MANILA, May 30 - A major breakthrough could be in the offing to protect the forests of developing countries from degradation as 52 countries conclude the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference 2010 in this sunny Norwegian capital last Thursday in Oslo, Norway.
This developed as the Philippines, led by Climate Change Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez, linked arms with leaders of both developed and developing countries to seek a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Alvarez, Vice Chair of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), described the new partnership as the first breakthrough in the difficult and complex climate change negotiations of the past two years.
REDD+ or the process of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, seeks to protect the worlds forests through financial assistance to developing countries for initiatives that prevent deforestation, he explained.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who hosted the event, noted that through REDD+, we can achieve the largest, quickest and cheapest cuts in global emissions.
The ongoing process could provide important input to the formal negotiations on REDD+ and serve as a stepping stone to a successful outcome on REDD+ at the 16th Conference of Parties in Mexico in December, Stoltenberg added.
According to the Prime Minister, REDD+ Partnership can assist the Philippines in protecting its standing forests through incentives for efforts that diminish the drivers of forest destruction and enhance carbon sinks.
For his part, Alvarez said the REDD+ process could complement integrated management of river basins that could restore ecosystem balance and harmony, and consequently, ensure sustenance and environmental services for communities.
A national REDD+ strategy for the Philippines, he said, is currently being finalized in consultation with senior forestry experts and civil society organizations.
At the Conference, Norway pledged to pay Indonesia a fixed sum per ton of CO2 emissions reduced through rain forest preservation, a similar deal made by Norway for Brazil since the mid-1990s.
Germany, France, Norway and four other countries have pledged to finance REDD+ itself through 2012.
Attending the one-day conference were heads of state from Denmark, Indonesia, Kenya and five other countries, along with officials from 44 other nations.
His Royal Highness, Charles Prince of Wales, Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, and UNEPs Achim Steiner addressed the Conference.(PNA)