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How one Brazilian state is reducing deforestation while growing its economy

By Chris MeyerAmazon Basin Outreach Manager; Alisha Staggs, Corporate Partnership Project Manager; and Dana Miller, Terrestrial Carbon Policy Fellow. This post, which originally appeared on the EDF+Business blog, is our second in a series on how companies can reduce deforestation from their supply chains. Read the first post here.

What do companies, governments, civil society organizations and indigenous peoples have in common? Despite their differences, they share a common interest in reducing deforestation, which accounts for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

On September 23rd, leaders from all of these groups will meet at the UN Climate Summit in New York City to spark action on climate change issues including deforestation. The Climate Summit hopes to rally action around two forest efforts, creating incentives to reduce deforestation in tropical countries through REDD+ policies (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and eliminating deforestation from the supply chains of commodities such as palm, beef, soy and paper.

The Board of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)—a group of 400 companies with combined sales of around $3.5 trillion—has committed to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. However, CGF has also recognized that they cannot solve deforestation on their own, and have called on governments to make REDD+ a priority in a legally binding UN climate agreement in 2015

At EDF, we believe that REDD+ is the best way to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable economic development and that consumer goods companies are in a prime position to support REDD+ in the countries they source from.

Acre: REDD+ in practice


Acre, Brazil. Image: Wikipedia

The state of Acre, Brazil provides an example of how REDD+ can bring governments, companies and local communities together to reduce deforestation and increase economic development. Acre has committed to reduce deforestation by 80 percent by 2020 compared to a historical baseline from 1996-2005, which would prevent 182 to 221 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions using REDD+ policies. Also, Acre installed a robust monitoring system of its forests, including satellite imaging to track deforestation.

To reduce deforestation, Acre has created various incentives programs, including:

  • Supporting timber certification through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and investing in manufacturing plants to produce more valuable wood products;
  • Designing strategies for zero deforestation beef growth to produce more cattle on already cleared land; and
  • Rewarding indigenous peoples for protecting forests. Indigenous peoples have already received $2.9 million to restore degraded lands using traditional land use practices, to protect habitats and watersheds, and to preserve their cultures.

As a result of its efforts, Acre reduced deforestation by 60 percent in 2010 compared to a 1996-2005 baseline, while increasing its real GDP by 62% since 2002nearly doubling the national average GDP growth.

acre chart

In Acre, Brazil, deforestation decreased by 60 percent compared to a 1996-2005 baseline, while GDP per capital increased by 70 percent and cattle size increased by 14% since 2005. Source: Acre Government

Scale and international recognition

In contrast to smaller REDD+ projects, Acre’s REDD+ program covers the whole state, and aligns all policies and land-use planning around the joint objectives of reducing deforestation, increasing agricultural productivity, and improving livelihoods. Acre has also harmonized its reduction target, reference level, and monitoring system with Brazil’s National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) so the state can link up to the national REDD+ program.

Acre will become the first pilot project for Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) programs by the Verified Carbon Standard, an offset standard setter, and will become the first jurisdiction to supply compliance grade REDD+ credits. Acre signed a Memorandum of Understanding with California (along with Chiapas, Mexico) and agreements with the Brazilian states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) to develop guidelines for including REDD+ in  the states’ existing or projected carbon markets. Acre has also received an initial payment of $20 million from the German Development Bank.

Lessons from Acre

Acre holds valuable lessons for governments and businesses on how to reduce deforestation across a whole jurisdiction while increasing sustainable economic development.

To meet their deforestation-free commitments, companies should source commodities from jurisdictions like Acre and encourage countries and states that they source from to adopt REDD+ programs so that companies can benefit from the strong policy framework, robust monitoring systems and incentives that these programs provide.

Chris Meyer and Alisha Staggs will present on how to eliminate deforestation from company supply chains using REDD+ at The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) Member Summit in Berlin from September 30th to October 2nd.

Additional reading:

Posted in Brazil, Deforestation, Indigenous peoples, REDD|: | Leave a comment

How measuring trees in Panama is benefitting indigenous groups, forests and the climate

By Chris Meyer, Outreach Manager, Amazon Basin and Lauren Newton, Program Associate, International Climate Program

en español  |  Indigenous peoples  have relied on the rainforests for their survival for thousands of years. Their knowledge of the forests and dependence on the lands make them effective protectors of the forests — and particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.


An indigenous technician takes the measurement of a cuipo tree in Darien, Panama. The measurements will help researchers calculate the quantity of carbon stored in the forest. (Credit: Chris Meyer)

The indigenous group Organization of Embera and Wounaan Youth of Panama (OJEWP) formed teams that recently started measuring and recording the size of trees in the territories of five indigenous communities, with technical guidance from academics from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and McGill University.

