How can NDCs contribute to forest governance and resilient local communities?
Five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, tropical forested countries are still lacking ambition when it comes to reducing emissions and integrating forests as a climate solution. Analysis from a new Fern report shows a worrying situation which echoes the findings of a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Report on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) released earlier this year.
Ahead of the 26th UN Climate Conference of the Parties (COP26), forested countries’ plans to revise and strengthen their NDCs provide an urgent opportunity to take drastic measures. Updated plans must therefore strengthen forest governance and inclusive climate action that benefits people and nature.
Our new report Beyond commitments looks at progress, challenges, and opportunities in six African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, and Republic of the Congo.
It is becoming clearer that to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stop deforestation, secure gender equality and protect and support Indigenous communities, a holistic, inclusive and intersectional strategy is needed, including effective NDCs.
This report outlines why forests – and their protection, restoration, and inclusive management – play a primary role in addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change. Several countries have included forest in their climate adaption or mitigation targets in their first NDC. But the process of designing an NDC needs to also involve all stakeholders, including forest communities and local activists as they are best placed to know how forests should be managed, protected and restored.
Too little information and too limited efforts to achieve objectives
The report also finds that the lack of transparency, unclear targets, and failure to systematically monitor the NDC makes it difficult to assess progress made. There have been timid advances on building linkages between the NDC process and other initiatives such as Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)+ and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. However, in country coordination and donor support largely remain ad hoc, affecting effective implementation and monitoring. Poor engagement from other important stakeholders such as civil society, local communities, and the private sector hamper broader ownership.
Putting our collective foot down
Finally, the report concludes that countries must put their collective foot down, to achieve bold climate objectives. Countries can make a real difference by making the following changes::
- Fully integrating forest governance objectives into adaptation and mitigation measures.
- Reinforcing civil society participation, transparency and inclusion in the revision and implementation of NDCs.
- Designing solid and participatory monitoring processes for NDC implementation.
- Making gender a key element of climate policies and involving other vulnerable communities in their design.