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A landmark climate deal has been agreed to by representatives of 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the agreement, forests are featured as key to climate change mitigation, and REDD+ is explicitly recognized as an instrument to contribute to reducing emissions and enhancing carbon sinks. Additionally, previous COP decisions on the framework to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) were reaffirmed.

The Paris Agreement, as it is known, is an historic agreement bringing nations together for the first time on the common cause to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, climate resilient and sustainable future. The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”

 

The role of forests

The role of forests to mitigate climate change has been strongly recognized in the Paris Agreement, with a specific article devoted to REDD+, which specifically notes:

Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.” (Article 5.2)

This provision also calls on Parties to adhere to previous REDD+ related COP decisions, which includes the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ that outlines key UNFCCC requirements that must be met by developing countries in order to realize results-based payments for REDD+ results-based actions. This caps off a decade of negotiations and cements REDD+ as a core element of the global climate regime going forward. 

The UN-REDD Programme has a central role to play in supporting countries to implement this article of the Paris Agreement, while the Programme's new 2016-2020 Strategy has a central goal to support developing countries to implement the pillars of the Warsaw Framework for REDD+.

The importance of forests and the value of the UN-REDD Programme as an important multilateral means to assist developing countries to realize REDD+ were highlighted at the official COP21 side event on 8 December in Paris, Looking Forward: REDD+ post 2015.

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At the event, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and United Nations Development Group Chair said, “The UN-REDD Programme can make a strong contribution to strengthening delivery of REDD+ support post-2015.The new UN-REDD Strategic Framework for 2016-2020 will be important in this regard. It prioritizes national-level actions, helping governments to craft and implement policies and measures for REDD+, supported by multi-stakeholder dialogues and partnerships to address key drivers of deforestation,” she added.

Emphasizing the broader transformational potentials of REDD+, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General said: “REDD+ and the significant investments we are seeing can act as a catalyst for a green economy transformation. This is more true as we increasingly engage the private sector in our efforts. Like a rising tide that lifts all ships, investments into REDD+ readiness and implementation can also trigger broader policy changes.”

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Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General and Coordinator for Natural Resources highlighted FAO’s continued commitment to delivering the tools, resources and knowledge developing countries need to develop REDD+ technical capacities. “The UN-REDD Programme has been essential to support capacity building, including through South-South cooperation,” she said. “Within the UN-REDD Strategy for 2016-2020, FAO will continue to support countries in their REDD+ activities…in key areas such as land tenure...(and) developing their capacities to assess forest contribution to mitigation of climate change through REDD+ actions,” she added.

Of the role of forests in the landmark Paris Agreement, UN-REDD Programme Secretariat Head, Mario Boccucci said, “The Paris Agreement demonstrates an unprecedented level of ambition and commitment by global leaders to address climate change issues. The UN-REDD Programme stands ready and prepared in this post-Paris ‘era of implementation’ to continue to support developing countries to realize their reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation goals and harness the long-term social, environmental and economic benefits of REDD+.” 

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016--Mother Earth Day. The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

 

Read full Paris Agreement:   English French / Spanish / Arabic / Chinese (Mandarin) / Russian 

Read article: Government leaders at COP21 endorse forests as key climate solution: announce US$ 5 billion in funding

More information on the event: Looking Forward: REDD+ post 2015 available here.

 

 

 

Media contact:

Jennifer Ferguson-Mitchell, Communications, UN-REDD Programme 

 

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