action and promotes gender equality in the process.

Read more: FTA at COP23

THE FIRST STEP

For gender equality advocates, another process of interest is the ongoing review and update of the Green Climate Fund’s gender policy and action plan.

The GCF was the first multilateral climate fund to include gender considerations in its operations from the offset, and in 2015 it adopted a gender policy and action plan. The three-year policy and action plan is due to be revised next year.

Earlier this year, the GCF called for inputs to the review and update of the gender policy, and at the moment, a consultation copy of the new Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Policy and Action Plan 2018-2020 is circulated for another round of inputs.

This draft summarizes the intent of the GCF Secretariat to more effectively and strategically address gender equality, and incorporates a number of recommendations from various stakeholders, including CIFOR.

“The new draft policy document signals a more robust commitment and approach to gender equality, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, the document is still open for revisions and it will need to be approved by the Board, so we will have to wait and see what the final version looks like,” says Ihalainen.

He points out that the GCF is one of the main financial instruments supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement. As the agreement failed to incorporate language on gender in many key articles, including those on mitigation, finance and technology, a strong GCF gender policy could help mitigate some of those shortfalls.

An elderly woman sits on the terrace of her home in Nalma Village, Lamjung, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

With respect to addressing gender equality in climate policy and action, Ihalainen says there often is a disconnect on many levels. He says that even when there are policies in place, there are guidelines that aren’t mandatory or being monitored, or there can be a lack of capacity in assessing the gender components.

In their submission to the GCF, the researchers argued that despite a clear global mandate to address gender issues in climate policy and action, these tend to get sidelined or watered down at national or program level.

“Too often the gender aspect is seen as an add-on and not something that needs to be considered from the outset and integrated into each phase of the project,” Ihalainen adds.

Read more: An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

SENSITIVE OR RESPONSIVE?

The current GCF gender policy adopts a ‘gender sensitive’ approach. This is commonly understood as being attentive to, or aware of, gender differences. But the researchers say a ‘gender responsive’ approach will have a far better outcome.

“Being gender responsive is about trying to understand and actively challenge unequal roles that are at the core of those differences — not just being mindful of the differences, but actually doing something to transform them,” says Ihalainen.

“To achieve this, the new policy needs to not only safeguard but advance women’s rights,” he says.

The research team says the new gender policy should also aim to minimize gender-related risks and safeguard women’s rights in all aspects of climate change action.

ALIGNING WITH THE SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a standalone goal (SDG 5) on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It includes a number of targets addressing underlying facets of gender equality, including full and effective participation, equal rights to productive resources, and unpaid care and domestic work.

The researchers say aligning the updated gender policy with the SDGs — and SDG 5 in particular — will allow for a more heavily rights-based framework for addressing gender equality in climate action. It would also allow for a more comprehensive set of targets and progress indicators that can be used to assess the Fund’s contribution to gender equality.

Ihalainen says now is the time to take action. He points to a recent analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in which countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The study shows that only 40 percent of these actions included any reference to gender or women, and most of were very generic, and were justified on the grounds that women belong to vulnerable populations.

The team says projects funded by the GCF need to clearly show how they will address gender inequalities through climate action. This will require both identifying and safeguarding against gender-related risks, as well as leveraging potential synergies between gender equality and mitigation/adaptation outcomes.

It is vital, they say, that National Designated Authorities and Accredited Entities, as well as Implementing Entities, have gender experts onboard and a budget to support gender activities. After all, a policy is only as strong as its implementation.

“It is critical that we have proper transparency in how different agencies address this issue, proper monitoring of these indicators and a clear understanding of the responsibilities and accountabilities of the different actors,” says Ihalainen.

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

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, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • From Balikpapan to global climate action

From Balikpapan to global climate action

Mangrove seedlings grow in Tanjung Puting National Park, West Kalimantan. Photo by D. Murdiyarso/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

People attend the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force meeting in Balikpapan, Indonesia, in September 2017. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR

COP23 special: A diverse group moves from local to global in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Promising to stop cutting down forests is one thing. Actually doing it is another.

At the recent Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force Annual Meeting in Balikpapan, Indonesia, representatives hailing from disparate parts of the world – and mostly tropical states – met to discuss just how to do that. There they launched the Balikpapan Statement, which focuses on sustainable supply chains, the rights and livelihoods of indigenous communities and long-term financing.

At the COP23 in Bonn, Earth Innovation Institute (EII), the GCF Task Force and partners will hold a series of events to further the commitments made in Balikpapan.

“The GCF Task Force is an innovative global partnership of states and provinces that’s been working for nearly nine years. It’s now up to 38 members and growing. Its purpose is pretty simple and big: helping subnational governments in the tropics shift to forest-maintaining, sustainable development,” said EII Executive Director Daniel Nepstad.

Read more: FTA at COP23

With one focus on implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) international framework at the subnational level, the discussions are integral pieces in the puzzle of global climate action exemplified by COP23.

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist Stibniati Atmadja, whose work focuses on provincial-level REDD+, said at the GCF Annual Meeting, “These kinds of fora are important to get the message across about what states are doing to contribute to climate change mitigation, especially that states are committing to these activities based on forestry and that they have important lessons that others can learn.”

“At the international level in negotiating at the UNFCCC, these messages are very important,” she added.

With COP23 in Bonn from 6-17 November including a swath of climate discussions from the local and provincial to national, regional and global levels, it is essential that people understand what is happening on the ground in diverse states, in tropical forests, in muddy peat and in tangled mangroves.

WET AND WILD

Mangrove seedlings grow in Tanjung Puting National Park, West Kalimantan. Photo by D. Murdiyarso/CIFOR

“I work in a number of provinces like West Papua, East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan that have a lot of potential to be part of climate solutions as far as wetlands are concerned. But wetlands and their role in climate mitigation is not on the radar of many governments, nor are the benefits to keeping them intact and protecting them,” CIFOR scientist Daniel Murdiyarso said at the Balikpapan meeting.

At the Indonesia Pavilion at COP23, CIFOR and Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will host a discussion on the collective action required to restore these spaces, which have an integral role to play as carbon sinks and as part of the country’s commitment to reducing emissions.

