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The GLOBE Forest Legislation Study

On 18 November 2013, the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International) under its Forest Legislation Initiative presented the 1st GLOBE Forest Legislation Study at a high-level launch event with legislators from over 10 countries and representatives from UNEP, the GEF and officials for the governments of DRC, Indonesia and Mexico which took place in the sidelines of UNFCCC COP19/CMP9 in Warsaw, Poland.

Download the Executive Summary of the study by clicking here

The study analyses legislation related to REDD+ and provides recommendations for legislative reform in the key forested countries Brazil, DRC, Indonesia and Mexico. Key findings from the study include:

  • Countries do not have to wait for the international process to act.
  • National legislation is crucial for REDD+ to be implemented in a way that is effective, fair and transparent, while reducing the risk of corruption.
  • There are a growing number of REDD+ demonstration sites and pilot projects. However, these are not underpinned by adequate national legislation, leaving forest communities in a legal void.
  • Parliaments can play a key role in providing oversight of REDD+ financial flows and increase the public's participation and confidence in REDD+.
  • Reforms that are essential for REDD+ implementation include approval procedures for REDD+ projects and programmes and clarifying which state institutions are responsible for supervising REDD+.

Countries included in the 1st Forest Legislation Study:

Click on the pins on the world map above to access country-specific extracts from the study.

The GLOBE Forest Legislation Study and the GLOBE Forest Legislation Initiative events at COP are produced in partnership with and with the generous support of:

norad    unep    gef    fao

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Introduction to the GLOBE Forest Legislation Study

Many tropical forest countries are now ready to begin revising existing legislation and designing new laws and regulations to incorporate national plans to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Currently, REDD+ pilot projects generally fall within an amalgam of existing forest legislation and policy guidelines, ministerial decrees and regulations as well as national climate change policies, some of which are non-legally binding. In light of the large volume of complex legislation across multiple sectors inherent in REDD+ issues at national levels, there is a critical need for analysis of relevant legal instruments in clear and simple terms via a step-by-step approach, in order to assist countries in legislative reform and implementation.

Responding to this need, GLOBE International has prepared the "GLOBE Forest Legislation Study", which includes detailed studies on REDD+ legal frameworks in four key forested developing countries – Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Mexico. These countries have been selected because they are major forested countries which are currently in the process of either preparing or starting to implement national REDD+ strategies. The four countries are also part of the GLOBE Forest Legislation Initiative (GFLI).

The GFLI works directly with senior legislators in the four countries (as well as Colombia and Peru since 2013) to improve forest governance, law enforcement, financial scrutiny, accountability and policy coordination whilst facilitating progressive and early engagement of national parliaments with REDD+.

Given GLOBE's unique access to legislators through national GLOBE chapters established in the parliaments in each of the four countries, the results of the study will directly inform ongoing legislative reform processes and support GLOBE's wider work with legislators on REDD+ legislative reform, including capacity building, South-South cooperation and international dialogue, and strategic advising of legislators on REDD+.

The aim of this study is to highlight potential legislative interventions in the GFLI countries that would support the implementation of their national REDD+ Strategy. The focus is on realistic, timely and politically attractive legislative amendments either of existing legislation or new REDD+ legislation in countries where it is already being advanced. Considering the continuing uncertainty over a final international REDD+ agreement, these amendments should improve national legal frameworks by promoting early action to reduce deforestation and forest degradation even without a global REDD+ mechanism.

This study builds on and complements past and ongoing REDD+ legal reports, most of which have been largely descriptive of national REDD+ frameworks to date. Each of the national chapters within this study will focus in greater analytical detail on how to integrate REDD+ national strategies into legal frameworks, both within the forest sector and other sectors that are connected to deforestation, e.g. agriculture, spatial planning, land tenure, etc.

The study has been authored by national consultants/REDD+ legal experts in each of the four GFLI countries: Ludovino Lopes - Brazil, Augustin Mpoyi - DRC, Syarif Laode - Indonesia and Julieta Lira and Andres Avila Akerberg - Mexico. The executive summary and comparative analysis has been authored by John Costenbader and Darragh Conway, Climate Focus.

To reduce the environmental footprint of the publication of this study, we have chosen to print only the Executive Summary of the Study. The four comprehensive country studies upon which the Executive Summary is based (Brazil, DRC, Indonesia and Mexico) are available in pdf versions on www.globeinternational.org

The four country studies have all been drafted based upon a shared Terms of Reference and framework of analysis. The first step has been to identify the latest national REDD+ strategy. As each country has not yet produced a final REDD+ strategy, the most recent and appropriate government paper(s) on REDD+ have been used. Once a strategy has been identified, it has been analysed using a framework that has allowed for consistent analysis between the four countries. This analytical structure includes eight "REDD+ themes" that have been identified to reflect the key aspects of REDD+. These are outlined below:

  1. Land, Forest & Carbon Tenure
  2. Spatial Planning
  3. Institutional Arrangements
  4. Public Participation
  5. Benefit Sharing
  6. Safeguards
  7. MRV
  8. Implementation & Enforcement

These themes have been chosen to capture the key aspects of the Cancun agreement on REDD+[1] and provide a comprehensive framework to analyse the latest REDD+ national strategies. It should be noted that while the drivers of deforestation do not have a specific theme in this structure, the "spatial planning" and "implementation and enforcement" themes cover some of the underlying causes of deforestation.

