Africa: Climate Conversations - Getting Down With the 'Landscapes' Lingo At Doha - Cop18 in Quotes

Photo: UN Climate Change Conference COP 18
Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Atttiyah at the 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha

Doha, Qatar — Source: CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)

Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

As the world's climate negotiators pack their bags and drag their weary bodies back to reality after another tense spectacle that is the UN Climate Change conference (COP18), spectators will once again be asking - did we really achieve anything on forests?

Unfortunately not, according to one negotiator, with the 'REDD honeymoon' over and the stalemate set to continue well into next year. However, forests and agriculture, often pitted against each other, did team up to become what many saw as the best solution to tackling the world's food security, sustainable development and climate change challenges.

Here we compile the best, and worst, of what was said on forests during the two week talk-fest in Doha.

On the last Forest Day:

Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Director General.

"I will miss Forest Day because it has had a profound influence and impact on the negotiations throughout the years."

Tony La Vina, UNFCCC negotiator for the Philippines and REDD Facilitator.

"Forest Day has made historic progress in helping to raise awareness of forests within the climate change agenda."

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

"The dream of the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests and the organisers of Agriculture Day is that together agriculture and forests can be much stronger."

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.

"As Luke SkyWalker from the Star Wars movies may have meant to say, may the forests be with you."

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre on the negotiations:

"The clean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement."

Christiana Figureres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

"I can understand a lot of countries have different ministries, a lot of countries have very separate processes, but please talk to each other before drafting national positions [on biodiversity and climate change]."

Kelly Hertenweg, negotiator for Belgium and expert at the Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

"It's easy to reach an agreement [on finance] as long as you don't discuss commitments or money."

Arild Angelsen, Professor of Economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and a Senior Associate at CIFOR.

"Donor nations sent the signal loud and clear that finance to save forests would require verification. Catastrophically for our planet, Brazil refused to listen."

Culley Thomas, Senior Sustainability Planner, Tropical Forest Group.

"It's a brutal arithmetic - the changing structure of the world's economy has been dramatic. That is something developing countries will have to face up to."

Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark Stern review of the economics of climate change.

"We are past the era of mitigation and adaptation. What comes next is the disappearance of islands. We are in an era of mass relocations."

Ronny Jumeau, Ambassador for the Seychelles.

"You cannot negotiate with nature. While we are quarrelling, nature will just march on."

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

"What's happening here in Doha, it's like a trade negotiation. Everyone is behind their cards and they are not actually engaging that we have a charge - an ultimate, huge responsibility - for the future of our planet."

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and climate justice campaigner

On forests, agriculture and landscapes:

"It is time for forestry to come out of the forest and contribute more broadly."

Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Director General.

"The challenge is to do both forest conservation and increased food production [and not at] the expense of forests. No doubt if a government has to choose between them, then the forests will always lose, so the challenge is to promote forest management in a way that goes hand in hand with feeding the population."

Andreas Tveteraas, Senior Adviser to Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative.

"Forests are facing unprecedented stresses and challenges that require us to go beyond a single value of the forests alone, we need to balance the economic, social and environmental values."

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

"Trees are really still our heroes in that they are working across our needs for water, our need for carbon and for the needs of local people. Moving towards landscapes will help us move towards sustainability."

Mary Barton-Dock, Director, Climate Policy and Finance, World Bank

"If you want more than a glass, plastic, concrete and steel future for our children, then let's make sure that forests and trees are well represented in our landscapes."

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.

"Let's do it, let's try to develop a way to manage this multifunctional landscape to provide ecosystem services, livelihoods and to sequester carbon to reduce emissions, even if we know that what we are doing is not perfect, because if we wait to have the perfect solution, we are all going to die."

Robert Nasi, CIFOR scientist and Director of CGIAR's Forestry, Trees and Agroforestry research program.

On deforestation:

"Everything you thought you knew about deforestation in the 20th century is no longer true."

Doug Boucher, Director of Climate Research and Analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"People are already seeing that actually if you tackle deforestation, you can have better governance and better development outcomes - and we won't be talking about drivers of deforestation but drivers of reforestation."

Tasso Azevedo, Forest and Climate Change Consultant/ Former Director General of the Brazilian Forest Service

"Saying that demand is a driver of deforestation' is like saying 'gravity was the cause of the plane crash'."

Arild Angelsen, Professor of economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and a Senior Associate at CIFOR.

"We have already lost the dinosaurs of the animal kingdom. Trees are those dinosaurs of the plant kingdom that we still have, and still treasure."

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.

"Forests are indeed important but you can't take the pressure of fossil fuel emissions by saying we'll just put it all in forests, scientifically it just doesn't work."

Will Steffen, Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute Australian National University.

On REDD+:

"If we want to save REDD as a result and not a process, you have to focus more on the actions of right now ...and less on understanding the whole thing."

Tasso Azevedo, Forest and Climate Change Consultant/ Former Director General of the Brazilian Forest Service

"I'm worried from what I've heard. The science is strengthening, the value of REDD+ hasn't gone away [but if] we have to wait three more years...my worry is too many people will exit the market."

Jonathan Shopley, Managing Director of the Carbon Neutral Company.

"Without the long term guarantee of investment, why would countries build new institutions, invest in training personnel, reorganise their ministries and technical offices to respond to a programme that may be over in two or three years time?"

Lou Verchot, CIFOR scientist

"The honeymoon period for REDD+ is over."

Tony La Vina, UNFCCC negotiator for the Philippines and REDD+ facilitator.

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