“The Mahakam Delta wetlands in East Kalimantan are one area with carbon-rich mangroves, but they are facing tremendous pressure from the expansion of shrimp ponds,” Murdiyarso said.

He added, “How the region will manage and govern such assets is key. The actions to be taken by the Forest Management Unit is worth the attention to take a closer look.”

Read more: An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

TRANSFORMATIONAL

Governance and solving the climate issue go hand-in-hand, and one-third of the world’s tropical forests are in GCF Task Force states and provinces, including more than three-fourths of Brazil’s and Peru’s and more than half of Indonesia’s.

As CIFOR scientist Amy Duchelle said on the sidelines of the GCF Task Force meeting about one of the member states where she has conducted research for many years, “If we think about transformational change, the case of Acre in Brazil with its State System of Incentives for Environmental Services is an interesting example. It entailed a governance structure change that brought together many different kinds of policies under one umbrella towards forest-based development.”

At COP23, CIFOR’s side event will look at just such examples of change and what gaps remain in the battles to reduce emissions and halt deforestation, including reflections from a subnational government representative.

Duchelle said, “We are starting a new collaboration with the GCF Task Force, EII and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance to assess the progress of jurisdictions towards low emissions rural development. One big research question now is ‘What are the enabling conditions, and key policies and interventions, that can lead to positive environmental and socioeconomic outcomes on the ground?’”

People sit in front of a village house in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

BOTTOMS UP

In opening remarks at the GCF Task Force meeting, Governor Awang Faroek of East Kalimantan said, “Through these discussions, we hope to come to a consensus in how to best establish realistic strategies in order to realize development that is not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially inclusive.”

This realism stems from seeing things clearly on the ground. At the meeting in Balikpapan, emphasis was placed on the need for successful local processes, with GCF Task Force chair William Boyd saying, “This is what bottom-up climate governance looks like,” as he scanned a room of representatives from across the world that included indigenous leaders, governors and civil society heads.

Read more: Sharing better, for better research

On such governance, Mudiyarso said, “Bottom-up processes are very important because the agenda is clear, but we also need to understand the top-down process and find a meeting point. Local governments need to be informed about what’s going on at the national level, and the national-level government also has to be very accommodating with the specifity at the provinces.”

He suggested one necessary meeting space between such processes could be financing, with Atmadja in agreement.

“REDD+ is seen as a way to fund what provinces want to do. For example, from my interviews in Aceh, in general they’re saying REDD+ is a great opportunity to fund our green vision,” she said.

She added, “I think this kind of viewpoint is very sustainable because REDD+ is here now and ten years from now it may evolve into something else. But if it supports objectives that come from within, then it’s even more sustainable.”

At COP23 in Bonn, such intersecting, transnational discussions continue, all with aim of change both big and small.

By Deanna Ramsay, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • From Balikpapan to global climate action

From Balikpapan to global climate action

Mangrove seedlings grow in Tanjung Puting National Park, West Kalimantan. Photo by D. Murdiyarso/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

People attend the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force meeting in Balikpapan, Indonesia, in September 2017. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR

COP23 special: A diverse group moves from local to global in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Promising to stop cutting down forests is one thing. Actually doing it is another.

At the recent Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force Annual Meeting in Balikpapan, Indonesia, representatives hailing from disparate parts of the world – and mostly tropical states – met to discuss just how to do that. There they launched the Balikpapan Statement, which focuses on sustainable supply chains, the rights and livelihoods of indigenous communities and long-term financing.

At the COP23 in Bonn, Earth Innovation Institute (EII), the GCF Task Force and partners will hold a series of events to further the commitments made in Balikpapan.

“The GCF Task Force is an innovative global partnership of states and provinces that’s been working for nearly nine years. It’s now up to 38 members and growing. Its purpose is pretty simple and big: helping subnational governments in the tropics shift to forest-maintaining, sustainable development,” said EII Executive Director Daniel Nepstad.

Read more: FTA at COP23

With one focus on implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) international framework at the subnational level, the discussions are integral pieces in the puzzle of global climate action exemplified by COP23.

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist Stibniati Atmadja, whose work focuses on provincial-level REDD+, said at the GCF Annual Meeting, “These kinds of fora are important to get the message across about what states are doing to contribute to climate change mitigation, especially that states are committing to these activities based on forestry and that they have important lessons that others can learn.”

“At the international level in negotiating at the UNFCCC, these messages are very important,” she added.

With COP23 in Bonn from 6-17 November including a swath of climate discussions from the local and provincial to national, regional and global levels, it is essential that people understand what is happening on the ground in diverse states, in tropical forests, in muddy peat and in tangled mangroves.

WET AND WILD

Mangrove seedlings grow in Tanjung Puting National Park, West Kalimantan. Photo by D. Murdiyarso/CIFOR

“I work in a number of provinces like West Papua, East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan that have a lot of potential to be part of climate solutions as far as wetlands are concerned. But wetlands and their role in climate mitigation is not on the radar of many governments, nor are the benefits to keeping them intact and protecting them,” CIFOR scientist Daniel Murdiyarso said at the Balikpapan meeting.

At the Indonesia Pavilion at COP23, CIFOR and Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will host a discussion on the collective action required to restore these spaces, which have an integral role to play as carbon sinks and as part of the country’s commitment to reducing emissions.

“The Mahakam Delta wetlands in East Kalimantan are one area with carbon-rich mangroves, but they are facing tremendous pressure from the expansion of shrimp ponds,” Murdiyarso said.

He added, “How the region will manage and govern such assets is key. The actions to be taken by the Forest Management Unit is worth the attention to take a closer look.”

Read more: An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

TRANSFORMATIONAL

Governance and solving the climate issue go hand-in-hand, and one-third of the world’s tropical forests are in GCF Task Force states and provinces, including more than three-fourths of Brazil’s and Peru’s and more than half of Indonesia’s.

As CIFOR scientist Amy Duchelle said on the sidelines of the GCF Task Force meeting about one of the member states where she has conducted research for many years, “If we think about transformational change, the case of Acre in Brazil with its State System of Incentives for Environmental Services is an interesting example. It entailed a governance structure change that brought together many different kinds of policies under one umbrella towards forest-based development.”