In May, the OJEWP team started their work in the community of Arimae, located in the Darien, an eastern province of Panama. The team is now nearing completion of the data-gathering project, which will ultimately help researchers calculate the quantity of carbon stored in the forest.* The results will also contribute to identifying the overlap between Panama’s valuable forest carbon “stocks” and its indigenous territories, which are home to more than half of Panama’s forests.

Access to this accurate forest carbon stock data for indigenous territories is crucial for indigenous peoples when they discuss policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) with government officials. It's also helpful for policy makers who design policies to conserve forests and their respective carbon stocks.

Deforestation accounts for as much as 15% of all manmade global warming pollution. This measuring of forest carbon stocks is an important step in the measuring, reporting and verification step that ensures the integrity of REDD+ policies.


STRI's Javier Mateo discusses measuring plot boundaries with indigenous technicians in Darien, Panama. Proper measuring of plots will allow the technicians to take accurate measurements of the forest’s carbon stocks. (Credit: Chris Meyer)

Before heading to the forests, the team first needed to become “technicians” in accurately measuring trees. STRI and McGill University trained them in the fundamentals of accurate tree measurement, including how to measure tree diameter (width) and height, collect plant and soil samples, set up the 100m x 100m (1 hectare) plots, and use GPS technology to tag these measurements. Once in Darien, STRI’s Javier Mateo-Vega said the group’s forest carbon measurements went well, and that:

Our team, comprised of mostly Embera [people] from various territories across Darien, has been instrumental in carrying out rigorous scientific research that will inform future REDD+ related policy and on-the-ground work.

Nakibeler Lopez of OJEWP added that the team also learned “the potential contained in the natural resources of the territories of indigenous peoples in Panama." With this potential in the forest’s natural resources, and the historical role indigenous peoples have played in protecting them, ensuring the indigenous groups receive a fair distribution from any future REDD+ program will be essential for the program’s success.

An effective solution to global climate change must include REDD policies that engage indigenous peoples, and EDF will continue to support the effort to integrate lessons learned from the implementation of this work into REDD+ policy discussions.

*Note: The fifth and final field visit for this project is scheduled for August. Once measurements are completed, the data collected will be fed into territorial carbon maps and shared with the participating indigenous communities. STRI, McGill University, OJEWP, and EDF – with the support of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facilities’ capacity building program – plan to present the results in December at the United Nations climate change convention in Lima, Peru. 

Posted in Deforestation, Indigenous peoples, REDD|: | 1 Response

La medición de árboles en Panamá beneficia a los Pueblos Indígenas, los bosques, y el clima

in English  |  Chris Meyer, Manager de Incidencia por la Amazonia y Lauren Newton, Socio, Programa internacional de clima  |  Publicado: 7 Julio, 2014

Los indígenas han dependido de las selvas tropicales para su supervivencia por miles de años. Su conocimiento de los bosques y su dependencia de las tierras los hace protectores efectivos de los bosques,  y a su vez, muy vulnerables a los efectos del cambio climático.

El técnico indígena, Joselito Barrigón de la comunidad de Embera Puru, mide un árbol  de Cuipo (Cavallinesia platanifolia) en el Darién, Panamá. Estas mediciones permitirán que los investigadores calculen la cantidad de carbono almacenado en el bosque. (Crédito: Chris Meyer)

El técnico indígena, Joselito Barrigón de la comunidad de Embera Puru, mide un árbol de Cuipo (Cavallinesia platanifolia) en el Darién, Panamá. Estas mediciones permitirán que los investigadores calculen la cantidad de carbono almacenado en el bosque. (Crédito: Chris Meyer)

La Organización de Jóvenes Emberá y Wounaan de Panamá (OJEWP) recientemente formó equipos de “tecnicos” indígenas para medir y registrar el tamaño de los árboles en los territorios de cinco comunidades indígenas, con la orientación técnica de académicos del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Universidad de McGill de Canadá.

En mayo, el equipo de OJEWP comenzó su trabajo en la comunidad de Arimae, ubicada en el Darién, una provincia en el occidente de Panamá. El equipo está por finalizar la recolección de datos, lo cual eventualmente le ayudara a los investigadores a calcular la cantidad de carbono almacenado en el bosque.* Los resultados también contribuirán a la identificación del traslape entre los valiosos “stocks” de carbono forestal de Panamá y sus territorios indígenas, los cuales cubren más de la mitad de los bosques Panameños.