Furthermore, the comprehensive approach adopted in this study of considering all the legal frameworks that is relevant to REDD+ means that every sector that influences the state of forests will be included in the gap analysis.

National legal frameworks have defined as national legislation, decrees and/or regulations with a comparable status, which are relevant to REDD+. Furthermore, while the focus of the study is on the national/federal level legislation, REDD+ legislation and policies that are being advanced at the state/provincial level are also touched upon in certain cases.

Throughout the drafting of the study, there has also been a certain degree of flexibility for the national authors to influence the focus of the content of each chapter. As a result, the four country chapters all carry their unique style and focus. Nonetheless, as they all cover the eight REDD+ themes outlined below, a comparative analysis has been highly relevant and possible.

The Executive Summary and comparative overview chapter summarizes the different approaches adopted by the four GFLI countries to implement REDD+ and provides an overview of legislative reform options. It goes beyond summarizing what is already stated in the country studies, providing overarching gap analysis and commentary in each of the eight thematic areas mentioned above.

The Executive Summary and Comparative Overview also places the study in a wider context, commenting on the relevance of its findings for the UNFCCC negotiations on REDD+ and other international REDD-related processes and debates. It identifies areas for potential further research, and any potential next steps for political action, for national legislators in the countries concerned as well as for GLOBE and the GFLI in relation to international REDD+ policy.

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Foreword by Dr Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO & Chairperson

Forests are a vital resource for us all. They help to sustain the global environment; forests provide a wide range of goods such as food, fiber and wood as well as ecosystem services including water catchment protection, climate regulation, and biological diversity. Forests also provide livelihood opportunities for an estimated 1.6 billion forest-dependent people and contribute to increased food security among the poorest and most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children.

Although the role of forests has gained remarkable attention in recent years and much progress has been made in sustainable forest management in many countries, forests continue to face a range of pressures resulting in continue forest loss and degradation. Experience has shown that for efforts to succeed in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promoting sustainable forest management, and safeguarding the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, they require enabling policies and regulatory frameworks together with a willingness among policymakers to prioritize actions that result in the long-term provision of benefits and services from forests.

The generation of multiple benefits from forests is a central mandate of the GEF. For over two decades the GEF has supported developing countries address the many complex challenges to be met in achieving sustainable forest management.

The importance of GLOBE's Forest Legislation Initiative, working directly with senior legislators to improve national forest governance, law enforcement, financial scrutiny, accountability and policy coordination cannot be exaggerated. GLOBE's analysis illustrates the importance of legislators engaging and learning from each other, and the value of shared experience from peers who have been involved with developing and overseeing forest and REDD+ legislation.

Given the key role parliamentarians play in the design and enactment of legislation that influence the future of forests in most developing countries, such as land tenure reform, benefit sharing from the use of forest resources, public participation and the development of environmental and social safeguards, this report is a timely and important addition to efforts to strengthen legislation and parliamentary scrutiny functions in forested developing countries.

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Foreword by Tine Sundtoft, Minister of Climate and the Environment, Government of Norway

Through its international Climate and Forest Initiative, the Norwegian government aims at supporting efforts to slow, halt and eventually reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+).
Destruction of forests threatens millions of persons, many of whom are among the planet's most vulnerable people, those who depend on forests for their subsistence. It is also a key factor behind the current biodiversity crisis. Furthermore, deforestation and forest degradation cause huge emissions of greenhouse gases, accounting for approximately 10 % of annual man-made carbon emissions.

Since its inception in April 2008, the Norwegian Governments International Climate and Forest Initiative has established a series of partnerships with key forest countries and contributed to significant advances in the development of a REDD+ mechanism under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As part of its International Climate and Forest Initiative, Norway also provides support to NGOs, research institutes and civil society organizations to pilot projects and provide analyses supporting the REDD+ negotiations and learning.

GLOBE International's Forest Legislation Initiative (GFLI), supported by the Norwegian government through Norad since 2011, is an important component in supporting national readiness for REDD+ and promoting early action.

Enhancing national legal preparedness for REDD+ through engaging parliaments can help create the enabling conditions for a global deal on REDD+ in 2013. It can also provide much needed reform of forest governance on a broader level - including land tenure reform and increased public participation in decision-making.

