Fiji REDD+ Policy development
Fiji has a forest cover of almost 1.1 million hectares, covering about fifty-six percent of the total land mass. Forest clearance, largely attributed to agriculture, can be observed on parts of Fiji. The country also has large areas of degraded and unutilised lands which has potential for reforestation and afforestation to increase carbon stock. Fiji recognises REDD-plus as an opportunity to contribute towards global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the socio-economic status of its forest resource owners and protect its forest ecosystems.
The Fiji REDD-plus approach
Fiji is taking a phased approach in its REDD-plus programme. The first phase aims to put in place policy and institutional frameworks for the implementation of REDD-plus and addressing capacity needs for the establishment of a national MRV (measuring, reporting and verification) system. The second phase involves the development of a national REDD-plus strategy, the establishment of pilot sites and strengthening MRV capacities (towards Tier 2 and 3 level reporting). The third phase will be the implementation of the strategy, participation in a REDD carbon financing mechanism, and the establishment of an operational MRV and IPCC reporting system.
Scoping and Policy development
During the first phase, more than 50 stakeholders from various sectors and agencies came together in a 1-week consultation workshop to contribute to a Fiji REDD Policy Scoping Report 2009 detailing the country’s capacity requirements to implement REDD-plus. An important exercise in this consultation was the identification of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. The ‘drivers’ refer to the human causes of carbon stock change and identification is necessary for developing an effective REDD-plus strategy and for establishing appropriate monitoring systems for these drivers. The consultation also saw the drafting of a national REDD-plus Policy where participants defined the appropriate scope, scale, MRV approach, distribution of benefits, institutional support, and safeguards for the implementation of REDD-plus in the country.
The draft REDD-plus Policy was finalised in July 2010 after intensive consultations, including the incorporation of relevant resolutions and recommendations from international meetings, and reviewing by international experts to ensure alignment with international policy language and developments.
On Tuesday 07 December 2010 the Fiji cabinet endorsed the Fiji National REDD-plus Policy. The policy is a first for the region and the process carried out in Fiji has been hailed as an exemplar for other Pacific countries preparing for REDD-readiness. The Policy is very timely as with growing interest from private investors and donors, the Policy provides a framework for the implementation REDD-plus projects in the country.
Following closely on the heels of the endorsed policy is the REDD-plus Strategy. A first draft of the strategy has been developed by stakeholders and this identifies specific activities for the implementation of the policy. The strategy will be finalised following significant studies that are currently taking place in Fiji. These include the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) study, Identifying the Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Fiji, development of a forest reference level (FRL) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from forests, development of a national forest monitoring system (NFMS); a corresponding database and database management system (DBMS) that includes related information on biodiversity and safeguards and facilitates the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of GHG emissions and removals from forests in compliance with international standards; and guidelines for integration of REDD+ projects under the planned Emission Reductions Programme (ERP) into the NFMS and FRL.