Making REDD+ Work for Zambia
UNDP Programme Officer, Samuli Leminen, highlights REDD+ progress in Zambia since the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board approved US$4.5 million for the country’s national REDD+ strategy.
“In recognition of the role REDD+ can plan in reducing emissions and facilitating sustainable socio-economic development, the Government of the Republic of Zambia is presently assessing the opportunities that can be potentially delivered through REDD+.”
These opening words for the UN-REDD Programme document for Zambia already reveal that the UN-REDD Programme is not a business-as-usual development project, but instead a process of consultations, strategic planning, creative thinking and seeking realistic solutions to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and make REDD+ work for Zambia. While the goal of reversing deforestation and achieving sustainable development is clear, the path to reach it can only be paved by Zambia and Zambians themselves.
The growing interest in Zambia towards REDD+ is felt not only through the high participation in the stakeholder meetings while developing its UN-REDD National Programme document, but also through the numerous questions and discussions with people and organisations willing to support the efforts to protect the forests in Zambia. The questions range from a request to provide seedlings for a tree-planting at a local school to guidance on designing sub-national forest monitoring systems that are aligned to the national measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework.
While there are uncertainties in both the international REDD+ framework and the national arrangements, it is essential not to let these uncertainties discourage the actors who feel the urgency of acting now to stop deforestation. To quell misunderstandings about the programme and to reassure the multitude of actors involved, a significant part of the programme funding has been allocated to building the institutional arrangements and stakeholder engagement processes that provide a platform for discussing the issues and finding the answers that work best in the Zambian context.
Progress since UN-REDD’s March Policy Board meeting
The UN-REDD Policy Board in March 2010 approved the budget allocation of US$4.5 million for Zambia and tasked the country to finalize the UN-REDD Programme document based on the received comments. Due to the lively discussion both in the in-country validation meeting and at the Policy Board, close to 50 separate issues were identified. The comments were then divided to the participating UN organizations, national and international experts and the government representatives according to their respective strengths and knowledge. The compiled draft responses were put together and reviewed by all parties. Some of the responses will lead to direct changes in the project document and adjustments in the budget allocations between the programme outputs.
The final product of this work will be presented to a wide group of stakeholders in the country and only after their endorsement will the government and the UN agencies sign the document and commence implementation. The collaborative effort to address the comments has proved the strength of the UN-REDD Programme as a community of practice, with active knowledge-sharing between experts in different areas and learning from the experiences of other countries.
UN-REDD’s June mission to Zambia
While the UN-REDD Programme is at the forefront of developing on-line collaboration and information-sharing tools, face-to-face gatherings of professionals is irreplaceable in ensuring common understanding and giving impetus to the process. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a joint mission to Zambia on 15-16 June 2010, with a dual objective of ensuring the linkages with Zambia’s Integrated Land Use Assessment Programme and making the UN-REDD Programme ready for inception. The mission succeeded in strengthening the alignment of the UN-REDD Programme with other environment and natural resources sector programmes, and agreeing on common institutional arrangements. The open discussions with national counterparts also helped to reach common understanding on the next steps and provided confidence that the programme can be signed within the six months period set by the Policy Board in March.
With the inception of the Programme in the coming months, the processes of envisioning and discussing how REDD+ can work for Zambia will continue with more structured consultations and channels to integrate REDD+ in Zambia’s development plans. Furthermore, additional support for REDD+ readiness is emerging from different actors with objectives ranging from demonstrating REDD+ concepts on the ground to establishing the financial structures to access international carbon markets. Private sector and civil society actors may already be a step ahead of the national REDD+ process, and the government faces the challenge of coordinating and guiding the development of the national REDD+ strategy. With its international community of practice, UN-REDD Programme is well placed to support Zambia in this effort.
Samuli Leminen is a Programme Officer in the Energy and Environment Unit of the UNDP Country Office in Lusaka, Zambia.