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Country commitments to mitigate and adapt to climate change are an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 global goals that countries have adopted to guide development efforts. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism contributes directly in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land). These goals address climate change, reducing deforestation and sustainable use of ecosystems. REDD+ can also contribute indirectly to other SDGs, including ones that address poverty reduction, health and well-being, hunger alleviation, and improving institutions.
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Although Myanmar has the highest forest cover in Southeast Asia, the country is facing rapid deforestation and has lost around 1.3 million acres of forest between 2010 and 2015. Realizing this loss, the Government of Myanmar (GoM) has demarcated 40% of the total country area as reserve forest, protected public forest and protected areas, and is committed to further improving the quality and coverage of forest by linking habitat restoration, conservation and sustainable management with REDD+ and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) targets according to the overarching SDG principles.
Recent census of the GoM shows that more than 70% of the total population of Myanmar lives in rural areas. This population mostly depends on forest resources and agriculture for their daily livelihood. The main drivers of deforestation in Myanmar are i) agriculture ii) mining iii) hydropower development, and iv) infrastructure. Drivers of forest degradation are i) illegal logging ii) over-exploitation of forest resources iii) fuel wood use, and iv) shifting cultivation.
In order for Myanmar to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and enhance economic growth without deforestation, the government is focusing on a green growth pathway which will include building synergies between REDD+, NDCs and SDGs.
To explore possible ways to fulfill the potential of REDD+ to support SDGs and NDC in Myanmar, the Forest Research Institute (FRI) organized a two-day regional workshop on the “Role of REDD+ in supporting SDGs and NDCs” on 21-22 February 2018 at the Forest Research Institute, Nya Pyi Taw. This regional workshop – which was supported by ICIMOD’s REDD+ Himalaya Project – brought together REDD+ practitioners and experts from the region, high-level officials form the Forest Department and other line agencies, civil service organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify possible ways to incorporate REDD+ into the broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The event also provided a platform to share the progress made and challenges faced in the REDD+ readiness phase in the region through South-South Cooperation.
Dr Nyi Nyi Kaw, Director General of Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), reiterated that Myanmar has the third highest deforestation rate in the world and that the government is committed to bringing it down. The Ministry has already started shifting focus from promoting commercial forestry to becoming more service-oriented. He also acknowledged the long partnership between ICIMOD and the Government of Myanmar spanning several decades.
Dr Bhaskar Singh Karky, Programme Coordinator of ICIMOD’s Regional REDD+ Initiative, said that Myanmar was the largest teak exporter and a significant revenue was being generated from teak business. It is now time to make the business more inclusive by sharing the benefits with a wider range of forestry-based stakeholders through the promotion of community-based forestry. Presentations were made by representatives of the Environmental Conservation Department and the Forest Department of Myanmar, UN-REDD, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal, Rain Forest Research Institute of India, ICIMOD, University of Southern Queensland of Australia, Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC), Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT), and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
This workshop included five main technical sessions i) role of REDD+ in supporting SDGs and NDCs ii) experience sharing among regional countries on the role of REDD+ in supporting SDGs and NDCs iii) REDD+ Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), biodiversity and stakeholders’ participation iv) REDD+, community forests and safeguards, and v) panel discussion on the way forward for the development of REDD+ in the context of supporting SDGs and NDCs.
This workshop helped the participants to draw linkages between REDD+, NDCs and SDGs by sharing experiences from different countries and different institutions working in the forestry and conservation sector. This theme will become more relevant in the future as national governments will be trying to achieve the NDC target through REDD+ programmes that have social and environmental safeguards aligned to the SDG indicators.
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