Thursday, December 22, 2011

Open Happiness


It is hard work to cut down a tree, let alone an entire forest. Swidden agriculture, the slashing, felling, and burning of forests for the conversion of land, requires epic sweat. Every year as the treaty is renegotiated, the reasons for and potential restraints on deforestation are both elaborated and clarified. When we talk about forested land, we are also talking about agricultural expansion and food security for a growing population. While an excess of carbon dioxide haunts our atmosphere, we have more than one problem to proactively and reactively solve. We are talking about livelihoods, family planning, land sparing, sustainable farming, the intensification of yield.

Ban Ki-moon arrived in Durban late in the second week of the conference. As Secretary General of the United Nations, he is the man in charge of haloing 194 nations around the singular agreement on climate change. When I saw him speak, he was deferent to his own stature, understating his vast importance to the world. Ban Ki-moon spoke of the forests and the noted improvements to the REDD text. Recently retuned from a visit to Kalimantan, Indonesia, he lauded the success of their pilot program for REDD. In particular, he praised Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Chairman of the Indonesian REDD+ Taskforce. Kuntoro himself was also at this talk. Later in the evening, a question was posed to him about Indonesia’s REDD program. “How far are you from being able to count the value of a tree standing as being more than the value of a tree cut down?” To which the minister of ministers replied, “It is not about each tree. It is about poverty. If you alleviate poverty, no tree will be cut down.” The ambition of this treaty is that it must address both the causes and the effects of global warming. Which makes it, perhaps, the most important international accord ever to be signed.

Monday, December 19, 2011


In case anyone is unclear, because it’s hard to get the news from the news, the advancements in Durban mean the process, while incremental, still has traction.

Initial discussions centering on an international climate agreement first began at the Rio Summit in 1992. The agreement was negotiated for five years before being adopted in 1997 as the Kyoto Protocol. It was another four years before detailed rules for the implementation of the KP were approved in 2001. It officially entered force in 2005, thirteen years hence. This year, 2012, marks the end of the KP’s first commitment period. All this scrambling to sign the Durban Platform, twenty years in the making, is another train stop along the way, in essence to say, “what is next and who is still on board?”

It takes this long because we can’t ask for everything at once. The US State Department has a mandate they are not legally allowed to negotiate for something at the international level that they are unable to implement at the national level. In fact, it is a convention truism that countries will not agree inside a negotiation room to anything they were not already planning to do.

In reality, the world as a collective is not ready for the treaty it should be signing. But we will be. In the meantime, we will continue to address all the drivers and respect all the safeguards. We will train the tree measurers and come to terms with true national sovereignty. The pace of this process, both progress and regress, is not for nothing. Redaction, bracketing, and derailment. Word by word. Insertion and accord. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Durbanimals #4

Durbanimals #3

Durbanimals #2

Durbanimals #1

Tool to track US REDD+ Fund released

Mongabay is running a brief article on TFG's US REDD Finance Database.

COP17's AWG LCA report, including REDD+ finance

This is the part of the Durban Platform that address REDD+ finance and other issues not addressed in the SBSTA work. Pages 12-13 are the REDD+ zone.

Paragraph 66 is one of the more important paragraphs...

66. Considers that, in the light of the experience gained from current and future demonstration activities, appropriate market-based approaches could be developed by the Conference of the Parties to support results-based actions by developing country Parties referred to in paragraph 73 of 1/CP.16, ensuring that environmental integrity is preserved, and the provisions of appendix I and II to Decision 1/CP.16 are fully respected and should be consistent with relevant provisions of decision 1/CP.16, decision XX/CP.17 (SBSTA) and any future decision by the COP on these matters;

Green Climate Fund COP17 Decision

The draft 2011/CP/L.09 text is hyperlinked in the blog title.

