The existence of forests is critical as a defence against climate change and to provide us with livelihoods. It is therefore crucial to evolve work on sustainable forestry at the moment. Global deforestation and degradation have a negative impact of approximately 17 to 20 percent (IPCC) against climate change for which initiatives like REDD+ is important as a mitigation response to climate change. Some 13 million hectares of forest area, the size of the United Kingdom are destroyed annually. Therefore, efforts towards reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have become crucial. Whereas, REDD+ provides multi benefits in terms of green economic uplift through carbon credits, better environmental conditions, biodiversity conservation, and improved livelihoods as compared with CDM mechanism. It is predicted that financial flows for greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD+ could reach up to US$ 30 billion a year. This significant North-South flow of funds could reward a meaningful reduction of carbon emissions and could also support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.
REDD+ mechanism is designed as a Mitigation response to climate change under UNFCCC, that is to say, designed to reduce carbon emissions. The idea at the core of REDD+ is that Pakistan will be able to earn revenue by reducing the logging and burning of its forests. This reduces GHGs and helps to pump CO2 back into the ground. This means that Pakistan, a developing country which looks after its forests is storing carbon, and this can earn revenue for the country. The price of this carbon is determined by a market, known as a carbon offset market. The current price of carbon on the offset market is between 20 and 25 US dollars per metric ton. In 2008, 4.9 billion tons of carbon was traded globally. The REDD mechanism seeks to bring intact forests from developing countries into the carbon market, because they are able to remove carbon dioxide from the air and to store carbon. The REDD Program is based on two linked ideas: to reduce CO2 emissions by reducing deforestation in developing countries, and, to create an opportunity for developing countries to generate sustainable revenues by trading on the carbon market.
REDD+ is a concept that has been gaining momentum in climate change mitigation globally. Worldwide, many governments have set up funds for REDD+ activities including the Australian Forest & Climate Initiative; the Norwegian government’s fund; and, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (June 2008). Numerous developing countries have also announced plans to address emissions from deforestation while conservation organisations, project developers and governments have started implementing REDD+ pilot activities in developing countries (Stephen 2009). “The REDD Programme of United Nations supports processes for REDD Plus readiness and contribute to the development of national REDD Plus strategies. It promotes REDD Plus financing as an opportunity to develop low carbon growth and helps countries to access financial and technical support” (UN-REDD 2010).
In the context of South Asia, many countries have started to work on REDD+ whereas some countries have even developed pilot projects (like Nepal) by using methodological guidelines of voluntary carbon market.
Pakistan has a long list of endeavors to bring the emerging trends in forestry related to Climate Change. There is a need to overcome the capacity gaps in making REDD+ operational in Pakistan. Although the forestry was very much provincial subject in Pakistan but it become fully provincial subject after the 18th amendment in the constitution of Pakistan. Keeping in view the bitter experiences of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in Pakistan, it is critical point of time to realize and address the basic requirements of REDD+ readiness phase by evolving good Governance setup for REDD+ mechanism in Pakistan.
As a matter of fact, we all know, there is an urgent need of actions to meet the requirement of REDD readiness phase in Pakistan for which new challenges needs to be addressed which includes national approach vs. provincial context as a result of implementation of 18th amendment, revisions in the forest laws to accept forest carbon as a commodity, natural resources governance and benefits sharing mechanism. It is the right time to chip in the REDD mechanism by starting parallel activities actively e.g. Institutional measures with the development of National strategy for REDD+, trainings and feasibilities / Pilot Studies, which is the only solution to meet the global requirement and its timeline as Pakistan is already late as usual like what happened in the past in case of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) has established a special carbon forum namely Pakistan Carbon Initiative (PCI) for the special support of REDD+ mechanism in Pakistan, and is trying its best to act as a moderator through its technical advice in developing REDD projects at the national and sub national levels with good governance setups. We, at SDPI, believe that the Cancun agreements have shown the path to be followed in REDD in the coming years and if Pakistan has to benefit from carbon finance pledged in Cancun then there is a need to develop national level scenarios and not merely provincial ones. Though provincial scenarios can also be developed along-with projects but will have to synchronize them with the national ones if Pakistan has to enter into a sustainable supply of REDD+ credits for the communities to uplift livelihood practices in the context of sustainable development.