42. A special Asia-Pacific Week plenary session entitled, “Forests and climate change,” addressed forests and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Discussions mainly focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
43. Critical points that were raised during the session included: (a) the wealth of experience worldwide in sustainable forest management represents a sound foundation for climate change mitigation and adaptation; (b) the visibility of forests at the highest political levels and the current availability of funds for REDD “readiness” can be instrumental in supporting sustainable forest management; (c) forest carbon projects are unlikely to be successful unless the rights to carbon are clear and the distribution of benefits from forest carbon projects is equitable; and (d) forestry mitigation and adaptation strategies should be embedded in countries’ national forest programmes and development plans.
44. On the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2008/6 and the special session plenary, the Commission considered the roles of forests in mitigating climate change, potential adaptation measures in forestry, and related emerging challenges in the region.
45. The Commission recognized the need for a holistic and multi-sectoral approach to effectively address forestry issues related to climate change. The Commission further noted that forest policies and national development plans must be realigned in response to climate change developments. The Commission urged FAO to strengthen efforts to help countries integrate policies and strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation into national forest programmes (NFPs).
46. The Commission noted the need to resolve many outstanding methodological issues concerning a potential REDD instrument under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Commission requested FAO to support work on methodological issues related to REDD, including the definition of “forest degradation.”
47. The Commission recognized that, while the focus of the role of forests in climate change is carbon, other ecosystem services and livelihood benefits should be considered in national and sub-national strategies to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. It urged FAO to develop tools that could assist countries to address these benefits in their REDD strategies.
48. The Commission emphasized that climate change adaptation and mitigation measures must consider governance issues and social impacts, ensure the engagement of local communities, and address equity and benefit-sharing concerns.
49. The Commission emphasized that implementation of sustainable forest management makes an essential contribution to effective climate mitigation and adaptation. The Commission stressed that focus must be on action, based on solid science, and urged member countries to employ the principles, approaches and tools of sustainable forest management in climate change projects and REDD demonstration activities.
50. The Commission noted that readiness for REDD requires capacity and resources beyond those currently available in developing countries. The Commission requested that FAO assist with REDD-readiness and demonstration activities in developing countries by enhancing transfer of knowledge and technology, particularly with regard to monitoring and accounting of forest carbon, in addition to strengthening monitoring, assessment and reporting on sustainable forest management in Asia and the Pacific. The Commission urged FAO to assist developing countries in securing financial resources for carrying out REDD-readiness and demonstration activities.
51. The Commission recognized that lack of information and data, and insufficient analytical capacity, currently constrain countries’ ability to respond to climate change challenges. The Commission requested FAO to enhance sharing of information and experiences across the region and to improve access to relevant data. The Commission further requested FAO to help strengthen countries’ analytical capacities, and to assist by summarizing and clarifying the complexities of climate change mechanisms.
52. The Commission requested FAO to prepare guidelines for developing national forest climate change adaptation plans.
53. The Commission urged FAO to use opportunities presented by United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) to convey the forestry communities’ perspectives on forests and climate change to UNFCCC.