At COP23, CIFOR’s side event will look at just such examples of change and what gaps remain in the battles to reduce emissions and halt deforestation, including reflections from a subnational government representative.

Duchelle said, “We are starting a new collaboration with the GCF Task Force, EII and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance to assess the progress of jurisdictions towards low emissions rural development. One big research question now is ‘What are the enabling conditions, and key policies and interventions, that can lead to positive environmental and socioeconomic outcomes on the ground?’”

People sit in front of a village house in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

BOTTOMS UP

In opening remarks at the GCF Task Force meeting, Governor Awang Faroek of East Kalimantan said, “Through these discussions, we hope to come to a consensus in how to best establish realistic strategies in order to realize development that is not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially inclusive.”

This realism stems from seeing things clearly on the ground. At the meeting in Balikpapan, emphasis was placed on the need for successful local processes, with GCF Task Force chair William Boyd saying, “This is what bottom-up climate governance looks like,” as he scanned a room of representatives from across the world that included indigenous leaders, governors and civil society heads.

Read more: Sharing better, for better research

On such governance, Mudiyarso said, “Bottom-up processes are very important because the agenda is clear, but we also need to understand the top-down process and find a meeting point. Local governments need to be informed about what’s going on at the national level, and the national-level government also has to be very accommodating with the specifity at the provinces.”

He suggested one necessary meeting space between such processes could be financing, with Atmadja in agreement.

“REDD+ is seen as a way to fund what provinces want to do. For example, from my interviews in Aceh, in general they’re saying REDD+ is a great opportunity to fund our green vision,” she said.

She added, “I think this kind of viewpoint is very sustainable because REDD+ is here now and ten years from now it may evolve into something else. But if it supports objectives that come from within, then it’s even more sustainable.”

At COP23 in Bonn, such intersecting, transnational discussions continue, all with aim of change both big and small.

By Deanna Ramsay, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

A palm oil tree plantation is cleared by in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A native seed in Mau Forest, Kenya. Photo by Patrick Shepherd/CIFOR

A COP23 special: How will countries be paid for REDD+ results?

In early October, at its 18th Board meeting in Cairo, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) adopted its latest policy related to the UNFCCC policy framework known as REDD+, this time a USD 500 million envelope accompanied by a detailed and comprehensive process for countries to seek results-based payments (RBPs).

GCF Board members and a select few advisors, GCF staff and consultants worked well into the late Cairo nights to complete one of the key pieces of the UNFCCC policy framework to pay developing countries to reduce emissions from the forest sector.

The GCF has now put in place a pilot program that will run until the end of 2022. Putting it into practice will require a minimum of three concept notes from three countries. The most likely countries to meet this requirement include Brazil, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica — however, Brazil is the only country that has finalized all the technical processes required by the UNFCCC at this point.

To ensure a fair allocation of funds, no country can seek more than 30 percent of the total envelope set aside; in other words, no more than USD 150 million. The GCF has put a value on carbon from REDD+ at USD 5 per tonne and a scorecard assessment procedure will determine whether proposals can be made and how much a country will be paid, including a potential 2.5 percent bonus for non-carbon benefits (NCBs).

Access to payments from the GCF will be through Accredited Entities (AEs), who are required to coordinate with national-level REDD+ Focal Points and the GCF National Designated Authorities (NDAs).

Proposals will be assessed against extensive criteria provided in a scorecard — which was the focus of much of the negotiations. Some major forest countries felt the scorecard was too onerous, placing too great a burden on countries and at one interval during the Board meeting, the member for Antigua and Barbuda expressed a concern that no country will be able to pass the process that is being put in place.

Read also: Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Mau Forest and tea plantations in Kenya. Photo by Patrick Shepherd/CIFOR

ASSESSING ELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENT

The assessment process is split into two stages, the first being a concept note stage and the second being a full proposal to the Board for approval. There are also some important differences related to the application of the policy concerning past activities that have led to the results, and future activities to be undertaken using the GCF funds received.

The concept note stage

To be eligible for payment, a country needs to submit a concept note through a selected AE, showing the following:

  • That the four REDD+ ‘conditionalities’ are in place, namely: the National REDD+ Strategy or Action Plan; the UNFCCC-assessed Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL)/Forest Reference Level (FRL); the National Forest Monitoring System; and the Safeguards Information System (SIS);
  • That the results used as basis for the request for payment are included in the technical annex of the country’s Biennial Update Report (BUR), which has been submitted to the UNFCCC;
  • Whether the scale of the REDD+ program is national or subnational on an interim basis; and
  • Written consent of the REDD+ Focal Point and a letter of no objection from the NDA of the relevant country.

The concept note will be assessed by the Secretariat against the criteria in Section 1 of the scorecard, which is relatively basic, for example, provision of evidence of the existence of a SIS. All criteria are required to achieve a ‘pass’ for the country to be invited to make a full proposal.

The second stage: full proposal

Countries considered to be eligible, based on the assessment of the concept note, will be invited to submit a full proposal through their AE, which will be assessed against the scorecard. A variety of scoring methods are used, including a ranking of 0 to 2; pass or fail; and fail or score. The use of the criteria and how they apply to the different components was a core part of the behind-closed-doors negotiations. A fail on one criterion will result in an overall fail and no payment made. In addition to the information provided in the concept note, countries will need to provide the following information.

The report of the BUR’s technical assessment: As one of the more technical areas, the scorecard on this matter seeks to ensure there is consistency between the proposal and the country’s greenhouse gas inventory, and in the definition of ‘forest’ that is being used. It will consider whether the FREL/FRL is consistent with guidelines provided by the COP and the IPCC, and whether it is based on historical data, and will provide a method for adjustment for countries that have consistently maintained high forest cover and low deforestation rates.

The scorecard also considers whether the data are transparent and whether all of the most significant pools and sources of emissions are included, and seeks information related to any significant issues raised by the UNFCCC’s technical assessment report.

