As governments across Latin America prepare to implement a new financial mechanism aimed at mitigating climate change by curbing carbon emissions from the destruction of tropical forests, experts have warned against a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Instead, they are calling for flexible, balanced solutions to the surrounding this new mechanism.
Among the experts’ main concerns are that the wealthy and powerful could capture many of the benefits, largely at the expense of rural communities, including indigenous groups.
Organised by Mexico’s National Forestry Commission and the Swiss government, with scientific support from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a recent conference’s findings and recommendations will be feed into a UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) meeting scheduled to take place in early 2011, marking the launch of the International Year of Forests.
The Mexico gathering brought together scientists, as well as representatives of governments and non-government organisations, for discussions on governance, decentralisation and REDD+ in Latin America.
Under REDD+ (for reducing deforestation and forest degradation), industrialised countries will provide developing nations with sizeable sums of money in exchange for verifiable storage of carbon in forests, in addition to the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
Forest destruction currently accounts for up to 18% of annual global carbon emissions. Several Latin American countries, including Mexico, have taken the lead in designing REDD+ schemes and stand to benefit significantly.
“Good forest governance – involving transparent and inclusive relationships between governments, forests and the people who depend on them – is fundamental for ensuring that REDD+ helps forest-dependent communities move out of poverty, instead of fueling corruption and funding entrenched bureaucracies,” said Elena Petkova, a CIFOR scientist.
“REDD+ schemes could either flounder on governance failures or flourish under successful governance.”
The central aim of the conference in Oaxaca was to provide science-based advice on the design and implementation of REDD+ schemes, so these schemes can capture carbon and reduce emissions effectively, while at the same time generate significant benefits from sustainable forest management that are equitably shared.
“About 40 years of public sector investment in curbing deforestation, while producing many local successes, has fallen far short of its goal,” said another CIFOR scientist, Andrew Wardell, who was also attending the conference.
“REDD+ might be our last chance to save the world’s tropical forests. So, it’s extremely important to get it right in Latin America and elsewhere.
“This region holds nearly a quarter of the world’s forests, upon which millions of people depend, and over the last five years, it has accounted for 65% percent of global net forest loss.”
Source: CIFOR press release
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