Insiders say REDD+ Work Plan was Edited at Last Minute

Steve Zwick

Several members and stakeholders of the REDD+ Partnership have proposed amendments to the Partnership’s controversial work plan, and sources close to the Partnership secretariat say the plan posted by co-chairs Federica Bietta of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Junya Nakano of Japan on December 2 is not the one that the secretariat had written.

EM Responds

The issue of stakeholder involvement is complex, and we do not claim to cover its entirety in the pieces alluded to above. We also, however, are not aware of any factual errors in these reports.   We are following up with Federica Bietta and other members of the REDD+ Partnership Secretariat to ensure their accuracy, which we continue to stand by. As new information comes to light, we will report it, and if any of that new information shows our previous reporting to have been in error, we will certainly set the record straight.

We believe this discussion provides an opportunity for the REDD+ Partnership to share additional documentation of its decision-making process and can increase transparency consistent with the Partnership’s stated goals. We remain committed to providing accurate reporting on these issues while allowing stakeholders with varying opinions to express their views when any claims can be substantiated.

We invite anyone who would like to shed more light on this issue to contact us at [email protected].

Steve Zwick
Managing Editor
Ecosystem Marketplace

6 December 2010 |
Several members and stakeholders of the REDD+ Partnership have proposed amendments to the Partnership’s controversial work plan, which appeared late Wednesday and eliminates many of the stakeholder safeguards that Partners had agreed to the Sunday before. A new version incorporating those amendments is due out at 8pm this evening.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Partnership secretariat say the work program posted by co-chairs Federica Bietta of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Junya Nakano of Japan on December 2 differs markedly from the one compiled by the secretariat.

Technically, it is the prerogative of the co-chairs to alter text as they see fit – in part because the Partnership still has not agreed on rules of procedure.

“This sort of thing has been going on intermittently over the last few months, and it’s put a lot of noses out of joint amongst the parties and environmental campaigners,” says Peg Putt, former leader of the Tasmanian Green Party in Australia and now a climate-change campaigner for The Wilderness Society.   “The co-chairs persist in doing it, and in this case, again, the fingerprints of PNG are all over what’s happened.”

The text was released shortly before midnight on Wednesday – roughly four hours later than scheduled – and nearly all of the safeguards that appeared in an earlier text had been removed.

“The secretariat did a revision of the work program by Wednesday, 2 December, and sent it to the co-chairs, and then the document disappeared for many hours and was then sent out by PNG with a number of changes to what the secretariat has provided,” said a source close to the secretariat, speaking on condition of anonymity.   “[The document posted Wednesday] is not the product of the secretariat; it is the secretariat’s version plus changes.”

Bietta says that most of the feedback has been favorable, and that she and Nakano only made changes needed to ensure the plan did not deviate from the Oslo and Nagoya agreements.

“Also, Partners understand that this is only a work plan — not a decision or recommendation,” she says.   “Further, the work plan is a process which will be regularly updated and partners and stakeholders will have plenty of time to discuss and insert different issues.”

Many Partners contacted by Ecosystem Marketplace over the weekend said they were too busy to review the draft that was posted last Wednesday, but would reject the document if the safeguards that were omitted in the most recent document are not reinstated this evening.

“If these safeguards are not included, you have to ask yourself if the Interim REDD+ Partnership should even continue to exist,” said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, who represents the Philippines in the Partnership.

“The chair’s text marks a significant roll-back on any commitment to implement and monitor safeguards,” said Rosalind Reeve, Forest Campaign Manager for Global Witness.   “We had understood that consensus was close on this key issue, but the new text fails to reflect this.”

She expressed optimism that Brazil, which takes over as co-chair together with France on January 1, 2011, would reinstate any safeguards removed under the current regime.

“We would like to see Brazil take more of a leadership role on this issue since they have viable experience to offer,” she said.

Thais Juvenal, Brazil’s director of forests and climate change, said she would announce an official Partnership delegate shortly.

This article was updated at 3:55am GMT on December 7, 2010, to include Federica Bietta’s comments.

This article was further updated at 7:58 pm GMT on December 18, 2010, with a new headline.   The previous headline read, “Controversial REDD+ Work Plan was Rewritten at Last Minute.”     The change was made in response to critics who pointed out, rightly, that the accusations have not been proven.

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Steve Zwick is the Managing Editor of Ecosystem Marketplace.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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Co-Chairs Respond