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Indonesia seeks “multi-bilateralism” to help get REDD+ off the ground

Financial uncertainty could prevent Indonesia moving forward with REDD+.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (27 June 2012)__ Indonesia says more bilateral cooperation will  be needed to help get REDD+ off the ground and attract forest carbon investors as climate change negotiations stall on key issues – particularly on how to finance efforts to reduce emissions and slow global warming.

By forming multiple bilateral agreements, nations may learn more quickly how to overcome barriers associated with REDD+ — a complex and evolving scheme that will pay developing countries to protect existing forests and increase carbon storage including through reforestation.

Successful results from these accords can help build consensus at the multilateral negotiations and, hopefully, attract new funds, Heru Prasetyo, a member of Indonesia’s REDD+ task force, said at Forests: the 8th roundtable at Rio+20, an event organised by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in conjunction with the Rio+20 summit.

“After one bilateral discussion, people say ‘well, that is unique’,” he said, adding it’s only natural others will wait, adopting the attitude: “Show me the result, show me the clarity of the concept.”

“You need to have several set ups that can be proven to be working.”

Indonesia, which has the third largest tropical forest area in the world, in May 2010 signed a Letter of Intent to receive up to USD1 billion of funding from Norway for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, or REDD+. Global climate change negotiators have agreed to include the scheme under an umbrella treaty that will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol. The new agreement is now expected only to come into force in 2020 at the earliest.

“We have witnessed that with all the best intent of the world, whatever progress we made with multilateral approach – and there are significant progress – is not effective enough to slow the rate of widening inequality and Earth’s decay,” said Prasetyo.

“Technology, capital and management approaches that make controlled proof of application possible are developing in various pockets. Bilateral links make this controlled proofing easier to happen.”

Through the so-called multi-bilateralism, Indonesia is trying find ways to solve the problems created by the failure to put in place a financial package in the UNFCCC.  “The long term uncertainty of the financial situation is perhaps the number one constraint to REDD moving forward today,” said Louis Verchot, the leading scientist on climate change at CIFOR.

The scientific and technical bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Bonn in May to shape a draft text to develop and move forward with the agreements reached at the Conference of Parties (COP) 17 in Durban into the next round of climate talks. The negotiators have begun considering issues related with the drivers of deforestation and agreed on the need to preserve multiple use of forests, said Verchot. They also said they would ask for additional guidance on assessment to determine the baseline for forest emission levels and other issues related to measurement, reporting and verifying (MRV).

“The technical details are moving forward, they are the easy ones to solve. However, the hard things to resolve, like money, are not moving forward still,” said Verchot. By the end of 2011, the commitment for REDD finance in the readiness phase of 2010-2012 reached USD4.17 billion, but only USD446 million had been allocated and approved to particular countries and funds, according to data quoted in Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices, a book recently launched by CIFOR that highlights results from three years of comparative research across 12 forest-rich countries.

In the absence of ambitious climate change mitigation goals, most REDD+ finance will come from the public sector, according to Charlotte Streck, President of Climate Focus, and Charlie Parker, Deputy Director for Forests and Climate at WWF, who together wrote a chapter on REDD+ finances in Analysing REDD+.

Multiple bilateral agreements would bring more public funding to REDD, which is easier to use as it has fewer restrictions than market-based financing, said Prasetyo. “So you start with public funding, get the ball rolling, and create the ability to attract the private investment into the REDD programmes,” he said.

Bilateral country programmess and project currently fund two-thirds all internationally supported REDD+ activities. So far, no other country other than Norway has entered into bilateral agreements that require performance-based payment.

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Topic(s) :   REDD+ Climate talks