Parliamentary Speech on Fiji's Emission Reduction Programme
The Honourable Speaker;
The Honourable Prime Minister, and Honourable Government Members of Parliament;
The Honourable Leader of the Opposition and Honourable Members of the Opposition;
Ladies and Gentlemen
Honourable Speaker, I rise to deliver my Ministerial Statement and in doing so, I wish to firstly congratulate you on your appointment as the Honourable Speaker of this august Parliament.
Honourable Speaker, my Ministerial statement is specifically to update the House on recent developments towards building climate resilient communities and ecosystems through a national program called the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD+.
Honourable Speaker, I have in the previous sittings of Parliament, delivered statements on Fiji’s REDD+ program. However, given the presence of the new Members of Parliament, I shall endeavour to share a very brief background of the program.
Fiji, as we are all aware, is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the U-N-F-triple-C.
Fiji has attended the annual climate change negotiations over the years and this culminated in our historic election as the first Small Islands Developing State to preside over a Convention of the Parties (COP) negotiations.
The Honourable Prime Minister very successfully presided over COP23 where he introduced the ‘Talanoa’ concept into the world stage, as a means to strengthen discussions in a reciprocal environment that ultimately aims to increase climate ambition and promote constructive consensus-building on the climate change negotiations.
Mister Speaker, Fiji is also a signatory to the Paris Agreement, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change in the context of sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, including:
Firstly, by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two-degrees Celsius (2°C) above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
Secondly, by increasing our ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; and
Thirdly, by making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.
Fiji, together with our Pacific Island neighbours, is pushing for the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement to hold temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in recognition that any increase in temperatures above this will be disastrous for our small island nations.
Honourable Speaker, the forestry sector is recognised as a main contributor to the emissions of Green House Gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide, therefore contributing to global warming.
The industry’s carbon footprint has two main culprits:
1) large scale deforestation, driven by the conversion of forests to agriculture and other land uses, and
2) forest degradation, which is largely from unsustainable timber harvesting –– the removal of trees releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But cultivating a sustainable forestry industry is doubly-important, Mister Speaker, as our forests also play a major role in actually removing Green House Gases from the atmosphere, as they take in and store carbon dioxide as carbon.
Honourable Speaker, while forests play a crucial role in removing and storing carbon dioxide, forests also play a huge –– if not more important –– role in strengthening the resilience and livelihoods of local communities.
It is within this context, Honourable Speaker, that the REDD-Plus mechanism was developed within the UNFCCC.
The R-E-D-D stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. The Plus component represents the role of forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and carbon stock enhancement in climate change mitigation.
Honourable Speaker, in 2009, Fiji embarked on the National REDD+ Project which aims to capitalise on financial opportunities and instruments that will support Fiji to reduce emissions in the forest sector by reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and to enhance greenhouse gas removal by planting more trees, increasing forest cover and health, and protecting standing forests.
The underlying intension of the Fiji National REDD+ Program is to build climate resilient societies, enhance the livelihoods of local communities, and support poverty alleviation.
Apart from reducing emissions and climate change mitigation actions, REDD+ activities will specifically contribute to:
•Protection of ecosystem services;
•Increasing resilience against the impacts of climate change;
•Ensuring food security;
•Increasing economic activities in local communities and especially for women; and
•Improving forest/natural resource governance and national monitoring and reporting structures.
There will be continuous monitoring and reporting to verify impacts from REDD+ actions. Aside from monitoring emissions, social, environmental, economic, gender, and governance impacts will also be monitored.
Honourable Speaker, I wish to inform this August House that the National REDD+ Program is set-up to ensure that REDD+ actions and initiatives will also support and benefit sectors other than forestry.
It also includes supporting Fiji to meet other international commitments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity; the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, and also to support the implementation of Fiji’s National Development Plan, and other national programs towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Findings from REDD+ will also assist Fiji in reporting for the National Communications under UNFCCC as well as contributions of the forest sector to Fiji’s nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.
Honourable Speaker, NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change by doing their part to curb emissions and limit global temperature rise.
Mister Speaker, Fiji has been in the readiness phase for the last 10 years with extensive consultations and capacity-building undertaken with various stakeholders and local communities.
