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Top 10 things to watch out for at the COP22 concerning forests and land use

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Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOSR
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Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

By Stephen Leonard, Suzanna Dayne. Originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

At the COP21 in Paris last year, 195 countries reached an historic agreement – the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

Yet while each country made emission-cutting pledges, the pledges remain on the whole inadequate to date, potentially putting the world on a dangerous path towards global warming by 3 degrees Celsius.

Currently, 89 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November. Only three days later, the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco began.

It’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get to work on the implementation of the Agreement.


  1. Land Sector and the 1.5 degree goal:

The land sector will play a very significant role in limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2° or 1.5oC as agreed in the Paris Agreement. This sector is the second largest contributor to climate change according to the IPCC.

Restoring degraded ecosystems and reforestation can make a major contribution and it will be important to prioritise emphasis on these low hanging fruit rather than over-dependence on unproven technological solutions. At the forefront of priorities however, should be removal of fossil fuel subsidies and the phasing out of fossil fuels by at least mid-century.

A key point for COP22 negotiators will be to explore how this will be achieved by developed nations and how to financially support less developed countries, particularly in regards to the development of the 100 billion Road Map.

The special report being prepared by the IPCC on 1.5 degrees should inform the negotiations and provide new guidance in coming years. It will be crucial for the role of the land sector and forests to make up a major part of this work.

  1. REDD+:
Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOSR
Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOR

REDD+ is intended to reward developing countries for their verified efforts to reduce emissions and enhance the removal of greenhouse gases through a variety of forest management options. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which supports developing countries to reduce GHG emissions and to adapt to climate change, is working to finalize its policy so that it can make results-based payments for REDD+.

A process has recently been put in place and a decision is expected on the topic at the next GCF Board meeting in December. One ongoing contentious topic concerning REDD+ relates to the use of forest carbon offsets.

Experts continue to argue that forest offsets do not reduce emissions from fossil fuels. This is an issue that is unresolved up until now in multiple forums including the GCF and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Allowing forest offsets delays the much-needed phasing out of fossil fuels, so we can expect discussions on this topic in Marrakesh and beyond.

Also read about FTA events at COP22 in Marrakesh

  1. Agriculture:

Agriculture is responsible for around eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But agriculture remains a sensitive and complex issue, especially for developing countries where food security is a major concern.

Agricultural expansion has led to environmental degradation and loss of forests, especially in tropical countries. Climate changes have already impacted many staple crops and impacted the beef and cattle sector, which is the mainstay for many communities.

These issues, if not addressed justly, will lead to increased hunger and malnutrition among the most vulnerable populations living in Africa, Asia and Central America. The Agriculture work plan that was established by the SBSTA in 2014 has now been completed and in Marrakesh, its next steps will be determined.

These could include a new work program focused on how to ensure food security in a changing climate, as well as work programs on the enhanced understanding of indigenous and traditional practices.

  1. Enhancing Transparency:
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

Article 13 of the Paris Agreement established an enhanced transparency framework. During COP22, negotiators will continue to develop the modalities and guidelines to implement it. A number of submissions have already been received from countries on this topic. There is a need to analyse the way monitoring, measuring, reporting and verification is approached.

Climate action is about more than just carbon, as should be the system of transparency. It will be important that human rights and social and environmental implications of all actions taken are included in the enhanced transparency system.

This extends to actions taken by the corporate sector, otherwise known as “non-state actors”. Efforts to mitigate climate change could have severe social consequences and at present, apart from the REDD+ Cancun Safeguards, there are no broadly applied safeguards within the UNFCCC against these possible impacts.

  1. Corporate Pledges and Zero Deforestation:

Companies like SC Johnson, Unilever and McDonald’s have all committed to zero deforestation supply chains. But how can this be achieved when raw materials are sourced from remote parts of the world, by companies that cross multiple borders? What mechanisms are currently in place to ensure monitoring activities are accurate? How do we ensure transparency and what reporting guidelines will be used in all these countries?

