Bonn summit: Participants reach a consensus on forest protection

According to an IPCC report, deforestation is responsible for almost 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions

By Aruna Kumarankandath
Published: Monday 15 June 2015

The United Nations (UN) climate talks reached a consensus in Bonn on global forest protection. Recognising the need to protect this precious resource, member states went a step ahead to introduce Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme.

The new plan is an improvement upon the already existing REDD scheme. The new plan on forest protection would be part of the Paris climate summit in December.

“It was successful…we all got a little of what we wanted,” said Ghana negotiator Yaw Osafo, who represented the Africa group at the meeting.

Gustavo Silva-Chávez of Washington-based non-profit, Forest Trends, said, “Negotiators decided to agree instead of letting the issue drag on into the larger Paris talks.”

“While the details of REDD+ mechanism are fixed on paper, the Paris deal must make sure it works on the ground.”

Reasons to worry

Land degradation, deterioration of forested areas and deforestation have gained momentum over the years. According to the fifth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), deforestation is responsible for almost 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Forests are absorbers of carbon dioxide (Co2) and help in reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Recognising rights of locals

Another important issue discussed during the talks was how to respect the rights of indigenous people and forest dwellers. According to the participants, there have been several instances in the past, especially in South America and Africa, where locals have been displaced without compensation to give way to development projects.
The REDD+ plan involves transparency and deals with how respective countries will safeguard the rights of indigenous people and at the same time conserve biodiversity in their programmes on forest protection. It also covers ways of identifying the benefits of forest conservation programmes and preventing deforestation.
“These decisions were important for REDD+ schemes to be able to gain financial support from sources such as the World Bank-led forest carbon fund and the Green Climate Fund,” said Niranjali Amerasinghe of the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). It is a law firm which looks at strengthening environmental law and policy.

A long way to go

Brazil was the only country which provided a summary of its implementation of rights to safeguard forests, but it received flak for not being comprehensive.

Sebastián Cárdenas Medina of Ecuador’s Centre for Planning and Social Science (CEPLAES) was quoted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as saying, “The role of stakeholders (on forest protection) was uncertain in creating safeguards ... There is no mechanism for participation (of local people), so for us it is a big risk.”

In a statement submitted to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 42), Adrian Yeo, speaking on behalf of Climate Action Network, said “Resolving pending technical issues in relation to REDD+ non-carbon benefits and development of safeguard information systems (SIS) is crucial... there is a risk that SIS will fail to demonstrate that safeguards are being respected; and thus, result in significant negative social and environmental impacts and jeopardise the ability of REDD+ to mitigate climate change.”

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