Green Climate Fund – report of the Transitional Committee
Proposal by the President
Draft decision -/CP.17
The Conference of the Parties,
Recalling its decision 1/CP.16,
1. Welcomes the report of the Transitional Committee (FCCC/CP/2011/6 and Add.1), taking note with appreciation of the work of the Transitional Committee in responding to its mandate given in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 109;
2. Approves the governing instrument for the Green Climate Fund annexed to this decision;
3. Decides to designate the Green Climate Fund as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, in accordance with Article 11 of the Convention, with arrangements to be concluded between the Conference of the Parties and the Fund at the eighteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to ensure that it is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the Conference of the Parties to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties;

Sunday, December 11, 2011

TFG in 4 minutes or less

Climate deal salvaged after marathon talks in Durban

Reporting from the UK's Guardian..
"Delegates clashed over attempt to make agreement legally binding until deal was struck in pre-dawn hours..."

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It appears a package has gone to the floor for a vote....

South Africa's foreign minister and chairman of the 194-party conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told delegates that failure to agree after 13 days of work would be an unsustainable setback for international efforts to control greenhouse gases.
"This multilateral system remains fragile and will not survive another shock," she told a full meeting of the conference, which had been delayed more than 24 hours while ministers and senior negotiators labored over words and nuances.
The proposed Durban Platform offered answers to problems that have bedeviled global warming negotiations for years about sharing the responsibility for controlling carbon emissions and helping the world's poorest and most climate-vulnerable nations cope with changing forces of nature.

chances of a deal slip

Ministers from the key countries, including Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan were huddled into a small room in the conference centre. They were allowed one-aide inside. Indian negotiators were seen frequently coming and going out of the room wearing tense expressions.

Sometimes a rhino is not a rhino

The UK's Guardian is reporting a fake text in the final hours of the Durban COP17 talks. This text is complicating already super extra double overtime negotiations.

Sometimes the real rhino is hard to spot.

Forest Day 5 Report

Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR, welcomed participants to Forest Day 5. She observed that the event has evolved significantly over the years, as is evident in the continuum of its participants: from primarily high-level policy makers to the involvement of greater numbers of grassroots practitioners. She highlighted a number of achievements, including: positive feedback from participants of Forest Day 4; the introduction of an “Issues Market Place” at this session, to facilitate information exchange and networking; and the special focus being paid to Africa.

Tina Joemat-Peterson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa, welcomed delegates on behalf of the South African government. She emphasized that forests embody the need to balance environmental sustainability with economic development. She noted that her country’s energy intensive and fossil-fuel powered economy makes it particularly vulnerable to climate change. Stressing that the science behind carbon sinks “is well understood,” she urged participants to deliver a comprehensive adaptation programme as a contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20 or UNCSD).

Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Chair, CPF, said a tipping point has been reached in recognizing the contribution of forests and REDD+ approaches in meeting the interrelated goals of food and energy security, biodiversity protection and economic development. He stressed, however, that creating the enabling conditions for a low-carbon development path hinges on reaching agreement on a post-Kyoto mechanism. To optimize utilization of biodiversity ecosystem services, he further noted the importance of: focusing equally on tropical forests and dryland forests; paying attention to the full range of land uses; and involving women in sustainable forest management.

In the first of two keynote addresses, Helen Gichohi, President, African Wildlife Foundation, paid tribute to Wangari Maathai, “a fallen icon who saw the links between sustainable development and peace and inspired us to take action and care.” She highlighted ongoing projects that have adopted a landscape approach to balance growing human demands with environmental sustainability. She highlighted key lessons such as: involving local communities in defining land-use agreements; establishing institutional partnerships to create the right policy incentives for climate-smart agriculture and private sector participation; and ploughing back revenues from carbon projects to support community-based conservation. She conclude that while REDD+ offers a tool for bringing the value of forests into national planning there is need to lower the transaction costs of carbon markets and to share the responsibility for longer-term compliance.