The Oslo REDD Exchange, a major conference gathering 400 REDD experts and stakeholders and hosted by the Norwegian government in October 2013, concluded that mobilizing political will and national political ownership is one of the most challenging tasks ahead in making REDD work. GLOBE's highly relevant work, which was presented at the Oslo REDD Exchange Results Bar, effectively addresses this challenge through its unique global network of legislators and longstanding experience of supporting parliaments.

Most international donor initiatives in support of REDD+ today engage with Ministries of Environment and Finance, as well as civil society, but more seldom with parliaments. GLOBE is one of the few organizations which bridge this gap by building the capacity of legislators to advance REDD+ legislation as well as increase transparency and accountability of REDD+ financial flows through parliamentary scrutiny and oversight. The GFLI complements the support the Norwegian Government provides to the executive branch of government in forest countries.

The 1st edition of the GLOBE Forest Legislation Study is not only a much anticipated report, but also a highly relevant and timely practical guide and road map of legislative reform options for legislators and other stakeholders currently facing the task of enhancing legal preparedness for REDD.

The Norwegian Government is content to see this result of the first phase of support to the GFLI, and has recently agreed to extend support to GLOBE to the end of 2015, allowing the Initiative to expand to two additional countries - Colombia and Peru. We look forward to collaborating with GLOBE in the coming two years, supporting governments and particularly parliaments to implement key recommendations of this study in favor of early action and national readiness for REDD+. Ultimately, parliaments are key partners in mobilizing the political will and providing the legal frameworks that are needed for REDD+ to succeed.

 

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Foreword by Lord Deben & Senator Encinas

Lord Deben is president of GLOBE International and chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change. He was formerly UK secretary of state for the environment.

Mexican Senator Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez is vice-president of the Americas region of GLOBE International

(The foreword was published in a modified version as an op-ed in the Guardian on October 30, 2013)

With November's annual UN climate conference approaching, it is clear that the next two years are crucial if we are to reach a global climate deal in 2015. Reducing emissions from forests is a crucial step with deforestation representing up to 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions – more than that of the entire transport sector.

But international efforts to tackle deforestation can only succeed if they involve national parliaments, which will lay the groundwork for a global deal in 2015. This is the main message of this study released by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International) ahead of UNFCCC COP 19 in Warsaw.

Securing a global climate deal has always faced multiple obstacles. But one aspect of the international climate negotiations that was first viewed as a relatively easy win has gradually emerged as a major stumbling block: reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

The idea behind REDD is that developed economies with emission reduction obligations pay developing countries, where most of the world's major intact forests are found, for the service they provide in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it up.

As climate talks have progressed, perceptions of REDD have shifted markedly. Once seen as a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly and cheaply, it is now viewed as a complex process incorporating much broader issues than simply reducing carbon, for example indigenous community rights. In the run-up to 2015, how REDD is handled will be crucial. And breaking the deadlock on forests can provide a breakthrough necessary to advance international climate negotiations ahead of 2015.

National parliaments have so far been neglected in REDD negotiations and support programmes. This is tremendously short-sighted given that REDD policies are only feasible with an appropriate legislative base.Urgent engagement with parliaments, and advancement of strong national forest legislation, is now crucial if a REDD deal is to be reached.

GLOBE's report draws on experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico – four out of the six countries with the largest forest cover in the world. In recent decades, there has been a relentless march of deforestation caused by agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, and fires. Brazil and Indonesia alone account for more than 51% of the world's emissions from forest loss. In the Amazon, for example, around 17% of forests have been lost in the last 50 years according to the WWF.

This destruction has not been entirely wanton. Globally, some 1.6 billion people rely directly on benefits that forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter.
While REDD can make a huge positive step toward tackling deforestation, the potentially large international transfers of funds and wide range of stakeholders involved have left the process open to risks of fraud and corruption. And progress towards national legislation, essential for REDD to work in practice has been achingly slow.

In part, this is because many parliaments lack capacity to bring legislation into being. In some cases, this is because knowledge about the value and importance of forests is low. By channelling more energy into boosting capacity and enabling parliaments to pass national legislation, governments and international institutions could help create the political space for a global forest deal in 2015. As is increasingly recognised, it is only by implementing national and sub-national forest and climate change frameworks that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.

Mexico is perhaps the best example of where REDD legislation is making a difference. In 2012, the Mexican legislature was one of the first in the world to pass laws preparing for REDD. The new laws link the Mexican forest emission monitoring system to international standards, and require that communities which depend on forests for their livelihoods are included in all decision-making on how forests are used.
These new laws have multiple benefits at home – for example reducing the risk of corruption and land-related conflicts. They have also enabled Mexico to play a leadership role in international forest negotiations, potentially influencing the more than 40 countries that are currently drafting national REDD strategies.

With 2015 on the horizon, much is now at stake for a global deal on forests and climate change. These can both still be secured with a concerted effort that is driven by national parliaments. Time is of the essence, however, and we ignore the ticking clock at our peril.