Bruce Cabarle, Leader of WWF’s global Forest and Climate Initiative (FCI), answers some key questions on the REDD+ related outcomes of UNFCCC-COP18, which took place in Doha, Qatar.
Q. What were WWF’s expectations for REDD+ at UNFCCC-COP18 in Doha, Qatar?
A. WWF’s top line expectation was to ensure that REDD+ emerged from COP18 as part of the post-Doha framework toward the target date of 2015 for a new global deal on climate change. WWF also expected conclusion on the outstanding technical issues needed to maintain forward progress with REDD+ implementation.
Q. How did WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative team participate in the REDD+ dialogue at COP18?
A. Several of WWF’s FCI team members were accredited delegates on their respective national delegations and played leadership roles in crafting proposals and negotiating text that emerged at Doha – both behind closed doors as well as in the hallways. Those who were not members of a particular national delegation served as resource people to the other delegates, and worked the hallways to either gather intelligence or advocate solutions in real time to keep the negotiations moving forward.
Q. Were there any new reports that WWF released at this year’s meeting?
A. WWF released a new Case Study with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on our joint experiences implementing REDD+ from the ground up in Mai-N'dombe. This project is the first large-scale application of REDD+ in the Congo Basin of Africa, which the government of Norway has lauded as “a great step forward for WWF and an important contribution to the DRC REDD+ process.”.
Q. What positive action on REDD+ did you see taking place at the meeting, either in the official meetings or in side events or discussions?
A. REDD+ once again proved in Doha to be one of the most advanced tracts of the overall and complex UNFCCC negotiations. Though REDD+ did not emerge as a formal agreement out of Doha, there was a lot of progress in terms of technical guidance on how to implement REDD+, which is very significant. This guidance can serve as a viable road map for REDD+ once disagreements between Parties on the issues of finance and verification can be resolved.
Q. While there seems to be quite a lot of support for REDD+, Parties could not agree on significant next steps – why, what happened?
A. REDD+ was held hostage to political disputes over the lack of progress on commitments to mid- and long-term climate finance, and the parity in both process and standards for the verification of pledges for international finance and domestic reductions of GHG emissions.
Q. How are REDD+ readiness efforts and demonstration efforts planned to continue despite a delay in UNFCCC agreed action on REDD+?
A. Interestingly enough, the two countries which wound up in Doha representing coalitions of differing opinions – Brazil and Norway – are also working together to produce the most significant impacts to date with REDD+ implementation. While in Doha, Brazil announced another significant reduction in their domestic rate of deforestation (27% reduction from July 2011 to June 2012) and Norway announced a new and additional pledges for developing countries to continue advancing REDD+, including a US$30 million bilateral deal with Vietnam.
Q. Why is it important to continue to support REDD+?
A. Multiple analyses have validated that an overall global climate stabilization goal is only possible if we first arrest tropical deforestation/ forest degradation, which represents up to 20% of total annual CO2 emissions (the principal greenhouse gas that fuels global climate change).
Q. What will the Forest and Climate Initiative team be doing in the coming year to set the stage for WWF to harness the potential conservation opportunities of REDD+?
A. We will be assisting the coalition of the "ready and willing" to first and foremost pave the way for implementation of REDD+ at scale in the critical tropical regions of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo Basin. We will also continue to advocate for new and additional finance for REDD+ as the most cost effective means to arrest climate change while also generating critical environmental and social benefits. Finally, we will bring the lessons learned from these experiences to inform and move along the global policy debate.
Q. What action is WWF now calling on donor and forest countries to take in support of REDD?
A. Donor countries need to ensure that REDD+ is a significant part of the response to the mid- and long-term climate finance package. Forest countries need to ensure the design, demonstration and capacity of critical national REDD+ programs as part of their national low carbon development or green economy frameworks.