Blog‎ > ‎

Cancun Accord Nudges REDD Forward

posted Dec 19, 2010, 8:57 AM by Ben Block
With the UN climate summit's release of the Cancun Accord a little more than a week ago, assessments of the accord all hailed the deal's "compensation for the preservation of tropical forests." Does this mean that climate negotiators finally settled on a legal agreement to create REDD? Given that I was not in Cancun, unlike last year when I attended the Copenhagen summit, I'll rely on others' reporting to understand what went down. Chris Lang of REDD Monitor provides a great, detailed review of how the Cancun Accord affects REDD:

  • For starters, REDD will not be formalized until next year at the earliest. The fate of REDD has so far followed the fate of a post-Kyoto agreement. Without clarity on the larger deal, negotiators seem to be reluctant to ink a formal deal on REDD.

  • Negotiators updated the definition of REDD. I reported vigorously on the changing terms that underpin the future of REDD when I was in Copenhagen. Now the definition (in paragraph 70) stands as:
[REDD] encourages developing country Parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector by undertaking the following activities, as deemed appropriate by each Party and in accordance with their respective capabilities and national circumstances:

(a) Reducing emissions from deforestation;
(b) Reducing emissions from forest degradation;
(c) Conservation of forest carbon stocks;
(d) Sustainable management of forest;
(e) Enhancement of forest carbon stocks;

  • These terms are vague, so environmental and human rights groups have been lobbying for "safeguards" that ensure REDD promotes conservation of in-tact forests with the free, prior, and informed consent of forest dwellers, rather than the creation of carbon plantations, biofuel subsidies, and/or land rights conflicts. The current safeguards are:

Actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that actions referred to in paragraph 70 of this decision are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivize the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits; [1]

[1] Taking into account the need for sustainable livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities and their interdependence on forests in most countries, reflected in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the International Mother Earth Day.

Lang notes that:

The principle of free, prior and informed consent is not included in the text. Instead, the [Long-Term Cooperative Action] “requests developing country Parties” to ensure the “full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, inter alia indigenous peoples and local communities."

Neither is there any mechanism for monitoring whether safeguards are being complied with, or what the consequences of breaching the safeguards might be. Instead, in paragraph 71 (d) governments are requested to develop

A system for providing information on how the safeguards referred to in annex I to this decision are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of the activities referred to in paragraph 70, while respecting sovereignty;

  • Finally, the most important aspect of developing REDD for those interested in it becoming an effective climate mitigation strategy, determining where the money will come from, will be decided next year, negotiators agreed.