The technical Annex to the technical assessment: The GCF will seek information concerning consistency between the BUR and the FREL/FRL as well as whether the data and information provided are transparent, complete, consistent and accurate, with each of these elements clearly split out in the scorecard requiring their separate assessment.

Alignment with the GCF investment framework: The scorecard provides for a different ranking system here, which involves a high, medium or low evaluation, considering: impact potential and the potential for the program to contribute to the GCF objectives; paradigm shift potential, and whether REDD+ activity will catalyze impact beyond the one-off program; sustainable development potential and wider environmental, social and governance benefits; needs of the recipient, such as vulnerability and financing needs; country ownership; and efficiency and effectiveness, including the financial soundness of the program.

The seven Cancun Safeguards: The Cancun Safeguards are addressed individually in the scorecard and ‘pass or fail’ criteria will be applied. The scorecard seeks to ensure that the summary provides information on how each of the safeguards are addressed and respected in a way that ensures transparency, consistency, comprehensiveness and effectiveness.

However, these items are not given separate treatment as is the case for FRELs/FRLs, and this will need to be addressed in the guidance. If a country cannot provide information to enable the assessor to understand how each of the safeguards has been addressed and respected, the application will fail. Evidence is required that safeguards information has been made transparently available to stakeholders.

The Environmental and Social Assessment: In addition to the information on Cancun Safeguards, funding proposals are required to include a due diligence report prepared by the AE together with the host country. This due diligence report will contain assessments describing the extent to which activities undertaken in the past leading to the results are consistent with GCF policies. In this context, applicants will need to provide an Environmental and Social Assessment (ESA).

The scorecard applies a ‘pass or fail’ evaluation to whether proposals are consistent with the GCF policies, including the Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS), currently using International Finance Corporation standards, the risk management policy, the gender policy, monitoring and evaluation, and prohibited practices. This ‘retroactive’ application of GCF policies was a major concern of the parties in the negotiation. The indigenous peoples policy, which has not yet been agreed upon by the GCF, is not specifically mentioned except in a footnote to say it will apply through the Cancun Safeguards and the GCF ESS for activities that have been undertaken in the past.

The ESA will need to show how environmental and social risks have been identified, assessed and managed, and how activities comply with national requirements. The ESA will be taken into consideration by the Secretariat in its second-level due diligence and the Independent Technical Advisory Panel (ITAP). The ESA will also include a description of how stakeholders were identified, informed and consulted, and how they have participated, including any concerns and issues raised. The relevant grievance redress mechanisms will need to be be described, as well as describing complaints received and their resolution.

No transfers or offsetting: Applicants will need to provide evidence that emissions reductions being paid for by the GCF will not be transferred, offered for payments, or used for other purposes, including offsetting. The results paid for will not be transferred to the GCF and will no longer be eligible for any other arrangement. Countries will also need to show that no other party has a competing claim.

Use of proceeds: As a major forward looking component of the policy, the proposal will be required to include a description of how the use of proceeds will be consistent with GCF policies, including the ESS, the gender policy and the soon to be agreed indigenous peoples policy, and meets the requirement that the proceeds will be used to implement to the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), national REDD+ strategy and/or low-carbon development plans and policies.

Information will be sought as to the use of funds to contribute to the long-term sustainability of REDD+ activities, including NCBs, as well as to facilitate management of financial, technical and operational social and environmental risks, among others.

Countries must provide a description of the use of proceeds, including activities to be conducted, stakeholders involved and timeframes, consistent with GCF policies. Documentation concerning the use of proceeds may also include a benefit-sharing plan, however, this does not appear to be mandatory.

Other information required: Other information will be required, including: additional information related to safeguards; an indication of expected results in subsequent years; how different financing contributed to the achievement of the results to ensure there is no double payment; information related to NCBs; and how a country intends to scale up sub-national REDD+ to national.

Once the Secretariat provides its second-level due diligence, the ITAP will undertake its assessment. The ITAP assessors will be drawn from UNFCCC-accredited land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) experts, as well as selected REDD+ experts. The Secretariat will then provide a recommendation to the Board, which will make a decision based on the second-level due diligence and the ITAP assessment.

Once approved, legal arrangements will be entered into through a Fund Activity Agreement (FAA), and the GCF has the right to seek repayment of funds where activities are found to be inconsistent with the requirements, including GCF policies, and premised largely on information obtained through a yearly simplified reporting process. The fund may also investigate proposals made.

Read also: Focus on climate change issues

A palm oil tree plantation is cleared by in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

NEXT STEPS

The Secretariat will now develop templates for the concept note and the full proposal, as well as guidance for NDAs and AEs to make their applications. It is expected that much of this material will be provided by December 2017, and we can expect to see proposals made during 2018.

The guidance will need to cover areas such as the simplified reporting process, as well as information on how to apply the scorecard, for example, to ensure that each of the safeguards are adequately assessed and respected in a way that is transparent, consistent, comprehensive and effective. It will need greater clarity on how to assess NCBs and on the powers of the Fund when undertaking investigations, for example, the power to make site visits and obtain confidential information. Analyses of experience and progress made to achieving objectives will be undertaken over the next two years and presented to the Board by the last meeting in 2019.

As it is likely that the GCF will set the standard for REDD+ going forward, it will be important to research, track and analyze the way this process is implemented to inform new improvements on policy development expected to occur toward the end of the pilot. The level of documentation that will be generated through the AE submissions, the Secretariat’s due diligence, the ITAP assessments and the Board deliberations will provide new insights into the ways in which countries are implementing REDD+, and it will be important that the GCF ensures this information is publicly available. When the final proposed decision was put to the Board, it was welcomed by most of the Board members.

The Board member for Nicaragua expressed satisfaction that this decision will attract private sector investment in REDD+. The Board member for Germany expressed his continued hope that the GCF will set a ‘gold standard’ for environmental integrity and robustness through REDD+ and that proposals will need to be considered closely for their transformational potential, including improvements to reference levels and preventing leakage. The Malaysian Board member considered that the GCF is now in a serious mode to show the world that countries are able to reduce emissions with good forest governance, and the United Kingdom said the outcome was very much in the spirit of compromise, and was pleased to see the 2019 review built into the decision, expecting to build a more robust system in the future.

