For two weeks in late November and early December 2016, a masters’ level course in MRV for REDD+ was held for Pacific Island countries at the University of Melbourne’s Creswick Campus.
The course gathered 26 participants from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Secretariat for Pacific Communities to provide comprehensive training in the development of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) for efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, degradation and related activities, commonly known as REDD+.
The course combined the best of two worlds: university experience in teaching and learning and a harmonized set of capacity building materials from FAO, the UN-REDD Programme, World Bank, Silvacarbon, the Methods and Guidance Document (MGD), and was structured around GFOI’s REDDcompass tool (www.gfoi.org/reddcompass). For students the course experience was a mixture of theory in combination with practical and fieldwork exercises that built their confidence and skills to enable them to develop a national MRV roadmap for REDD+ for their home country.
The use of REDDcompass as a centralized learning tool, allowed participants to navigate through the training materials of several different partners whilst completing a gap analysis of current in-country MRV capacity to clearly identify next steps toward development of an MRV framework that is IPCC compliant and relevant for UNFCCC reporting.
The MRV for REDD+ course is being established as an accredited subject to be offered through the University’s School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. Upon the successful completion of all coursework, participants gain credit for the subject which can subsequently contribute towards attainment of a graduate degree such as the Master of Forest Ecosystem Science.
The course received overwhelming positive feedback from students. Alfred Rungol, Manager Measurement, Reporting & Verification and National Communication Division from Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change Development Authority said “We found the course to be useful and important. It provided an opportunity for in-depth training on MRV for REDD+. The university style of tuition was very productive for us and we now have a national roadmap to guide the continued development of our national MRV processes in PNG.”
Other participants noted that the structured workflow approach of REDDcompass and the university grade syllabus provided them with a unique and useful capacity building experience. For countries who are less advanced in the development of their MRV system, it was said to provide a useful foundation for the design of their national systems and associated capacities. For those more advanced, it provided an equally useful stock take of existing efforts, identified remaining gaps and priorities for continuous improvement.
This first course was held as a pilot and consideration is now being given to its enhancement and possible expansion to other regions and countries. Partners hope that this unique form of intensive capacity building through professional teaching structures can provide a new and ongoing approach to capacity building activities.
The course was organized in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the University of Melbourne and the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), and supported by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy and the US SilvaCarbon programme.