Background on Foundation of IAG

A number of new funding mechanisms and initiatives have been established to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. Programs to promote reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as part of global mitigation efforts are likely to have some of the most significant impacts on forest communities. Well designed REDD interventions will have the potential to deliver several benefits to local communities as well as the global community, including monetary and non-monetary incentives for verified emissions reductions, sustained natural ecosystems, and increased recognition of their historic role as the caretaker of forests. While there is optimism that REDD programs can slow deforestation, bring benefits to forest communities and protect biodiversity, there is also recognition that the new initiatives risk being ineffective and may spur conflicts unless they are conducted in a manner that strengthens rights and governance and encourages transparency and accountability in policy development.

The pervasive poverty, corruption and social tension in forest areas have not only generated violent conflict and a concentration of forest wealth, but create a situation where new, additional investments risk catalyzing new discord and conflict unless they are carefully and equitably targeted. There is also a great risk of overly diffuse and dispersed investments unless these initiatives and the learning to support them are well coordinated. Effective action on climate change is now too urgent for major missteps.

The establishment of civil society advisory groups, and open fora for frank consultation have become best practice. For example the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has evolved a robust dialogue with civil society around the implementation of the convention articles on traditional practices and traditional peoples and land tenure (Articles 8j, 10 and 11) and International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) has benefited by having a Civil Society Advisory Group. Recognizing this need, the Independent Advisory Group on Forests, Rights and Climate Change (IAG) has been established to assist climate deliberations in bringing together serious, credible, evidence based information and perspective from social actors for consideration at its negotiating sessions.

Designing climate change interventions in forest areas is a complex task that requires social and political as well as technical input and these initiatives will need to be adjusted over time as all stakeholders learn. There has been some movement towards NGO representation in policy bodies of various schemes and funds, but these developments have not yet coalesced into a system for global learning. There is thus an urgent need for a comprehensive approach by the global community that is self-correcting over time. Basic elements of such an approach consist of: (1) support at the country level to establish an equitable legal and regulatory framework for land and resources; (2) establish accountable funding mechanisms to ensure that incentives go to the right people; (3) establish monitoring systems that monitor more than carbon and which are transparent and easily accessible to the public; and (4) establish national and international mechanisms to ensure independent advice and performance review. Advice from the IAG coupled with transparent monitoring will provide inputs to adjust the funding arrangements and country systems over time.

Strong property rights and forest governance are required to ensure that forest owners have the incentive to invest in maintaining their forests as well as a prerequisite to target effective public compensation for reduced emissions and maintenance of carbon stocks. Strategies that prioritize incentives for communities will avoid discouraging local conservation, will efficiently exercise use of public funds, and will diminish the risk of catalyzing conflicts and undermining social progress. Transparent monitoring of impacts is necessary to track whether climate goals are being met, and to ensure that carbon projects strengthen forest peoples’ rights and promote development. Yet, better information alone will not be enough unless there is also independent guidance on programs, impacts and performance at the national and global level.

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