Acceso a estos datos precisos de los stocks de carbono en los bosques de los territorios indígenas es muy importante para cuando los indígenas discutan las políticas para reducir emisiones de la deforestación y la degradación de los bosques (REDD+ por sus siglas en inglés) con los oficiales del gobierno. También le ayudará a los que desarrollan las políticas para conservar los bosques y sus respectivos stocks de carbono.

La deforestación genera el 15% de toda la polución que resulta en el calentamiento global causada por el hombre. Esta medición de los stocks de carbono es un paso importante en la medición, el reporte y la verificación de emisiones de dióxido de carbono que asegura la integridad de las políticas REDD+.

Javier Mateo-Vega, de STRI y la Universidad de McGill, discute la medición de los límites del terreno con unos técnicos indígenas en Darién, Panamá. La medición precisa y adecuada de los terrenos permitirá que los técnicos tomen mediciones precisas de los stocks de carbono del bosque. (Crédito: Chris Meyer)

Javier Mateo-Vega, de STRI y la Universidad de McGill, discute la medición de los límites del terreno con unos técnicos indígenas en Darién, Panamá. La medición precisa y adecuada de los terrenos permitirá que los técnicos tomen mediciones precisas de los stocks de carbono del bosque. (Crédito: Chris Meyer)

Antes de ir a los bosques, los integrantes del equipo necesitaban convertirse en “técnicos” en la realización de inventarios forestales. STRI y la Universidad de McGill los entrenaron en los fundamentos de la medición de los árboles, lo cual incluye como medir el diámetro (grosor) y la altura, la identificación de las especies de árboles, la colección de muestras de plantas y suelo, la delineación del terreno de 100m X 100m (una hectárea), y como usar los Sistemas de Posicionamiento Global (GPS) para geo-referenciar las mediciones. Una vez en Darién, Javier Mateo-Vega, de STRI y McGill, dijo que las mediciones del grupo resultaron muy bien:

“Nuestro equipo, conformado mayormente por Emberas y Wounaans de varios territorios indígenas en el Darién, ha sido clave en llevar a cabo un proceso de investigación científicamente riguroso que informará  futuras políticas relacionadas con REDD+, al igual que las acciones que se desarrollarán a nivel de campo.”

Nakibeler Lopez de la OJEWP agregó que el equipo también aprendió sobre “el potencial contenido en los recursos naturales de los territorios indígenas en Panamá.” Dado el potencial de los recursos naturales de los bosques, y el papel histórico que los indígenas han tomado en protegerlos, será esencial asegurar que los grupos indígenas reciban una distribución justa de los beneficios de cualquier programa futuro de REDD+. El éxito de este tipo de programas dependerá de esto.

Una solución efectiva para el cambio climático global deberá incluir políticas de REDD+ que involucren a los indígenas. EDF seguirá apoyando los esfuerzos para integrar las lecciones aprendidas de la implementación de este trabajo en las discusiones sobre las políticas de REDD+.

*Nota: la quinta y última visita de campo para este proyecto está programada para agosto. Una vez que las mediciones sean terminadas, los datos coleccionados se le incorporaran al mapa territorial de carbono y serán compartidos con las comunidades indígenas participantes. STRI, la Universidad de McGill , OJEWP y EDF- con el apoyo del programa de capacitación del Forest Carbon Partnership Facility- planean presentar los resultados en diciembre ante la Convención Marco  de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático en Lima, Perú.

Clarifying the Role of Non-Carbon Benefits in REDD+

(This post was written with the help of Sarah Marlay, EDF summer intern and graduate student at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies)

In the face of the growing threat of climate change, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been a hot topic in international climate negotiations for nearly a decade.

Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are currently in the process of deciding on many important elements of the REDD+ policy framework. The ‘non-carbon benefits’ of REDD+ activities is one such issue that is just now being discussed in two different forums under the UNFCCC.

In June, countries at the UNFCCC’s 38th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) proposed a draft text to be considered at the Conference of the Parties’ (COP) 19th session this coming November. The draft text acknowledged the need for clarity on the types of non-carbon benefits and related methodological issues and for the discussion to take place in 2014.

Also, this week Parties will convene a workshop on the COP Work Programme on Results-based Finance for REDD+, with the mandate to explore ways to incentivize non-carbon benefits.

In this post, I offer my answers to the two key issues related to non-carbon benefits that have been raised by the Parties this summer: the lack of clarity surrounding non-carbon benefits; and the need to identify ways to incentivize non-carbon benefits in REDD+.

For a more in-depth discussion, please see  our policy paper on non-carbon benefits.

