SPECIAL COP20 – Forest management and mitigation policies: the role of REDD+ at COP 20

The second week at COP20 opened on Monday (Dec. 8) with a special day dedicated to REDD+, the UN initiative to mitigate climate change by tackling deforestation and forest degradation. A number of side events and special initiatives provided the occasion to discuss the links between forests and climate change and to shed light on the efforts by developing countries in reducing emissions from logging and forest exploitation.

In fact, REDD+ has been a cross cutting issue during the whole COP20 so far.

Last Tuesday (December 2) Brazil presented an assessment report on its Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL, submitted to the UNFCCC), and was praised for the transparent and complete information provided. The report is the outcome of an intense research effort, given the difficulties in assessing the amount of CO2 emissions from clear-cut areas and the technical effort needed for establishing a reference level. This first encouraging result is expected to be followed soon by the release of Indonesia and Mexico reports. This is particularly important when considering that deforestation activities are indicated as the primary source of CO2 emissions in Brazil and Indonesia.

Nevertheless, some important issues remain on the table with the main one being the allocation of funding to countries engaged in stopping deforestation and setting incentives for activities of forestation and forest conservation. Brazil, in particular, is strongly demanding compensations for its efforts, given the substantial reduction in deforestation activities, estimated around 70%. Consistently, it has been raising the issue in a number of forums, including the recent Multilateral Assessment (MA) exercise.

Another issue which still proves to be controversial is the role and rights of the populations living in territories addressed by REDD+ activities, and their wish to be included and safeguarded. This particularly concerns forest-dependent communities and indigenous people, whose rights to lands, territories and resources are not always recognized by national laws. These points have been raised with strong voice by the indigenous organizations attending COP 20, also through a peaceful protest taking place last Friday at the Conference premises.


(Image: Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, Brazil. Photo credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on Flickr)

Written by Edoardo Quatrale, Sara Cattani, Cristina Dalla Torre, Elisa Calliari in Lima, Peru. In collaboration with Agenzia di Stampa Giovanile sulla Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, Sostenibilità Ambientale e Cambiamenti Climatici (Youth Press Agency on Climate Change, Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development).