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  • MRV for REDD+ in Mexico: The political process of a technical system

MRV for REDD+ in Mexico: The political process of a technical system

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  • The monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of activities carried out for REDD+ in Mexico can shed some light on the challenges that could be faced when complying with the provisions of the Paris Agreement and the enhanced transparency framework (ETF) it establishes. Addressing the concerns presented by multiple stakeholders on several levels will contribute to highlighting transparency, in accordance with the ETF.
  • National and subnational stakeholders should make an effort to officially clarify the objectives and scope of the National Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (SNMRV); and of subnational stakeholder participation (institutional arrangements, times, inputs, outputs, roles, and responsibilities); and how to establish complementariness with other national and subnational monitoring initiatives.
  • The experience and knowledge of subnational stakeholders can improve and enrich MRV in Mexico, since its efforts, interests and needs go beyond the simple monitoring of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that the SNMRV has performed so far.
  • Long-term institutionalization should be ensured for REDD+ and the MRV system at the different government levels to overcome changes associated with political cycles and ensure the continuity of financial, technical and administrative efforts. Given that budget cuts have affected public administration in Mexico, more stakeholders and funding sources (private sector, academia, civil society, foundations) should support technical requirements for MRV and other monitoring initiatives.
  • Interviewed national and subnational stakeholders valued the implementation of the national initiative for the reduction of forest emissions (IRE) through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the mechanisms to strengthen subnational stakeholders (such as the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, GCF), as well as opportunities to clarify questions on MRV procedures and empower the states for decision-making.
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  • Ensuring quality of research for development: The MELIA system

Ensuring quality of research for development: The MELIA system

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The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is an integrated global research initiative that aims to enhance the use, management and governance of forests, agroforestry and tree genetic resources as a way to improve livelihoods and the integrity of the environment. To test methods, approaches, partnerships and engagement strategies, and to seek the most effective means of achieving positive change, the program uses an innovative system to ensure the quality of its research, to monitor, evaluate and assess the outcomes (defined as changes in technical, social and economic behavior) and impact (defined as changes in actual environmental quality and human wellbeing) of its work.

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  • Strengthening the impact culture of research on forests, trees and agroforestry

Strengthening the impact culture of research on forests, trees and agroforestry

CIFOR researchers assess the nature of economic losses likely to be incurred through displacement of chitemene fields from large-scale jatropha plantations. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Jeff Walker
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Photo: Jeff Walker/CIFOR

By Brian Belcher, Senior Associate, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

In the new phase of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the previous work under “Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment” has been re-labelled as “Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Impact Assessment” (MELIA).

FTA is developing its MELIA unit as a core research and support unit with team members from each of the participating centers. In the new phase, FTA has a great opportunity to make significant theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions to help improve research quality and research effectiveness within FTA, the CG, and beyond.

The MELIA work will be organized in four main clusters of activities:

Foresight/ex ante impact assessment

This is a new area for FTA, in which we will develop tools and approaches for assessing strategic opportunities and estimating potential impact to help inform priority setting and planning. In 2017, MELIA will develop our approach, in collaboration with other CGIAR Research Programs such as Policies, Institutions and Markets and Roots, Tubers and Bananas and in conjunction with research priority setting work in the FTA Management Support Unit.

Ex post impact assessment

MELIA will use and adapt experimental and quasi-experimental methods to assess the impact especially of technical or policy interventions. In 2017, for example, FTA will undertake an ex post impact assessment of the Agroforestry for Food Security Program in Malawi with support from the CGIAR Standing Panel on Impact Assessment.


Read also: Caught in a good loop – how to assess the usefulness of research


Outcome evaluation

MELIA will continue to develop, test and refine theory-based research evaluation methodology to assess research contributions in complex systems and to build a series of outcome evaluation case studies and a longer-term comparative analysis of cases. In 2017, at least four evaluations will be completed and four new studies will be launched. For example, an outcome evaluation of a gender-specific project focusing on women’s participation in forest management in Uganda will help improve the sensitivity of MELIA tools and strengthen FTA’s theory of gender transformative change in FTA landscapes. MELIA will also explore opportunities for collaboration with CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security(CCAFS) and other partners.

Indicators, monitoring & reporting

This work will support the ongoing development of indicators, indicator frameworks and data collection to support the five Flagships in their reporting of outputs, outcomes and indicators for monitoring and reporting. Overall, this work will foster an impact culture within FTA, help ensure that FTA’s work remains relevant and useful in rapidly changing and complex circumstances, learn lessons from the rich FTA experience and guide ongoing research, engagement and capacity development to maximize effectiveness. In 2017, MELIA will support a FTA-wide work to revise the set of FTA indicators and milestones.

