Kamis, 13 Agustus 2009

Climate Change and Conservation International

Climate Change and Conservation International:
Turning Up the Heat through Strategic Engagement, Applied Research, Project Incubation, and Deal Promotion

** Conference on Non-Governmental Diplomacy

Conservation International has been engaged on climate change since its establishment in 1987. Over the last decade, we have been very active in the conservation community and beyond in efforts to understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and to promote forest conservation as a strategy to mitigate climate change. Two years ago, with Board of Directors approval, we decided to focus much more attention on this important issue due to the severe threat it poses to our conservation goals and the opportunities it presents to mobilize support for conservation of ecosystems and the improvement of the livelihoods of the indigenous, traditional, and poor communities who are inextricably linked to those resources.

In looking at all the climate issues, it quickly became obvious that we needed to focus on the connections between climate change, tropical forests and other ecosystems such as coral reefs, freshwater lakes and rivers, and mangroves. CI has dedicated much of its work to tropical forest conservation since the creation of the organization. We are increasingly focused on freshwater and marine conservation. Recent data has shown that tropical forest destruction is responsible for at least 20% of global emissions, more than all trucks, buses, cars and the rest of the transport sector combined.

This is almost certainly an underestimate, since it is based mainly on above ground biomass, i.e., trees and other vegetation, but does not really take into consideration soil degradation and burning in places like the methane-rich peat forests and swamps of Indonesia. Indeed, Indonesia and Brazil are now the world’s third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases (after the U.S. and China), in good part because of burning of forests and the deep soils of the peat swamps. We are now starting to look in more detail at this issue of below ground carbon, but indications are that it will dramatically increase the overall contribution of deforestation and degradation from the tropical regions of the world. In addition, the effects of climate change are damaging other critical ecosystems for conservation, notably the oceans, lakes and rivers. Increasing temperatures are causing massive coral bleaching, rising ocean levels are encroaching on turtle nesting sites, and changing hydrological regimes are threatening terrestrial and freshwater species.

Despite all efforts to slow, mitigate, and reverse climate change, it will accelerate before any reduction, so we all need to address how human societies and communities and natural systems will adapt to climate change. We want to ensure that adaptation measures include biodiversity conservation and that there is a recognition that intact ecosystems will be essential in building the resilience of human communities, societies, and economies to climate change (e.g., by buffering coastal communities against storms and providing freshwater in drought-prone areas).

Although there has been an explosion of interest in climate over the last two years, much of that interest has focused on the energy sector, with relatively little attention to forests and other ecosystems. We have been working with partner organizations to focus the attention of policy-makers and business and community leaders on the important role that intact ecosystems play in preventing, slowing, and adapting to climate change. We have published a few scientific papers on the topic, and we have generated significant media coverage, including stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, ABC News, and other outlets. We have developed “forest carbon” projects in China, Madagascar, Ecuador, Philippines, and more than two dozen other countries to demonstrate how forest conservation Conference on Non-Governmental Diplomacy can mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity and benefit local communities. We are expanding land, coastal, and ocean climate change adaptation research and projects. We have established a climate change team of more than two dozen experts from across all CI divisions and regional programs of the organization and we have secured a significant gift to develop our core capacities on climate change.

Conservation International has dedicated a great deal of intellectual energy and resources on the international and national policy structures and processes involved with climate change. Today I want to very briefly review three specific experiences in non-governmental diplomacy: the Bali Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, 2007, the Los Angeles Governors’ Global Climate Solutions Summit in November, 2008, and the Poznan COP that is just concluding. I will present a quick look at our messages and actions and conclude about their impact and lessons for the interests of this conference in best practices in non-governmental diplomacy.

Climate Change Non-Governmental Diplomacy: CI Turns Up the Heat
CI is taking on climate change as a central strategic issue. We see it as a vitally important threat to biodiversity, habitats, ecosystems, ecosystem services, landscapes and seascapes and to the lives and livelihoods of the communities, enterprises, and governments who are our most important partners. CI is working to: frame the issues for establishing policies, regulations, and markets; solicit partner engagement through capacity building and participation, and functioning networks; support governmental, private sector and civil society initiatives and investments; carry out research and project designs, draft position and background papers, and assessments; implement model or pilot climate projects linked to establishing sustainable and hopefully profitable funding mechanisms for partner beneficiaries; and engage in international conferences as NGO representatives and as official delegation members and advisors.