In his keynote address, Bob Scholes, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, highlighted the scientific case for sustainable forest management. Citing a recent study (Yude et al, “A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests” Science, August 2011), he noted that forests could potentially absorb nearly one-quarter of total carbon emissions from human activity, currently estimated at nine petagrams per year, exceeding the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. He stressed that contrary to conventional wisdom, deforestation in Africa predominantly takes place in the dryland forest zones and is characterized by three main phases: the selective removal of high-value timber; charcoal-burning to meet urban fuel demands; and finally, low-input and low-output subsistence agriculture, which completes the cycle of land degradation. Underlining that it is not feasible to change current land-use patterns as local communities have a right to develop, he called for climate-smart approaches that boost productivity and contribute to the regeneration of already degraded land. He noted that this will ensure, inter alia: fair prices for ecosystem products and services; informed and just governance at all levels; and reliable and cost-effective monitoring tools based on a mix of high and low-tech approaches.

Judy Kimamo, the Green Belt Movement, introduced a short film paying tribute to the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, and announced the launch of the “I am the Hummingbird Campaign” in her memory.


HOW IS REDD+ UNFOLDING ON THE GROUND? AN EXPLORATION OF THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL ISSUES:The discussion forum on REDD+ on the ground aimed to explore early insights on whether REDD+ initiatives can deliver their goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while providing a range of co-benefits. The session was moderated by James Astill, Energy and Environment Editor, The Economist. Introducing the session, Paulo Barreto, Senior Researcher, IMAZON, Brazil, highlighted Brazil’s recent progress in implementing sustainable forest management, as seen in the “decoupling” of the close statistical linkages between high cattle and soy prices and deforestation from 2007 onwards. He attributed this success to the enactment of a more robust regulatory framework that had sent a clear signal that deforestation does not pay. He underlined the need for more comprehensive policy reforms involving stakeholders outside the forest sector and identified boosting of agricultural productivity in already-degraded areas as a possible win-win approach.

Highlighting lessons from a pilot bio-carbon initiative in Indonesia, Brer Adams, Associate Director, Macquarie Global Investments, Australia, said building sustainable business models is hampered by uncertainty resulting from the weak regulatory environment and the relative novelty of carbon markets. Adding that only six billion dollars to date has been committed to REDD, he underlined that this presents a real challenge for scaling up significantly to meet IPCC targets for land-based carbon sequestration in non-Annex I countries, and noted the important role demonstration projects can play in pointing the way forward.

Raymond Lumbuenamo, National Director, WWF, the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighted efforts to address three interrelated drivers of deforestation: shifting subsistence agriculture, commercial exploitation and poor governance. He stressed the need to “reconstruct” community structures that had been destroyed by long-term conflict to enhance sustainable forest management at the local level. Daju Resosudarmo, CIFOR Indonesia, noted the country’s slow start in implementing REDD+ activities, highlighting the challenges as, inter alia, competing demands from powerful agricultural and mining interests, weak regulatory capacity at the national and local government levels, and a lack of clarity on legal rights and security of tenure for community-managed forests.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed: the need for clear guidance for implementing pilot projects; involving local stakeholders in forest management; creating employment opportunities through forest regeneration activities; how to resolve conflicts over rights to forest resources; and enhancing finances available for REDD+ activities.

BIODIVERSITY SAFEGUARDS IN REDD+: The discussion forum on biodiversity safeguards for REDD+ presented the results of a one-year consultative process undertaken by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN-REDD Programme. Introducing the forum, moderator Jagdish Kishwan, Additional Director General of Forests for Wildlife and Director for Wildlife Preservation, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, noted that biodiversity safeguards should not only address the adverse affects of REDD+ on biodiversity, but also the need to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples.

Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, lauded the work of the CBD on safeguarding biodiversity and highlighted the Cancún Agreements that detailed a number of safeguards including on tropical forests. She said there is a need to enable the implementation of these safeguards and establish incentives and implementing policy and monitoring to maximize REDD+ benefits. Outlining the series of workshops held by the CBD on the biodiversity safeguards of REDD+, she noted the emerging lessons include exploiting synergies highlighted in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans, assisting sustainable afforestation, and effective use of detailed safeguards that have already been developed. On gaps identified, she noted insufficient consideration for traditional knowledge, queries on how the safeguards should be used, and the need for financing and methodological guidance.

