Although COP19 in Warsaw occurred already late in 2013, we would like to recap on some important decisions on REDD+. Given that the decisions are cryptically hidden in lots of procedural documents, here’s a summary for Joe Bloggs and John Q. Public. In summary, COP19 succeeded in putting together a framework on how REDD would work, would anyone want it to work - while there was no progress on where finance might be coming from. The framework defines, in a nutshell, that a country needs to have all of the following in place, if it wants to get any REDD finance, i.e. ex-post performance based payments for leaving the forest standing instead of cutting it down:
• A national REDD strategy or REDD action plan;
• A national forest reference emission level (or subnational forest emission levels as an “interim measure”) based mostly on historical emission levels, and subject to „some international Monitoring, Reporting and Verification“;
• A national monitoring system for REDD;
• A system for providing information about how safeguards are being addressed and respected.
It was also decided that:
• UNFCCC will host a REDD information webpage with listings of literature, MRV activities, and amounts of ERs generated
• The Green Climate Fund will be involved in REDD finance (leaving any details undefined)
• REDD finance may come from carbon markets. Then again, it may not.
More importantly, there was next to NO progress about anything around:
• Ways and means to transfer results-based payments
• Scaling up finance for REDD+ in all phases, in particular for the long-term
• Private sector involvement
• How early action might or might not be recognized
As such, you can conclude that the COP paved the way for REDD being established as a mechanism, but it does not really shed light onto how, if, when or who pays whom by when. Kind of like the importance of the Marrakesh Accords (for those who remember) for the later-emerging Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Let’s see how the “getting ready for REDD” phase matures into the first couple of ex-post performance based payments for emission reduction from a buyer that does not come from the voluntary market! And let’s hope early movers such as rural indigenous communities in Zimbabwe and elsewhere will eventually see the rewards of their pioneering work in the Kariba REDD+ project and others.