The UNFCCC’s Climate Action Agenda and Non State Actor Platforms have advanced this discussion significantly. COP22 provides the opportunities to look more closely and cound develop guidelines on how corporate actions may relate to the NDCs, the Enhanced Transparency Framework and the Global Stocktake, as well as the growing role of non-state actors in climate negotiations.

Learn about the Global Landscapes Forum 2016, the biggest side event of COP22 on land use and climate change

  1. Ecosystems:

Article 5 of the Paris Agreement states that parties are required to take action to conserve and enhance natural ecosystems. Meanwhile, the Preamble notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity.

The role of ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity is often understated, or ignored in the UNFCCC negotiations. However, the provisions mentioned throughout the text that require the need for environmental integrity in the NDCs (Article 4) and the Sustainable Development Mechanism (Article 6) should pave the way for further emphasis on climate, ecosystems integrity and biodiversity considerations.

What’s more, the Convention on Biological Diversity has recently released an important report that identifies climate change’s impact on biodiversity. It warns that geo-engineering technological solutions being proposed are also likely to have further negative impacts on biodiversity through land use change, a serious issue that should not be ignored.

  1. Coastal Ecosystems and Blue Carbon:

Coastal and marine ecosystems, in particular mangroves, are a key piece in the climate change puzzle, storing significant amounts of “blue” carbon from the oceans and the atmosphere. According to the Blue Carbon Initiative, coastal habitats account for about half of the total carbon sequestered in ocean sediments.

As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia’s coastal blue carbon holds great potential for climate change mitigation if unsustainable economic development is checked. But how can this be achieved? What financial incentives should be taken into account? Restoration and protection of mangrove ecosystems could play a more important role in terms of pre-2020 mitigation potential, a matter that the UNFCCC and the GCF should consider.

  1. Operationalizing Rights:

Climate change is widely recognized as a human rights issue. For this reason, human rights, rights of indigenous peoples and gender have all been included in the preamble to the Paris Agreement.

Gender and indigenous peoples considerations are also included in the sections on Adaptation (Article 7) and Capacity Building (Article 11). Significant efforts to ensure women are not left behind have been made within the Green Climate Fund, which has a comprehensive gender policy and a gender action planin place to help ensure that women, particularly those from developing countries, are included.

But unfortunately, no such progress has yet been made concerning indigenous peoples policies at the GCF. Ways to bring women and indigenous peoples into the process as equal stakeholders when projects are designed and ways to provide resources on the ground to implement them need to be identified. A broader human rights agenda needs to be operationalized. This long overdue work should commence in Marrakesh.

  1. Technology:

Technology is consistently high on the list of priorities to address climate change as it increases both accessibility and affordability. Tried and tested energy sources like wind and solar, as well as satellite and computer systems that track and map fires, deforestation and climate changes, are helping nations to meet their pledges.

But not all technology is created equally. For example, arguments both for and against investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS) are on the rise, and risks associated with geo-engineering have been raised. Both technologies will have significant impacts on land use, biodiversity, people and food security depending upon the level of their deployment.

It will be necessary for the provisions of the Paris Agreement, which establish the Technology Framework (Article 10), to enhance action on technologies and in doing so, ensure that such technologies are socially and environmentally sound. It is likely that the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the GCF will play an increasingly important role on this topic and should refrain from any investments in technologies that could undermine the global goal on adaptation (Article 7) to increase resilience and decrease vulnerability.

  1. Accounting:

Last, but not least, is land use accounting. Without measuring sinks and sources, it is impossible to know whether we are on track to achieve the Paris Agreement objectives. This subject is particularly complicated when it comes to land use. These complexities leave many negotiators at a disadvantage on the topic.

Experts agree that a good accounting system must be transparent, accurate, verifiable and efficient. As work is undertaken to put in place a new land use accounting system, it will be important that countries work towards comprehensive accounting and close existing loopholes. A system that clearly shows emissions from the land sector will be important and complexities associated with international trade of biomass to ensure its inclusion in land use accounting methodologies will need to be addressed.