South Africa, however, would not support the decision. The indigenous representative for observers expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of inclusion of the indigenous peoples policy for events that have occurred in the past, and sought a commitment from the Board to approve the indigenous peoples policy at the next Board meeting in early 2018, after its postponement in this round.

Read also: Green growth in Indonesia meets the Bonn Challenge

A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO REDD+

As has been the case throughout the REDD+ negotiations for the past decade, this process again placed most emphasis on carbon. Indigenous representatives felt that the subject of rights was not given adequate attention, and were deeply disappointed that the indigenous peoples policy was not prepared in time for this meeting. The fact that the policy was not a part of the package at B.18 may have contributed to its weaker references in the REDD+ outcome.

This carbon focus raises important questions concerning priorities associated with REDD+. Studies are consistently showing the importance of tenure and rights to REDD+ implementation and a recent study has now also identified potential human rights violations associated with the efforts to achieve the REDD+ objective. The REDD+ discourse needs to shift to more emphasis on the subject of rights. This is an issue that will consistently come up throughout efforts to implement REDD+ policies unless it is properly addressed.

The GCF has a unique opportunity here to make a significant contribution to changing the discourse to a rights-based REDD+ and treating indigenous peoples as rights holders rather than stakeholders, which would be consistent with the Paris Agreement. In doing so, the GCF would be seen to be contributing to transformational approaches to halting and reversing forest loss, and may then be on a pathway to calling itself the ‘gold standard’ that Board members hope for.

However, this is not yet the case, and the next important step in the GCF’s efforts to promote a paradigm shift in relation to forests and climate change will be to approve the indigenous peoples policy at B.19 in early 2018.

By Stephen Leonard, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. This research was supported by UKaid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

An explanation of Green Climate Fund payments

A palm oil tree plantation is cleared by in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A native seed in Mau Forest, Kenya. Photo by Patrick Shepherd/CIFOR

A COP23 special: How will countries be paid for REDD+ results?

In early October, at its 18th Board meeting in Cairo, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) adopted its latest policy related to the UNFCCC policy framework known as REDD+, this time a USD 500 million envelope accompanied by a detailed and comprehensive process for countries to seek results-based payments (RBPs).

GCF Board members and a select few advisors, GCF staff and consultants worked well into the late Cairo nights to complete one of the key pieces of the UNFCCC policy framework to pay developing countries to reduce emissions from the forest sector.

The GCF has now put in place a pilot program that will run until the end of 2022. Putting it into practice will require a minimum of three concept notes from three countries. The most likely countries to meet this requirement include Brazil, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica — however, Brazil is the only country that has finalized all the technical processes required by the UNFCCC at this point.

To ensure a fair allocation of funds, no country can seek more than 30 percent of the total envelope set aside; in other words, no more than USD 150 million. The GCF has put a value on carbon from REDD+ at USD 5 per tonne and a scorecard assessment procedure will determine whether proposals can be made and how much a country will be paid, including a potential 2.5 percent bonus for non-carbon benefits (NCBs).

Access to payments from the GCF will be through Accredited Entities (AEs), who are required to coordinate with national-level REDD+ Focal Points and the GCF National Designated Authorities (NDAs).

Proposals will be assessed against extensive criteria provided in a scorecard — which was the focus of much of the negotiations. Some major forest countries felt the scorecard was too onerous, placing too great a burden on countries and at one interval during the Board meeting, the member for Antigua and Barbuda expressed a concern that no country will be able to pass the process that is being put in place.

Read also: Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Mau Forest and tea plantations in Kenya. Photo by Patrick Shepherd/CIFOR

ASSESSING ELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENT

The assessment process is split into two stages, the first being a concept note stage and the second being a full proposal to the Board for approval. There are also some important differences related to the application of the policy concerning past activities that have led to the results, and future activities to be undertaken using the GCF funds received.

The concept note stage

To be eligible for payment, a country needs to submit a concept note through a selected AE, showing the following:

  • That the four REDD+ ‘conditionalities’ are in place, namely: the National REDD+ Strategy or Action Plan; the UNFCCC-assessed Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL)/Forest Reference Level (FRL); the National Forest Monitoring System; and the Safeguards Information System (SIS);
  • That the results used as basis for the request for payment are included in the technical annex of the country’s Biennial Update Report (BUR), which has been submitted to the UNFCCC;
  • Whether the scale of the REDD+ program is national or subnational on an interim basis; and
  • Written consent of the REDD+ Focal Point and a letter of no objection from the NDA of the relevant country.

The concept note will be assessed by the Secretariat against the criteria in Section 1 of the scorecard, which is relatively basic, for example, provision of evidence of the existence of a SIS. All criteria are required to achieve a ‘pass’ for the country to be invited to make a full proposal.

The second stage: full proposal

Countries considered to be eligible, based on the assessment of the concept note, will be invited to submit a full proposal through their AE, which will be assessed against the scorecard. A variety of scoring methods are used, including a ranking of 0 to 2; pass or fail; and fail or score. The use of the criteria and how they apply to the different components was a core part of the behind-closed-doors negotiations. A fail on one criterion will result in an overall fail and no payment made. In addition to the information provided in the concept note, countries will need to provide the following information.

The report of the BUR’s technical assessment: As one of the more technical areas, the scorecard on this matter seeks to ensure there is consistency between the proposal and the country’s greenhouse gas inventory, and in the definition of ‘forest’ that is being used. It will consider whether the FREL/FRL is consistent with guidelines provided by the COP and the IPCC, and whether it is based on historical data, and will provide a method for adjustment for countries that have consistently maintained high forest cover and low deforestation rates.

The scorecard also considers whether the data are transparent and whether all of the most significant pools and sources of emissions are included, and seeks information related to any significant issues raised by the UNFCCC’s technical assessment report.

The technical Annex to the technical assessment: The GCF will seek information concerning consistency between the BUR and the FREL/FRL as well as whether the data and information provided are transparent, complete, consistent and accurate, with each of these elements clearly split out in the scorecard requiring their separate assessment.