Lack of Clarity Surrounding Non-Carbon Benefits

Defining Non-Carbon Benefits

‘Non-carbon benefits’ are positive outcomes resulting from REDD+ activities beyond those associated with carbon storage and/or sequestration. Non-carbon benefits are often broken down into 3 main types: social, environmental and governance benefits.

The diagram below provides several examples of potential non-carbon benefits in each of these 3 categories:

One difficulty with the term ‘non-carbon benefits’ is that it encompasses such a wide range of potential benefits that it becomes challenging to target and promote specific non-carbon benefits at the national level.

To provide additional clarity on non-carbon benefits, specific non-carbon benefits should be identified and prioritized at the national level, according to each country’s objectives and context.

Once selected, these priorities for non-carbon benefits can inform the design of the national REDD+ program.

Clarifying the Relationship between Non-Carbon Benefits and Safeguards

At COP 16 in Cancun, Parties of the UNFCCC adopted a list of safeguards that should be promoted and supported by REDD+ activities. Through this decision, key non-carbon benefits were formally incorporated within the framework of ‘REDD+ safeguards.’

While certain safeguards are protective in nature and set minimum standards for REDD+ actions, other safeguards fall within the category of ‘non-carbon benefits’ by extending beyond protective measures to require that REDD+ activities promote and/or enhance social, environmental and governance benefits.

Incentivizing Non-Carbon Benefits

Centrality of Non-Carbon Benefits to the Success of REDD+

There has been growing global recognition of the fact that, if REDD+ is to succeed in mitigating climate change, non-carbon benefits must play a part. It is often through the promotion of these benefits that many REDD+ strategies address the root causes of drivers of deforestation and achieve real and permanent emission reductions.

Ways to Incentivize Non-Carbon Benefits

The discussion in the COP Work Programme this August will focus on Phase 3 of REDD+, when payments for REDD+ results will be made.

Here, I suggest ways that non-carbon benefits can be incentivized in Phase 3 by both the UNFCCC and avenues external to the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC should incentivize non-carbon benefits by making results-based payments conditional upon compliance with the REDD+ safeguards link more explicit.

Despite significant progress in the UNFCCC in institutionalizing safeguards, Parties have not clearly defined ‘results-based payments.’

‘Results-based payments’ should be defined under the UNFCCC as payments for emission reductions that are conditional upon compliance with the REDD+ safeguards. Under this definition (and as already stated in the Cancun Agreement), only REDD+ activities that enhance social and environmental benefits, incentivize the conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and promote effective forest governance mechanisms, along with the other safeguards, will be eligible to receive payments.

Outside of the UNFCCC and the REDD+ mechanism, REDD+ activities can receive direct compensation for non-carbon benefits by securing funds from funding sources that promote specific non-carbon benefits.

For example, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) initiatives worldwide have promoted and directly paid for diverse ecosystem services, like biodiversity conservation.

Additionally, emission reductions associated with non-carbon benefits are more competitive in carbon markets and in attracting multilateral or bilateral funding, thereby providing another incentive for REDD+ activities to promote non-carbon benefits.

In the voluntary carbon market, emission reductions achieved while promoting non-carbon benefits often receive higher prices, and there has been growing demand for larger quantities of these credits. Also, national REDD+ programs with prominent non-carbon benefits may have a higher likelihood of securing multilateral or bilateral funding arrangements (the case of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund).

The Role of the UNFCCC Moving Forward

To help bring clarity to the discussion surrounding non-carbon benefits, Parties of the UNFCCC should begin identifying and prioritizing non-carbon benefits at the national level. This progress will help clarify the types of non-carbon benefits that will be promoted and potential challenges to their implementation.

In order to incentivize non-carbon benefits, Parties should adopt a definition for results-based payments that clearly defines them as payments for emission reductions that are conditional upon compliance with the REDD+ safeguards.

While there is general consensus that non-carbon benefits are closely tied to the success of REDD+, what remains is for the Parties of the UNFCCC to clarify the role of non-carbon benefits in the global REDD+ framework, and in doing so, strengthen the foundation of REDD+ itself.

Posted in Deforestation, Indigenous peoples, REDD|: | 2 Responses

Workshop for Indigenous Technicians Kicks Off REDD+ Capacity Building

  • Compass – check
  • Fluorescent orange flagging tape – check
  • Woods Hole Research Center’s Forest Carbon Measuring Field Guide – check
  • Garmin GPS 62sc units –check

Those were all items that  Indigenous field technicians learned to use, and learned to train their fellow Indigenous peoples to use, for measuring forest carbon at a November train-the-trainer workshop.

