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Time for Action on REDD+

December 7, 2010

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, addresses Forest Day. Photo: CIFOR.

“Here and now, it is time for all of us to push and push hard for full incorporation of REDD+ into a long-term international climate change agreement,” said Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, speaking at Forest Day 4, held on December 5 alongside the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

REDD+ is a global mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation together with the conservation and sustainable management of forests as well as enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Observers at the United Nations Climate Change Conference under way in Cancún, Mexico, say that an agreement on REDD+ represents one of the best opportunities for progress in the stalled negotiations.

Noting that about 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation, Calderón said, “Either we change the way we do things now, or climate change will change them for us.”

This insistence on immediate action, voiced in the strongest terms by the head of state hosting COP16, was the overarching message from Forest Day 4, which was attended by more than 1,500 people. Wide agreement emerged several years ago on the potential of REDD+ as a low-cost and effective option for climate change mitigation. What remains is for climate negotiators to find common ground for a firm agreement on REDD+ implementation.

In the meantime, many countries and institutions are proceeding with the implementation of REDD+ using their own resources with external support. Mexico, for example, is leading the way through the development of community-based forestry enterprises, which generate jobs and incomes while managing forests sustainably. Equally important changes and initiatives are gaining momentum in other countries, such as Brazil, China and Indonesia, which are boosting budgets and strengthening programs in the forestry sector.

“While most of us still hope for an agreement on REDD this week, regardless of what happens in the negotiations, voluntary commitments and initiatives have a momentum of their own,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

A continuing challenge for these initiatives is to determine with greater clarity how this novel mechanism can generate multiple benefits, including poverty reduction, especially for people such as indigenous groups, who have previously been marginalized in development.

 “Without a clear development focus, REDD+ won’t achieve its environmental objectives; it just won’t work unless it works for people,” said Antonio La Viña of Manila University during a sub-plenary session.

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