Key outcomes of MELIA’s work in 2017 will be

  • improved capacity and improved design, monitoring, evaluation and learning (DMEL);
  • strengthened impact culture within FTA;
  • stronger empirical evidence of contributions of FTA research; and
  • better, more transparent estimates of potential impact leading to well-informed strategies and improved donor confidence.
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  • Success from the ground up: Participatory monitoring and forest restoration

Success from the ground up: Participatory monitoring and forest restoration

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Authors: Evans, K.; Guariguata, M.R.

New global forest restoration initiatives present an unparalleled opportunity to reverse the trend of deforestation and forest degradation in the coming years. This effort will require the collaboration of stakeholders at all levels, and most importantly, the participation and support of local people. These ambitious restoration initiatives will also require monitoring systems that allow for scalability and adaptability to a range of local sites. This will be essential in understanding how a given restoration effort is progressing, determining why or why not it is succeeding and learning from both its successes and failures. Participatory monitoring could play a crucial role in meeting international monitoring needs. The potential of participatory monitoring in forest restoration and related forest management activities is explored in this review through multiple case studies, experiences, field tests and conceptual discussions. The review seeks to deepen and broaden our understanding of participatory monitoring by teasing out the lessons learned from existing knowledge and mapping a possible path forward, with the aim of improving the outcomes of forest restoration initiatives.

Source: CIFOR Publications

Series: CIFOR Occasional Paper no. 159

Pages: 43p.

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

Publication Year: 2016

ISBN: 978-602-387-039-4

DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006284

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

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

Analysis of the CO2 and H2O levels at Berbak National Park, Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by James Maiden for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
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Monitoring deforestation so countries can track their greenhouse gas emission targets is more than a technical matter of satellite images and data. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR
Monitoring deforestation so countries can track their greenhouse gas emission targets is more than a technical matter of satellite images and data. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR

By Barbara Fraser, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Monitoring deforestation so countries can track their greenhouse gas emission targets might seem like a technical matter of satellite images and data.

But implementing systems for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of programs aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) has proven much more complicated, says Anne Larson, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

That’s partly because of the many layers of decision-making involved, from international agreements hammered out at global climate summits to national government policies and local government programs for forest-dwelling communities.

“We live in a world of multi-level governance,” says Larson, who will present findings from CIFOR’s research at a side event during the international climate conference (COP22) that kicked off in Marrakesh, Morocco this past Monday (Nov. 7).

How well national and sub-national governments coordinate with each other—and how well they collaborate with international bodies—varies from place to place.

“We need to understand what is behind collaboration challenges, such as different perspectives on the problem and its solutions, different economic or political interests, or different goals,” Larson says. “And all of this is shaped by power dynamics.”

Monitoring REDD+ has been designed globally, but the systems have to be implemented nationally, and some components probably will have to be handled locally, such as here in the Amazon. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR
Monitoring REDD+ has been designed globally, but the systems have to be implemented nationally, and some components probably will have to be handled locally, such as here in the Amazon. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR

That can make it difficult to implement programs that appear to be straightforward technical solutions.

“MRV for REDD+ has been designed globally, but the systems have to be implemented nationally, and some components probably will have to be handled locally,” Larson says.

This will require a balancing act.

INCREASING TRANSPARENCY

Slowing deforestation and degradation requires good monitoring systems, but must also account for factors such as effective land-use planning, guaranteeing land tenure, and ensuring that local communities share the benefits of REDD+ programs.

While the technical experts who design the systems for measuring, reporting and verifying progress must base their work on unbiased scientific evidence, implementation requires political negotiations that must be transparent and participatory, Larson says.

In Peru, for example, CIFOR research found that government officials sought to centralize data gathering for MRV at the national level, but local and regional government officials also wanted access to the information and a role in decision making.

While the national government’s priority might be data about carbon storage and REDD+, local and regional governments need information for land-use planning. Communities, meanwhile, might be most interested in geo-referencing their boundaries or controlling intrusion by outsiders.

“Sub-national governments may not know what data is being collected and why, who has access to it and how they could use it,” Larson says.

Analysis of the CO2 and H2O levels at Berbak National Park, Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by James Maiden for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Analysis of the CO2 and H2O levels at Berbak National Park, Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by James Maiden for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

STRENGTHENING SYNERGIES

“The system should be designed from the beginning in the way that is most useful to everyone,” she adds. “It takes a lot of effort to bring the various levels of government together to talk about these things, but it is more effective in the long run.”

Communication and coordination are even more important when indigenous communities are involved, because systems must take cultural characteristics into account.

While MRV systems can be highly technical, the experts who design them must be able to discuss their social and economic implications with policy makers, national and local government officials, and members of civil society groups, Larson says. They also may need to offer training to government officials and representatives of community groups who lack technical experience.

In places like the Amazon basin, which is shared by nine countries, coordination among national governments is also important. In South America, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization could facilitate such collaboration to “strengthen synergies and minimize overlaps,” she says.

