The REDD+ concept is highly relevant to Lao PDR, which has a large per capita forest area, with relatively high per capita deforestation and forest degradation. Given the fact that annual emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are estimated to account for 72% of the country’s total emissions, REDD+ could provide significant opportunities to protect ecosystem services and increase the revenues from the forest sector.
Since 2007, Lao PDR has made efforts to develop its national REDD+ system. This includes submission of the R-PIN (2008) and the R-PP (2010) to the World Bank’s FCPF. However, overall REDD+ readiness is still at an early stage. Outstanding challenges include formulation of the national REDD+ strategy, development of institutional arrangements, as well establishment of REL / RL, MRV and the safeguards monitoring system. Also there is an urgent need to establish a legal basis for REDD+ implementation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has started to revise the forestry legal framework to address issues of forest tenure and forest carbon rights / carbon use rights.
The organisational framework for REDD+ readiness has evolved and national ownership of the REDD+ readiness progress appears to have grown. The multi-sectoral REDD+ Task Force was reformed in 2011 and now includes more state ministries and Lao civil society organizations. The REDD+ Office was set up within the Department of Forestry to support the Task Force and manage day-to-day REDD+ activities. However, the idea of REDD+ is new in Lao PDR, and the government is still moving towards the necessary multi-sectoral approach for REDD+ to have an impact on forest management and use. The administrative capacity of the organisational framework needs to be further developed to be in accordance with existing national and sub-national institutions and structures.
While the government has tried to strengthen national ownership of REDD+ readiness, REDD+ readiness still relies largely on bilateral and multilateral support at both national and sub-national levels. Key support from donors include the World Bank’s FCPF and Forest Investment Programme (FIP), CliPAD (GIZ-KfW), FSCAP (JICA, SIDA), PAREED (JICA), FIM (Japan) and SUFORD (Finland, World Bank). Given this variety of support, the government has an important role to play in ensuring coordination between donor activities and programmes in accordance with the government’s policy and its involvement in the FCPF process.
At the sub-national level, several REDD+ demonstration activities and feasible studies are being planned and/or implemented by donors and NGOs. REDD+ demonstration activities cover different forest types, including production forest (SURFORD), protected areas (CliPAD) and village forests (PAREED), and they apply different approaches to tackling deforestation, and different standards for addressing forest carbon monitoring and safeguards. There is no guideline or formal procedure to prepare and implement REDD+ projects. To support implementation of REDD+ demonstration activities and draw useful lessons from them, the government should establish a national guideline and formal approval process, as well as coordinate the REDD+ projects under the REDD+ Task Force.
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