The workshop included teams of two from Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. It was organized by a consortium consisting of the Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). In addition to training, it also covered the basics of climate change and of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

Following this training workshop, each team of technicians has returned to its respective country to hold a series of community workshops over the next six months. The teams have ambitious goals: train leaders from at least 100 communities in their countries; collect 25 measurements of forest carbon from specific locations; and coordinate their work with government authorities, Indigenous organizations, and other organizations involved in REDD activities.

In addition to being a big step forward in actually implementing REDD+ on the ground, this initiative is noteworthy because it marks the first time that IDB has provided direct financing to any indigenous organization to execute a project. Previously, the money would have passed through the government or a northern non-profit such as EDF.  COICA’s capacity to directly receive those funds illustrates the tremendous progress being achieved by indigenous groups in building their institutional capacity.

REDD+ workshop photo

COICA technicians zero in on key coordinates

The workshop was located in Puyo, Ecuador, where many of the Amazon’s tributaries begin. Puyo is  a region where jungle is slowly disappearing as a result of conversion for agriculture.

Drs. Wayne Walker and Alessandro Baccini from WHRC designed a set of activities to build the forest carbon measuring skills. The technicians started practicing navigation using their GPS units to find locations throughout the city, and eventually navigated into denser and more difficult forest. From the forest locations they found with the GPSs, they measured 40 meter by 40 meter plots (about 130 feet by 130 feet), at first in an open grass area and later in a dense forest similar to what they’ll encounter in their countries. Measuring and monitoring of non-carbon forest elements was also discussed.

The technicians will be using similar activities in their two or three-day workshops at the community level. In addition to those practical “field classroom” activities, the curriculum will also include information on REDD+ and climate change that will be taught through adult-oriented learning activities such as participatory mapping and experiential sharing.

EDF and WHRC provided COICA with technical assistance in designing the November training workshop and will support the technicians throughout their six months of holding community workshops and collecting field measurements. While EDF expects the community workshops to be highly beneficial in building Indigenous peoples’ capacity to carry out these activities, we believe this project will also highlight the ability of Indigenous technicians to collect forest carbon measurements on their own and use that data to produce carbon maps and land management plans.

Overall, the ability of Indigenous Peoples to participate in REDD at national levels will visibly be strengthened immensely – a necessity if REDD+ is going to work.

Posted in Brazil, Deforestation, Forestry, Indigenous peoples, REDD|: | 2 Responses

EDF selected as representative to UN-REDD Program Policy Board

A child from the Sao Felix community in the Brazilian Amazon. (Photo credit: CIFOR)

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is very pleased to be the newly selected representative to the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) Program Policy Board for northern (i.e., developed-country) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The Policy Board is a critical component of the UN REDD Program, providing strategic direction and approving financial allocations. The Board is comprised of representatives from partner countries, donors to the Multi-Partner Trust Fund, civil society, and indigenous peoples, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Program, and the UN Environment Program.

As one of the Board’s Civil Society Observers, EDF will participate in UN REDD Program Policy Board meetings, and solicit concerns to be raised at meetings on behalf of northern civil society organizations; EDF will also share information among its networks about REDD meetings and processes. EDF’s first meeting as a CSO will be the Ninth UN REDD Policy Board meeting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on October 26th and 27th (see agenda).

EDF recognizes that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the UN REDD Program and its “cousin” REDD initiatives, and that information on how participating organizations interact with one another, governments and indigenous populations is not always clear or easily accessible. In an effort to answer some of the questions about the REDD process and key players, EDF has prepared a brief explanatory document. In it, you can find a breakdown of the three major REDD initiatives – the Forest Investment Partnership (FIP), the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), and the UN REDD Program – describing which REDD activities they are involved in, which countries they partner with, and their main REDD objectives.

In addition, EDF has set up a specific web page for those interested in the UN REDD program. EDF will update this website with information and news on the UN REDD program meetings, and will promote the discussion of REDD initiatives on various forums and threads as well. Shortly after the Brazzaville meeting, we will provide an update on developments there.

Posted in Deforestation, Indigenous peoples, REDD, UN negotiations|: | 2 Responses

REDD+ finance, indigenous rights protections move forward in 2012 with boost from Durban negotiations

This is a joint post by Gus Silva-Chávez, EDF's Climate & Forests specialist and REDD+ project manager, and Chris Meyer, who coordinates EDF’s REDD+ activities with Indigenous Peoples.

The most recent UN climate negotiations wrapped up in December with a better-than-anticipated outcome, but the preparations for the next set — this year in Qatar — are already underway.

Policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples who live in the forests made important progress in the recent UN climate negotiations in Durban.

