South Africa hosted a consultation and capacity-building workshop on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) this week, ahead of the global climate negotiations in Durban in November, early December.
The workshop, which focused on biodiversity safeguards, was seen as a key contribution to building momentum towards the Durban gathering, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) deputy director-general Fundisile Mketeni said on Friday.
More than 60 experts and negotiators from over 20 African countries attended the workshop, which was the last in a series of four expert workshops on the links between biodiversity and REDD+.
The workshops were organised by the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) following decisions made at prior workshops in Kenya, Singapore and Ecuador.
Funding for the series was provided by the governments of Germany, Japan, Norway and the UK, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Centre for Biodiversity, and by the United Nations' REDD+ programme. The DEA and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) cohosted the South African workshop.
How to slow the rate of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and other forms of forest degradation, was one of the key issues facing negotiators and policy makers at the upcoming global climate change negotiations, the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17).
Deforestation and forest degradation produced about 20% of total human-caused GHG emissions on a yearly basis. If these emissions could be reduced, it would make a significant contribution to achieving the agreed global target of keeping global warming to below 2 °C.
Decisions on developing a mechanism for incentivising REDD were likely to have implications for the management of biodiversity, and raise a host of related issues concerning the use and management of forest areas, especially by indigenous peoples. For this reason, the CBD has made efforts to inform this debate and build capacity among United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiators in ways that would contribute positively to ensuring that biodiversity and local livelihoods were enhanced by a REDD+ mechanism.
“We are very grateful to the government of South Africa for taking the lead in linking biodiversity and climate change objectives, together with other interested African countries. Our success in tackling climate change will greatly depend on maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services. REDD+ gives us a concrete opportunity for doing this,” said CBD executive secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf.
“Having the REDD+ meeting on African soil has given us a great opportunity to engage with our colleagues on the continent around common challenges and priorities relating to deforestation, biodiversity and climate change. We share common concerns of poverty, capacity, resources and co-ordination, and want to ensure that we speak with a united voice on these matters at COP 17,” added Sanbi CEO Tanya Abrahamse.