UNFCCC Reports on Technical Assessment Process for Forest Reference Levels

UNFCCC23 March 2016: The UNFCCC Secretariat has released a synthesis report, titled 'Technical assessment process for proposed forest reference emission levels and/or forest reference levels submitted by developing country Parties' (FCCC/SBSTA/2016/INF.2), which outlines challenges faced by the Secretariat in organizing and coordinating the annual technical assessment sessions, as well as steps taken to overcome them.

The synthesis report provides an overview of the two sessions of technical assessment of proposed forest reference emission levels (FRELs) and/or forest reference levels (FRLs) that took place in 2014 and 2015. It addresses timing, composition of the assessment teams and experience gained from the facilitative technical exchange of information.

Among the challenges faced by the Secretariat in organizing and coordinating the annual technical assessment sessions, the report lists: the availability of a limited number of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) experts for the technical assessments; the technical complexity of the submissions, demanding intensive engagement of the LULUCF experts throughout the process; and the development of tools and materials to facilitate the work of the experts during the assessments.

The report also addresses steps that have been taken by the Secretariat to overcome some of the identified challenges, as well as some suggestions for actions that could be taken by Parties to facilitate future technical assessment sessions.

The report consists of four sections and an annex presenting a summary of the main features of the proposed FRELs and/or FRLs. The first section covers the background, mandate and scope of the report, as well as possible action by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). The second section addresses: the technical assessment sessions; the process for a facilitative, non-intrusive, technical exchange of information and its outcomes; and composition of the technical assessment teams. Challenges in the technical assessment process described in the third section address: preparation for the technical assessment sessions; availability and training of experts; and process-related challenges. The fourth section outlines the steps taken to address those challenges, particularly with regard to availability and training of experts, and planning and organizational issues.

At its 19th session held in Warsaw, Poland, in 2013, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC adopted seven decisions related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+), collectively referred to as the 'Warsaw Framework for REDD+.' Within that set of decisions, decision 13/CP.19 sets out the guidelines and procedures for the technical assessment of submissions of Parties on their proposed FRELs and/or FRLs.

COP 19 decided that the proposed FRELs and/or FRLs might be technically assessed in the context of results-based payments, and requested the Secretariat to prepare a synthesis report on the technical assessment process of proposed FRELs and/or FRLs submitted by developing countries for consideration by the SBSTA after the first year of technical assessments.

The report is scheduled to be considered by the SBSTA at its 44th session that will take place from 16-26 May 2016, in Bonn, Germany, under agenda item 14 (other matters). [Publication: Technical Assessment Process for Proposed Forest Reference Emission Levels and/or Forest Reference Levels Submitted by Developing Country Parties] [SBSTA 44 Provisional Annotated Agenda] [UNFCCC Warsaw Framework for REDD+ Webpage] [IISD RS Coverage of COP 19]