Thursday, December 2, 2010

UN Efforts aimed at Capacity Development

This panel discussion was presented by several UN organizations and surveyed several places where the UN is working to improve the capacity to deal with preparedness for climate change related challenges at the nation level.

Maria of UN-HABITAT spoke of urban measures for adaptation and mitigation in the Philipines, where a 1 m sea level rise will affect 80% of the municipalities.

Julia Jules of CD4CDM (Capacity Development for Clean Development Mechanisms) in Peru spoke at length at how Peru was doing everything imaginable to be carbon finance friendly. This mostly dealt with government and finance level organization and of course capacity development, which would be building Peru’s ability to accept these CDM funds by insuring financeable projects, as well as having all of their ducks in line in the way of eligibility, money distribution, money sourcing, etc. This paid off for them though, through partnerships with Scotia Bank, Banco Continental, and Banco de Credito Peru has welcomed $11 billion in new investments. This money will fund 45 new CDM projects. Peru is also heavily promoting their CDM efforts and have been noted in May 2008 as “country of the month” by CDM Highlights magazine and is currently 6th best host country for CDM investments by Point Carbon magazine. As of now, in 2010, there are 147 CDM projects in the energy sector totaling in 25,783 tons of CO2 per year reduced and in 2011 there will be 152 projects estimated to reduce emissions by 250,000 tons of CO2. More information can be found at

Peter Holmgren of UN-REDD spoke of current REDD projects going on in Tanzania. He indicated the largest barrier to implementing REDD on a large scale were the transaction costs of training personnel to learn new technologies and to carry out the actual inventories of emissions in forests. This is also known as MRV, which stands for Monitoring, Recordkeeping, and Verification. MRV is currently the largest barrier for any terrestrial carbon management project looking to get funding from REDD and CDMs. The issue lies in the imperative to accurately measure emissions and sequestrations over huge areas of land with heterogeneous management, structure (topographically as well as in the vegetation), and soil, and then to track those measurements over time. To quote Holmgren “Forest MRV, without it, we can’t do anything”.

In order for participating, or interested countries to receive the compensation generated by REDD programs, the countries need to build their capacity to do MRV in order to submit a report. Not only capacity of states limited, but on the international level, Holmgren told us, there are not enough experts and implementers.

Tanzania represented an interesting case study where the FAO, UNDP, and UNEP have been working extensively with the Tanzanian National Forestry Program through longstanding work with the Forestry and Beekeeping Commission. This helps with capacity building, but the Brazilian Space Institute has been very instrumental by providing training workers to use remotely sensed data, like satellite images, as well as some technology transfer. In summary, REDD has much to offer, but also many demands. Costs need to be brought down, remote sensing needs to become available at the local level, training and training support is essential for the states to sustainably carry out REDD requirements as these projects can last up to a century or more. Holmgren also called for more Global South-to-Global South government collaboration as well as Global North-to-Global-North academic collaboration.

I asked the panel about how they felt food security and food sovereignty fit into capacity building, in the scope of the projects they reported on, my question went unanswered. It was clear to me that these UN efforts are tailored towards building capacity to generate CDM derived incomes for states, not necessarily building capacity of the people of those countries to adapt to the challenges that climate change presents.

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