Fiji Finalising National REDD-plus Policy
Friday, 23 April 2010 15:53
Tuesday 30 March 2010
Fiji is on track to be ‘REDD-ready’ by the end of 2012 with the finalisation of its national REDD-plus policy currently underway. The development of the REDD-plus policy is in recognition of the need for robust and effective policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure REDD (reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation) initiatives contribute optimally to the social, economic and ecological development of the country.
Stakeholders from various sectors and agencies met on Tuesday 16 February in Suva to further develop Fiji’s draft REDD-plus policy.

The draft document developed in September 2009 had been put on hold pending the outcomes of the Copenhagen UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COP-15 (Conference of the Parties) negotiations held in December
The Fiji Conservator of Forests, Mr Inoke Wainiqolo (left) & the Deputy Conservator, Mr Samuela Lagataki (right) at the Policy Scoping workshop
2009. 
   
Though the Copenhagen climate change conference fell short of many expectations, it made progress on the REDD negotiations. The resulting Copenhagen Accord recognises the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removal of greenhouse gas by forests. In this respect, the accord calls for financial support from developed countries to developing countries. This is very encouraging to developing countries like Fiji embarking on REDD programmes. During the February workshop elements relating to COP-15 REDD decisions were strengthened in the draft Fiji REDD-plus policy. This included safeguards such as the rights and participation of indigenous peoples, gender considerations, equitable distribution of benefits, good governance, and conservation of biodiversity and natural forests.
 
The overall objective of the REDD-plus policy will be to effectively ‘address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and encourage the drivers of forest-based carbon sinks’. The policy scoping exercise in September last year identified agricultural activities (in natural forests), and settlement and infrastructure development (in mangrove forests) as the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Fiji. This highlights the need for supportive institutional and legal frameworks in other sectors in order for a REDD instrument to be successful. This is a salient feature for small island states like Fiji, where development in one sector closely affects the others, given the geography and agriculture-based economy. This calls for national policies that are complementary and based on a common vision.
 
 
Fortunately, Fiji is undergoing extensive reviews of its sector polices and laws, and is pursuing sustainable natural resource management and development in most areas. The National Forest Policy, for instance, has the vision of ‘sustainable management of Fiji’s forests to maintain their natural potential and to achieve greater social, economic and environmental benefits for current and future generations’. The REDD-plus policy will respond to specific (carbon financing mechanisms) and broad components (sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation) of the Forest Policy.
The REDD-plus policy will be aligned to the objectives of the Fiji Sustainable Economic and Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS), which will allow it to benefit from an enabling environment and ensure that it contributes to the overall sustainable development and poverty reduction of the country. The policy will also play an important role in supporting Fiji in meeting other international commitments (aside from UNFCCC), such as CBD (Convention on Biodiversity) and UNCCD (Convention on Combating Desertification).
 
The Fiji REDD-plus policy is currently undergoing final drafting and stakeholder consultations. The policy will be implemented through a REDD-plus programme that aims to have Fiji achieve REDD readiness by the end of 2012. The SPC/ German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Pacific-German Regional Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region is supporting the Fiji Forestry Department and the Fiji Department of Environment in this undertaking.