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  • Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR
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Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region on earth, and home to the world’s three largest cities. Yet it also contains 740 million hectares of forests, accounting for 26 percent of the region’s land area and 18 percent of forest cover globally.

More than 450 million people depend on these forests for their livelihoods.

Through the theme “Protecting forests and people, supporting economic growth,” the third Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) examined how the region’s economic and social development can better integrate with climate change and carbon emissions reduction goals.

Following the first APRS held in Sydney in 2014 and the second in Brunei Darussalam in 2016, this year’s was the largest yet, held in the Javanese cultural center of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From April 23–25, more than 1,200 representatives from academia, civil society, business, government and research institutions gathered for panels, discussions, workshops and field trips.

Regional leaders formed the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) and its biannual Summit to help realize the global goal of ending rainforest loss by 2030, as well as reduce poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), carbon emissions through REDD+, and climate change through the Paris Agreement – as discussed in the Summit’s first day of high-level panels.

Read also: FTA at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit

“Since the summit in Brunei, I am happy to see substantial progress on REDD+ both regionally and globally,” said Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in the opening ceremony. “We need to maintain this momentum and step up the pace of change if we are going to protect our forests and our people while securing economic growth.”

As the host country – supported the Australian Government, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) – Indonesia highlighted its recent environmental achievements.

“In the last three years, we have managed to reduce the [annual] deforestation rate from 1.09 million hectares to 610,000 hectares, and 480,000 million hectares in 2017,” said Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya.

“We realize that forests are a major contributor to carbon emissions, mainly due to forest fires – especially in peatlands. Forests represent 18% of our national emissions reduction targets and are expected to contribute to over half of our [Paris Agreement] targets.”

CIFOR’s Daniel Murdiyarso speaks during a session on restoration and sustainable management of peatlands at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit 2018. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Minister Nurbaya also pointed to community and social forestry as a major theme of the Summit. Indonesia has set a target to allocate some 12.7 million hectares of land for use by communities partaking in five social forestry schemes. Nurbaya said she hopes other countries are similarly prioritizing community-based forestry management.

Community forestry was one of the sub-themes highlighted in the second day’s expert panels, alongside restoration and sustainable management of peatlands, mangroves and blue carbon, ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity, production forests, and forest finance, investment and trade. Issues in focus are detailed below.

PRIVATE FINANCE

Speakers throughout the Summit echoed the need for increased private-sector support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and policies that help enable this.

Companies need more incentives – and assurance of profitability – if they are to balance their business activities with ecological protection and support to local communities. Similarly, there needs to be proof of returns in order to increase private investment in environmental efforts.

The commitment of USD 500 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted as a best-practice example. Announced in May 2017, the pledge is now being used to back select business proposals that creatively address climate change.

Juan Chang, a GCF senior specialist in forest and land use and panel speaker at the Summit, said the Fund’s forestry and land use portfolio of 10 funded projects around the world so far includes 2 REDD+ projects.

Within GCF’s portfolio as a whole, around a third of its USD 3.7 billion goes to projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

REDD+ AND FORESTS

This year’s APRS comes roughly a decade after the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali gave birth to REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), an initiative that – much as its name says – seeks to lower global carbon emissions by preserving tropical forests.

As its goals broadened to give more attention to sustainable forest management and carbon stocks, REDD became REDD+, which now has numerous development and research projects running throughout the region.

Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, HE Siti Nurbaya, opens the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Around 2 billion hectares of Asia-Pacific forests are degraded, and research experts expressed that production forests – such as those used for bioenergy – hold new opportunities for REDD+ implementation.

Contrasting this, however, was the difficulty some countries’ delegates said they’re facing in setting the many pieces in place required to uphold such a detailed effort as REDD+.

While Indonesia and Papua New Guinea now have much of the REDD+ architecture up and running, both countries have met roadblocks in implementing emissions measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems as well as results-based payments mechanisms.

Emma Rachmawaty, Director of Climate Change at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said, “We are in the process of establishing a financial institution to manage financing for REDD+. [Until then] we cannot implement results-based payments for REDD+.”

Danae Maniatis from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) analogized REDD+ framework construction with that of a building.

“Pillars for REDD+ need to be really strong at the readiness phase,” she said. “If you have a house that has a roof but nothing else, would you use it? No. You need it to be functional. So, the challenge that we face is: how do you take these elements and make them functional?”

Read also: Social forestry impacts local livelihoods in Indonesia

NEW WAYS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

Mangroves and blue carbon – carbon captured and stored in oceans and coastal areas – have been hot topics of late.

“There is one ecosystem that has been close to my heart for a long time, that encompasses all the issues you can think of for forests: peatlands and mangroves,” said CIFOR Director General Dr. Robert Nasi.

“Although they represent a small percentage of forests, they are probably the richest and most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world – and the most threatened. I can only encourage and commend Indonesia for all the efforts they’re doing in terms of restoring and rehabilitating peatlands and mangroves.”

Comparatively little research has been done on these ecosystems so far. But the vast carbon sinks of Indonesia’s mangroves – the largest in the world, spanning 3.5 million hectares – have begun to make their way onto the archipelago’s national agenda, potentially contributing to the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement and becoming grounds for financial support to local communities through payment for ecosystem services (PES).

Another way to link local communities to financial institutions and global markets? Ecotourism – responsible recreational activities that encourage conservation and preserve biodiversity.

Panelists called for philanthropic foundations and development organizations to give this growing sector more attention. In the realm of sustainable development business ventures, ecotourism is an on-the-ground way to aid land rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation while still turning a profit – however small that profit may be.

This echoed Dr. Nasi’s opening ceremony statement that the Asia-Pacific region is “a region of superlatives and a region of many contrasts,” with a vast array of businesses, landscapes, socioeconomic levels and governments.

Yet, everyone attending the summit “comes together for one reason: because forests matter.”

By Nabiha Shahab, 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.

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  • Harnessing multi-purpose productive landscapes for integrated climate and development goals

Harnessing multi-purpose productive landscapes for integrated climate and development goals

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By Peter Holmgren, originally published on CIFOR’s Forests News

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) welcomes the ratification and early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. This is a major step towards effective global climate action. We also welcome the recent progress on REDD+ results based payments at the Green Climate Fund.

The land sector will be key in achieving the well below 2 or 1.5 degree goal agreed in Paris and this is clearly reflected in the long term goal of net zero emissions, Article 5 and the Preamble of the Agreement. This role however is not limited to that of forests or agriculture in isolation, but across the landscape. It will be the actions that are taken on the ground by smallholder farmers, local communities, small to medium business and other non-state as well as State actors that will drive the outcomes concerning climate. Climate mitigation and adaptation will inevitably be a co benefit of the actions taken across the landscape.

We urge world leaders to emphasize integrated solutions that harness ecosystem services derived from intact, productive and adaptive landscapes, and to move away from the business-as-usual rhetoric of forest (or ecosystem) conversion for development. Integrating these objectives harmoniously in a complex world requires approaches that are based in science, are socially, culturally and environmentally responsible, and take the needs of all stakeholders into account through open, fair and equitable participation, and that are rooted in recognition of rights.

Uganda, 2008. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Douglas Sheil
©Center For International Forestry Research/Douglas Sheil

Our experience studying REDD+ over 6 years shows that there are no lasting climate solutions involving tropical forests if the livelihoods of the people in those forests are not sustained or improved – global environmental sustainability requires local economic sustainability. While action at the international level is important, international climate action meets the requirements of the world’s forest dependent communities when implemented on the ground.

Turning to the negotiations in Marrakesh, we are concerned that the international climate community was unable to come to an agreement on concrete next steps related to the agriculture agenda item. It is essential that moving forward, to implement the Paris Agreement and achieve the much needed transformational change, an approach that addresses agriculture as a major driver of deforestation, whilst putting in place measures at the international level to ensure food security and protect rights will be essential.

We welcome the road map that has been agreed in Marrakesh as an important step forward in terms of developing the rule-book to ensure the Paris Agreement is implemented. We hope to see the completion of this important work by 2018, in particular on topics concerning accounting for nationally determined contributions, adaptation communications, transparency and compliance. We hope this work will encourage parties to put in place the much-needed steps to increase their ambition. In this work, world leaders should place importance on the use of science and evidence as key to assessing and monitoring the performance of NDCs in policy and practice, across multiple sectors and levels of government.

We encourage countries to revise their NDCs to enhance ambition and address the operationalization of the agreed climate objectives, and doing so within multifunctional landscape objectives, clear strategy plans and actionable roadmaps, unambiguous designation of accountability, and effective participation of all sectors and levels of governments. This will require collaboration with non-state actors (from the corporate sectors to civil society) across those sectors, with enhanced transparency arrangements, while striving to avoid negative social and environmental impacts, especially on smallholder farmers and rural and indigenous communities.

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  • Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

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Autors: van Noordwijk M , Dewi S , Minang P A

Abstract:

Twenty-four years after the formulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement will come into force by November 2016 and finally provide an umbrella for addressing fossil fuel as well as land-use aspects of the human impacton the global climate. Its preamble (as well as article 2) emphasizes the primary concern over continued food production. The Policy Brief addresses whether or not accounting systems and accountability further shift towards “footprints” per unit product, aligned with emission accounting from all land uses, not “just” forests. Nationally Determined Contributions emphasize he supply side of accounting (land use, fossil energy use). The “drivers” are the demand-side relations with human wellbeing and Individually Determined Contributions, to which the private sector responds with various claims on deforestation-free or carbon-neutral value chains.