Guy Midgley, Programme Leader, Global Change Research Group, National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa, discussed an African regional workshop held in Cape Town, South Africa, on REDD+ and its relevant biodiversity safeguards. He cautioned that the synergies identified at the consultations need to be managed carefully so that any confusion that may arise does not hold progress back. He stressed: that safeguards need to be addressed as early as possible; that preparedness is uneven among countries and capacity building will be important; and the need to build on existing policies and legislation.

Lorena Falconí, National Director of Climate Change Mitigation, Ministry of Environment, Ecuador, outlined Ecuador’s climate change strategy, noting four REDD+ components in their mitigation strategy. She said Ecuador aims to ensure multiple benefits from REDD+ and to integrate its programmes with UN-REDD initiatives. Salisu Dahiru, National REDD+ Coordinator, Nigeria, highlighted his country’s incorporation of biodiversity and multiple benefits into early REDD+ readiness activities. He said biodiversity experts and indigenous and local communities have been included as statutory members of REDD+ governance bodies at the national level and the Cross River State Level, and he highlighted a project mapping biodiversity carbon and co-benefit overlays, which aimed to identify and prioritize high-biodiversity areas.

In the ensuing discussion, participants: questioned the role of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in REDD+; asked how the growing rejection of REDD+ by NGOs and indigenous peoples needs to be handled; and debated the length of time it will take for benefits to reach communities and the use of exotics in commercial forestry.

FINANCING OPPORTUNITIES AND ISSUES FOR MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION WITH A FOCUS ON THE PRIVATE SECTOR:This discussion forum provided a platform to debate the opportunities and challenges for investments and financial mechanisms to promote mitigation and adaptation activities by the private sector, focusing on REDD+ initiatives. Moderating the forum, Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, International Tropical Timber Organization, said REDD+ offers a number of co-benefits when implemented, but noted that the funding source for REDD+ still needs to be addressed.

Eufran Ferreira do Amaral, State of Acre, Brazil, noted that Acre is a small Amazonian state with a strong history of social organization, including a community policy against deforestation created by this social movement that has now become incorporated into state policy. He called for addressing issues such as sustainable consumption and the valuation of products, services and sustainable economic activities obtained from forests. He outlined a number of lessons learned, including that: REDD+ is not sufficient to cover the opportunity costs of non-sustainable land use and must be integrated with implementation of sustainable production; and the national and global private sector should develop voluntary systems for targeted reductions of carbon dioxide.

Nur Masripatin, Director of the Centre for Standardization and Environment, Ministry of Forestry, Indonesia, called for the full implementation of REDD+ by 2013 and stressed the fine balance between reducing emissions and increasing economic growth. She provided an outline of her country’s REDD+ National Strategy, highlighting the importance of an adequate legal framework and continued stakeholder engagement. Itaru Shiraishi, Marubeni Corporation, Japan, noting that they have worked on approximately 60 REDD+ projects, lamented the lack of projects from the African continent. While carbon trading will, he opined, revolutionize the industry, he said it is doubtful this will lead to actual emissions reductions, but that a possible solution is to create a large enough demand for carbon credits. He concluded by stating that the “bottom line” is the need to create a carbon market to ensure the success of REDD+.

David Antonioli, CEO, Verified Carbon Standard Association, USA, explained his work on the sector-based aspects of REDD+, noting that environmental integrity, security and confidence in the private sector are fundamental for these aspects. He called for establishing a UN Forum on Forests REDD+ programme. Ludovino Lopes, Ludovino Lopes Lawyers, Brazil, highlighted key issues to consider in the legal framework for REDD+ including: the legal nature of REDD+; the institutional framework; inventory, accountability and registry platforms; distribution mechanisms for economic and non-economic benefits; and international cooperation.

In the ensuing discussion, participants considered: how to address issues of poor governance within the REDD+ framework; and the need for reliable measurements of carbon dioxide, and how to establish who obtains the carbon rights. They also underscored that REDD+ is a means for mitigation but it is not a solution.

