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Countries are showing significant progress in measurement, reporting and verification of REDD+ activities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), says a new paper launched at an FAO REDD+ event.

About 50 people listened to a panel presentation during the 16 June launch of the FAO Forest and Climate Change Working Paper "From reference levels to results reporting: REDD+ under the UNFCCC". The publication in English is available here).

"Four countries – Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Malaysia - have reported their complete REDD+ results to the UNFCCC, with total reductions of over three billion tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents (tCO2e), mostly from Brazil," said Julian Fox, Team Leader for National Forest Monitoring of FAO's Forestry Department, who introduced the technical paper.


The launch event at FAO headquarters, which also included more than 90 people taking part via remote connections, generated an exchange on Forest (Emission) Reference Levels (FRELs/FRLs) and REDD+ results as critical benchmarks for measuring national performance in implementing REDD+ activities.

The paper highlights the significant progress that countries have made in the measurement, reporting and verification of REDD+ activities under the UNFCCC. The information is important to ensure transparency in monitoring and reporting FREL/FRL that are a requirement for voluntary participation in REDD+ under the UNFCCC.

As of early 2017, 25 countries have submitted 26 REDD+ FREL/FRLs and were participating in associated technical assessment processes.


The panel discussion included speakers from four countries: Diana Vargas Galvis from Colombia, Mamitiana Andriamanjato from Madagascar, Elizabeth Philip from Malaysia and Keith Anderson from Switzerland. The four shared their experiences and challenges with the results-reporting process and their countries' motives for participating in the REDD+ implementation. 

"This publication is extremely timely," said Keith Anderson, Forestry and Climate Policy Officer with the Government of Switzerland's Environment Ministry. "Today, the REDD+ policy dialogue has reached big conclusions and REDD+ has more momentum than any other forest process that is in place," added Anderson, who has negotiated the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) reference levels for Annex 1 countries.


Malaysia - E Philip

Madagscar - Mamitiana Andriamanjato

The other panel members -  Colombia, Malaysia and Madagascar -  have submitted their first reference levels for assessment. Colombia has also submitted its REDD+ results. Malaysia's Elizabeth Philip emphasized the value of continuous collaboration with FAO. Since 1970, FAO has supported Malaysia in its national forest inventories, which provide information that has been crucial for its national forest reference submission. Philip, Head of the REDD+ Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for Malaysia, said the country's REDD+ policy strength lies in its sustainable forest management based on policies dating from 2006. For that reason, she said, Malaysia included sustainable forest management in its reference level submission as a significant activity that the country considers measurable and reflective of national performance.  

According to Elizabeth Philip, south-south cooperation in Asia Pacific has, since 2016, helped to produce seven REDD+ reference level submissions from the region. Due to the local languages spoken, translation of UNFCCC decisions and guidelines has been very appreciated.

"The international process of UNFCCC's review process of national results allows us to engage and look at the bigger global picture", said Philip.

Madagascar submitted its national forest reference level in January 2017 and is now going through the review process of the technical assessment. The country has involved many stakeholders to agree upon the forest methodology where definitions of deforestation and degradation have been discussed. But it's still a learning process, said Mamitiana Andriamanjato, REDD+ Coordinator, Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, Madagascar.

"The main challenge is to master the tools and methodologies to measure REDD+ activities," he said, adding that the country is building its knowhow and is establishing a forest monitoring laboratory. The learning exchanges through south-south cooperation were valued.


Colombia - Vargas

Colombia received the first payment from the REDD Early Movers Programme in 2016. Its investment plan formulates the reinvestments in actions for further reductions of deforestation in the Amazon.

The country submitted its sub-national forest reference level at the end of 2014 for the Amazon region, which accounts for 65 percent of Colombia's forest.      At the end of 2015, the first technical annex to this reference was also submitted with a complex process of technical analysis. According to Vargas, a major challenge is the consistency between the reference level and the GHG inventory measures as countries including Colombia continue to improve their data and methodologies for collecting and analyzing that data.

"Timely investments are very important for the continuity for the results and to maintain the international ambition. It enables the country to generate the next national forest emission level and eventually include other activities", said Vargas, Director of Forests, Ministry of Environment, Colombia to the moderator of the panel - Tiina Vahanen, REDD+ and National Forest Monitoring coordinator of FAO's Forestry Department.

Tiina ans Vargas

The exchanges at this event and the compiled material in the publication stress again how REDD is moving ahead from the first phase of readiness to implementation with a wealth of achievements and lessons learned from countries. Many countries will submit new reference levels and REDD+ results while new modalities for payments are being agreed upon. Moving forward, the REDD+ process will need full participation and transparency in international results reporting and a continuous open dialogue among all countries. A next edition of the publication is to be expected in the next year after the next UNFCCC review process cycle.

Colombia, Madagascar and Malaysia are UN-REDD partner countries. They are receiving technical support on NFMS, FREL/FRLs and REDD+ results reporting, which are at the center of FAO's capacity development objectives while enhancing support to countries moving towards the implementation of REDD+ actions. Switzerland is one of the donors of the UN-REDD Programme. This event followed the first Executive Board meeting of the
UN-REDD Programme held at FAO HQ.

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