REDD+ - Forest Conservation in Pacific Island Countries

Project description

Title: REDD+ - Forest Conservation in Pacific Island Countries
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Countries: Pacific Island Region: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
Lead executing agency: Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

Context

While only marginally responsible for the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the Pacific Island Countries could make a major contribution to GHG reduction by providing the international community with a way forward. Take, for example, the Pacific Region’s homegrown solution REDD+ which is now on the way to becoming an integral component of the national forest and climate policies in the forest-rich countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. The move to integrate REDD+ acknowledges the immense importance these forest ecosystems have for the islanders, especially against the backdrop of present-day unsustainable logging practices and the clearing of forests for commercial agriculture and subsistence farming. The forests here provide people with food, timber, energy and income and afford them vital protection against erosion, floods and the impacts of severe tropical storms. Furthermore, they regulate the climate on a local, regional and global scale.

Since 2010, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu have each developed their respective REDD+ readiness strategies thanks to the support of the regional Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and German development cooperation (GIZ) in cooperation with other agencies. Amongst other things, these countries have elaborated and endorsed a regional framework on REDD+, organised exchange visits and training, conducted and published background studies and implemented demonstration activities and pilot projects. Ultimately, these activities have proven so relevant that REDD+ is now part of the Paris Agreement. Today, these countries require further SPC-driven assistance to help them complete the final stages of the UNFCCC modalities for national REDD+ readiness and on-site implementation.

Objective

The Melanesian Island Countries are enabled to meet all the requirements entitling them to participate in REDD+.

Approach

To achieve the objective, the project operates on three distinct but interlinked levels.

Regional level: At this broader level, the project supports the structures needed for forest and biomass inventories. Its specific focus is on providing a methodology for detecting forest degradation. Furthermore, the project develops and supports the exchange and management of knowledge and data within and beyond the region. While core activities focus on the four Melanesian countries, regional level activities essentially cover all 14 SPC member states that are party to the UNFCCC.

National level: Here the project assists the Melanesian Island Countries to conduct their readiness activities and develop national REDD+ strategies, including safeguards and safeguard information systems (SIS), measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, reference emission levels and benefit sharing mechanisms for potential revenues from REDD+ activities.

Local level: At this level, the project supports the development and implementation of demonstration activities and pilot projects that will help to inform, verify and adapt REDD+ strategies developed at national level. The local level can also be used to test strategies, e.g. for tackling drivers of deforestation and forest degradation as well as for approaches to sustainable forest management or the restoration of degraded forest sites.

Results

The results of the preceding project ‘Climate protection through forest conservation in Pacific Island Countries’, which ran from 2010 to 2015, form the bedrock of this project:

  • In September 2012, the Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Ministers adopted the Pacific Islands Regional Policy Framework for REDD+.
  • The Pacific Community now operates a regional online platform providing resource materials, information and data on the implementation of REDD+ in the Pacific.
  • All four-partner countries have mapped out fundamental elements of a national REDD+ policy and strategy.
  • Studies examining the legal framework for REDD+ and the ownership of forest carbon rights have been conducted in order to draw up recommendations for reforms to national legislation.
  • The partner countries have implemented measures at four pilot sites to test the practicability and feasibility of the REDD+ mechanism.

Mandated to build on these activities and take them forward, the project organised a regional workshop in February 2016. Here the countries reported on their respective REDD+ implementation status and engaged in a mutually enriching exchange of experiences. Following an update on the results of the Paris Agreement regarding REDD+ readiness and implementation, the participants from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea subsequently debated the ramifications for their national activities and discussed the adaptations required. Furthermore, training was provided on the issues of REDD+ safeguards implementation, safeguards information systems (SIS) and benefit sharing mechanisms.

Working on this basis, the project also organised a Pacific mainstream event at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines, in February 2016. Here experts from the Melanesian Island Countries and from Nepal came together to share and discuss their experiences with the implementation of REDD+ safeguards and the development of benefit sharing mechanisms. The event attracted a high level of interest and was hailed a success by the expert audience and the organiser FAO.