ADDRESSING GENDER CONSIDERATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND REDD+ EFFORTS: The parallel discussion session on gender considerations explored ways and means of increasing women’s participation in decision making and benefit distribution, while recommending appropriate safeguards against further exclusion. The session was moderated by Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, Women Organising for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.

In her keynote address, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, stressed the need to recognize the differential roles of women and men at all levels. Noting that women make up 70% of the agricultural work force, she stressed their role in climate-smart agriculture and poverty-eradication efforts.

Panelist Monique Essed-Fernandes, Chair of the Board, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), noted that gender roles determine how forest resources are used and managed, as well as determining the decision-making powers and livelihood strategies adopted. She informed participants about a new WEDO/IUCN initiative supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to pilot Gender and REDD+ roadmaps in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.

Linda Mossop-Rousseau, Senior Executive, Komatiland Forests, South Africa, highlighted her company’s support for out-grower schemes, a mechanism to support individuals and communities to derive an income by supplying timber to processing companies. She highlighted the achievements of the scheme as its recognition of informal permission to occupy land in the absence of formal land rights and the establishment of social compacts as a tool to enhance community-level capacity to negotiate access rights.

Corinne Valdivia, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, highlighted: lessons learned in strengthening processes that build on local knowledge and networks to enable the agency of women; the need to align mitigation and adaptation measures; the importance of understanding the role of context in minimizing or exacerbating gender differences; and the need for able brokers to bridge the gap between the local and higher levels.

During discussions, participants highlighted the need to address power relations and the challenge of making international protocols meaningful at the local level.


Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent, moderated the session on global updates on forests and climate change.

Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, highlighted the contribution of forests to biodiversity protection, greenhouse gas emissions and livelihoods, saying that they are both a source of and sink for greenhouse gases. She called for climate-smart agricultural practices to ensure a transition to a green, low-carbon economy that addresses food security simultaneously, but emphasized that climate-smart agriculture is not a panacea for all the problems to be addressed. She provided an overview of the forest-related activities that have been undertaken with funding from the UK’s International Climate Fund, including projects in Brazil to reverse the high deforestation rates. Calling for clarifying land tenure rights, she highlighted the need to make progress on methodological guidance for the implementation of REDD+ and emphasized that COP 17 will follow up on the REDD+ issues addressed in the Cancún Agreements.

Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank, provided an overview of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day held on 3 December 2011, parallel to COP 17. She said that Tina Joemat-Peterson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa, focused on achieving an unequivocal call for climate-smart agriculture, and delivered a letter to the UNFCCC requesting a work programme on this be established under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Kyte underscored that forests, climate change and agriculture cannot be discussed in isolation as they are inextricably linked. She said that unless access to land and extreme poverty are addressed as well as ensuring higher crop yields and water security, the world will not achieve its “carbon plans and goals.”

Tony La Viña, Ateneo School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University, The Philippines, provided an update of negotiations currently underway on REDD+. He said a first guidance decision had been adopted the previous day, which addressed enforcing and monitoring the implementation of safeguards but allowed future modifications should it be needed. He lamented that while this is not a perfect solution, negotiators are “flying blind” and thus it may be a good way to approach the situation.

Odigha Odigha, Chairman, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Nigeria, discussed the work of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, highlighting several challenges that still need to be addressed, including the need to review previous work and decisions from the UNFCCC COP. He also called for commitment to concrete activities at community level that are pro-poor in nature.


Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR, noted that discussions at Forest Day 5 had addressed the specific opportunities and challenges of forest management in Africa, successfully launched the first informal market place, and showcased the innovative use of instant voting by participants to identify priority areas for future action. She also highlighted the many tributes paid to the late Wangari Maathai’s work and legacy.

Christina Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, thanked Forest Day participants for their “patience with the COP” and noted achievements so far at COP 17 as: the conclusion of an adaptation package on African soil; agreement on a second commitment period with no policy gap following the end of the Kyoto Protocol; and broad recognition that the current level of ambition on climate change is insufficient. She noted that COP 17 is a mammoth undertaking, with close to 200 governments “attempting to write a global business plan for the planet for the next 50 years.” She added that this needs to be done with a “triple bottom line” in mind: climate mitigation and adaptation and the reduction of poverty.

