A Short Note on the Social Side of
the Modalities and Procedures for Afforestation and
Reforestation Projects under the CDM
by Claudio Forner

The tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) 10 to the United Nations Framewok Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) marked the completion of the policymaking process for the Kyoto Protocol. In the particular case of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), rules for this instrument itself and for reforestation and afforestation activities, including simplifi ed rules for small-scale ones, have paved the road for the implementation of forestry-related projects that contribute to climate change and to sustainable development. This note will provide a short summary of the state of the instrument, in particular, on social issues that have been taken into account by the international rules. It will fi nalize with the opportunities offered for the implementation of small-scale afforestation or reforestation projects.




United Nations Framewok Convention on Climate Change

The CDM is a market-based instrument under the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC consisting of the implementation of projects that either reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (for example, renewable energy) or enhance removals of CO2 (specifi cally afforestation and reforestation projects). The CDM has the double objective of assisting developing countries to achieve sustainable development and to help developed countries with meeting their emission reduction obligations under the protocol.
The process of developing the CDM rules started shortly after the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. Since then, delegates from all countries have made a big effort to agree on “modalities and procedures” (M&P) for this instrument, which are intended to ensure the credibility of the CDM as well as the quality of the projects in terms of the “real” emissions and removals achieved through their implementation. With sustainable development explicitly stated in the objective of the CDM, the link to social issues of this instrument is evident. However, the policymaking process has a dichotomy in the treatment of the two objectives of the CDM. While sustainable development concerns are regarded as a national issue that is not be assessed at the international level, the accounting of emission reductions and removals is subject to a stringent international process of assessment. In practice, the CDM consists of the design and implementation of projects that should provide sound methodologies to calculate its environmental benefit in terms of the real reductions in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions or enhancement of CO2 removals.

United Nations Framewok Convention on Climate Change

These environmental benefits result in tradable permits that can be sold in the international market, where main buyers will be either governments or private companies from developed countries. To this end, and aside from incentives relating to sustainable development (e.g. provision of clean energy or collateral benefits from reforestation such as water conservation and others), the main incentive for project proponents to implement CDM projects will be the revenue from selling the above-mentioned permits. The ability to participate in the market as well as the size of the revenue will depend on the costs at which the environmental benefits are produced: the more costly emission reductions or removals are the less revenue project participants may obtain. In other words, those projects with lower costs will have a better comparative advantage in the market as prices for permits fluctuate.

United Nations Framewok Convention on Climate Change United Nations Framewok Convention on Climate Change
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