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Rising average temperatures and concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, rising sea levels are all current climatic concerns. According to the prediction of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the concentration of CO2 will have doubled compared to the pre-industrial era causing temperature rise of the Earth of 3°C on average by 2100. Stakeholders to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have pledged to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°. To achieve this goal, several States have made commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Importance of forests in the fight against global warming

Forests play a key role in stabilizing the climate. They sequester the carbon dioxide (CO2) released in the nature. CO2 is one of the main gases whose concentration in the atmosphere causes greenhouse effect and global warming. Deforestation and forest damage thus provoke the release into the atmosphere of C02 sequestered and the loss of other environmental services provided by forests, in this case the sequestration of CO2 released by human activities resulting from modernity.  Fight against climate change cannot therefore be achieved without addressing the causes of deforestation. These include illegal logging - which in turn results from weak law enforcement-, the quality of governance and the coordination of sectoral policies related to forests. 

Many processes related to forests and directly or indirectly addressing the fight against climate change are facilitated or implemented by countries that take part in the UNFCCC and Paris agreement. These include processes of a) reducing emissions caused by deforestation and forest damage, enhancing carbon stocks, conservation and sustainable management (REDD+), b) enforcing forest regulations, governance, timber trade and derived products (FLEGT), and c) Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to which are added the sustainable development goals (SDGs) whose objectives 12 (consumption and responsible production), 13 (measures related to the fight against climate change), 15 (earthly life)  and 16 are linked to forests. But unfortunately, these different processes are not sufficiently coordinated to ensure the effectiveness of climate action at the global level.  

Coordination of forest initiatives, an opportunity for effectiveness of a global climate action

The strengthening of climate action heavily depends on the coordination of politics involving or affecting forests. FLEGT, REDD+ and NDC have complementary, even similar objectives for the achievement of climate agenda through forests. FLEGT by fighting against illegal logging and associated trade contribute by reducing deforestation and forest damage, which are the causes of C02 emissions that the REDD + process intends to address. States have made emission reduction commitments as part of their NDCs. Forest plays there a decisive role. For example, it represents for Cameroon 9% of the overall target of 32%. But the majority of NDCs in countries committed in FLEGT do not mention the contributions of this instrument to the achievement of reduction targets by 2030. The partition of processes causes to lose opportunities of reinforcing one process by another.

While most countries are in the review phase of their NDC, it is important to develop synergy with FLEGT, REDD+ and other forest initiatives such as the initiative of restoration of 100 million hectares of deforested or degraded landscapes in Africa by 2030 (AFR100). NDCs from countries engaged in the negotiation, preparation or implementation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade of timber and derived Products (VPA FLEGT) should clearly identify how FLEGT will contribute to the achievement of commitments made in terms of reducing emissions. Emphasis on the reinforcement of governance, including greater transparency and stakeholder participation, sectoral policy coordination and law enforcement is also essential.

In Cameroon, it is important that greater public awareness of the CDN process and its links with FLEGT, REDD+, AFR100 be made. This would promote understanding of the different processes, complementarities between them, opportunities for synergies and, we think, facilitate a better commitment of actors for the coordination.

It is also urgent that technical and financial cooperation partners in their programmes and supports to tropical countries show a political will to synergize the different processes and initiatives related to forests and transfer to States and other stakeholders the skills to achieve it.

Similarly, civil society organizations and local and indigenous communities in tropical countries have a key role in achieving climate action at the national and global levels. It is therefore a priority to involve them as early as possible in the initial reflections on the processes and phases of elaboration and implementation so that they adhere to them. But also that the expectations and interests of all stakeholders are taken into account.

By Laurence WETE SOH