Friday, 18 December 2009

I have been following the REDD+ (i.e. forests) negotiations, and as a member of the Gabon delegation have been able to sit in on the contact group meetings and plenaries. Today I have been giving a few interviews on how the forest deal is going (Italian TV, BBC news hour, BBC Brazil)

Yesterday the negotiations resumed after the Danish presidency abandoned plans to introduce a modified text to move things forward (to very angry and emotive protests from China, Brazil, G77 and others), and resumed negotiations based on the negotiated draft texts that the negotiating teams had been working on until 7 am on Wednesday). The negotiating meeting the broke into contact groups to work on each of the issues, with reporting back at 8pm

Compared to everything else, the REDD+ text is in a good state. For the final meeting, about 40 very tired people huddled in small room and tried to move forward on outstand bits of the REDD+ text. Through skillful chairing and a few huddled breakouts a few more brackets were removed, but a few more remained. Having seen this process from the inside for the first time I am astonished how anything is agreed. The big outstanding issue is how REDD will be financed, whether there will be definite targets, and definite funding commitments. Everyone recognized that that would not be decided by this negotiating team, but at a higher level by the big negotiating team. As a newcomer (and less tired than the real drafters and negotiators), I was struck by a sense of history. The headlines and spotlights are in the big plenary next door, where the heads of state are gathered, but it is in small rooms like this that tired delegates are working through the nights developing the architecture of what REDD+, and other components of the climate deal, may look like. As Yvo de Boer said at the end of Forest Day , “don’t be blinded by the spotlights, it is up to you [negotiators and NGOs] to protect the nitty-gritty”.

Of course, nothing is sorted until the overall deal is sorted. But as long as there is some overall architecture for a deal (even if vague), I have the feeling that REDD+ will be promoted heavily as a positive outcome from Copenhagen. Barring the completely unexpected, the landscape for all those interested in the future of tropical forests is about to be transformed.


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