REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Forests as Climate Solutions in the Asia-Pacific Region through NDC Commitments  


 The role of forests and trees in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of Asia-Pacific countries is very significant, especially in areas of afforestation, forest fire management, reduced deforestation, biodiversity management and improved forest management. Emphasis is increasingly placed on forestry-related actions for climate change mitigation, and 22 out of 25 countries include forestry in their adaptation commitments.

The implications of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) commitments in the forest sector, for domestic and external investment, are becoming clearer and require attention in order for countries to prepare for the implementation of their NDCs.  These implications were addressed at the side-event “Forestry in NDCs in the context of Asia-Pacific Countries: 2020 Vision”, organised on the occasion of UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid, Spain.

Held on 6 December at the Indonesian Pavilion, the event reviewed the results of an expert discussion held at the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Secretariat in Songdo, Korea on 17th June 2019 as part of the 4th Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (APFW). A summary brief document titled “Forestry in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of Asia-Pacific Countries: 2020 Vision” was prepared on the basis of the June 2019 discussions, with the side event revisiting its key topics with an interactive participation from the audience.

In her opening remarks, Dr Tiina Vahanen, Chief of Forest Policy and Resources Division, FAO, talked about the key role of monitoring for the achievement of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Asia-Pacific needed to drive greater ambition. “We need to continue assisting country efforts to measure and monitor their forest sectors’ contribution to climate change goals, assess the success of measures to implement NDCs, and ensure consistency,”​she said.

The panel discussions – which included Ms Belinda Margono, Director of Forest Resources, Inventory and Monitoring, from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and Ms Janie Rioux, Senior Agriculture and Food Security Specialist, GCF - focused on the outcomes of climate negotiations and their potential implications for the forestry sector in the region.


Way Forward

If fully implemented, NDC commitments of Asia-Pacific countries would result in a 160% increase in land-based carbon sinks by 2030, 88% of which will come from improved forest management. The scale of external investment required to meet these commitments has been considered by only eight countries in the region, resulting in a combined total of US$1.6 billion.  This is therefore likely to be a significant underestimate and the revision of NDCs is a unique opportunity to develop more sound estimates of the implications for investment needs.

There is significant scope for enhanced public investment in the forest sector in developing countries across the region, but i t has often proved challenging for forest administrations to make a convincing economic case for increased budget allocations.  The prevalence of forestry in NDC commitments may lead to an increase in public investment, particularly if the links to climate change adaptation goals are emphasised along with those for mitigation.

Private sector investment will remain critical for meeting forest-related NDC commitments in Asia-Pacific countries.  Many investors are actively seeking investment opportunities in the forest sector, but these are limited due to low confidence in government capacity to monitor multiple investments and to high risks of potential adverse social, environmental and legal impacts and a lack of sufficient data to accurately assess such risks.  Strong, clear national commitments to ambitious forest sector NDC objectives are not often reflected at the sub-national jurisdictional level, nor has there been sufficient attention to capacity requirements at the sub-national level, where responsibility for implementation of these commitments mostly lies. 

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the regional focus for innovation in climate finance mechanisms in the forest sector. Currently, there are over fifty full-size GCF projects in the Asia-Pacific region, from which about 25% include forestry. Countries will need to effectively use the opportunities created by GCF projects as the basis for long-term plans to leverage private sector investment and to reorient public investment in the forest sector towards climate-relevant goals.  Several countries are now moving forward with plans to participate in the GCF’s REDD+ Results-Based Payments pilot programme, which will depend for success on such national commitments and a paradigm shift in financing approaches for the forest and land use sectors.

Several countries have embarked on plans for the establishment of national Emission Trading Systems (China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Viet Nam) which envisage substantial use of forest-related offsets, from both domestic and international sources, to achieve NDC commitments.  There is a reasonably strong consensus within the region for inclusion of REDD+ within the international regime for climate finance, currently being negotiated under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. 


Forest actions in NDCs

The importance of forestry in the Paris Agreement is unique.  It is the only sector with a dedicated article under the Agreement – article 5 concerning support for REDD+ in developing countries.   This importance is reflected in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) developed by Asia-Pacific countries towards implementation of the Agreement; over 80% of NDCs in the region explicitly include forestry actions for climate change mitigation, adaptation or both.  Four years after the Paris Agreement was ratified, countries are now in a position to review their NDCs with a view to enhancing the level of their ambition in the decade leading up to 2030, the deadline for achieving the global objectives set out at Paris. With increasing availability of high-quality information and data, there are a number of existing opportunities for countries for better reflection of forests’ contribution in NDCs.


Asia-Pacific Forestry Week

Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (APFW2019) was held in Songdo Convensia Convention Center, Incheon, Republic of Korea on 17-21 June 2019. APFW is held every 4 years in parallel with the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by FAO to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest issues on a regional basis.  The overall theme of APFW2019 was "Forests for peace and well-being" reflecting the need to proactively integrate forestry into the wider context of environment, society, and sustainable development, under which economic, social, human and cultural dimensions are considered in a holistic manner.  The Korea Forest Service (KFS) co-hosted APFW 2019 alongside FAO.   Over 15,000 forestry government officials, professionals, students, researchers, civil society and private sector stakeholders from over 30 countries assembled for the event. 


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