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Evaluating the UN-REDD programme

(10 January 2014)

Since October 2013 and until March 2014, I am part of a team of three persons that evaluates the global UN programme on REDD (UN-REDD). This is a complex assignment, but extremely interesting because it brings me into contact with one of the major climate change and forest conservations initiatives of the 21st century.

Several years ago, to be precise in 2008 at the Conference of Parties to the UN framework convention on Climate Change in Indonesia, the world accepted formally that the conservation of forests potentially is a very strong tool in the mitigation of the effects of Climate Change. Effectively avoiding deforestation implies a reduction of the emissions of millions of tons of CO2 per year. Hence, protection of forests is not only positive to conserve biodiversity and to support local livelihoods but also to keep the planet from warming up.

The mechanism to mitigate climate change by avoiding deforestation is called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). It is hoped that in the near future, industrialized countriesin the North will financially support countries in the South to conserve large areas of forest and herewith, compensate some of the green house gas emissions these "rich" countries have caused during their "development". In order to support tropical rainforest countries to prepare for this global mechanism, the United Nations developed the UN-REDD programme which is active now in almost 50 countries at global level.

Although the basics are simple, in reality REDD+ is a complex matter because it deals with international negotiations, rights of forest peoples', scientific information on forest growth and degradation and huge amounts of money. No surprise that the UN wants to make sure the programme is implemented efficiently, managed transparently and evaluated carefully. The latter is our task. In my case, it has not only brought me to Panamá, Ecuador and Paraguay as well as to Geneva, Rome and Montreal. I can only hope my contribution to this programme will at least compensate my own carbon footprint.....