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Forestry officials from across Asia and the Pacific region have been exchanging ideas and experiences in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the forest sector, and in submitting the detailed reports that are a critical part of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

A recent workshop in Pokhara, Nepal, organized by FAO and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), facilitated connections and conversations between countries regarding the Technical Assessment process for Forest Reference Emission Levels/Forest Reference Levels (FREL/FRL). Submission of those FREL/FRL is a requirement for participation in REDD+ under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Workshop sessions also dealt with reporting REDD+ results and the emerging links between FREL/FRLs and finance.

With the support from the UN-REDD Programme, Cambodia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka are currently undergoing a FREL/FRL technical assessment (TA) process with experts from the UNFCCC, following the submission of their FRLs in January. The workshop sessions have provided substantial support in working through the requirements of the technical assessment process, said Gewa Gamoga of the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority (PNGFA).

“This workshop really assisted us in addressing the questions, challenges and issues given to us by the FREL/FRL technical assessment team,” added Gamoga, who is with the REDD and Climate Change Branch of the Forest Authority.

“For Papua New Guinea, I think we are now in a comfortable position to respond to the TA.” 

During the workshop, experts from the four countries shared knowledge and experiences of the process with each other and with their more experienced counterparts from Indonesia and Viet Nam. Each of those two countries completed the FREL/FRL technical assessment in 2016. "This workshop brings experts from around the region together as a group, where they can openly and transparently discuss their approaches and experiences with these assessments,” explained Ben Vickers, FAO Programme Officer with REDD+ in Asia and the Pacific region.

The UNFCCC has defined FREL/FRLs as benchmarks for assessing a country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities and mitigating climate change through actions related to their forests. FAO has a long history of supporting countries in building their technical capacities to develop the necessary tools to participate in REDD+.


Building on a similar event held in Cambodia two years ago, this workshop demonstrates FAO’s ability to coordinate and scale up efforts across the entire region, said Vickers. "This highlights our capacity to assist with regional coordination, so individual countries know that they are not working in isolation,” he said.

Several other Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Pakistan – which are all in the process of preparing their own FREL/FRLs – also joined the workshop to learn from the experiences of their regional colleagues.