As of our last pilfered view of the REDD text coming out of SBSTA36, the inclusion of the technical assessment of forest reference levels (RLs) reads only as concept to be revisited in future conferences. It’s a decision to decide to be undecided until further decisions are in place. Patience we will have to have. The draft reads as follows:
“The SBSTA, in recalling decision 12/CP.17, paragraph 15, agreed to initiate work on developing guidance for the technical assessment of the proposed forest reference emission levels and/or forest reference levels at its thirty-seventh session with the aim of reporting to the COP at its eighteenth and nineteenth sessions on progress made, including any recommendations on a draft decision for this matter.”
We are disappointed that there was not more time or consensus to make the assessment of RLs a reality in Bonn. For REDD+ to become a functional mechanism, RLs must submitted by countries and properly assessed by a balanced team of experts from the UNFCCC Secretariat. Said assessments are the key to overcoming major technical hurdles to implementing REDD+. According to our legal reading of the Durban package, the COP had asked the SBSTA to outline this guidance for the assessment process. We fear that as time fills in around the Durban decision on RLs, their importance will be buried. Had there been true progress on this issue, the framework for assessment could have been put in place last week with a clear mandate. To this we will circle back and circle back again.