For more than a decade, the United Nations Development Programme has funded activities and recruited staff for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative, a program that has no logic for PNG and simply funds overpriced consultants.
On August 30 2017, government officials, NGO staff and some private sector representatives were hosted in Kokopo, East New Britain as yet another costly activity that has delivered no apparent results. The best that UNDP’s Chief Technical Advisor on REDD+ could say was that the outcomes of the meeting would be collated into a single document to “help the government push forward with plans to get international funding for REDD+ so we can fight climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.”
Note that the focus remains on milking more donor money from the international community, while failing to explain how such investments will lead to any tangible outcomes. How will PNG reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation? The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s latest assessment of PNG’s forest cover found that the deforestation rate between 1990 and 2015 was 0.0% per year.
As has been noted by this newsletter before, REDD+ is a flawed concept that seeks to allow developing countries to register carbon credits created by them not cutting down forests that they otherwise would have. These credits would then be sold on international markets to polluting industries in rich countries. No such market exists, so even if PNG could somehow report and validate the emissions avoided by reducing the deforestation rate (from 0.0%, according to the FAO), there would be no market for the resulting credits.
Despite the noble aims of the REDD+ scheme, it has become yet another way for poorly targeted, ineffective donor spending – at least US$17.9 million at last count – to seduce government officials and promote the anti-agriculture and anti-commercial forestry agendas of rich-country activists.