Framing the Issue in the International Agenda, Mobilizing Support, Convincing Policy Makers

In the case of the Bali COP, CI and partners worked hard to advance understanding and build support for forest carbon credit investments and creation of markets for those credits through the mechanism of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. Achievements at that conference included:

• A comprehensive approach to REDD, including not just countries with high emissions rates, but also countries with high forest cover (and corresponding carbon stocks) and countries that have taken steps to expand their existing forest cover;
• Inclusion of emissions associated with deforestation and forest degradation. Forest degradation is often an important precursor to clear-cut deforestation and by itself leads to considerable greenhouse gas emissions (in some countries forest degradation is a larger source of greenhouse gas emissions than deforestation);
• Recognition of the importance that co-benefits from REDD activities can provide (biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation);
• Acknowledgement of the rights and needs of, and impacts on indigenous and local communities;
• Support for governments, NGOs and other organizations to take action now to address deforestation emissions, as a means to support climate abatement as well as inform the UNFCCC on how a REDD mechanism may function most effectively. In collaboration with governments, industry and local partners, CI is already designing and/or implementing over 30 forest carbon projects to help inform these discussions; Conference on Non-Governmental Diplomacy
• Encouragement to developed countries to provide financial assistance to developing countries to build capacity to participate and benefit from any REDD mechanism. For example, the World Bank launched its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

In addition, at Bali, CI cooperated with governmental and non-governmental partners to present climate change-focused side events that highlighted key issues and launched initiatives. In collaboration with the Indonesian President, we launched an Orangutan Conservation Action Plan, supported a two day event on the Coral Triangle Initiative with multiple countries in the region, and held an event on Religion, Forest, and Climate Change with Indonesian religious leaders from a wide range of communities. We also held side discussions for policy and project development with high level officials form the French government, Indonesian provincial leaders and Indonesian private investors in REDD projects, and government leaders from other major CI partners from Guyana, Liberia, and Madagascar.

The Los Angeles Governors’ Global Climate Solutions Summit was intended to “consider a potential blueprint for the next global agreement on climate change and …conclude cooperative agreements to start implementing solutions immediately.” CI was active in support of the participation of its Brazilian and Indonesian partners in the event.

During the summit, Governors Schwarzenegger (California), Doyle (Wisconsin) and Blagojevich (Illinois) signed a forest carbon Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Brazilian states of Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Pará, and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and Papua. The MOU (see: http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/11101/) commits the signatories to:

• Focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation [REDD] while promoting sequestration of additional carbon through restoration and reforestation and improved forest management practices;
• Jointly develop rules to ensure that forest-sector emission reductions and sequestration could pass the strict criteria outlined in California's AB 32 Scoping Plan and potentially play a role in the Western Climate Initiative effort; and
• Develop a Joint Action Plan by early 2009 to clearly outline progress. This progress will be discussed at the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

This MOU validates forest carbon activities implemented at the sub-national level, and provides the opportunity to create rules that will enable such activities to generate carbon credits that could be used for US compliance purposes, starting with U.S. state and regional climate legislation. This MOU represents the first agreement to be signed by sub-national governments to cooperate on REDD and other forest carbon activities, and the first effort to specifically link such initiatives in developing countries to U.S.

Green House Gas compliance policies, such as AB 32 in California.
This precedent-setting agreement presents an opportunity to unlock major new private-sector investment and drive early climate action in key forested states and provinces, helping to stabilize the Earth’s climate and providing a model for how the world’s forests can be credibly integrated into emerging US and global climate policy frameworks. Together, these six Brazilian and Indonesian states and provinces represent about half of the world’s tropical forests and the majority of global emissions from deforestation. CI is working with the national and sub-national governments in Brazil and Indonesia and a key international non-governmental partner to advance these potential investments through supporting the development of robust rule structures for measuring and monitoring forest carbon, ensuring recognition of forest carbon credits under California and other U.S. compliance programs, establishment of effective forest carbon policies, programs and projects in Brazilian states and Indonesian provinces; and lessons are Conference on Non-Governmental Diplomacy

learned, communicated, and leverage other such investments. Especially important will be that projects and programs will emphasize the engagement and voluntary participation of local communities and ensure that mechanisms are in place to ensure that carbon revenues are distributed equitably and transparently and directly benefit these communities.