We've spent some time reflecting on the outcome of the 2011 talks in Durban, South Africa, especially on progress on policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, known in the UN world as REDD+. REDD+ was a huge winner in the 2010 negotiations, when the UN put its seal of approval on the policy, and this year made some additional progress, most importantly in finance and in ensuring rights for indigenous peoples.

We were recently invited to write about the REDD+ negotiations in Durban for the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF), a coalition of -collaboration of 14 states and provinces in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria that was formed in 2008 at the first Governor’s Global Climate Summit.

Below is our analysis of where REDD+ negotiations ended in Durban, and what we're likely to see as countries gear up for the Qatar negotiations. You can find additional analysis of Durban negotiations by EDF's International Climate Program Director Jennifer Haverkamp in her blog post In Durban, world's major economies show will to address climate change.

The Durban REDD+ Outcome

Cross-posted from the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force Newsletter (January 2012)

In an annual ritual, government negotiators, NGOs and journalists attended the December 2011 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Durban, South Africa. Negotiators in Durban approved technical guidelines for ensuring that reference levels — benchmarks for measuring progress in reducing emissions from deforestation — have environmental integrity. EDF had been eagerly anticipating this technical decision going into Durban, these new guidelines will provide a framework and necessary guidelines on how to establish reference levels that are based on science and that can serve as a measuring stick for environmental performance and financial compensation.

REDD+ policies got a major boost in Durban when countries agreed that all sources of funding, including carbon markets, are eligible to pay for REDD+ activities. After years of exploring how to pay for all three stages of REDD+ (capacity building, early implementation and national-level pay-for-performance), the UN has put its seal of approval on the use of markets. Estimates indicate that while public financing is needed, especially for the capacity building stage, only large-scale, sustainable funding from carbon markets will generate sufficient funding. EDF applauds this decision.

The decision on REDD+ finance, in the “Long-term Cooperative Action” (LCA) negotiations, included a clear endorsement of all sources of finance, a call for a REDD+ finance workshop and a technical paper in 2012.

Looking forward to next year’s climate negotiations in Qatar, countries will start deciding on the details of reference levels, and some will begin to calculate their reference levels using the guidance decided in Durban. As more specific REDD+ financing methods are developed, countries will hold a REDD+ finance workshop and produce a technical paper that will attempt to answer some of the questions around financing REDD+.

Indigenous peoples & REDD+

Negotiators in Durban approved critical provisions for ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected and will be safeguarded in the implementation of REDD+ programs. Parties also outlined the protections for Indigenous Peoples prominently in the LCA’s financing sections. Still, negotiators only developed a framework for systems of reporting on the implementation of REDD+ safeguards and decided to continue working on the content of these REDD+ systems next year.

Durban resulted in a positive step forward in providing preliminary guidance for the reporting on the implementation of safeguards as countries launch REDD readiness initiatives already being financed through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, UN-REDD program, and other bilateral initiatives. More importantly, we’re seeing indigenous peoples in many countries developing their own consultation and information gathering processes that will feed information into these systems.

The Durban conference as a whole produced surprisingly good results, given our modest expectations. However, it is important to note that there are a lot of concrete actions taking place outside of the UNFCCC forum, including efforts to open a path for REDD+ credits from Brazil, Mexico and beyond to flow into California’s emerging carbon market. Top-down efforts at the international level can only succeed if bottom-up actions like these are being successfully implemented.

For additional information on EDF’s international work, please visit

Posted in Deforestation, Durban (COP-17), Indigenous peoples, REDD|: , | 2 Responses

El Instituto de Investigaciones Tropicales del Smithsonian y EDF colaboran para mostrar la realidad local sobre la reducción de emisiones por deforestación (REDD+) en Panamá

in English  |  Este blog fue escrito en colaboración por Chris Meyer, Coordinador del Proyecto Amazónico de EDF y la Dra. Catherine Potvin, profesora de la Universidad McGill e Investigadora Asociada al Instituto de Investigaciones Tropicales del Smithsonian (STRI).

La deforestación representa casi el 15% de las emisiones totales causantes del calentamiento global antropogénico, y los negociadores de países de todo el mundo han estado trabajando para desarrollar políticas en los diálogos sobre clima de las Naciones Unidas para reducir las emisiones de la deforestación.

Es fácil perderse en los detalles de las complejas políticas de reducción de emisiones por deforestación y degradación forestal (REDD+) y no estar al tanto de lo que está sucediendo – y quién está trabajando – a nivel local en el campo. Así que, justo antes de las negociaciones climáticas de la ONU en la Ciudad de Panamá en Octubre, Chris Meyer de EDF, y la Dra. Catherine Potvin, profesora de la Universidad de McGill e Investigadora Asociada al Smithsonian organizaran una visita a campo para los negociadores de la ONU para observar en persona la realidad de la deforestación y las actuales políticas para proteger los bosques.

