REDD+ Prompt Start

10 April 2010

If REDD+ is to get off to the ‘prompt start’ that many Parties are calling for, key methodological issues need to be resolved.  LCA negotiators recognized this at Copenhagen by drafting requests for urgently needed work by SBSTA. Unfortunately, suspension of the AWG-LCA work leaves these requests in limbo. If SBSTA has to wait for direction from COP16 in December, then their work can’t start before June 2011 — hardly the most prompt of starts. At its next meeting in June, SBSTA should respond to the draft requests on which consensus was reached at Copenhagen.  Draft paragraph 4, without brackets, encompasses almost all of the methodological work that only SBSTA can do. What is at issue?  Progress on REDD+  is held back by the lack of definitions that clearly distinguish natural forests, degraded forests and plantations. The present forest definitions, developed for reporting on LULUCF by Annex I Parties, are woefully inadequate even for that purpose. So it is  urgent that SBSTA respond to the request to “investigate the possible application of  biome-specific definitions for the second and subsequent commitment periods”. To be sure, completing the quest for biome-specific definitions will take time, and time is slipping away. However, SBSTA can consider a convenient alternative as an interim solution. All parties currently send forest reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) using a classification system that could suit REDD+ very well.  In fact, it is already in use by the Convention on Biological Diversity REDD+ expert group known as AHTEG. Parties want a timely start, but REDD+ cannot live by finance alone. Safeguards and guidelines are also needed. The LCA should send its draft REDD+ requests to SBSTA for consideration in June, remind SBSTA of Decision 11/CP.7 and invite SBSTA to advise on the merit of existing FAO forest classifications on an interim basis.

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