On the last day of the 16thConference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it’s possible that leaders will achieve a compromise and still enable an effective decision on REDD+ . Ultimately it comes down to political will, although some unpredictable wildcards – pariahs and spoilers, 11th hour demands, newly entrenched positions – could still stall decision.
The Rainforest Alliance has seen the draft text, we’ve talked to insiders, and all signs indicate resolvable issues and means to agreement on the few points under heady discussion on REDD+. Since we last posted about the negotiations, on December 6, an updated text was issued and new text is coming. With the meetings scheduled to end on December 10, ministers are now meeting and advising their country’s highest-level decision-makers about how they should commit on the critical points related to financial support, measurement and reporting, and safeguarding the safeguards (which are fundamental to civil society regarding respect for indigenous peoples’ rights and to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, although any safeguard text will be stated principles, not operational protocols).
As with a growing number of observers and parties on the ground in Cancun, Mexico, the Rainforest Alliance echoes a call heard frequently this week – the time for political compromise is now in order for this COP to result in positive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As previously reported, we encourage ministers to include a goal that is as strong as possible in terms of reducing forest cover and carbon loss, to include language on monitoring and sharing information safeguards, and, on finance, to include support for all three phases of REDD+, which means funding for safeguards and early action; to explore all options for financing of results-based actions; and to ensure that those activities are supported through adequate, predictable and sustainable finance.
Countries can come to agreement on these elements. The Latin American countries, in particular Mexico and Brazil, have shown great leadership in bringing others together.
There is much work to be done, but in order to keep the UNFCCC process relevant and moving forward there must be a decision coming out of this Conference of Parties. And if an agreement is reached on the framework for approaches for REDD+, it will need to authorize a technical working group to develop some detailed instructions for methodological issues such as determining forest emission reference levels and on the ground operational aspects.
We’ll know soon enough whether the time for compromise and action truly was now. Because if not now, one year after Copenhagen, then when, if at all?
 REDD+ is reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries