The Need to Jump-Start REDD
Founder, Forest Trends
Soy, cattle, rice, palm oil, and logging are the principal drivers of deforestation. As global population increases from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2040, and as more and more people around the world rise out of poverty into the middle class, the demand for these commodities and practices will continue to rise with them. To address these issues, and in advance of the World Forests Summit hosted by the Economist in March, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship partnered with the Stanford Institute for the Environment and Mongabay News to surface the latest insights and innovations at the intersection of deforestation and sustainability. This debate will also set the stage for a larger discussion on deforestation at this year’s Skoll World Forum in Oxford, UK.
Co-Founder and Senior Researcher, Imazon
Founder & Executive Director, The Forest Trust
Environment Unit Head, Roberto Marinho Foundation
Founder, Forest Trends
At least US$7.3 billion has been pledged for REDD+ over the period from 2008 to 2015, with $4.3 billion pledged for REDD+ readiness during the fast-start period alone (2010-2012). In addition to these funds, private investors, private foundations, and others have been channeling financial support to developing countries for REDD+ and related programs for several years now.
Despite the great momentum REDD+ has achieved, information regarding which activities are being implemented as well as the actual flows of financing to and within forest nations remains fragmented, incomplete, and often inaccessible. For example, national policy makers and donors are still unsure about how much pledged public funding is actually flowing. There is also a paucity of information revealing if and how private funding is moving in parallel, which types of organizations are implementing the majority of activities (e.g., large international consulting firms, local, or community organizations, government programs, etc.), and what types of activities across the spectrum have already been funded.
In response to this need for transparency and accountability in the burgeoning financial flows for REDD+, the Tracking REDD+ Expenditures initiative was launched in November 2010 by Forest Trends (FT) in four pilot countries—Ghana, Ecuador, Brazil, and Vietnam—in collaboration with national governments and local partners. The initiative has entered an expanded second phase which aims to vet and improve case studies, continue tracking funds in 2012, add additional countries (including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Tanzania, and Colombia), and collaborate with complementary initiatives (REDD+ Partnership, Climate Funds Update (ODI), REDD Desk (Global Canopy Programme), Tropical Forest Group).
It is safe to say, from our initial findings, that to date very little of the commitments to REDD+ has reached the ground and with minimal impact in terms of real reductions of carbon emissions from forestry and land use, or mobilizing longer-term private sector investment. The lion’s share of these fast-track funds are earmarked for REDD Readiness – preparing for a market that does not exist. There is a critical need to increase efficiency in the way these funds are deployed and to dramatically leverage new sources of private finance. We need to jump-start REDD.
Fortunately, there are some very interesting opportunities emerging. While the global framework of the UNFCCC moves slowly forward with the aim of having a regime in place by 2020, some stakeholders are moving forward more boldly. States and provinces grouped under the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) are developing pragmatic frameworks to deliver, measure, and mobilize finance for reducing deforestation, with the State of Acre, Brazil, perhaps being the most advanced in this process. In parallel, Roundtables for Sustainable Soy, Palm Oil, and Cattle, out of concern about security of supply and access to markets, have adopted commitments to reduce or eliminate deforestation in their supply chain. As major drivers of deforestation in key tropical forest areas, these commodity sectors have the potential to significantly reduce global emissions, if leveraged through innovative public-private finance.
In order to jump-start or catalyze the rapid scale-up of private finance for REDD and long-term growth for forest carbon payment schemes, we need a bilateral (Norway, US) or multilateral (World Bank) institution to use its balance sheet enhancement; act as a central buyer of forest and land-use carbon credits that reduces risk for both public and private sector investment; and develop and deploy new contract and project/jurisdictional finance structures that pave the way for more sophisticated systems of payments for high-performing forest carbon services. This would offer the bold leadership that could jump-start REDD and give it a chance to deliver on its promise.