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Ecuador is the second country worldwide that has finalized its REDD+ readiness process as defined by the Warsaw Framework. It is now eligible to receive REDD+ Result Based Payments for the reduction of emissions from deforestation measured during the period 2009-14 and reported to the UNFCCC. This reduction of deforestation puts Ecuador on track to be one of the first countries globally to comply with its commitment under the New York Declaration on Forests. It is also a strong signal for companies committed to removing deforestation from their supply chains and willing to invest in Ecuador. The implementation of Ecuador’s REDD+ Action Plan will further scale up national efforts to reduce deforestation in the country, while increasing its agricultural productivity, and allow Ecuador to contribute to the mitigation of climate change as agreed under the Paris Agreement. 

 

By Pierre-Yves Guedez - Regional Technical Advisor (REDD+), UNDP

In September 2016, Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment submitted its first Bi-annual Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC, providing a detailed inventory of GHG emissions and removal at the national scale. Using its National Forest Monitoring System, Ecuador measured and reported a reduction of approximately 29 million tons of CO2eq due to a drop in deforestation at the national scale during the period 2009-2014, compared to the period 2000-2008. These results are currently undergoing technical analysis by LULUCF experts convened by the UNFCCC.

In parallel and despite the negative impact of La Niña on the agricultural yields in the years 2011-12,  agricultural productivity in Ecuador increased by approximately 9.5% on average from 2006 to 2016 for the 25 most important agricultural commodities[1] produced in the country. This resulted in increased in food sovereignty and exportation of agriculture products.

Ecuador Graph

Graph 1: GHG emissions from deforestation and agricultural productivity

These results are due to a combination of mutually reinforcing factors initiated in 2008 with the adoption of a new Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador and the mainstreaming of environmental sustainability into country priorities, and national and sectorial strategies and plans. In 2009, the National Environmental Policy was issued and climate change adaptation and mitigation were declared State Policies.

Ecuador Newsletter June 2017

More recently, in November 2016, the national REDD+ Action Plan (REDD+AP) was officially launched by the Ministry of Environment, and institutionalized via ministerial decree. The Action Plan is the result of several years of participatory processes to identify and prioritize measures and actions to address the drivers of deforestation, while contributing to the sustainable production of agricultural commodities. In March 2017, the first summary of information on how the Cancun safeguards for REDD+ were addressed and respected during the readiness phase was officially submitted to the UNFCCC. This concluded Ecuador’s REDD+ readiness process, making it the second country worldwide to be eligible to seek REDD+ Result Based Payments[2]. The UN-REDD Programme has provided financial and technical support to the Ministry of Environment during this 5-year process.

The implementation of Ecuador’s REDD+ Action Plan (AP) is now commencing, co-financed by the government and by two projects supported by UNDP. The Green Climate Fund is providing US $41.1 million, and the Global Environment Facility is also supporting with US $12.4 million, totaling more than US $53.5 million. The projects will be implemented by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, in close coordination with other relevant public institutions, such as the Secretariat of Planning, and the Ministries of Production and of Foreign Trade; and with a broad coalition of diverse stakeholders involved in processes related to land use change and forestry, such as indigenous and local communities, farmers and agricultural guilds, decentralized authorities, national and private financial institutions.

This REDD+ AP is designed to generate many social, environmental and economic co-benefits. It will allow Ecuador to achieve targeted emission reductions from Land Use and Forestry, a sector that is responsible for 30% of GHG emissions of the country, according to the BUR (2016). This target will be included in Ecuador’s National Determined Contribution, which is in process of elaboration, as part of the Ecuadorian Government’s commitment under the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the REDD+ AP will allow Ecuador to comply with its commitment under the New York Declaration on Forests, to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020 and strive to end it by 2030. Private companies that have also signed this Declaration and are looking to take deforestation out of their supply chains may wish to invest more in Ecuador as a way to support this ambitious national endeavor with very tangible global benefits.

 

 

From a commercial perspective, these efforts will allow Ecuador to secure expanded export markets for its agricultural commodities in the future. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in November 2016 between Ecuador and the EU pays special attention to a series of activities, including: the mitigation of climate change, REDD+, the determination of the legal origin of forest products, voluntary forestry certification schemes and traceability of different forestry products and best practices for sustainable forest management, among others. This FTA will facilitate the export of agricultural goods produced in the country to the European Union, which is Ecuador's second largest trading partner. This agreement will gradually eliminate tariffs for all industrial and fisheries products, increase market access for agricultural products, improve access to public procurement and services, and further reduce technical barriers to trade.

At this important milestone, moving from readiness to REDD+ implementation, Ecuador remains one of the leading countries in the REDD+ process. Many lessons will be learned during the implementation of its REDD+ AP, which will be benefit other countries embarking in this ambitious effort to reduce deforestation at the national scale.

Photo credit: Pierre-Yves Guedez/UNDP


[1] Palm, cacao, coffee, maize, rice, wheat, among others. The value of the composite index increased from 128 in 2006 to 161 in 2015.

[2] Brazil was the first country to conclude the REDD+ Readiness process.

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