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The Model Forests and REDD+ in Latin America

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This is the fourth in a series of guest contributions focussed on sharing local experiences from around the world in developing and implementing safeguards in REDD+. The series  features contributions from Central America, East Africa and Asia-Pacific. In this blog Luis Trevejo explores how experiences from the Model Forests in Latin America can be used to help debate on safeguards in REDD+ and how the two initiatives can work towards the same goals. 

The Model Forests are large-scale partnerships that serve as platforms for cooperation among diverse actors with the aim of promoting effective participation in sustainable management of an area’s natural resources. Latin America has 19 Model Forests across 11 countries, with over than 25.5 million hectares and 3.5 million people involved. With broad objectives that encompass poverty reduction and combating desertification, Model Forests have emerged as a major regional platform to face up to the challenges of climate change and its consequences, including delivering global REDD+ objectives.

It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the Model Forest structure in the context of REDD+, whose safeguards principles and criteria (to ensure effective participation, respect local knowledge and indigenous rights, conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, promote social and environmental benefits) must be contributed to by multiple actors working at different scales – a principle condition of the model forests.

Indeed the network of organisations involved in the region’s Model Forests is already taking the initiative to ensure Model Forests build safeguards and ensure effectiveness.

Back in November 2011 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, a regional dialogue was organised to this effect – Model Forests and local implementation of national strategies for REDD+ in the Latin American region“. This event built a foundation in the region for dialogue between Model Forests. It also focused attention on enabling frameworks that streamline REDD+ processes with existing regional alliances, actions to address REDD+ obstacles and training needs, research, opportunities for collaboration and processes to improve the region’s institutions.

From this point originated a number of principles that the region is working on in order to ensure that REDD+ process fit into the existing institutional landscape, build on existing efforts to support sustainable forest management, and strengthen the participation of a broad base of stakeholders in delivering against the safeguard principles.

Training is necessary to strengthen concepts and simplify the REDD+ basic terminology, develop friendly training materials, considering mixed knowledge of the different actors throughout the Model Forests, improve relations within and between Model Forest territories as well as strengthen leaders and actors in business and other specific REDD+ aspects (like governance, development and project management, monitoring, evaluation, negotiation).

In the ​​research area it is necessary to increase knowledge about governance and environmental, social and economic baselines of the populations involved. The construction of tools to measure key aspects in the monitoring, review and verification of REDD+ and the systematisation of experiences related to reducing degradation and deforestation without economic incentive schemes.

Institutional processes need to involve the territories where the Model Forests can function as models for REDD+ experiences with action on ensuring safeguards are met. Also, to standardise and to unify the language ​​in this platform to strengthen and build more partnerships at different scales, creating common proposals to influence decision-makers and improve the dialogue with the community and local populations.

In terms of collaboration opportunities it is necessary to promote exchanges of experiences within and among Model Forests, strengthen the youth groups, improve the communication among actors at different scales, establish collaborative agreements and funds for financing sustainable activities, create common platforms to address markets and, finally, to promote a regional dialogue to allow the discussion of issues that go beyond context aspects.

No doubt, the Model Forests network across Latin America will have to undertake major tasks in the coming years.

Luis Trevejo is in the climate change and watershed program at CATIE


Extpub | by Dr. Radut