Structures like the multi-sectorial National REDD+ Steering Committee has been established and is active in guiding REDD+ activities.
This, in a nutshell, is the background to REDD+ in Fiji.
Fiji has now reached the stage where it needs to present its Emissions Reduction Program Document, known as the ERPD.
Fiji’s Emissions Reduction Programme is titled - ‘Reducing Emissions and Enhancing Livelihoods in Fiji’. And I am honoured to inform this august Parliament that Fiji was able to promptly submit the Draft ERPD in December of 2018.
The Draft ERPD describes the measures Fiji will take to ensure long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the forestry sector, whilst at the same time ensuring that the livelihoods and wellbeing of local communities are enhanced; that social and environmental safeguards are strengthened; and all activities contribute to the sustainable development of our beloved nation.
Honourable Speaker, some of the measures under the ‘Reducing Emissions and Enhancing Livelihoods in Fiji’ program include –
• the development of integrated land use plans following a broad landscape approach;
• strengthening institutional, regulatory and governance structures; and
• improving forest information systems and the monitoring of related social and environmental impacts.
Specific actions of the program include:
• Promoting sustainable forest management applications such as reduced impact logging and promotion of non-timber forest products, to reduce forest degradation;
• Large-scale afforestation and reforestation of degraded lands, including talasiga grasslands to increase carbon pools, restore ecosystem services, strengthen food security and provide economic opportunities;
• Reforestation and enrichment planting of plantation forests to meet timber supply demands without exerting pressure on natural forests;
• Climate-smart agriculture, including agroforestry, as well as livelihood diversification with the aim to reduce clearance of forests for agriculture; and
• The conservation of indigenous forests.
Mister Speaker, Fiji’s Draft Emissions Reduction Program Document was submitted to the World Bank for review, before its final submission to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). This is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples undertaking REDD+.
The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility has two separate but complementary funding mechanisms — the Readiness Fund and the Carbon Fund. Both funds are underpinned by a multi-donor fund of governments and non-governmental entities.
Fiji successfully accessed the FCPF Readiness Fund in 2014, and this is the fund currently supporting the Ministry’s work on REDD+, including the establishment and running of the REDD+ Unit based in Colo-i-Suva. With the ERPD, we hope to progress in accessing the Carbon Fund for the payment of performance-based actions.
Honourable Speaker, the draft ERPD that Fiji submitted in December 2018 has been reviewed by an independent Technical Assessment Panel (TAP) from the World Bank. The TAP team was in Fiji last month to provide its feedback on our draft document.
As we speak, Mister Speaker, the Draft ERPD is being reviewed to incorporate changes and improvements as provided through the TAP team feedback.
Fiji will submit its Final ERPD in March 2019 and will present it to the International Donors in June 2019.
Honourable Speaker, upon approval of the ERPD, Fiji will negotiate and enter into a contract or agreement with the World Bank for the payment of emission reductions, resulting from the ‘Reducing Emissions and Enhancing Livelihoods in Fiji’ program.
The anticipated term of the Emissions Reduction Program Agreement is currently from 2020 – 2024.
Mister Speaker, the development of this ERPD is a milestone achievement for Fiji, and I wish to thank everyone who contributed in one way or the other.
I can envisage interesting and exciting times ahead, as this document is not only about reducing emissions, but includes opportunities on how we will effectively manage Fiji’s forest resources sustainably, and how the benefits will be delivered directly to local communities throughout the country.
The ERPD will help guide future policy direction for responsible, accountable, equitable and sustainable management of the nation’s forest resources and will support the implementation of Fiji’s National Development Plan across many areas.
It provides a framework for Fiji to build climate-resilient communities and ecosystems; to improve local livelihoods; and to contribute to poverty alleviation.
Honourable Speaker, REDD Plus will certainly be a game-changer on how Fiji sustainably manages its forest resources as we head into the 21st century.
As this Government works to modernise and streamline every single Ministry and every single sector of our economy, I am proud to say that our forestry sector is helping to pave the way for a brighter, and greener, future for our children to inherit.
Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyavaad.