REDD+ In Africa

At COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia (2007), Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the REDD+ mechanism. This mechanism is composed of five different activities: reducing emissions from deforestation; and forest degradation; including the role of conservation; sustainable management of forests; and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The conceptualization of REDD+ was strictly focused on the preservation of carbon stocks (“carboncentric”) through reduced emissions initiatives.

Many initiatives address the challenges associated with deforestation in Africa. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD), and the UNFCCC have become important platforms for dialogue on reducing deforestation in Africa, especially as the implications for climate change are increasingly recognised.

Despite the ongoing dialogue since the ascent of these conventions, African forests remain threatened by wholesale logging. Contracts with commercial lumbering and mining companies in forested areas are lucrative and forest-dwelling communities use slash and burn as farming techniques. Because of these realities, in addition to land tenure issues, policy frameworks are either non-existent or weak.

The REDD+ mechanism was designed to offer governments the possibility of benefiting financially from maintaining their standing forests and to help developing countries move from dialogue to actions aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation. Launched in 2005 at COP 11 to compensate countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, the REDD+ financing mechanism is at different stages of advancement in different countries and regions.

Regional economic and trading blocks in Africa are increasingly interested in combating deforestation given current awareness of the economic and climatic implications. COMESA, for example, has come up with its own climate initiative and launched a bio-carbon African initiative in 2008 whose main thrust includes agriculture, forestry and land use.

After a few years of piloting REDD+ on the ground, parties have learned and increasingly acknowledged the importance of generating both carbon and non-carbon benefits as essential elements for the long term success of REDD+ implementation.

At COP 18 in Doha, Qatar (2012), the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) managed to insert into the work programme several tasks related to non-carbon benefits (Decision 1/CP18 para 28, 29 and 40) including a request for SBSTA to initiate work on methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits resulting from the implementation of REDD+ activities.  Pursuant to this mandate, SBSTA will take up consideration of this matter at SB 42 in June, 2015. The AGN is expected to make a case for why the provision of incentives or support should be extended beyond carbon to non-carbon benefits and how this could be done.

To this effect, AGN has requested the elaboration of a technical paper on non-carbon benefits from REDD+ activities to inform and support its position on NBCs during SB 42 in June 2015. It is also expected that the paper will increase the AGN’s capacity to contribute effectively during SB 42 negotiations. In consultation with the AGN, a team of experts have therefore been put in place by the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) to elaborate the technical paper. The paper, supported by CDKN and the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) seeks to provide the AGN with technical inputs to support its negotiation position. Some of the specific objectives of the technical paper are to: clarify and characterize the concept of non-carbon benefits; provide methodological guidance on how to measure, report and verify NCBs; and identify various approaches to incentivize or pay for NCBs.

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UN-REDD Programme in Africa