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Forestry needs to spend international funding more quickly, efficiently

World Bank representative: "I sometimes wonder if we can do a little bit faster and simply just get on with the job."

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International funding for forestry projects must be able to benefit local communities.

BEIJING, China (10 November, 2011)_Policy makers and practitioners need to find ways to spend international funding for forestry projects more quickly and efficiently to show that they can be implemented and benefit local communities, which will bring more political and bigger financial support as new climate funds flow in.

A typical forestry project is difficult as it requires a multi-sectoral approach due to the different industries and actors affected by it, said Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank, at the opening of the second Asia Pacific Forestry Week in Beijing. While partners are indispensable in such projects, “we do need to be careful that these partnerships are adding values, moving us to where we want to reasonably quickly and efficiently,” he said.

Forests are expected to see billions of dollars a year in new financing under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD+, a global scheme aimed to cut emissions from the sector. Still, this mechanism, which gives incentives to developing countries that keep their forests, must compete for climate change funding against other projects, such as renewable energy plants and urban transport schemes.

The World Bank contributes about $300 million a year to forestry projects, less than 1 percent of its total annual financing, Steer said. It was much easier to get a $300 million urban transport project approved than it was for a $30 million forestry program in Laos, he said, citing a recent example of project proposals approved by the bank.

Precautionary measures to avoid mistakes in approving forestry plans and spending are often necessary due to the complexity of forestry projects, said Steer. “But I sometimes wonder if we can do a little bit faster and simply just get on with the job.”

Several international organizations have highlighted a necessity to accelerate REDD+ project implementation and spending. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, launched by the World Bank in UNFCCC’s climate change meeting in Bali in December 2007, has disbursed only 8 percent of its funds since inception, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by the UK government in July this year. As of September 2011, the UN-REDD Programme has disbursed about US$63 million to its programs, but expenditures were limited to less than a third, at US$20 million.

The second Asia Pacific Forestry Week will take place from 7 to 11 November 2011 in Beijing. The event, attended by hundreds of key forestry stakeholders from across the region, is being organized by FAO, the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) and the State Forestry Administration of China.

For other reports from the event, visit the blogs of these organizations:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC)

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