Following Frances Seymour’s announcement that she will be stepping down as CIFOR Director-General in 2012, Eduardo Rojas-Briales lauded the “mother” of the Forest Days for her inspiring leadership in bridging the science-policy gap and building broad consensus on REDD.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Team Work

The rhino has our back.
We have the rhino's back.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TFG Launches US REDD Finance Database in Durban, South Africa

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2011

Today, the Tropical Forest Group launched the US REDD+ Finance Database from COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. The database contains over 800 discrete statements by US agencies on bilateral REDD finance or quantitative impacts on forest conservation, reforestation, enforcement, firebreaks and other impacts directly measurable or verifiable.

The publically available online database can be found at TFG is encouraging people to use and comment on the database in order to help improve transparency around US government REDD finance, and to monitor how the US government is meeting its Fast Start Finance pledges. TFG also hopes this database could serve as an example of a “proto-registry” for REDD finance and impacts.

Comments on the database and the information therein are welcome and should be directed to:

Avoided Deforestation Partners Event today in Durban

Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for
REDD+ and Green Growth

The Hotel Southern Sun Elangeni
Durban, South Africa
Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations

United States President Barack Obama
(Special Video Message)
Honored Speakers
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE – founder, Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace (host)
Hon. Helen Clark – Administrator, UNDP, and former Prime Minister of New Zealand
Hon. Mary Robinson – President of Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice and former President of Ireland
Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton – United States, Secretary of State (special video message)
Hon. William Clinton – Former President of the United States (special video message)
Achim Steiner – UNEP Executive Director, UN Under-Secretary-General
Andrew Steer – World Bank, Special Envoy for Climate Change
Wanjira Maathai – The Green Belt Movement, (daughter of the late Wangari Maathai)
Government Representatives
Hon. José Endundo Bononge – DRC, Minister of Environment
Hon. Tina Joemat-Pettersson – South Africa, Minister of Agriculture
Hon. Kjetil Lund – Norway, Ministry of Finance and Co-Chair, Green Climate Fund
Hon. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto - Indonesia, Head of the President’s Unit on REDD
Hon. Toga Gayewea McIntosh – Liberia, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon. Jonathan Pershing – United States, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change
Hon. Norbert Röttgen – Germany, Minister for Environment
Hon. Eric Solheim – Norway, Minister of the Environment

Conservation and Business Leaders

Jason Clay – World Wildlife Fund-US, Senior Vice President
Larry Schweiger – National Wildlife Federation, President and CEO
Peter Seligmann – Conservation International, CEO and Chairman
Sean de Cleene – Yara International, Vice President Global Business Initiatives
Puvan Selvanathan – Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Vice President, Executive Board

This event is dedicated to the life and work of our dear friend
2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Transparent Process

At the final meeting of the SBSTA working group(which was open to all) the chairperson, Peter Graham, ended the session with a few kind words. He first thanked the delegates, and then he thanked the observers for all their valuable input in the halls and corridors.


Capacitance: the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions. Apparently, in Thursday’s midday heat, registration was forced to shut down for several hours due to a power shortage. Overheating causing problems at a Climate Change Conference? Capacity: the facility or power to produce, perform, employ; the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating; the ability to receive or contain. 1991 marks the entrance of the phrase capacity building into the lexicon. Capacity building: a long-term multi-stakeholder process of development that involves a country’s human, scientific, technological, organizational, institutional and resource capabilities. The goal of capacity building is to tackle policy problems while considering the potential, limits, and needs of the people of the country concerned. The heat wave dissipated; today it’s too cold to swim. Just what are we capable of here? How much power can we assume?


"And also, we will need 12 tracksuits
with the rhino on the back fairly large."

