UN-REDD: A Congolese success story: Part 2 - Perseverance and government ownership
The Republic of Congo recently completed an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of its strategic options for REDD+ and a review of the sources of financing for the implementation of its National REDD+ Strategy. UN Environment’s Emelyne Cheney and Jonathan Gheyssens discuss in this second part of the conversation their experience of supporting the country with this challenging but ultimately decisive piece of work.
How did you go about measuring the expected carbon benefits of the REDD+ strategic options pre-identified by the Republic of Congo?
Emelyne: This has been one of the most sensitive aspects of the analysis. Yet, an important purpose of this work was to give an idea of the scale of REDD+ payments that the Republic of Congo could expect from the implementation of its National REDD+ Strategy. Discussions on REDD+ payments can sometimes lack realism and this was an opportunity to feed these debates with more robust estimations. This said, the analysis had to accommodate a number of uncertainties related to REDD+ payments, including undefined modalities of the Green Climate Fund and, of course, the actual results that the Republic of Congo will achieve in terms of emission reductions. We made the decision to opt for the most optimistic outcomes result-wise and to use, as proxies, the payment modalities of the Emission Reduction Programme of the World Bank in Northern Congo. Again, our aim was not to come up with exact calculations but to estimate the scale of REDD+ payments generated by the strategic options. More often than not, these estimations were below what the government had originally expected, and this led to interesting discussions on the role of complementary funding and the additional economic revenues (besides REDD+ payments) that some activities could generate.
How did this analysis contribute to the work on the National REDD+ Strategy?
Jonathan: The cost-benefit analysis is a pretty unique opportunity to look into the challenges of the implementation stage, which is going to be a completely different animal from the readiness stage. If completing the requirements set up by the Warsaw framework provides a robust foundation for the transfer of results-based payments ex-post, it does very little to help mobilize the ex-ante funding streams that are critical to the establishment of the strategic options. The government of the Republic of Congo realized very quickly the importance of exploring its different financing options with the goal of laying out a robust resource mobilization strategy. Which is why the cost-benefit analysis also includes a second, equally important, section that explores the available sources of finance, domestic and international, public and private, with a view to identifying the best match between funding types and options based on their economic characteristics. This analytical exercise can help save time at the discovery stage to quickly zero in on the most relevant funding partners while informing the discussion on the best use of domestic resources.
Emelyne: As I already mentioned, conducting a cost-benefit analysis requires some level of clarity on how, where and when the activities of the National REDD+ Strategy are going to be implemented. This process has proved immensely useful for the National REDD+ Coordination to refine its thinking on the content of strategic options and also to consider issues that had previously been left aside, such as palm oil production.