Starting next week, the UN’s annual climate negotiations are being hosted by Lima, Peru – one of the nine countries that make up the Amazon Rainforest, under the shadow of the murder of Ashaninka indigenous leader Edwin Chonta and three others last September in the Peruvian Amazon. Chonta and the other indigenous activists had long protested illegal logging in their territory. The murders remain unresolved.
At last year’s negotiations, forests were big news, as negotiators built on years of technical discussions by finalizing the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Forests aren’t likely to provide headlines again this year, but a couple of items will be up for discussion – and what’s happening on forests elsewhere in Peru is noteworthy independent of the UN process.
During the first week of the negotiations, we expect the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technologic Advice (SBSTA) to discuss two topics: 1) guidance, if any, on Safeguard Information Systems (SIS), and 2) Bolivia’s Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism.
Safeguard Information Systems: There is already minimal guidance for Safeguard Information Systems and hesitancy from many parties, especially REDD+ countries, to have more explicit guidance. In EDF’s joint submission on the subject, we propose focusing on good processes in designing the system and capturing the information at the national level, rather than defining more specific categories of information to capture. We do not expect significant new guidance to be agreed upon, as many REDD+ countries are just beginning to create or design these systems and will be skeptical of more explicit guidance that may not be relevant to their country context.
Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism: Bolivia’s proposal for a Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism (JMA), known as the ”non-market approaches to REDD+” mechanism, was discussed thoroughly at the negotiation session held in June this year. Countries expressed to Bolivia everything they are proposing to do with the JMA can be accomplished under current REDD+ rules and with other existing development assistance programs. Bolivia wants its own mechanism, while other parties do not want to set a precedent that every country can create its own mechanism. Time will be spent discussing Bolivia’s mechanism, but we do not expect any specific guidance or progress on the subject.
During the first and second week at the general UNFCCC negotiations, there will be two areas of discussion that impact REDD+.
Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): The first important area is the finalization of what should be included in an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), or the contributions countries intend to pledge next year leading up to the Paris agreement. EDF wants REDD+ countries to explicitly include their REDD+ goals in their respective INDCs. This could be structured in a way that would include what the country is willing to reduce by itself and what more it could do with international support (Indonesia did this with its commitment in the Copenhagen Accord). What would be needed is a matching “external” or “international” commitment represented in tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced from a developed country in addition to their own domestic commitments. REDD+ needs ambition by developed countries; including explicit support for REDD+ in their INDCs is one way ambition can be demonstrated.
Land-use issues: Land-use issues that include REDD+ need a place in the post-2020 agreement and at the moment, there is a risk that there will not be an explicit reference. There are already rules established for the Land Use sector (CDM projects, Warsaw Framework for REDD+, and Land Use, Land Use Change Forestry (LULUCF) for Annex 1 countries in Kyoto), but they need to be recognized in the Paris post-2020 agreement. There needs to be a process created to start to bring the LULUCF rules to the higher standards of the REDD+ rules and provide guidance to countries on how to account comprehensively for their Land Use sector.
Peru’s REDD+ and land-use outside the COP
Perhaps more interesting than REDD+ discussions within the UN negotiations is what’s happening in Peru on land use and REDD+ issues outside of the conference center.
Peru has engaged in REDD+ for years, and its national REDD+ strategy has grown from a more “bottom-up” REDD+ projects-based approach to a national system.
The country also recently signed a Letter of Intent with the Norwegian and German governments that could reward it with at least $300 million for meeting certain land use and land titling goals and then for reductions of emissions from deforestation. However, in June the Peruvian federal government weakened the environmental laws regarding impact assessments for mining and petroleum exploration, blaming the decision on the need to maintain economic growth.
Linked to those pre-existing and new threats, a recent journal article by remote sensing scientist Dr. Greg Asner found that a significant amount of Peru’s above-ground biomass (i.e. forests) are at risk from land-use change.
Finally, indigenous peoples have been very active in REDD+ policy development; their advocacy secured $14 million of Peru Forest Investment Program grant for land titling efforts and another $5.5 million from the program’s Dedicated Mechanism to spend on REDD+ related activities to be implemented directly by them. Significant progress in the implementation of REDD+ is occurring in Peru, despite the expected paucity of advances in REDD+ discussions to occur at the conference center.