REDDoubtable concerns

There’s been a flurry of posts recently on that big new idea in international forest conservation, REDD+, which is struggling to be born, conjoined as it is with all the wrangling over a post-Kyoto settlement.

  • Angela Dewan makes the oft-overlooked point that even if forests make a return for local communities that doesn’t change their own aspirations for development which may not be fully compatible with forest conservation. No noble savages here!
  • James Mayers reminds us that governance is going to be critical in REDD+ implementation (there needs to be more than just trickle down to local communities), but that it’s not all bad news, and that in many countries local civil society is agitating for the sorts of rights that once would have been up to donors to impose.
  • At the heart of these governance concerns is that old chestnut, land tenure: both Indonesia and Mozambique are struggling, and many other countries too I should imagine. Ultimately, I think this is where the REDD+ battle will be won or lost, for it’s over land that REDD+ proponents will face their toughest opponents, few of whom will fight fair.
  • Finally, Isilda Nhantumbo has an eight point list on what would make a ‘good’ REDD+ initiative. All are good ideas, but I would caution against over-complicating things. The most important of these ideas should be regulated by governments; others could perhaps be incentivised by the markets. But let us be in no doubt, if you want to scale REDD+ beyond a few NGO-run project islands, then simplicity is the name of the game, and ‘goodness’ needs to be rewarded in the market for anyone to pay any serious attention.

I leave you with a fascinating but depressing titbit of gossip on the international climate change negotiations: of all the countries with something to gain from REDD+, nobody ranks higher than Brazil, and yet, behind the scenes, I hear Brazil are stymieing concluding discussions over the REDD+ component of UNFCCC which could then be finalised and ratified as a standalone treaty, whilst the rest of the stuff drags on. The reason: Brazil already have enough money from donors pouring into their Amazon fund that right now they do not need an international REDD+ treaty, but they (understandably!) do want a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. I have no idea whether this is actually true, but I trust my source.

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