It is clear that participants at COP22 will have their hands full as they hammer out the “how to” aspects of the Paris Agreement. Implementation has been the buzzword since the Agreement was reached, but we are now faced with a new challenge resulting from the record time in which ratification occurred.

There remains much technical work to be done to ensure the Paris Agreement is implemented in a way that truly ensures the necessary transition of the global economy. We should hope that the rush to implement does not undermine the transformational potential of the Agreement and weaken the ‘rule book’ under development.

COP22 is the first COP since Paris. There is great uncertainty in regards to the way the politics will play out, especially with a US election happening during the first week. One thing we know for sure is that we already hold the answers to many climate needs and solutions. The greatest risk now to achieving the necessary transformational change are the forces, the vested interests and the actors that drive and influence the political agenda.

For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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  • FTA events at UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakesh

FTA events at UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakesh

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Kenya, 2009. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Tim Cronin
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Kenya, 2009. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Tim Cronin
Photo: Center For International Forestry Research/Tim Cronin

Find out about events related to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) in Marrakesh, 7-18 November.

Forests and landscapes are set to play a key role in the new global climate and development agenda. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) brings the latest scientific research, insights and experiences to discussions held alongside the negotiations. See below for details on CIFOR’s involvement.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at COP22

Also see two related briefs:

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

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

Agroforestry for climate action commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals

A detailed program of ICRAF’s participation at the COP is available at

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at COP22

The Paris climate change agreement came into force on 4 November 2016—an unprecedented event. And the Marrakech climate talks, COP22, will be all about turning that agreement into reality on the ground.

Trees in forests and on agricultural landscapes are central to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to delivering on the Paris Agreement.

Agroforestry—agriculture with trees—is also instrumental to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to eradicate hunger, reduce poverty, provide affordable and clean energy, protect life on land, reverse land degradation and combat climate change. Because of the carbon sequestration capacity of trees, agroforestry can contribute to countries’ reaching their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is supporting national governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America in developing the tools, knowledge and capacity needed to successfully scale up sustainable agricultural solutions. We call for:

Scaling up agroforestry as a solution for climate change adaptation and mitigation via Nationally Determined Contributions;
Raising the investment in providing scientific evidence of agriculture’s contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation;
Reducing land degradation and deforestation through agriculture with trees; Including sustainably produced bioenergy to the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative’s portfolio of options to end energy poverty.

ICRAF will co-host three events at the Marrakech COP22:

Innovation and deployment of technologies for climate change adaptation with support from the Climate Technology Centre and Network, event with Technical University of Denmark, DTU, at the Africa Pavilion on Friday 11 November from 12:00-13:30.

Woody Biomass Energy to Meet NDCs and SDGs in Developing Countries, side event with International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) on Tuesday 15 November 2016 from 16:45-18:15; and

From commitment to action – developing strategies to operationalize integrated landscape approaches, event with CIFOR at the Global Landscapes Forum on Wednesday 16 November 2016, from 11.30-12.30.


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  • Update on gender research projects

Update on gender research projects

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Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
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ICRAF | Bioversity International | CIAT | CIFOR

Climate change is severely affecting Yunnan Province. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR
Climate change is severely affecting Yunnan Province. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR


Gender and climate change in China’s Yunnan Province

In 2016, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) East and Central Asia office (ECA) has made significant progress on gender and climate change research to inform policy makers in China’s Yunnan Province.

First, ICRAF-ECA has recently been investigating how gender affects climate change adaptation throughout Yunnan. This Poverty and Vulnerability Analysis China Gender Report will be published as a working paper before the end of this year.

It is a part of a wider initiative investigating how gender has influenced climate change adaptation throughout the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which includes Nepal, Pakistan and India. All research teams involved in this initiative used the Livelihood Vulnerability Index, developed by Hahn in 2009.

Preliminary results show that climate change has severely affected Yunnan Province and that few interventions have tried to better prepare local communities for future changes in livelihoods, water availability and natural disasters. It seems that most households are extremely vulnerable and have few resources to support short or long-term mitigation efforts in response to climate change. In this context, gender is one of the factors in predicting adaptation and vulnerability.

