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Protections for indigenous rights, biodiversity weakened in latest REDD+ text

Safeguards to ensure forest carbon projects protect biodiversity and respect the rights of local and indigenous communities were weakened in the latest draft text on REDD+ at climate talks in Durban, reports CIFOR, a forest policy and research institution. The draft text, which will now move forward to a plenary session for approval, also punted any decision on financing of REDD+ projects.

“REDD projects have to go another whole year without any clear indication as to how this whole system is going to be financed,” said CIFOR’s climate change scientist Louis Verchot. “Safeguards aren’t going to be safeguards.”

Verchot said the safeguard provisions were likely watered down to make it easier for tropical countries to meet requirements to access REDD+ funds.

“The feeling among developing countries is that they need to start getting something out of the program and there needs to be fewer hoops to jump through before receiving the promised support,” he said, according to CIFOR’s blog.

The current text only requires forestry countries to submit “qualitative information” on how safeguards were implemented, rather than more rigorous before-and-after data.

Meanwhile the UNFCCC’s ad hoc working group on the Long-term Cooperative Action will prepare a technical paper on REDD+ financing in 2012. REDD+ project developers will therefore have to wait longer to understand where REDD+ finance will come from public funds or eventually the carbon market. Verchot said the decision stems from uncertainty on whether there will be any binding post-Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.

“REDD is sort of cut loose,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s being launched into the world, it’s out there, but how it relates to anything else is not clear.”

For the latest updates on REDD+ developments at climate talks in Durban, see CIFOR’s blog.

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