Proyectos REDD+ dirigidos por grupos Indígenas conservando árboles en Panamá del Este

En esta foto tomada en la provincia del Darien en Panamá, se ve la colina a la derecha que ha sido deforestada por campesinos que han migrado de otras regiones, mientras que a la izquierda se ve otra colina de propiedad indígena que se encuentra densamente forestada, absorbiendo carbón y ayudando a frenar el cambio climático. (Foto cortesia de STRI.)

Para su primera parada, los negociadores de REDD+ de Canadá, Dinamarca, la Unión Europea, Francia, Italia, México, Noruega, Perú, Estados Unidos, y un miembro del Gobierno del equipo REDD + de Panamá visitaron un proyecto de REDD+ en el este de Panamá.

Los 500 pueblos indígenas viven en Ipetí-Emberá controlan aproximadamente 3.200 hectáreas (7.910 acres) de tierras. En el este de Panamá, incluyendo las provincias de Panamá y Darién donde se encuentra la comunidad visitada, enormes extensiones de bosque primario rico en biodiversidad han sido cortados por su madera por grupos de campesinos que han migrado de las provincias centrales. La mayoría de los indígenas trata de resistirse a la invasión de estos migrantes, ya que valoran más al bosque que a las áreas de pastoreo. El proyecto REDD+ trata de encontrar una solución a estos conflictos de tierras y la deforestación.

El Instituto de Investigaciones Tropicales del Smithsonian (STRI) está utilizando REDD+ para convertirse en carbono neutral

En 2007, el Instituto de Investigaciones Tropicales del Smithsonian (STRI) decidió avanzar hacia la neutralidad de carbono. Como parte de su estrategia para compensar su huella de carbono, STRI se interesó en realizar un proyecto piloto de REDD+ con la comunidad Ipetí-Emberá.

Veintiún familias de la comunidad tienen ahora pequeñas parcelas de reforestación de especies nativas que están secuestrando carbono, mientras que cuarenta y ocho familias están listas para modificar sus patrones de uso de suelo para reducir la deforestación y la degradación forestal. STRI esta comprando el carbono secuestrado, o las compensaciones de carbono, a la vez que analizan las barreras a la implementación de proyectos similares en otros sitios.

Potvin explica:

Los ingresos de las ventas compensado con STRI es un apreciado ingreso extra para las familias.

Después de un delicioso almuerzo típico servido en hojas de plátano, el grupo se dirigió a la comunidad de Nuevo Paraíso.

REDD+ puede sustentar a las comunidades y mantener los árboles en pie

Los negociadores de los distintos países, miembros de organizaciones no gubernamentales y los pobladores locales observan pequeños arboles de caoba plantados por la gente indígena local de Ipeti-Embera. El grupo converso con los líderes de la comunidad sobre los esfuerzos para reducir la deforestación. (Foto cortesia de STRI.)

La comunidad de Nuevo Paraíso fue fundada hace unos 25 años por gente que migró de otras regiones; se compone de familias agricultoras que poseen entre 25 a 50 hectáreas en las que practican una combinación de agricultura de subsistencia y la cría de ganado en pequeña escala en las tierras deforestadas.

En esta excursión, los negociadores fueron capaces de ver los proyectos de REDD+ que trabajan con las comunidades y los agricultores para evitar la deforestación y maximizar los beneficios de la protección de los bosques.

Chris Meyer de EDF comentó:

Esta experiencia abrió los ojos de los los negociadores, al ver lo bien que las políticas funcionan para evitar la deforestación. Los negociadores nos comentaron que habían disfrutado la oportunidad de pasar tiempo en la selva, y algunos incluso mencionaran que esta era su primera vez en el bosque y su primer contacto con las comunidades tratando de detener la deforestación.

En Ipetí-Emberá, los negociadores tuvieron tiempo de hablar con líderes de la comunidad y los participantes en el proyecto de REDD+ y ser testigos de la complejidad de los retos de implementación. En Nuevo Paraíso el debate se centró en cómo el sector privado podría exitosamente participar en las actividades de REDD+ y proveer parte del muy necesitado financiamiento.

