Guest Article #50

The Accomplishments of the REDD+ Partnership: A Solid Foundation

The overarching objective of the REDD+ Partnership is monumental. As partners, we seek to slow, stop and reverse one of the most significant sources of carbon emissions and losses of biodiversity in the history of mankind! Thoughtfully designed, REDD+ can fulfill international objectives related to climate change, conservation, biodiversity preservation, sustainable livelihoods, and the REDD+ Partnership can be instrumental toward achieving these goals.

To succeed, the Partnership must catalyze action on finance, mitigation, adaptation, technology and capacity. Leadership will be required of both developed and developing countries.

In the short time since the REDD+ Partnership was established, Partners have accomplished a great deal. We have resolved some key process issues necessary for a new platform, such as the role of the co-chairs, modalities for stakeholder participation, and the provision of secretariat services. Further, we have launched a website, begun a voluntary REDD+ database of finance and actions, started an analysis of gaps and overlaps, and should soon begin to review the effectiveness of multilateral REDD+ initiatives.

As a developing country whose commitment to REDD+ is both long-standing and deeply rooted, Papua New Guinea views its responsibility as co-Chair to fulfill the objective as defined in the REDD+ Partnership Agreement: “…to contribute to the global battle against climate change by serving as an interim platform for Partners to scale up REDD+ actions and finance, and to that end to take immediate action, including improving the effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and coordination of REDD+ initiatives and finance instruments…”

Clearly, if we are to meet the core objective of the REDD+ Partnership, we must quickly and transparently scale up as well. It was gratifying to have ministers of Partnership countries affirm the accomplishments of the REDD+ Partnership at the recently concluded meeting in Nagoya, Japan. Of particular note were the many ministers who acknowledged the outcomes as a solid basis upon which to complete the work program for 2011-2012 by Cancun, where issues such as a process for scaling up of finance and actions and a mechanism for results-based payments are detailed.

Ministers were sufficiently confident with the accomplishments of the REDD+ Partnership that Belgium, Canada, Italy and UK made additional funding pledges for REDD+, and approximately ten donor countries committed to cover the REDD+ Partnership operating costs through 2011.

When Parties took note of the Copenhagen Accord, criticism of the text was intense. However, in many ways, the Copenhagen Accord serves as a model for a way forward in the international effort to combat climate change. Developed countries pledged USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. USD 30 billion from 2010-2012 was earmarked for initiatives including REDD+.

Initial views of the REDD+ Partnership were just as critical as those of the Copenhagen Accord. Much has been written about the perceived failures of the REDD+ Partnership since Junya Nakano and I assumed the position of co-Chairs. There were procedural challenges unique to the our first term as co-Chairs but Junya and I entertained views of Partners and stakeholders, confronted differences and offered ways forward.

Many observers took majority to mean consensus—an errant and unfortunate conclusion. While a majority construct would have made our jobs easier, the co-Chairs were bound to uphold consensus-based decision-making; a difficult threshold to achieve and one that calls for sometimes unpopular compromises.

Nevertheless, in just five months and under these extremely difficult circumstances and intense scrutiny, we maintained fruitful debate which led to the realization of the several objectives previously highlighted. All Partners are now in agreement that the REDD+ Partnership stands on a firm foundation.

My Japanese co-Chair and I also realized that for the REDD+ Partnership to effectively move forward, stakeholders needed to be effectively engaged, even though Partners had not settled on rules of procedure to engage them. So, within two weeks after adoption of the REDD+ Partnership Agreement, the co-Chairs staged a forum for stakeholders at the UNFCCC talks in Bonn, Germany in June 2010. In August 2010, during the UNFCCC talks in Bonn, the REDD+ Partnership adopted an interim set of rules for Stakeholder Participation. By October, an official Modalities of Stakeholder Participation was formally adopted in Tianjin.

Junya and I were aware that the first co-Chairs would have to face obstacles unique to our tenure and face burdens that our successors would not have to bear. Further, Partners had earlier decided to operate without rules of procedure which may have served as an important instrument of guidance for the co-Chairs.  It was trying at times but we remain honored to have served the REDD+ Partnership, which is truly an innovative vehicle for international cooperation.

Japan and PNG together with all Partners worked extremely hard over the last five months to build a solid foundation for the REDD+ Partnership and to provide a clear path forward for our next co-Chairs, Brazil and France. We remain committed to faithfully serving the REDD+ Partnership to ensure that the objectives defined in the Partnership Agreement are achieved over the next two years and that the Partnership is set on firm footing to continue this record of success.