Interview with Hermine Kleymann, Programme Officer for REDD+ Policy
I am a programme officer for REDD+ Policy with WWF-Germany. In this role, I focus on international policy with a regional emphasis on the Congo Basin, working toward implementation and policy work around REDD+. I do this 50 per cent of my time for WWF-Germany and 50 per cent for WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme.
Q: How did you become involved in REDD+ and policy work?
I have a background in environmental law and human rights, among other things. I started working with WWF-Germany about four and a half years ago as a consultant, and when the REDD+ policy job came up, at that time there weren’t many specialists working on REDD+. I have always gravitated toward jobs that are a bit exotic, or in an emerging field, so this job appealed to me for various reasons. I realized that this position and REDD+ would actually be a combination of a variety of things I am interested in – policy, human rights, environmental law and economics, all of which are topics I had already been involved in through previous jobs or through my studies. While I didn’t quite know exactly what REDD+ was at the time or how it would evolve, I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m glad I did.
Q: What is your academic and professional background and what did you study that led you here?
I have a bar exam in law as well as a Master of Laws, but I never worked in a typical “legal profession”, but rather on topics with an interface of law and policy. In the past, I worked in South Africa with the GIZ (German Development Agency) on supporting public-sector reform and have also been a consultant on teams working on environmental finance issues. So again, the combination of law, policy, governance and environmental issues in REDD+ fits me well.
Q: Where do you work and what are your overall goals in this work?
I’m based at the WWF-Germany office in Berlin, Germany, but last year I spent six months in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and travel often to the Democratic Republic of Congo to collaborate with the teams there. In general, I would say that my goal is to help get REDD+ off the ground in the Congo Basin in a way that brings all relevant stakeholders together in a coordinated way to ensure a broad understanding and ownership for an effective implementation.
Q: You are very focused on stakeholder participation. What can we do to make sure diverse stakeholders are involved in the REDD+ implementation in general?
REDD+ is actually all about people, so that’s why it’s so crucial to create an understanding and excitement about REDD+. When people are interested and they realize what an important role they play in making it happen, they want to be part of that. It’s vital to go and get people excited, committed and coordinated at all levels – so building that enthusiasm from the beginning is key for getting people involved and enhancing participation. However, I must also point out that it is important that we don’t create false expectations for stakeholders on REDD+ as the universal solution that combats the world’s deforestation. However, REDD+ is indeed a means to trigger a new perspective on the role, use and governance of forests across all levels of stakeholders and helps to jointly find alternative solutions that replace previous destructive use of forests. The importance of REDD+ is the actual joint process that may eventually lead to transformational change in the forestry area.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you see when working on the REDD+ process?
REDD+ is quite complex and there are lots of enabling conditions that countries first should have in place to ensure a sound REDD+ implementation. For instance, land tenure rights, governance, land use planning and cross-sectoral planning, just to mention a few, are all issues or “pillars” for REDD+. Each of these topics is complex in its own right, and getting those right first is key. At the same time, REDD+ has the opportunity to trigger awareness and changes with regard to these issues, which is quite exciting. Another challenge is, of course, the scale and scaling up of finance, as well as REDD+’s dependency on other topics under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that need to be resolved before continuing ahead with REDD+. Again, finance is clearly one of these big issues linked to the UNFCCC that we need to get sorted out, and it will likely be a challenge for a few years yet.
Q: What are some successes or achievements that you have seen?
The whole landscape of REDD+ has grown so much since I began working in REDD+ more than four years ago. Today, there are hundreds of REDD+ projects around the world, which proves there is awareness and willingness to get it going on the ground. There are also so many bilateral initiatives, multilateral initiatives and national initiatives, like the UN, the World Bank and other donors supporting REDD+, which highlights how much progress we’ve made in a short time. I also think that as a whole, the number of RPPs, REDD+ national plans, and development of jurisdictional REDD+ in some countries is a marker of success and shows how we can scale up. Last but not least, the REDD+ architecture under the UNFCCC that came out of Warsaw last year was a huge accomplishment. These achievements, spanning every level – local, national, international – underscore that REDD+ is up, running and moving ahead.
Q: Where do you see the future of REDD+ policy work?
Once the “house” for REDD+ is built under the UNFCCC by 2015, I believe the policy focus will shift toward implementing REDD+ architecture in REDD+ countries and thus from an international to a national level. However, as long-term finance for REDD+ is still uncertain, this issue will remain at the top of the international policy agenda, now and in the future.
Q: What is your favourite part of the work you do?
I really enjoy the tight-knit REDD+ community. I love working with various international stakeholders comprising my WWF colleagues, NGOs, REDD+ governments and donor countries. It feels like we are all part of one, big REDD+ family!