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Workshop on the potential synergies between REDD+ and sustainable agriculture

Linking REDD+ funding with agricultural certification schemes and climate-smart agriculture has enormous potential to reduce harmful Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

On 15 and 16 September the Proforest Initiative facilitated a workshop convened by the UK Department for International Development (DFID)  and the Prince’s Rainforest Project entitled ‘REDD+ and Agricultural Drivers of Deforestation: Informing REDD+ Strategies and Programmes’ at Kensington Palace, London. The workshop brought together more than 50 participants ranging from governments to agricultural roundtables, NGOs and private sector companies.

The UK government has established a £2.9 billion International Climate Fund (ICF) to support developing countries’ adaptation to climate change and low carbon growth over the period 2011-2014. DFID, through the ICF, aims to invest £600 million in projects that can deliver a positive impact in terms of improved forest governance, land use planning and livelihoods while reducing deforestation and GHG emissions.

Most REDD+ discussions and initiatives are focused on the forestry sector, without taking a wider view of the drivers from other land use sectors. The workshop was convened to explore how existing knowledge and initiatives in the agricultural sector can contribute to reduction of GHG emissions and deforestation and can support developing countries to prepare for climate change.

Human population growth and economic development will mean a significant increase in food demand over the next few decades. Some of this increased demand can be met by increasing productivity but it will also inevitably require increased land area for crop expansion. The way in which crop expansion occurs, for instance whether forests are converted to agriculture, will have major impacts on land use, livelihoods and GHG emissions.

Though most would agree that agriculture is a major driver of forest conversion, not everyone agrees that agriculture should receive REDD+ financing – arguing instead that funds should go to support under-funded parks and protected areas.

Participants stressed the importance, and untapped potential, of engaging the private sector to address the most significant drivers of deforestation with the ultimate aim to reduce or eliminate the space in the market for irresponsible producers and unsustainable production.

Several of the organisations and meeting participants will attend the next UNFCCC COP in Durban in December 2011 – where they plan to raise these issues and make concrete steps to capitalise on the potential synergies between REDD+ and sustainable agriculture. Even in the absence of a binding global climate treaty, government, private sector and other actors are committed to making progress on these urgent issues.

Published 29.09.2011