Failure of Copenhagen may spur dodgy REDD deals, says report

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
January 26, 2010

Lack of a clear framework and rules for a proposed climate change mitigation mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) could jeopardize its effectiveness and put forest-dependent communities at risk of exploitation, cautions a new report released by an environmental rights policy group.

In "THE END OF THE HINTERLAND: Forests, Conflict and Climate Change", the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) warns that without clear rules to address land tenure and forests rights issues, REDD could increase conflict by boosting the perceived value of forest land. Forest communities — which have much to gain under a well-designed and well-implemented mechanism — are particularly at risk.

"Forest lands are booming in value for the production of food, fuel, fiber and now carbon," write the authors of the report. "While the era of the hinterland is ending, the future of forest areas is not yet clear. There will be unparalleled national and global attention and investment in forests in 2010—but who will drive the agenda and who will make the decisions?"

Deforestation is a bigger source of emissions than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.
The report reviews some of the major questions hanging over REDD, especially those concerning land rights, corruption, governance, finance, and equity of benefits. It asks whether REDD will really reform forest governance, an area that has been long plagued by corruption and mismanagement, and notes that some of the institutions involved in developing REDD have poor records on human rights and the environment. Further, says the report, the lack of a framework on REDD could spur dodgy forest carbon deals. Shady schemes are already proliferating, with cases reported in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, where landowners are being asked to pay for the right to collect REDD payments. Clearly-defined rules and regulation could help curtail such injustices, but there will remain daunting governance challenges to overcome in order to ensure REDD is just and effective.

"The world is poised in a moment of great opportunity. The actions of communities, advocates and governments in 2010 could result in devastating back-sliding, or provoke great, positive change," write the authors. "In the lead-up to Copenhagen these groups demonstrated that they have the capacity, willingness and wherewithal to engage in policy at the international level. Now the contest is shifting back to the local and national levels—where the rules and benefits will be sorted."

THE END OF THE HINTERLAND: Forests, Conflict and Climate Change PDF - 1.6 MB

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Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com (January 26, 2010).

Failure of Copenhagen may spur dodgy REDD deals, says report.