Additionally a paper on gender-specific responses to drought in Yunnan Province is currently being revised in line with comments received from journal reviewers. This paper reveals that during the period of record-breaking drought from 2009-2012, women’s changing role in agriculture and household resource management had important consequences for individual and community responses to water resource stresses.

Perceptions of drought impacts and of responses to the drought differed significantly according to gender. However, government policies and practices which aim to support adaptation and adaptive capacity have so far failed to take this gender differentiation into account, and as a result may be out of step with local drought responses, and may even serve to further marginalize mountain women in water resource management.

Finally two Chinese language book chapters about gender and climate change adaptation will be included in the book “Gender analysis of climate change impacts and adaptation” (in Chinese), also to be published this year.

A workshop is planned before the end of the year in Yunnan to disseminate the book among government officers and discuss relevant research findings and policy options.

For more information please contact Yufang Su at

Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry

Bioversity International

Project: Conservation for diversified and sustainable use of fruit tree genetic resources in Central Asia

The project ‘Conservation for diversified and sustainable use of fruit tree genetic resources in Central Asia’ aims to improve the prospects for long-term food security and livelihoods of farmers in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its focus is on generating and disseminating knowledge about fruit and nut tree species, including traits that are important for adaptation and nutrition, their patterns of genetic diversity and how to effectively conserve them.

As primary users and custodians of fruit trees, both women and men play a key role in the management, conservation and transfer of fruit tree resources to future generations. Understanding gender-specific practices, knowledge and perceptions related to forests and trees as well as associated gender-based constraints in their management is essential to co-develop, with local forest managers, equitable innovations in the management of fruit tree genetic resources.

In September, national research partners in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan havecompleted a set of participatory research activities and interviews in project sites to explore gender-specific forest and fruit-tree-related knowledge, practices and interests.

Semi-structured interviews focused on the state’s role in forest management have been conducted with staff from 20 Forestry Enterprises (national forest management units). In parallel, 390 semi-structured interviews have been held with local men and women who manage fruit trees in their home gardens to understand resource management decisions and sourcing of planting material. The focus was on varieties of apple (Malus spp.), apricot (Prunus armeniaca) and walnut (Juglans regia) grown. Finally, 26 focus group discussions on local fruit tree management practices have been held with forest dwellers in separate women’s and men’s groups. Data are currently being cleaned and translated into English.

Results will provide guidance on how to foster the equitable participation of men and women in the management of fruit tree genetic resources in home gardens and forests. They will also help identify strategies for promoting the use of ‘wild’ (forest-based) fruit and nut tree genetic resources in home gardens; for addressing threats to wild populations of fruit and nut species; and for capturing opportunities for sustainable use and conservation of wild fruit and nut tree populations.

National research partners are :

  • Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Center of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
  • Kyrgyz National Agrarian University
  • Institute of Horticulture of Tajik Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The project is coordinated by Bioversity International with financing from the Government of Luxembourg and with co-funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

For more information please contact Marlene Elias at

Photo: CIAT
Photo: CIAT


Looking at gender in coffee agroforestry in Nicaragua

The research on gender, tree uses, and decision-making patterns among shade coffee producers in Tuma la Dalia, Nicaragua has made some progress.

Research suggests that coffee agroforestry producers in Latin American countries derive significant commercial and subsistence value from the non-coffee products of the agroforestry system, for example, timber, fuelwood, and fruits. However, there is a lack of consideration of gender aspects within the research, for example, how uses derived from the agroforestry system may vary between men and women producers.

The objectives are:

  • Analyze how men and women value and use trees on farms.
  • Understand the role of men and women in the decision-making process on the use and management of trees.

The research results shall support the development of gender-sensitive climate change interventions focused on high value tree crops. CIAT partners with the Fundación para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Agropecuario y Forestal de Nicaragua (FUNICA).