Alignment with the GCF investment framework: The scorecard provides for a different ranking system here, which involves a high, medium or low evaluation, considering: impact potential and the potential for the program to contribute to the GCF objectives; paradigm shift potential, and whether REDD+ activity will catalyze impact beyond the one-off program; sustainable development potential and wider environmental, social and governance benefits; needs of the recipient, such as vulnerability and financing needs; country ownership; and efficiency and effectiveness, including the financial soundness of the program.

The seven Cancun Safeguards: The Cancun Safeguards are addressed individually in the scorecard and ‘pass or fail’ criteria will be applied. The scorecard seeks to ensure that the summary provides information on how each of the safeguards are addressed and respected in a way that ensures transparency, consistency, comprehensiveness and effectiveness.

However, these items are not given separate treatment as is the case for FRELs/FRLs, and this will need to be addressed in the guidance. If a country cannot provide information to enable the assessor to understand how each of the safeguards has been addressed and respected, the application will fail. Evidence is required that safeguards information has been made transparently available to stakeholders.

The Environmental and Social Assessment: In addition to the information on Cancun Safeguards, funding proposals are required to include a due diligence report prepared by the AE together with the host country. This due diligence report will contain assessments describing the extent to which activities undertaken in the past leading to the results are consistent with GCF policies. In this context, applicants will need to provide an Environmental and Social Assessment (ESA).

The scorecard applies a ‘pass or fail’ evaluation to whether proposals are consistent with the GCF policies, including the Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS), currently using International Finance Corporation standards, the risk management policy, the gender policy, monitoring and evaluation, and prohibited practices. This ‘retroactive’ application of GCF policies was a major concern of the parties in the negotiation. The indigenous peoples policy, which has not yet been agreed upon by the GCF, is not specifically mentioned except in a footnote to say it will apply through the Cancun Safeguards and the GCF ESS for activities that have been undertaken in the past.

The ESA will need to show how environmental and social risks have been identified, assessed and managed, and how activities comply with national requirements. The ESA will be taken into consideration by the Secretariat in its second-level due diligence and the Independent Technical Advisory Panel (ITAP). The ESA will also include a description of how stakeholders were identified, informed and consulted, and how they have participated, including any concerns and issues raised. The relevant grievance redress mechanisms will need to be be described, as well as describing complaints received and their resolution.

No transfers or offsetting: Applicants will need to provide evidence that emissions reductions being paid for by the GCF will not be transferred, offered for payments, or used for other purposes, including offsetting. The results paid for will not be transferred to the GCF and will no longer be eligible for any other arrangement. Countries will also need to show that no other party has a competing claim.

Use of proceeds: As a major forward looking component of the policy, the proposal will be required to include a description of how the use of proceeds will be consistent with GCF policies, including the ESS, the gender policy and the soon to be agreed indigenous peoples policy, and meets the requirement that the proceeds will be used to implement to the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), national REDD+ strategy and/or low-carbon development plans and policies.

Information will be sought as to the use of funds to contribute to the long-term sustainability of REDD+ activities, including NCBs, as well as to facilitate management of financial, technical and operational social and environmental risks, among others.

Countries must provide a description of the use of proceeds, including activities to be conducted, stakeholders involved and timeframes, consistent with GCF policies. Documentation concerning the use of proceeds may also include a benefit-sharing plan, however, this does not appear to be mandatory.

Other information required: Other information will be required, including: additional information related to safeguards; an indication of expected results in subsequent years; how different financing contributed to the achievement of the results to ensure there is no double payment; information related to NCBs; and how a country intends to scale up sub-national REDD+ to national.

Once the Secretariat provides its second-level due diligence, the ITAP will undertake its assessment. The ITAP assessors will be drawn from UNFCCC-accredited land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) experts, as well as selected REDD+ experts. The Secretariat will then provide a recommendation to the Board, which will make a decision based on the second-level due diligence and the ITAP assessment.

Once approved, legal arrangements will be entered into through a Fund Activity Agreement (FAA), and the GCF has the right to seek repayment of funds where activities are found to be inconsistent with the requirements, including GCF policies, and premised largely on information obtained through a yearly simplified reporting process. The fund may also investigate proposals made.

Read also: Focus on climate change issues

A palm oil tree plantation is cleared by in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

NEXT STEPS

The Secretariat will now develop templates for the concept note and the full proposal, as well as guidance for NDAs and AEs to make their applications. It is expected that much of this material will be provided by December 2017, and we can expect to see proposals made during 2018.

The guidance will need to cover areas such as the simplified reporting process, as well as information on how to apply the scorecard, for example, to ensure that each of the safeguards are adequately assessed and respected in a way that is transparent, consistent, comprehensive and effective. It will need greater clarity on how to assess NCBs and on the powers of the Fund when undertaking investigations, for example, the power to make site visits and obtain confidential information. Analyses of experience and progress made to achieving objectives will be undertaken over the next two years and presented to the Board by the last meeting in 2019.

As it is likely that the GCF will set the standard for REDD+ going forward, it will be important to research, track and analyze the way this process is implemented to inform new improvements on policy development expected to occur toward the end of the pilot. The level of documentation that will be generated through the AE submissions, the Secretariat’s due diligence, the ITAP assessments and the Board deliberations will provide new insights into the ways in which countries are implementing REDD+, and it will be important that the GCF ensures this information is publicly available. When the final proposed decision was put to the Board, it was welcomed by most of the Board members.

The Board member for Nicaragua expressed satisfaction that this decision will attract private sector investment in REDD+. The Board member for Germany expressed his continued hope that the GCF will set a ‘gold standard’ for environmental integrity and robustness through REDD+ and that proposals will need to be considered closely for their transformational potential, including improvements to reference levels and preventing leakage. The Malaysian Board member considered that the GCF is now in a serious mode to show the world that countries are able to reduce emissions with good forest governance, and the United Kingdom said the outcome was very much in the spirit of compromise, and was pleased to see the 2019 review built into the decision, expecting to build a more robust system in the future.