Published at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

Publication year: 2016

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  • Earth Day Special Feature: Integration, not silos

Earth Day Special Feature: Integration, not silos

A legally protected "ancient tree" (古树)in Red Earth Township, Dongquan County, Yunnan Province, China. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR
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A legally protected "ancient tree" (古树)in Red Earth Township, Dongquan County, Yunnan Province, China. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR
A legally protected “ancient tree” (古树)in Red Earth Township, Dongquan County, Yunnan Province, China. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR

Research on REDD+ and Climate Change forms an important part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). One of the scientists involved is CIFOR’s Amy Duchelle who contributed a chapter on REDD+ to a book on the Sustainable Development Goals. On the occasion of Earth Day, Samuel McGlennon presents the book and explains why an integrated approach to the SDGs is necessary to ensure their success and protect planet and people.

Adapted from CIFOR’s Forests News

Earth Day—celebrated every April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement during the 1970s.

Today, the fight to protect our planet’s resources- particularly our forests- continues with increasing urgency amid climate change threats and continuing deforestation. Close to 1.6 billion people – more than 25 percent of the world’s population – rely on forest resources for their livelihoods, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon by the United Nations in September 2015, are a universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN members will use to frame their policies over the next 15 years. They are now a centerpiece of international efforts to chart a more responsible course and provide a road map to benefit both people and the planet.

Each of the 17 SDGs identifies a subject of importance such as poverty, gender equality and climate. Soon, each of the goals will have indicators attached to them, against which progress can be measured.

The recently published book, “Sustainability Indicators in Practice,” explores the opportunities and challenges associated with their practical application.

One of the major conclusions that emerges is the importance of integration of goals, suggesting that the SDGs need not be pursued independently and that on the contrary, they could be more effective when interlinked.

This approach proposes integrating subjects of importance that were previously held distinct. This means that ‘conserving more forest area’, for example, cannot be achieved independently of other goals like ensuring viable livelihoods for local populations.

“A shift towards more integrated monitoring of sustainability indicators really holds a lot of promise,” said Amy Duchelle, a contributor to the book and a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, Brazil. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT and CIFOR
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, Brazil. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT and CIFOR

Duchelle’s research focused on examining a more integrated monitoring of the carbon and non-carbon outcomes of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

Duchelle’s chapter on REDD+, co-authored with Martin Herold and Claudio di Sassi, aims to provide ‘a real-life example’ of where and how integrated monitoring could work.

While REDD+ has always had a strong focus on carbon sequestration; but comprehending its other outcomes – such as its impact on livelihoods and biodiversity – may be just as important for ensuring the program’s long-term viability.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change REDD+ Safeguards institutionalizes a shortlist of these other outcomes that extend beyond carbon, including social and environmental impacts.

Duchelle says that more integrated monitoring, while ambitious, is also highly desirable.

“For one, it would allow us to better understand trade‑offs and synergies between the various potential outcomes of REDD+. There is also the potential for integrated monitoring to be more cost-effective than monitoring outcomes separately.”

Sizable challenges remain

Measuring the impact of REDD+ on local communities is one of its biggest challenges. Photo: Achmad Ibrahim/CIFOR
Measuring the impact of REDD+ on local communities is one of its biggest challenges. Photo: Achmad Ibrahim/CIFOR

And while some types of integration are simply desirable, other types have become a necessity.

For Duchelle, institutions and programs who put REDD+ Safeguards into place take a promising step in the right direction, because they explicitly recognize the need to integrate the various outcomes of REDD+.

But sizeable challenges remain, and one is bringing together the people and organizations who still work in disciplinary silos. Another obstacle is measuring the social impacts of REDD+, particularly those related to local rights and participation, for which data may be limited in national and sub-national surveys.

Integration needed throughout SDGs

Agnieszka Latawiec, the book’s editor and Research Director at the International Institute of Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, emphasizes how integration actually has a broad relevance to many sets of indicators.

“We now see a multiplicity of approaches towards sustainability, as evidenced by the sheer range of indicators – measures of sustainability – across a whole variety of topics. And that diversity is not necessarily a bad thing.

“But, one thing this book shows is that different aspects of each system are tightly interlinked, which means that striving to improve one indicator may affect others.”

Latawiec concludes that there are clear lessons stemming from this understanding.

“What we find across all of the sustainability indicators in the book is the importance of getting the simple things right.

“That means, initially, selecting a set of indicators that are strongly grounded and easy to understand, and using them appropriately.

“But their inter-relatedness also suggests that, as much as possible, we work towards improving sustainability indicators collectively, as a set.” This is exactly the conclusion the authors of the REDD+ chapter have drawn.

 


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