Las opciones de financiamiento para REDD+, incluyendo los mercados de carbono, están en la agenda oficial de las próximas negociaciones climáticas de la ONU en Durban, Sudáfrica a finales de este año. Estos negociadores ahora son capaces de llevar su conocimiento sobre los proyectos REDD+ en el campo a las negociaciones internacionales, incluyendo el que las políticas REDD+ funcionan y que las comunidades locales son simultáneamente esenciales a su implementación y beneficiarias de estas.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and EDF partner to show on-the-ground realities of reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD+) in Panama

en español  |  This blog was co-authored by Environmental Defense Fund’s Amazon Basin Project Coordinator Chris Meyer and McGill University professor and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Research Associate Dr. Catherine Potvin.

Deforestation accounts for as much as 15% of all manmade global warming pollution, and negotiators from countries around the world have been working to hammer out policies at United Nations climate talks to reduce emissions from deforestation.

It’s easy to get lost in the details of the complex policies of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and miss what’s happening — and who’s working — on the ground.  So, just prior to the UN climate negotiations in Panama City earlier this month, Environmental Defense Fund’s Chris Meyer and McGill University and Smithsonian’s Dr. Catherine Potvin organized a field trip for UN negotiators to see first-hand the realities of deforestation, and of the policies that have been put in place to protect forests.

Indigenous-led REDD+ project preserving trees in eastern Panama

The hill on the right side of this photo, taken in the Panama province of Darien, has been deforested by migrant farmers, while the indigenous-owned lands on the left hill and in the distance show heavily forested lands that are absorbing carbon and helping curb global warming. (Photo courtesy of STRI.)

For their first stop, REDD+ negotiators from Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the United States, and a member of Panama’s government's REDD+ team visited a REDD+ project in eastern Panama.

The 500 indigenous people who live in Ipeti-Embera control approximately 3,200 hectares (7,910 acres) of land.  In the eastern part of Panama, including the provinces of Panama and Darien, where the community is located, huge swathes of primary forest, rich in biodiversity, have been cleared for timber and cattle ranching by migrant farmers coming from Panama's central Provinces.  Indigenous People mostly try to withstand invasion from these migrants, as they value the forest more than pastures.  The REDD+ project seeks to find a solution to such land conflicts and deforestation.

This picture shows the benefits of having indigenous communities control forests; the indigenous-owned lands of Ipeti-Embera on the left remain heavily forested, while the hill to the right has been cleared of its forests and converted to cattle pasture.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute using REDD+ to become carbon neutral

In 2007, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) decided to move towards carbon neutrality.  As part of its strategy to offset its carbon footprint, STRI became interested in piloting a REDD+ project with the Ipeti-Embera community.

Twenty-one families in Ipeti-Embera now have small reforestation parcels of native species that are sequestering carbon while 48 households are ready to modify their pattern of land use to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.  STRI is purchasing the sequestered carbon, or carbon offsets, while analyzing the barriers to implementation of similar projects elsewhere.

McGill University and Smithsonian’s Potvin said:

The revenue from the offset sales to STRI is a welcomed extra income for the families.

After a delicious customary lunch served in banana leaves, the group headed to the community of Nuevo Paraíso, or New Paradise.

REDD+ can sustain communities and keep trees standing

Country negotiators, members from non-governmental groups, and local residents look at young mahogany trees, planted by the local indigenous people of Ipeti-Embera. The group was able to talk with community leaders about the community's efforts to reduce deforestation. (Photo courtesy of STRI.)

Founded about 25 years ago, Nuevo Paraíso is a migrant farmers community whose families own 25-50 hectares of land and practice a mix of subsistence agriculture and small-scale cattle ranching on deforested land.

In this field trip, negotiators were able to see REDD+ projects that work with communities and farmers to prevent further deforestation and maximize the benefits of forest protection.

EDF’s Chris Meyer said:

This was a truly eye-opening experience for negotiators, seeing how well policies to avoid deforestation work.  Negotiators told us they enjoyed the opportunity to spend time on the ground in the rainforest, and some even mentioned this was their first time in the forest and first contact with communities trying to halt deforestation.

In Ipeti-Embera, negotiators had time to speak with community leaders and participants in the REDD+ project, and witness first-hand the complex challenges of implementation.  In Nuevo Paraíso, discussion centered on how the private sector could be successfully engaged in REDD+ activities, and provide much-needed financing.

Financing options for REDD+, including carbon markets, are on the official agenda for the upcoming UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, at the end of this year.  These negotiators now are able to take back with them to Durban and later international climate talks the on-the-ground knowledge they have about the REDD+ projects, including that REDD+ policies work, and local communities are critical to implementing — and simultaneously benefitting — from them.


Read this blog in Spanish/ Siga este vinculo para leer el blog en español: El Instituto de Investigaciones Tropicales del Smithsonian y EDF colaboran para mostrar la realidad local sobre la reducción de emisiones por deforestación (REDD+) en Panamá

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