“MRV isn’t just a matter of gathering and mapping data,” Larson says. “It’s crucial to pay attention to the political steps. If REDD+ programs are to be successful, they have to be negotiated through this complex political world.”

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  • Enhancing transparency in the land-use sector: Exploring the role of independent monitoring approaches

Enhancing transparency in the land-use sector: Exploring the role of independent monitoring approaches

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There is a need for independent monitoring approaches (i.e. unbiased data, tools and methods) that stakeholders involved in land-use sector mitigation activities can rely on for their own goals, but which would also be perceived as transparent and legitimate by others and support accountability of all stakeholders in the framework of the Paris Agreement

Independent monitoring is not a specific tool, a single system or a one-serves-all approach. It is rather a diversity of approaches and initiatives with the purpose of increasing transparency and broadening stakeholder participation and confidence by providing free and open methods, data, and tools that are complementary to mandated reporting by national governments.

We identify key elements of independent monitoring:

  • transparency in data sources, definitions, methodologies and assumptions;
  • free and open methods, data, and tools, which are truly “barrier free” to all stakeholders;
  • increased participation and accountability of stakeholders;
  • complementarity to mandated reporting by countries;
  • promotion of accuracy, consistency, completeness and comparability of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates.

Independent monitoring should be considered an important mechanism for enhancing transparency in the land-use sector. Interested stakeholders can engage and benefit from independent monitoring approaches when starting to implement the Paris Agreement; we provide examples and recommendations as starting points.

Authors: de Sy, V.; Herold, M.; Martius, C.; Böttcher, H.; Fritz, S.; Gaveau, D.L.A.; Leonard, S.;Romijn, E.; Román-Cuesta, R.M.

Topic: land use, monitoring, forest management

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 156

Pages: 8p.

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

Publication Year: 2016

DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006256

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  • Measure it and manage it: Terra-i forest monitoring goes global

Measure it and manage it: Terra-i forest monitoring goes global

Members of the Terra-i team discuss the Terra-i deforestation monitoring system, which can zoom-in on Latin America's forest to track deforestation in near real-time. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT
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By Ruben Echeverria, Director General, Center International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Members of the Terra-i team discuss the Terra-i deforestation monitoring system, which can zoom-in on Latin America's forest to track deforestation in near real-time. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT
Members of the Terra-i team discuss the Terra-i deforestation monitoring system, which can zoom-in on Latin America’s forest to track deforestation in near real-time. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT

The Amazon rainforest is often described as the ‘lungs of the Earth’. But the forests of South East Asia and Africa are also vitally important – and among the most at risk. That’s why a deforestation early-warning system that’s proving so successful in Latin America will soon be monitoring all the world’s tropical forests – from space. By combining detailed satellite images with a lot of number crunching, the deforestation monitoring system Terra-i harnesses the power of big data to help protect forests, biodiversity, ecosystem services and livelihoods.

With images updated and scrutinized every 16 days, it can distinguish between recent and historical deforestation back to 2004, giving a frighteningly accurate story of forest clearance. It also enables users to identify the drivers of forest loss – from agriculture to mining, road building, urbanization and more.

Launched in Latin America in 2012, the Government of Peru adopted Terra-i as its official deforestation monitoring system two years later. Since then it has been keeping watch over its share of the Amazon rainforest, and flagging new drivers in 2015. Several countries in Central America are poised to adopt it.

Last year also saw a lot of hard work to prepare for the launch of Terra-i in SE Asia and Africa – a move that means the system will soon be watching over all the world’s tropical forests. In SE Asia, we expect early adopters to be Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – where deforestation rates are among the highest in the world.

The system will also track forest clearance and vegetation change Africa, specifically in the enormously rich, diverse and important Congo Basin.

While some of the images generated by the system can be unnerving, the team behind Terra-I know that when it comes to deforestation, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. By giving a clearer idea of where the hotspots are, and what’s likely to be causing them, Terra-i enables governments to develop more robust policies on forest protection.

It can also help them quantify the enormous carbon dioxide emissions generated by forest clearance, meaning they can put a more accurate price on conservation.

The private sector can benefit from Terra-i too, with businesses better able to assess the environmental impact of their activities, which in turn can feed into their corporate social responsibility programs.

These activities go to the heart of the important issues that the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry is committed to tackling.

The expansion of Terra-i to SE Asia and Africa represents a big step towards uniting scientists and policymakers across the tropics behind a common goal: the protection and management one of our most precious and vulnerable resources.


Terra-i is the result of collaboration between CIAT, Kings College London and the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HEIG-VD). It is funded by The Nature Conservancy, The World Resources Institute, Global Forest Watch and the CGIAR Research Program on FTA.

http://geodata.policysupport.org/terra-i


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