When Will Myanmar Start Implementing REDD+?

Government stakeholder participated in consultation on National REDD+ Strategy Development. Photo: UN-REDD Programme Myanmar

The United Nations Framework Convention on REDD+ decided that REDD+ would be implemented in three phases.  The first phase involves the development of a National REDD+ Strategy, including the identification of policies and measures to reduce GHG emissions, and associated capacity-building.  In the second phase, the policies and measures identified in phase 1 are implemented, leading to full implementation in the third phase, with results measured, reported and verified.

 

So, when will Myanmar start implementing REDD+?  The answer to that question depends to a large degree on how you define “implementing”.  Some argue that “implementing” only applies when a country reaches phase 3.  On the other hand, it could also be argued that by engaging in phase 1, Myanmar is already implementing REDD+.  However, the most useful definition of “implementing” refers to the time when Myanmar starts implementing policies and measures (i.e., phase 2).

 

In Myanmar, the National REDD+ Strategy is still being developed (see REDD+ Knowledge Myanmar Issue 3).  Consultations with stakeholders are still on-going, with the goal of completing the Strategy by the end of 2018.  Therefore, Myanmar is clearly still in phase 1.  However, the three phases of REDD+ are not mutually exclusive; they can overlap in time.  It is also important to understand the nature of the National REDD+ Strategy and how it will be implemented.  The Strategy does not describe an independent body of work that will necessarily be implemented under the banner of “REDD+ Strategy”. Rather, it describes a portfolio of policies and measures, most of which will be implemented through associated programmes and projects.

 

So, while the Strategy is still being finalized, some of the obvious and non-controversial policies and measures can be implemented, in parallel.  This is exactly what is happening currently in Myanmar.  For example, reforestation will be a significant component of the National REDD+ Strategy.  The Myanmar Reforestation and Rehabilitation Programme (MRRP) is a comprehensive and very large programme, launched in 2016.  There will be no “REDD+ Strategy Reforestation Programme” – the MRRP IS the reforestation and rehabilitation component of the REDD+ Strategy.

 

Similarly, the one-year logging moratorium (and 10 years in Bago Yoma), announced by the government in 2016, while not specifically designed to reduce GHG emissions, nevertheless is a very substantial contribution to addressing over-harvesting of timber as a driver of forest degradation.

 

Therefore, it is accurate to say that Myanmar is already implementing REDD+, through existing government and development partner-supported projects.  The challenge in ensuring significant and sustainable emission reductions is in implementing policies and measures that address underlying causes related to inter-sectoral coordination and cooperation – existing initiatives do not cover such issues.

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