For the Poznan COP, CI has developed the following points that it is pursuing with its partners: Preserving and restoring forests and other natural ecosystems is one of the best investments the international community can make to prevent climate change, adapt to its impacts, and improve human livelihoods:
• Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) will provide immediate emissions reductions at low cost—an especially important consideration in a time of global economic crisis.
• Without REDD, there is little prospect to keep atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at safe levels.
• Intact forests provide ecological benefits to local communities—such as freshwater provision, flood prevention, and enhanced productivity of fisheries and agriculture—that will be increasingly important in the face of climate change, especially for developing countries. Few if any other mitigation strategies simultaneously provide such substantial adaptation benefits.

The world must act immediately to preserve forests, in light of high rates of deforestation in many countries:
• Early action on REDD should be encouraged even before a new international climate agreement enters into force.
• REDD initiatives by states, provinces and other sub-national entities should be encouraged as valuable efforts that can provide immediate benefits and practical experience in shaping national commitments.
• Nations with high forest cover but low historical rates of deforestation should not be excluded from international REDD programs—otherwise deforestation pressures will simply shift in their direction.

The international community must increase its focus on adaptation and provide more substantial resources
to help developing countries cope with climate change:
• Conservation and restoration of forests, coral reefs, and other ecosystems should be an important focus of adaptation investments, as they provide vital ecological benefits to poor communities that will be increasingly important in the face of climate change.

Indigenous and traditional peoples are the stewards of many of the world’s remaining intact forests. They must be equal partners with governments and with public and private investors in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies that impact their lands and territories:
• REDD and other climate policies must respect the rights of indigenous communities and be based on their free, prior and informed consent.
• Indigenous communities need access to financial and technical resources to enable them to participate effectively in carbon markets and in national climate policy processes. At the Poznan conference happening right now, we are actively involved in formal discussions, national delegations, side events and informal meetings on forest carbon projects, markets, and finance, as well as Conference on Non-Governmental Diplomacy how to advance climate change adaptation in terrestrial and marine ecosystems linked to the communities most dependent on those systems for their livelihoods, and all other questions being considered as the UNFCCC process moves forward.

Conservation International is fully engaged in the most relevant issues for our strategic interests related to global climate change. I hope the three examples of major international meetings illustrated our messages, impact, and approaches in what is to us a terribly critical exercise in non-governmental diplomacy. We pursued clear policy outcomes and we worked to educate and mobilize partners and the general public through information and real life test cases. We successfully built partnerships at international, national, sub-national, and local levels that generated momentum and support in convincing policy makers, investors, and those who set rules and structures. Strengthening the knowledge and outreach abilities of partner organizations including government and civil society in the countries where we work was and remains a critical element to the influence we and our partners have exercised. This capacity building is fundamental to CI – fully 30 to 40 per cent of our annual budgets are invested in external grants to our partners and the networks they form to increase their impact. CI is also investing heavily in designing and implementing on-the-ground investments in forest carbon projects and we will soon be doing so for land and marine adaptation projects. By providing these real world models, we intend to ramp up investments across the world. Going beyond papers, presentations, and conversations, these projects produce benefits for people and their communities as well as the world’s climate. I do not have time to go into our experience now but I have information to share on the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance which is promoting integrated solutions to land management as triple-benefit voluntary standards for minimizing climate change, supporting sustainable development, and combating the loss of biodiversity. I have other documents to share on adaptation, climate change, the Tenchong Small Scale project in China, and the Xingu Basin Indigenous Lands Carbon Project in the Amazon of Brazil.

To conclude, CI and its partners are active in climate change mitigation and adaptation through:
• Policy outcomes – establishing rules, structures, markets, and financing.
• Public opinion education - information, mobilization, participation, networking, representation.
• Organizational development – NGO and government partners capacities and their networks strengthened.
• Models tested, financing structured, markets encouraged and expanded, public and private donors informed and engaged with expected high returns in generating investments.

The most important obstacles we face are: lack of information, insufficiency of research and project methodologies, less than comprehensive market rules/structures, insufficient finance, partially supportive political will, dearth of bankable projects, and, most importantly, as yet not fully developed linkages between climate change mitigation and adaption to poverty alleviation and, closely related, inadequate clarity on rights and benefits for poor communities in climate change investments.

Finally, the most important lesson is that civil society can play a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Through non-governmental diplomacy, Conservation International and many other civil society organizations are working hard and gaining ground on a set of very difficult problems for our planet and its people. It’s time to turn up the heat on that kind of diplomacy because climate means life.

Source Reading : David W. Hess
Vice President, East/Southeast Asia Field Division Conservation International

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