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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Experiences on REDD+ implementation and partnership in West Africa

A side event took place on Monday December 6, 2010 on the challenges of implementing REDD+ mechanism in the West African region. It was organized by Association des clubs des Amis de la Nature du Cameroun (ACAN) and ANCC.

A case study of Liberia was provided by Mr. Urias Goll (a member of the national delegation), given that the country has a large chunk of forest land (42% of the remaining Upper Guinean forest cover). Liberia itself has 45 – 48% of the land are under forest cover, but the deforestation rate is 0.3% per year.

According to Urias, the main drivers of deforestation like in many other African countries include commercial timber logging and illegal chain sawing; charcoal burning; illegal mining that seem to be a viable livelihood option after the civil war; and the traditional unsustainable farming practices.

To date, Liberia has embarked on the REDD+ development (Project Inception Note and consultations). This has resulted in having an institutional framework that is intended to involve a wide range of actors including civil society, government institutions across a range of sectors (energy, agriculture, CDM, among others).

In addition several studies have been carried out, for example a low carbon economy study (towards a 25-year Low Carbon development Strategy for Liberia); how to put in place a benefit-sharing mechanism and a trust fund; capacity needs assessment; legal and policy review, reference scenarios; regulations to manage chain saw activities, among others.

Though the process in Liberia and West Africa seems to be moving on as discussed, there are challenges noted as follows:

- Lack of skills and need to have translations into local languages

- Ensuring community buy-in as some still remain skeptical about the REDD concept

- Dealing with new partners who come with new ideas, strategies that need to be negotiated upon.

- How to take into account the local land tenure systems

- The form of benefit / revenue sharing mechanisms to be used (community livelihood improvement? how?)

- Alignment with oil palm development. In Liberia Government signed 2 contracts for palm oil expansion on ‘degraded lands’.

In the ensuring plenary discussion, updates were given for Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. One participant noted that REDD+ is a intelligence test for humanity in addition to the above challenges and corruption tendencies. ‘Education programmes and understanding of the REDD+ process are long overdue’, He added.

Another participant warned that design of REDD+ projects is an essential stage that will either secure participation (and success) or the opposite resulting in a failure that Africa will live to regret (like the dismal progress in CDM projects).

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