South Africa, however, would not support the decision. The indigenous representative for observers expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of inclusion of the indigenous peoples policy for events that have occurred in the past, and sought a commitment from the Board to approve the indigenous peoples policy at the next Board meeting in early 2018, after its postponement in this round.

Read also: Green growth in Indonesia meets the Bonn Challenge

A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO REDD+

As has been the case throughout the REDD+ negotiations for the past decade, this process again placed most emphasis on carbon. Indigenous representatives felt that the subject of rights was not given adequate attention, and were deeply disappointed that the indigenous peoples policy was not prepared in time for this meeting. The fact that the policy was not a part of the package at B.18 may have contributed to its weaker references in the REDD+ outcome.

This carbon focus raises important questions concerning priorities associated with REDD+. Studies are consistently showing the importance of tenure and rights to REDD+ implementation and a recent study has now also identified potential human rights violations associated with the efforts to achieve the REDD+ objective. The REDD+ discourse needs to shift to more emphasis on the subject of rights. This is an issue that will consistently come up throughout efforts to implement REDD+ policies unless it is properly addressed.

The GCF has a unique opportunity here to make a significant contribution to changing the discourse to a rights-based REDD+ and treating indigenous peoples as rights holders rather than stakeholders, which would be consistent with the Paris Agreement. In doing so, the GCF would be seen to be contributing to transformational approaches to halting and reversing forest loss, and may then be on a pathway to calling itself the ‘gold standard’ that Board members hope for.

However, this is not yet the case, and the next important step in the GCF’s efforts to promote a paradigm shift in relation to forests and climate change will be to approve the indigenous peoples policy at B.19 in early 2018.

By Stephen Leonard, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. This research was supported by UKaid from the UK government.

  • Home
  • Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Cattle farming is a key driver of deforestation in Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The Amazon river and rainforest are seen from above in Amazonas, Brazil. Photo by N. Palmer/CIAT for CIFOR

The recent meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board in Songdo, Korea, adopted two new decisions intended to reduce global emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to support forest restoration and conservation in developing countries via REDD+.

These two new decisions relate to the GCF’s role in financing development of policies and preparatory activities in developing countries and the GCF’s policy related to making payments for verified emission reductions achieved through such policies and measures.

CONTEXT OF THE GCF

It has been a long trek to get to this point at the international level. The work on REDD+ started as early as 2005, and the international framework was finalized between 2013 and 2015. The UN Climate Convention Standing Committee on Finance has more recently been undertaking work to move the finance discussion forward since 2014 and much groundwork has been done through initiatives led by the World Bank, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD Programme.

Since efforts to curb forest loss and restore and conserve forests commenced through REDD+, there has been more than USD $6 billion provided to countries across Asia, Africa and Central and South America mostly on behalf of the governments of Norway, Germany, the UK and the US. Now, more funding (likely several hundreds of millions of US dollars) is expected to come from the GCF.

However, despite all these efforts, only one country Brazil has been able to show a decrease in deforestation. But this trend has been reversed with a recent growth in deforestation. The complexities associated with REDD+ and its lack of emissions reductions results has thus caused many to question the potential for the framework to mitigate climate change.

Attempts to achieve these objectives by relying on private sector finance and carbon markets (negligible to non-existent) have been marred with controversy, associated with on the ground realities of rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. These tensions remain, with deep divides persisting on topics such as carbon markets, offsets, lack of respect for indigenous rights, and continued uncertainty related to land tenure in many countries.

Despite this, slowing, halting and reversing forest cover and carbon loss remains a global priority. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 seeks to achieve this by 2020. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and restoring and conserving forests, was also identified as a priority action in the Paris Agreement.

The global community is well aware of the importance of forests to the climate change agenda, and heavy reliance is being placed on forest and land use to achieve the goals outlined by the Paris Agreement.

Read also: What’s causing the holdup in REDD+ results-based finance?

Serapio Condori Daza, a brazil nut harvester, works in a concession in Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by M. Simola/CIFOR

GCF RELATING TO EARLY PHASES OF REDD+

The first decision made at the recent 17th Meeting of the GCF Board in Songdo addressed the type of support to be provided by the GCF to enact the enabling conditions, policies and measures required to support Phases 1 and 2 of REDD+.

The multibillion-dollar fund will support countries to develop strategies and action plans, reference levels to measure emissions, forest monitoring systems and safeguard systems, as well as land tenure reform, and will put emphasis on issues related to gender, indigenous peoples rights and environmental integrity.

The GCF intends to makes it a priority to enhance countries’ capacities to safeguard the rights of local and indigenous communities and to seek strict adherence to social and environmental safeguards.

The GCF says it will ensure relevant stakeholders and civil society groups are consulted, with particular attention paid to the rights of indigenous peoples. It will focus on investments that build local and long-lasting capacities and stakeholder engagement processes.

The GCF will support projects and programs, which target the following:

  • Previously forested lands: to reduce pressure on forests by increasing productivity of agricultural lands through more efficient and proven technologies, reforestation and agroforestry and restoration of natural forests;
  • Managed forests: targeting forests in proximity to the agricultural frontier. This may come in the form of sustainable forest management for timber or non‐timber forest products, payments for ecosystem services, and ecotourism; and
  • Primary forests: recognizing land tenure rights, strengthening law enforcement measures, creating large‐scale protected areas, maintaining the livelihoods and cultural values of forest‐dependent people and long‐term conservation of these forests and the ecosystem services they provide.

The decision also identifies that the GCF will engage with the private sector through its Private Sector Facility. Through this facility, the GCF considers that it may provide support by:

  • Providing funding and instruments to generate credit lines with improved loan conditions for sustainable agricultural practices conditional to maintaining natural forests and/or increasing forest areas;
  • Financing technical assistance to small‐scale farmers to improve capacities and generate opportunities to engage in deforestation‐free supply chains; and
  • Providing guarantees to reduce market risks, and other risks inherent to the forestry and land use sectors, including climate variability.

At this point in time, the GCF’s approach to engagement with the private sector is still in its infancy. Work will commence in the coming months to further develop a policy on the way in which the fund interacts with the private sector, likely including the topic of trading in forest carbon.

Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a leading board member working on this issue, underscored the intention of the GCF to become a global leader on the topic. It was emphasized by Mpanu Mpanu and other board members that funding should not be limited to just a few countries, but to all the countries that require support to achieve emissions reductions from forests.

Germany’s board member Karsten Sachs emphasized the need to ensure clarity on the comparative advantage of the GCF over other funds proving finance on the same subject. He elaborated that further work needs to be done on cohesion and complementarity with initiatives such as the FCPF and UN-REDD. Sachs also emphasized the importance of support for work by Germany and the importance of strengthening the role of the private sector, including through supply chain management.

The decision was welcomed by representatives of indigenous peoples, who reinforced that land rights are the basis of success for interventions of this type. They emphasized the need to ensure prevention of risks arising from implementation and their desire to see support from the GCF in strengthening land rights.

PAYMENTS FOR FOREST EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

The second decision was on the topic related to payment for results – meaning verified emissions reductions achieved by following the processes set out by the UNFCCC Framework related to REDD+. The decision was entitled “Pilot Program for REDD+ Results Based Payments”.

This was a more technical decision than the previous one, and one in which the GCF Board members ensured their UNFCCC expert negotiators were present to provide consul on (including the US, Norway, Malaysia and Brazil).

The results-based payments decision contained the following aspects as the “Key Procedural and technical elements”:

An aerial shot shows the contrast between the forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR

a) Access modality: requests would be channeled through accredited entities of the GCF, albeit acting in a more limited role.

b) Financial valuation of results: proposed a uniform and fixed price of USD $5 per ton CO2 eq. for the pilot program.

c) Size of the Request For Payments (RFP): proposed allocating between USD $300 million and USD $500 million for the pilot program. It was noted that as of June 2017, 25 countries have completed their reference levels, and the Technical Analysis by the UNFCCC and four countries have submitted REDD+ results to the UNFCCC Secretariat with a potential volume of emissions reductions from countries ranging between 600 and 2500 million tonnes of CO2 eq. over the last two to four years.

d) Double payment and double financing: considered by the GCF Secretariat to be where a country receives both support for activities pertaining to Phases 1 and 2 of REDD+, and payments for the results achieved during the same periods in Phase 3, proposing that this can be managed through appropriate control policies (i.e. registry systems).

e) Use of proceeds: Proposed that countries receiving REDD+ results-based payments (RBPs) should reinvest the proceeds in activities in line with countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

f) Ownership, legal title and implications on NDCs: the emissions reductions paid for by the GCF under the pilot program are proposed not to be transferred to the GCF and should be retired. In other words, it is a ‘non market’ approach.

g) Eligibility date for results and length of the RFP: Concerns the eligibility date of results (past or future) for payments. The secretariat suggested the pilot only consider recent ex-post results. The length of the entire process could take up to two years (from the launch of the request for payments to the distribution of payments).

h) Scale of implementation: proposals should be designed to achieve tons of emissions reductions or enhanced removals at national, or in the interim, sub-national level.

i) Forest reference emission levels (FREL)/Forest reference levels (FRL) and results: The GCF proposes to employ a scorecard to create a bridge from UNFCCC Technical Analysis processes to GCF RBP payments.

j) Operationalization of the Cancun safeguards: Noting differences between the Cancun safeguards and the GCF environmental and social standards, countries applying for results-based payments will have the primary responsibility of demonstrating how the Cancun safeguards have been addressed and respected in the implementation of the REDD+ activities through their Summary of Information. The AEs, working with the countries, will prepare and document an assessment describing how the GCF interim standards have been met and applied in the REDD+ activities. Again, a scorecard will play an important role.

The secretariat identified the need to better understand the size of the pilot, the eligibility date, the distribution of payments, and the application of the scorecard.

The board members approached the issue with caution, recognizing the complexities, sensitivities and history of international negotiations on the topic.

Caroline Leclerc of Canada, one of the champions leading the process, mentioned the complexities and the interlinkages of topics, as well as the fact that the board is not in a place to fully agree on all the parts of the proposed decision.

Mpanu Mpanu mentioned that the price may be a complicated issue as it costs many countries more per ton than US$5 to reduce emissions through the forest and land-use sector.

The board members commenced putting forward different positions, making it clear that there was not going to be agreement on many issues. Diverse positions and concerns arose on various topics including: eligibility dates, transfer, the size of the GCF envelope, price, double financing, assessment, and the content of the scorecard.

Read also: Smallholder farmers in REDD+ sites: The cost of missed opportunities

Cattle farming is a key driver of deforestation in Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR

NEXT STEPS

Following a full day of consultations and closed-room negotiations, the board finally took note of the progress made. It asked the secretariat to undertake further analysis to finalize the draft request for further consideration on proposals at the 18th Meeting of the Board, which will be held in Cairo, Egypt, in September.

The GCF approach to forests, on paper at least, seems encouraging in many ways. This major global fund is seeking, at this point in time, to look beyond merely economic incentives such as markets and carbon trading to holistic landscape and cross-sectoral approaches with broad stakeholder engagement. The fund seems to embrace both market and non-market approaches.

Although these decisions are about REDD+ specifically, the GCF is making efforts to look beyond the limitations associated with the current REDD+ framework concerning matters such as addressing drivers of deforestation.

It is also seeking to enhance respect for rights. In recent years, there has been a significant improvement of the fund’s approach to indigenous peoples’ rights. This is reflected in the recent decisions taken and the ongoing work related to a standalone indigenous people’s policy expected to be put forth at the next board meeting.

It is also noteworthy that the GCF is progressively laying the groundwork to engage in more depth on carbon trading-related interventions, which will no doubt in due course give rise to increasing controversy and potential for reputational risk to the fund.

The proof, however, will be in the project approval, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The GCF is still on a learning curve when it comes to project implementation, with 43 projects now approved and valued at around US$2 billion.

Very little funding has started to flow and getting money out the door has been challenging. Projects approved by the GCF have come under some criticism for lacking consultations with stakeholders, and the fund will need to ensure that these issues do not reoccur as it moves further into the realm of forests and landscapes.

By Stephen Leonard, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at [email protected].


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


Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us