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Combating deforestation: Optimizing the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism in Africa

A special session of the REDD+ mechanism was held in the Pavilion of the African Development Bank on the fourth day of COP24, 6 December 2018.

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Combating deforestation: Optimizing the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism in Africa

REDD+, the mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is celebrating ten years of implementation in Africa. It was the occasion for the African Development Bank to bring together in its Pavilion, at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, experts from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire for a dedicated session. A representative of civil society and another from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) were also present.

The DRC has 10% of the world’s forests and 90% of the forests of Central Africa. But deforestation is still on the increase and even accelerating. From 2010 to 2014, deforestation increased by 1.25% in the DRC – compared with 0.25% between 2000 and 2010. While the forest cover is still considerable, it runs the risk of disappearing if nothing is done.

That is where the REDD+ mechanism comes in, combating deforestation by providing a potentially advantageous economic dimension to developing countries: the sale of carbon credits.

“We need to develop a forward-looking policy based on the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation affecting forests”, according to Victor Kabengele Wa Kadilu, coordinator of the implementing fund of the REDD+ mechanism in the DRC.

Deforestation versus development.

Certain agricultural practices, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, or even biomass, are direct causes of deforestation, which may also indirectly aggravate increasing land and demographic problems. Land disputes are very common in the DRC, exacerbated by the conflict between customary law and civil law. As to the demographic increase, the population of DRC rose by 3% in the last four years.

How can we reverse and stop deforestation? For Victor Kabengele, it means adopting an approach which transforms these difficulties into drivers of development.

This means sustainable agroforestry, which can restore the health of the soil in deforested areas and preserve those soils where the forest cover is still intact.

Kabengele suggests offering investors the chance to implement their projects in areas which have been subject to deforestation rather than those which have not yet been affected. This would create a sustainable virtuous circle at the economic level, and especially in terms of agroforestry

A holistic and inclusive approach

A holistic approach would encourage greater inclusion, according to the panelists in the session, as it would contribute to the successful implementation of the REDD+ mechanism in Africa. That is the case, for example, in Côte d’Ivoire, where civil society organisations are very active and working enthusiastically with this inclusive approach.

Above all, it is about being able to invest in a stable environment, to supervise and manage the implementation of projects, and reduce the negative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. Inclusion, for its part, means taking local communities into consideration and involving them in the projects. And if such an approach to combating deforestation through REDD+ is to reflect the priorities of countries’ social and economic development, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, it is essential to put support mechanisms in place – a massive challenge.   

Burkina Faso, where biomass and agriculture are the largest factors in greenhouse gas emissions, has already gone a long way in this process. Community management has a major role in the implementation of REDD+, also facilitated by the importance that the country attaches to inclusiveness and equity. Result: local communities are more supportive of projects rolled out on the ground.

Burkina Faso thus envisages accelerating its transition to sustainable agriculture and inclusion of local communities. Indeed, a mechanism for the integration of local communities has been in place since 2014. But that is not enough, as the major policies on combating climate change are driven by political decision-makers. That is why Ghana, for its part, has decided to place the emphasis on political will, accompanied by strengthening the capacities of the population and all stakeholders.

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