Findings suggest that women perceive more household uses of farm trees than men. Furthermore, women may be more prone to giving more importance than men to fruit trees than those used for timber. Results also demonstrate that although men tend to dominate decision-making processes, women and men both participate in decision-making on harvest sales and how to use income.

For more information please contact Tatiana Gumucio at


Photo: Carol J. Pierce Colfer
Photo: Carol J. Pierce Colfer

Gendered dimensions of agricultural land investments

The social and environmental effects of large-scale agricultural investments in forested landscapes have been extensively documented and debated in public and scholarly spheres, compelling a reassessment of investment policies and rural development plans, agrarian reforms, and regulatory safeguards on the part of host governments and the donor community.

While land deals come with promises of economic prosperity, studies suggest that their negative externalities have disproportionately impacted resource-poor groups, including women and landless farmers.

Within the vast literature on large-scale land acquisitions, or “land grabs”, there has been relatively little research systematically documenting mediating factors that affect rural women and men in the process of agribusiness investments or how different outcomes might be realized under more smallholder-inclusive investment models.

This research contributes to CIFOR’s gendered research agenda by examining the ways in which women and men are differently affected by agribusiness expansion into forested landscapes of Tanzania.

How do factors such as tenure regimes, institutional context and norms, market conditions, financial and other types of capital, intra-household relations, or other social practices mediate the ways in which women and men are differentially integrated into investor supply chains?

How are feminine and masculine domains reinforced, restructured, or renegotiated as a result of inclusion or exclusion into different investment modalities?

For more Information please contact Emily Gallagher at

Gender Café at previous Global Landscapes Forum. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT
Gender Café at previous Global Landscapes Forum. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT

Upcoming events: Panel discussion and side events at GLF and COP

Concerns over gender equality and women’s empowerment are increasingly considered in climate change policy at the global level.

There are currently over 50 UNFCCC decisions that support gender integration in climate policy, including the two-year Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG). The LWPG was initated at COP20 in Lima 2014 with a two-fold objective: enhancing the gender balance of the UNFCCC negotiations; and achieving gender-responsive climate policy.

However, while there now is a clear global mandate to develop and implement gender-responsive climate policy and action, these commitments are often not evident in national climate policies. For instance, only 40% of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted to the secretariat before COP21 in Paris made any references to women or gender. In the instances such references were made, they often served to paint a rather generalized picture of women as ‘vulnerable populations’.

The focus of COP22 will be on the implementation of the Paris Agreement: How are the Parties to the Agreement going to deliver on the promises made in Paris? This year’s COP also marks the end of the two-year LWPG. Parties and observer organizations have thus been urged by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to share experiences and views to guide the possible continuation and enhancement of the program.

Given the gap between the global commitments to gender-responsive climate policy and their systematic implementation on a national level, it is of crucial importance to highlight and assess some of the existing attempts to address gender issues in climate policies.

Towards this end, the gender integration team is partnering with a wide range of organizations to bring together a high-level panel at the Global Landscapes Forum 2016 in Marrakesh on Wednesday November 16th. The focus will be on translating these global commitments into national and local actions. Partners are UN Women, UNDP–UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF).

Together with the same partners, we are also convening a skills share session at the GGCA Innovation Forum on Saturday November 12th, as well as a side-event at the UNFCCC COP22 (green zone) on Monday November 14th.

The above sessions will delve into the national processes of drafting and implementing gender-responsive climate policy. Particularly, the panelists will explore the role of multiple stakeholders – ranging from advocates and practitioners to researchers and donors – in supporting such processes.

The sessions will further investigate if, how and when ‘gender-responsive policies’ actually enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment on the ground. Participants will be invited to share achievements and challenges of drafting and implementing gender-responsive climate policy and action thus far, thereby fostering South–South learning of good practices.

The sessions will also provide an opportunity to deliberate over a minimum set of standards that countries could follow to ensure that commitment towards addressing gender equality are firmly rooted in national climate policy and action and that mechanisms for accountability, monitoring and continuous learning are in place.


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