30 Oct 2013 Speech Climate change

Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw, at the UN-REDD fifth-anniversary dinner, Oslo, Norway

The UN-REDD Fifth-anniversary Dinner Oslo REDD Exchange, Voksenasen Hotel, Oslo, Norway 30 October 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of FAO, UNDP and UNEP, collaborating agencies of the UN REDD programme, I wish to warmly welcome you to this dinner. This event is organised here today for two main reasons:

  • first to celebrate the successful first five years of the Programme,
  • second, to express our most sincere gratitude to the Government and people of Norway.

Let me start with the second reason. Norway, its Government, its political leadership across political parties, its civil society and its population at large, are playing an unprecedented leadership role in climate change and sustainable development processes.

The growing number of people attending and fully participating in the Oslo REDD exchange days is a clear testimony of not only the interest but also the respect that participants want to pay to Norway. We are grateful to Norway for the financial and political support it is providing to REDD issues in general, to the UNREDD in particular.

Ask any climate change expert or negotiator about REDD+, or anyone interested in forest and climate change, they will take you on a journey to Oslo. In the minds of many, REDD is associated to Norway in the same way as the Nobel Peace award is to Oslo. Leading by example, with humility and mutual respect - this is the Norwegian trademark.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we are celebrating the five year mark of the UNREDD Programme. The Programme has achieved remarkable results; as tempting as it is, I will not endeavour to enumerate them tonight. I leave it to partner countries to give their own appreciation, if they wish to do so.

Instead, I will focus my brief intervention on initial impacts and long lasting effects. Some of the impacts that have been achieved were expected, some are un-intended. Sort of collateral benefits, to semi-paraphrase a famous military expression.

a) we have demonstrated through the readiness phase, that REDD is feasible. That REDD makes ecological and economic sense. Both the UNREDD and the FCPF (with whom we have an excellent collaboration) have demonstrated that it works. It has worked in Vietnam, in Indonesia, it works in the Democratic Republic of Congo it works in Nigeria and in many over countries.

b) REDD is about transformational changes. Let me elaborate with few examples. The UNREDD programme has brought together a unique consortium of governments, IP, NGOs, UN agencies and Donors, both at the global level (PB) and at the country level (NJP). Where else in the UN do you have Governments and stakeholders seating in the same governing body, with the same rights? This has been going on for the last five years, so it has been tested, and believe you me, it works!

What is REDD, asks one forest dweller? REDD is a mechanism for transformational change of the forest governance, responded a CSO representative.

c) REDD is also about MRV, carbon measurement, results based payment...REDD is shifting the paradigm of forest management. Forest management is no longer dominated by timber/ logs and other non-timber forest products.

What is REDD asks a student? REDD is a science where forests have more value standing than cut, responded the professor.

d) REDD is about multiple benefits. There is more than carbon in the forest and there are more than trees in a forest. Biodiversity, ecosystem services such as provisioning of the freshwater we drink, the food we consume or the soil that produces our staple food.

What is REDD asks the Minister of Finance? REDD is when forests are considered by the entire community as a national asset, as being part of the nation's wealth; when forests are part of the nation's natural capital. REDD is therefore a science that has changed the metrics, changed the economics of the forest sector.

e) Land tenure, forest tenure. REDD readiness shows the need to change, adapt and adjust the forest legislation.

"What is REDD", I asked a legislator this morning. REDD, she said, is what brings together lawmakers from different political parties, a unifying force that helps craft an unprecedented legislation on land use and land use planning.

f) the work done on safeguards, while still new, constitutes the foundation for private sector investment. For REDD approach to work at a large scale we need an enhanced public sector investment both domestic funding and ODA. REDD will however remain limited in scope and impact unless we see a major private sector interest.

What is REDD asks a small holder in Central Kalimantan? REDD, said Pak Musa, is when public and private investments are made in a coherent manner, with the common goal of achieving sustainable development.

So, if all this has been achieved in five years, you may ask what remains to be done? Well, first of all, not everything is yet fully achieved. Second, while we have built a solid foundation, i.e. the readiness phase is almost complete in many countries, we have not completed building the house.

We need to continue building the confidence for more public and private investment. We should demonstrate that REDD makes business sense.

We should also continue to help build strong programmes and help deliver large scale REDD actions on the ground so as to reduce the emission gap.

We should work more closely with the agricultural sector and continue to promote climate smart agriculture so as to reduce the deforestation induced by agriculture.

Thank you again for coming. Thank you for what you are doing. Thank you for what you are going to do. Please raise your glass or give a round of applauds to Norway for its leadership.