Agrees That

I sat in on a closed negotiation the other day, despite the color of my badge. If anyone has doubts about the efficacy of the text drafting process, I still can’t assure you otherwise. The discussion covered four short paragraphs in 80 long minutes. Proposing deletions, bracketing additions. But as to the significance of the linguistic debate I can assure you, it’s not a waste of time. The implications of changing singular to plural, reference level to reference levels, are at once syntactical, philosophical, and political. It’s hard to believe that word choice reverberates down to a forest, or that the sound of a bulldozer could be heard inside a plenary. But somehow language is the only suitable conduit to connect these disparate points of power and locale. And if the language is shoddy at the sentence level, the treaty at the global level won’t ever hold water. The other thing that struck me about the process was the skilled mediation of the chairperson. It was a feat of listening. Of listening to the opinions and posturing of negotiators inside the room amidst the hum of 7 billion more outside.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Walk to Work

Agenda Item 4

TFG has been working to educate delegates
on the need to establish the REDD reference
level review process here in Durban. Above is
the latest iteration of the draft text.

Friday, December 2, 2011

REDD+ reference levels review

There are good conversation on improving the review process of the reference levels.

It's Good to be 28

At the harbor of the largest shipping port
in the Eastern Africa. Happy Birthday CP!

TFG's recommendations on reference levels for SBSTA

The Review Process for REDD+ NFRELs/NFRLs

Source: FCCC/SBSTA/2011/MISC.7


Document “FCCC/SBSTA/2011/MISC.7” aggregates 16 submissions representing views of 69 countries concerning REDD+ methodological guidance. Of these submissions, 10 of them, representing the views of 56 countries, asked SBSTA35 to establish a process by which national NFRELs/NFRLs would be subject to an independent, transparent review under the auspices of the UNFCCC. Paragraph 14 in version 1 of draft text for SBSTA 35 agenda item 4 delays the decision for establishing a review process until SBSTA36 despite substantial support for a SBSTA35 decision. Although version 1 draft text contains strong language for NFRELs/NFRLs modalities, a delay in establishing this review process would undermine efforts by all Parties to ensure robust technical underpinnings of REDD+ NFRELs/NFRLs and ensure that any eventual positive incentives for REDD+ are made on the basis of adequate environmental integrity.


The Tropical Forest Group recommends SBSTA 35 add language that establishes an independent and transparent review of NFRELs/NFRLs by a team of independent experts. This recommendation is supported by 56 of 69 contributing countries.

Para 14. “Agrees to establish a process of independent, expert, and transparent review of country’s national forest reference emission level and/or national forest reference level coordinated by the Secretariat, and requests SBSTA 36 to develop guidance for the review.”

Countries with submissions regarding REDD+ Reference Level methodological guidance for SBSTA 35

(Bold = countries with explicit support for a review process )

1. Australia

2. Belize

3. Cameroon

4. Central African Republic

5. Congo

6. Costa Rica

7. Côte d’Ivoire

8. Democratic Republic of the Congo

9. Ecuador

10. Gabon

11. Ghana

12. Guyana

13. Honduras

14. Kenya

15. Panama

16. Papua New Guinea

17. Solomon Islands

18. Togo

19. Uganda

20. Botswana

21. Brazil

22. Colombia

23. Mexico

24. Costa Rica

25. Dominican Republic

26. El Salvador

27. Panama

28. Austria

29. Belgium

30. Bulgaria

31. Cyprus

32. Czech Republic

33. Denmark

34. Estonia

35. Finland

36. France

37. Germany

38. Greece

39. Hungary

40. The Irish Republic

41. Italy

42. Latvia

43. Lithuania

44. Luxembourg

45. Malta

46. The Netherlands

47. Poland

48. Portugal

49. Romania

50. Slovakia

51. Slovenia

52. Spain

53. Sweden

54. United Kingdom

55. Brunei Darussalam

56. Cambodia

57. Indonesia

58. Lao People’s Democratic


59. Malaysia

60. Myanmar

61. Philippines,

62. Singapore

63. Thailand

64. Viet Nam

65. Japan

66. Norway

67. Philippines

68. Switzerland

69. United States of America