Seeing Redd in Copenhagen

Will we get REDD right or dead wrong?

COP15_LOGO_B_MWITH just 10 days to go, you’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the huge head of steam building up around Copenhagen. 

With around 60 heads of state now committed to attending the UN Climate Change conference, it’s going to be quite a show. But what does it all mean for the future of the world’s disappearing tropical rainforests?

There has been a great deal of talk over the last two years about ‘ REDD’ – or, in UN-jargon, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. It’s looking increasingly likely that a deal will be struck to compensate developing countries for conserving their forests.

After decades of dialogue, it seems we’re getting ever closer to paying for the ‘global ecological services’ provided by forests – benefits which include climate stabilisation, habitat conservation, water cycling and much more.

With forest loss currently accounting for around 17% of global carbon emissions, this would be an historic first step toward reconciling the global economy with the global ecosystem.

However, as usual, the devil is in the detail. The trick will be how we get REDD right – and not dead in the water.

We need to make sure that the benefits of these future payments fall into the right hands and support sustainable livelihoods for the millions of people who desperately need them. 

There is a great deal of concern amongst indigenous people and other forest-dwelling communities that REDD could be used by economic and political opportunists to seize control of their forests, under the guise of fighting climate change and protecting forests.

Let’s avoid the mistakes of the past. In the 80s and 90s, vast numbers of ‘development refugees’ were displaced by government-led dam building and other mega-projects. We can be smarter this time and avoid creating a new generation of economic refugees displaced by REDD-driven schemes.

SO watch this space. REDD has the power to do great good – but watch out for political and financial operators seeking undue advantages from the process.

By Karl Hansen.  Karl worked for the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development and the International Institute for Sustainable Development before joining The Living Rainforest.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 27th, 2009 at 4:55 pm and is filed under Blog, Forest of Life Blog.

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