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Government Support for REDD+ Contributes to Sustainable Development

REDD+ is an initiative that encourages developing countries to contribute to greenhouse gas emission reductions by reducing deforestation, forest degradation and by promoting forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and increasing forest carbon stocks. 
The communities in Fiji are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and these impacts are projected to further intensify under the anticipated global warming trajectory and impacts which poses a threat to Fiji’s sustainable growth; placing large economic, social and physical stress on local communities and ecosystems. Urgent actions are needed to strengthen the resilience of communities against the impacts brought about by climate change. 
Given Fiji’s small island landscape, it is essential that impacts of climate action are maximised by ensuring that mitigation actions and initiative will also result in adaptation co-benefits. Synergies need to be created between mitigation and adaptation activities. Fiji’s national plans and strategies emphasise the need to embed climate change adaptation and resilience initiatives in all national and sectoral plans and strategies. 
The National Adaptation Plan Framework refers to the REDD+ Policy reflecting the dual role REDD+ plays – both in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Fiji’s ER Program is designed to maximise climate co-benefits and integrate initiatives that address vulnerabilities of local communities and contribute to the effort of building a more resilient nation. 
The Fijian Government’s strong commitment to Fiji’s National REDD+ programme has been in place since the initiation of the programme 10 years ago and reflected in the annual government budget provisions to support readiness efforts, establishment of the REDD+ Unit within the Ministry of Forestry, identifying and supporting a pilot site for REDD+ activities, supporting the development of the REDD+ Policy and putting in place necessary mechanisms to support REDD+ work in the future. 
Further to this, Government is supporting the REDD+ implementation phase through the Fiji Forestry Emission Reduction (ER) Program which supports the national vision of sustainable management of forest resources and provides direction to the Ministry of Forestry with the implementation of the REDD+ strategy. 
Fiji’s ER Program will focus on the islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni involving areas of critical terrestrial biodiversity. The ER Program accounting area has a population of approximately 734,307 people (86% of the total population). The islands are generally hilly, and the population is often concentrated on coastal plains and undulating rolling hills of peri-urban areas. 

The National REDD+ programme and activities of Fiji’s ER Programme are important components of recent national plans and strategies. These include the five-year and 20-year National Development Plan (NDP) 2017-2036; Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS); enhanced National Determining Contributions (NDC) submitted in 2020; the new National Climate Change Policy (2018-2030) and the more recent Climate Change Act of 2021. 
In addition, Fiji’s current efforts to include emission reduction commitments for agriculture and forestry in its NDCs demonstrates a very high-level of Government support for the ER Program actions given the reporting requirements under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Coherent and transparent carbon accounting for the NDC, LEDS and REDD+, will be ensured as the Fiji Forestry ER Program will help strengthen the monitoring and reporting processes and capabilities of the forest sector. 
The Fijian Government’s contribution of $500,000 to the forestry sector in the new financial year (August 2022-July 2023) continues to reflect the commitment to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through the sustainable management of Fiji’s forests and the carbon financing mechanism. Government has been allocating a capital grant of FJ$300,000 per year for REDD+ efforts in the country since 2012. Further to this, the Fiji National REDD+ program were first supported by the SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) and GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) for work in the national REDD+ pilot site in Emalu in the province of Nadroga/Navosa. 
The REDD+ Site with an area of 7,347 hectares, continue to be developed and supported by the Government in which the REDD+ intervening activities is being trialed and assessed. This will commence once the lease agreement is formalised and finalised in this fiscal year.
Ministry of Forestry Permanent Secretary Pene Baleinabuli said that progress to date for this REDD+ Capital grant project included a Lease Agreement with landowners of the Emalu REDD+ site that would support forest protection and conservation. 
“There have also been scoping studies carried out for the development of a water articulation system for Draubuta and nearby villages. Costing for the installation of solar-system completed to support alternative livelihood initiatives such as use of sewing machines for the women and the establishment of a village cooperative to manage a cooler system to support and sell frozen items. Community-level land use planning and training conducted and seedlings procured to support the community’s tree-planting programme. 
“The $500,000 for this new financial year will support the activities such as upgrading the Draubuta Village nurseries, upgrading the bee-keeping facilities, upgrading and proper maintenance of reafforestation sites through fencing, land clearing, forest restoration trials in degraded areas and climate smart agriculture practices,” he said. 
Mr Baleinabuli said that the funds would also support and supplement the program management and monitoring of the Programme Management Unit within the Ministry of Forestry, which would be formalised by January 2023. 
“This will include the assessment and reporting on the national compliance to the UNFCCC Safeguards, the management of the Feedback Grievance Redress Mechanism (FGRM), the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system and the compilation of the ER Program  report for the second monitoring period.
“In addition, this will support and supplement the Fiji Forestry ER Program awareness campaign and the mass production of the audio-visual mediums,” he said. 

FCPF Support to Fiji and Achievements

The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to support Fiji's REDD+ Readiness project provided US$5.8 million under the Grant Agreement of which will end on 31st December 2022. 
For this new financial year, FJ$2million has been appropriated by the Ministry of Economy to support the Programme Management and Monitoring of the REDD+ Unit from August to December 2022, complete National Forestry Inventory and carbon assessment work, strengthen the monitoring, reporting and verification system, complete allometric and biomass calculation work, complete the development of district level land use plans and develop audio visual mediums  for the various media platforms and outlets through which the ER Program will be promoted.
Programme Team Leader for the REDD+ Unit, Ilaisa Tulele, said the achievements to date include the development of the REDD+ Strategy, which is currently being vetted by the World Bank’s Fund Management Team, the review of the REDD+ Policy 2011 and the revised REDD+ Policy 2022, which will be tabled at the August Cabinet meeting for endorsement. 
He said the methodology for detecting forest degradation had been developed and staff training would be conducted in September 2022. 
Furthermore, Mr Tulele said that the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS) enhancement work had been completed and would be uploaded onto the Government domain in September 2022. 
“For the National Forest Inventory, 475 of the 992 cluster areas of forests in Fiji have been assessed and the final report is due in November 2022,” Mr Tulele said.
“The Allometric and Biomass calculation work is continuing and the final report is due in November 2022. Ten of the 20 district-level integrated land use plans have been developed and endorsed. The ER Program Messaging and Outreach Tool Kit was launched in May and has been promoted during six provincial council meetings. The Safeguard Plan has been submitted to the World Bank and Fiji’s Feedback Grievance Redress Mechanism (FGRM) system for REDD+ has been developed and is now operational,” he said.  

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