Two years have passed since Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency and the National Council on Climate Change merged into the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF). Few developments have been heard since then, raising questions about where the initiative is going and how it will unfold.
Last month, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) invited around 50 representatives of REDD+ key stakeholders at the national level, including government agencies, civil society organizations, the private sectors, donors and academics, to share their knowledge of REDD+ related activities in Jakarta.
The discussion was part of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (GCS‐REDD+), currently conducted in 13 countries, including Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Peru.
The study aims to generate knowledge and practical tools to support effective, efficient and equitable efforts to reduce forest emissions and generate co‐benefits such as poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation. The provoking title — “Is it too soon to bury REDD+ in Indonesia?” — sparked a live discussion.
“Most of the people in this meeting say it is indeed too soon to bury. They are still more or less engaged in REDD+,” CIFOR Scientist Moira Moeliono said after the meeting.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Novia Widianingtyas from the MoEF Climate Change Directorate reported on developments in REDD+ carried out by the ministry.
As part of Norway’s USD 1 billion Letter of Intent (LOI), the Indonesian Government is now committed to issuing regulations mandating the REDD+ funding instrument as a vital element for the initiative.
As of mid-2017, a registry system linking REDD+ financing, REDD+ implementation and Safeguard Information System has been completed, but they need to be in full operation to be eligible for results-based payment.
“We are waiting for the Presidential Decree on the funding instrument to be issued shortly. It has received endorsements from related ministers,” Widianingtyas said.
Meanwhile, the funding instrument will be in the form of a Public Service Unit, a unique government entity known by its Indonesian acronym, BLU.
“A BLU is a unique legal entity because it’s a hybrid entity – it means that while it is a government body it can manage its own finances – it can make expenses and investment outside the state budget … and can receive revenue from its own activities,” said Tiza Mafira from the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI).
The CPI is an organization that provides policy recommendations, especially to the Ministry of Finance. It has been requested by Norway to facilitate dialogue between the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Finance on the BLU design.
“This entity [BLU] is designed to be completely different to BP REDD+’s FREDDI [an operational arm of the REDD+ Agency] that was designed as a type of trust fund. BLU is a typical Ministry of Finance product, and in terms of its form and legal basis, and the ministry’s experience, it is far more robust. That is why the acceptance is much faster,” Mafira added.
REDD+ VERSUS COMMUNITY FORESTRY
Community participation is key to the implementation of REDD+ safeguards. As a requirement, the community has to be aware, understanding and willing to join the program — in other words, the conditions of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) must be met. Safeguards are important to avoid elite capture, where only a small group of the elites in the community receive benefits.
“There is a general acceptance that REDD+ is not a market-based instrument and safeguards are the basics. In the beginning, safeguards were seen as additional. Now it seems they are seen as core, necessary infrastructure,” Moeliono said.
“We talked a bit about the relation to social forestry, but we didn’t come to a conclusion about what it really implies. Social forestry and REDD+ are still more parallel processes than they are connecting,” she said.
Benefit-sharing in REDD+ was initially designed as performance based, a novel concept when it was first introduced. With a long project cycle, some reaching up to 30 years, bringing communities on board serves a unique challenge.
However, 2 the government has stated that REDD+ efforts go beyond storing carbon to include conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
“When we talk to the community, we have to be creative in explaining. Carbon is an abstract and complex issue. It is not easy to talk about carbon and emissions reduction. We have to frame it as clearly as possible, in a way that touches people’s lives,” said CIFOR Scientist Shintia Arwida.
“In REDD+ projects, the community will not receive payment at every harvest as they would expect in a community forestry scheme,” she said.
There are a number of community forestry schemes, including community forests and partnerships, like the ones established with state-owned company Perhutani. In the latter type of partnership scheme, a company divides the harvest among the community, so benefits are received almost instantly.
Community forestry is a way for the community to tap benefits from non-conservation forests – the scheme will reap additional benefits in terms of emissions reduction and the improvements in the welfare of communities living near forests. This aspect is closely related to REDD+.
“The objective of REDD is to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Social forestry is more about sustainable forest management,” said Moeliono.
ROAD AHEAD FOR REDD+
Behind REDD+ there are a range of mechanisms that need to fall in place, such as financial instruments, monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), and the establishment of safeguards and benefit-sharing schemes.
“The community still sees REDD+ as an opportunity to seek payments. During the time of the REDD+ Agency (BP REDD+), Jambi province designed a strategy and developed specific emissions reduction targets,” said Emmy Tan from Warsi, a Jambi-based non-governmental organization.
“After BP REDD+ was dissolved, all activities virtually stopped, including the local REDD+ management entity that was formed,” she said.
REDD+ has evolved from the original idea as a market-based instrument to become more of a public funding instrument. Community involvement and other non-monetary benefits now also come to the forefront in the REDD+ discourse.
As Moeliono concluded, “All hope on REDD+ has not been abandoned, and now we are waiting for the final mechanism on financial instruments to be decided upon by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.”
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