As global deliberations on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) continue, the Norwegian government has committed up to $600 million to the cause.
Tanzania was the very first country to sign a REDD contract with Norway recently. Its aim is to halve the current trend of deforestation through a national reward of one to two hundred million dollars annually.
JAN AJWANG interviewed Ivar Jorgensen, the counsellor on Environment and Climate Change at the Royal Norwegian Embassy on how REDD will work in reality for a country like Tanzania:
Many people may not know much about REDD, can you explain what it is about?
REDD means Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. This is a concept being discussed at the global Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
We hope the global Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December this year will agree that REDD will be part of the future global climate Change regime.
The key element of REDD will be a system for financial rewards to developing countries who manage to reduce their deforestation. Through REDD villagers can be paid for NOT cutting down trees!
Why is Norway the leading supporter of the REDD campaign?
Norway has a strong political commitment to support activities to help the world reduce the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming, as well as to help countries adapt to the consequences of climate change.
The Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg announced at the climate change conference in Bali in December 2007 that Norway was ready to support efforts to reduce deforestation by up to $600 million annually.
The reason for this commitment is the knowledge that emissions from deforestation contribute almost one fifth of all GHG emissions globally.
For Norway the efforts to support REDD will be additional to other programmes for emissions reduction, and will not substitute other programmes.
What progress has since been achieved and what has been the strategy?
Globally the progress is very good. Through support from Norway, the UN (UNDP, FAO and UNEP) has launched the UN–REDD programme and selected nine pilot countries, among which three are in Africa including DRC, Zambia and Tanzania.
Support from Norway has helped boost the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Bilateral initiatives have been launched in Brazil and Tanzania, and a number of other smaller programmes are being prepared in many countries.
REDD provides an opportunity to use standing trees as a cash crop, whereas today the income potential from trees starts only after chopping them down. For Tanzania, the strategy is to support a number of initiatives that will prepare the country for making use of the opportunities that will arise from REDD.
A core element of this process is to develop a national REDD strategy. This has already been initiated by a Task Force established by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Vice President’s Office.
Norway is supporting this process. Other activities being prepared are a major research and education programme for Climate Change and REDD; pilot testing of REDD in the communities, training and awareness raising, strengthening of monitoring and verification capacity and preparations for a fund management mechanism that would be able to handle REDD payments once they are available from the global Climate Change regime.
What is Norway vision for a post 2012-REDD regime and how realistic is it seeing that there is barely much commitment by developed countries towards achieving REDD (how can Norway get others on full board)?
There is continued deforestation and degradation going on and many forests are disappearing.
Our vision is a global REDD regime that reduces the deforestation around the world to a minimum. For this to happen we need an equitable system of payments to communities and forest owners who protect forests and change the trend of deforestation.
We also need an extensive process of capacity building and transfer of technology and development of monitoring capacity.
We also need to see the development of sound policies and national frameworks within which such a transfer of resources from the global community to the local forest community can take place.
This would be a kind of payment for ecosystem services (PES), and would constitute a contribution to a changed relationship between developing countries and the donor countries.
REDD would be a market where the rich countries and businesses would buy a service from a developed country, and this service would help reduce the GHG emissions and thereby reduce the level of warming.
We think that countries will jump to this opportunity as soon as they realise the potential that lies in REDD.
For Tanzania, a halving of the current trend of deforestation could, if such a payment mechanism was installed today, cause a national reward of one to two hundred million dollars annually!
Continued deforestation is taking place, and to check this trend, the REDD policy will only be one of the tools.
There will be a continued need to support good governance in the forestry sector, to strengthen the capacity of forest management institutions and central and local level, to continue the process of establishing Participatory Forest Management programmes, to support land use planning, etc.
Tanzania was the first country to sign a REDD partnership with Norway. Can you tell us more about this?
Tanzania and Norway have a longstanding relationship on forests and natural resource management. Tanzania was selected as a good example of a tropical country with strong deforestation, and with a dominance of dry forest.
A lot of attention in REDD goes to the rainforest countries, but we have to remember that 75 percent of all deforestation in Africa takes place in dry forests. In order to curb the problem, some of our piloting therefore needs to take place in such countries.
We find that the progress in the work of developing readiness for REDD is progressing well.
There is a strong commitment in government, research institutions and NGOs alike.
The process of developing a national REDD strategy is under way. With the additional support from UN REDD and the World Bank FCPF project, as well as other development partners, we think the stage is set for Tanzania to become a global front runner in REDD.
How will Norway’s efforts on REDD contribute towards achievement of the MDGs or development in general?
The big advantage of investment in REDD is that there are a number of co-benefits. Securing well-managed forests and reducing the deforestation will produce a number of benefits.
These will include economic benefits from forest products, environmental benefits from reduced erosion, protection of water sources, protection of biodiversity and even social benefits through increased community organisation.
All of these will contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
What role does leadership/good governance have to play towards achieving REDD?
Good leadership will be of decisive importance for the success in REDD.
We know there isn`t good governance in all areas of forest management today, and that there is illegal logging and illegal charcoal burning going on.
Some of this can continue because officials are being paid to look the other way. So both good leadership and good governance are important.
We think the political leadership for REDD is coming out well in Tanzania, and the political leaders are very aware of what it takes of them to ensure the success of REDD.
The capacity to control the forest management and encourage forest protection still is insufficient, but we think REDD will be one additional tool to strengthen this capacity.
We also need the leadership of non-governmental organisations in creating the awareness and political pressure needed from the grassroots to ensure a swift introduction of improved forest policy adherence in the rural areas.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to say that Norway is proud to be a partner of Tanzania in the efforts to save the world’s forests.
We think REDD may be the start of an era of a different relationship between our two countries, where equal partnerships gradually takes over from development aid.
We see this coming in business, in research, in cultural ties and now also in payment for ecosystem services. REDD will be an opportunity to be paid for a service that the world desperately needs, and developing countries hold the key to delivery of that service.
By Jan Ajwang
26th May 2009
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN