Advancing REDD+ architecture means strengthening three main elements: information, incentives and institutions (the 3Is). The second meeting of the Science-Policy Dialogue in 2022 focused on the ‘information’ element, and included data on peatland methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in relation to FREL, REDD+ safeguards and REDD+ projects. The aims of the meeting, which involved thirty-six state and non-state actors as participants, were to share the latest research findings from CIFOR and partners, secure comments and input so the platform can support the advancement of REDD+ in Indonesia, and leverage the national commitment to transform forestry and other land use (FoLU) sectors to achieve the net carbon sink target by 2030.
Opening remarks from the chair of the University of Indonesia’s Climate Change Research Center (RCCC-UI) highlighted the need to strengthen collaboration in knowledge creation at different levels, and support policymakers and practitioners in designing and implementing REDD+ to ensure effective, efficient and equitable outcomes. This was followed by opening remarks from the Secretary of the Directorate General of Forest Planology and Environmental Governance under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, who outlined Indonesia’s operational plan for FoLU Net Sink 2030 with its focus on emissions reduction, increasing and maintaining carbon sequestration, and capacity development. The plan is supported by policies including Presidential Regulation No. 98/2021 on Carbon Economic Value, as well as various corrective actions taken in the forestry sector over the last seven years.
The meeting then continued with parallel breakout group sessions. During parallel breakout group 1, CIFOR scientists shared recent information showing emissions from oil palm plantations being eight times higher than those from natural forests. Though, CO2 makes up the highest percentage of these emissions, CH4 and N2O emissions are also significant, and as Indonesia’s FoLU Net Sink 2030 target has yet to take these into account, including CH4 and N2O in calculations is imperative.
Parallel breakout group 2 discussed the status and roles of REDD+ projects in Indonesia, where of the 48 projects ongoing in 2015, only 21 remained active in 2018–2020. Among those remaining, following 2–6 years of preparations, seven project developers are selling carbon credits amounting to 8.75 million tCO2, which is equivalent to 6% of the total global voluntary carbon market. Buyers include individuals; private sector actors involved in energy, transportation and industry; the public sector; and countries such as Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and the United States. The role of these projects is not only to reduce emissions by 15.2 million tCO2eq per year, or 20% of the 76.9 million tCO2eq annual emissions reduction target under Indonesia’s NDC, but also to provide lessons for new REDD+ project developers.
Parallel breakout group 3 discussed REDD+ safeguards in the context of support for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Research findings from a literature review on safeguards show that standards fail to require IPLC involvement in initiatives’ full lifetimes (design, implementation and monitoring); some require it in implementation, but normally without concrete indicators. Further research is needed to understand how standards could lead to ‘doing better’ by engaging under-represented actors as active agents and participants (ideally, partners and fellow changemakers).
In conclusion, as climate change is a complex problem and involves many different actors and interests, the exchange of information and continuous discussion remains important. REDD+ was never an isolated initiative in a particular place, but is linked and influenced by other sectors, actors and impacts, and is affected by events in other places or jurisdictions. Therefore, as governments need the support of other actors, they need to make policies that support their interests.
A post-event statistical survey showed more than half of participants feeling the event’s topics to be as relevant as expected. Project advisory group (PAG) members felt they had learned a good deal with different topics being shared in each parallel breakout group. Participants also felt that as they were afforded the flexibility to join different groups and topics they could quickly grasp key messages relevant to them. In general, participants gained new knowledge about emissions from oil palm plantations on peatlands being eight times higher than those from forests; the roles of REDD+ in supporting government policies; and the government’s latest strategy for achieving Indonesia’s FoLU Net Sink 2030 target.