By: Heng Pheakdey
Globally, some 130,000 square kilometers of forest are lost each year. Although the rate has slowed recently, deforestation remains a major environmental issue contributing to climate change, loss of plants, wildlife, and livelihoods of people.
Deforestation is caused by a variety of factors. A common reason why people cut trees is because they believe that cutting down trees to sell as timber, or to grow plantations is more valuable than keeping them. Thus, one way to reduce forest destruction is to convince people that standing trees are indeed more valuable than felled ones.
That is the goal of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Introduced in 2005, REDD rewards developing countries financially for emissions reductions through forest conservation.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for 17-29% of global greenhouse gas emissions. REDD incentivizes countries by paying for actions to prevent forest loss or degradation. The payment mechanisms can include carbon trading, or paying for forest management.
In 2007 REDD evolved in to REDD+ which goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
As a country with relatively high forest cover and high deforestation rates, Cambodia could benefit from REDD+ mechanism. Thus it has engaged with REDD+ program since it came back onto the global policy agenda at Bali in 2007.
Cambodia became a member of' UN-REDD Programme and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in 2009. Then in 2010, the country submitted its Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP)/REDD Roadmap to both the FPCF and the UN-REDD Programme to implement the R-PP. Since then Cambodia has made significant progress in implementing the road map.
The National REDD-Plus Taskforce and Taskforce Secretariat were established in 2012. Awareness raising among all relevant stakeholders was carried out through training, seminar, concert and newsletter. A number of pilot projects have also been implemented to gain experience in REDD implementation on the ground.
Despite the progress, a lot of work remains to be done. One of the priority activities is to develop a comprehensive national REDD+ strategy which encompasses the key issues: the national monitoring system, measures to tackle deforestation, benefit sharing, safeguards, grievance mechanisms and building national and sub-national capacity.
For REDD+ to be successful, the whole process from planning to final evaluation must be fair, transparent, and inclusive. Engagement of all stakeholders and continuous capacity building are necessary. If well implemented, REDD+ could form a significant new source of finance for Cambodia to effectively implement its forest management strategies.
Heng Pheakdey is Deputy Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia and founder of the Enrich Institute, a Phnom Penh-based organization specializing in human resource development.
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