This year’s Forest Day brought together over 1,500 technical experts, climate negotiators, researchers, forestry practitioners, government representatives, donors and other stakeholder groups to share experience and inform the ongoing climate change negotiations of the UNFCCC. The Rainforest Alliance reflects…
“Time to act” was the official slogan of this year’s Forest Day, held on Sunday, December 5 at COP16 in Cancún, Mexico. Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s keynote speech set the tone for the day’s events – his urgent call to action on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, and forest conservation) and push for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) robust incorporation and approval of a REDD+ mechanism here and now invigorated and inspired those of us who have been working for years to ensure that the international community recognizes the crucial role of forests in climate change.
For it truly is time to act — on a global scale and through the framework of the UNFCCC — to incentivize forest conservation, combat the root causes of deforestation and improve the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of rural poor who depend on forest resources for their livelihoods.
Forest Day 4 showed that, in many cases, the research, systems, projects and tools required for on-the-ground implementation are already proving that REDD+ can conserve tropical forests and improve livelihoods for forest-dwelling people.
Questions are often raised about how forest carbon projects can provide benefits to local people and the environment. At Forest Day, Joanna Durbin of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB) demonstrated how standards can and do assure benefits beyond carbon. Projects from the Philippines to Brazil are using the CCB Standards to provide tangible benefits to local communities and environments. Last week, the government of Ecuador demonstrated early progress on its implementation of standards to guide the development of national-level systems for REDD+.
Doubts have also been raised about how projects and governments can reliably carry out carbon credit accounting. However, tools and guidance are already being developed to do this; in fact, during COP16, two landmark carbon accounting systems have already been approved.*
There are concerns about reliably ensuring the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of REDD projects. Fortunately, there are many organizations who are already conducting independent, third-party audits of REDD projects to verify the claims they make — the Rainforest Alliance is one such organization.
While there was much healthy debate about how to build on and further advance these early initiatives to strengthen any emergent REDD+ system – and much work remains to be done to refine, adapt and scale these early efforts – one point was driven home time and time again by Forest Day attendees: we have enough research, data, analysis, projects, tools, examples and guidance to get REDD+ off the ground, and we are ready and able to make this work.
We hope that the several hundred climate negotiators who attended Forest Day have taken note, and will bear this in mind as negotiations progress this week.
*Learn more about the two landmark carbon accounting systems that have been approved: