It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

At seven this evening, when many people were packing up and heading home after yet another eventful day at the National Stadium, REDD+ negotiators were getting started their third session of the day. This particular session is on the technical assessment of REDD+ reference levels—basically, a method for evaluating the baselines REDD+ countries plan on using to evaluate their progress toward reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Things have been going swimmingly for the REDD+ technical assessment thus far. Earlier this year in Bonn, Germany, Parties worked cooperatively to come up with a draft text that actually looked pretty darn good. Here in Warsaw, Parties continued in a cooperative spirit and allowed the chairs of SBSTA’s REDD+ contact group to rework the Bonn text into a form that would be “adoptable.” All that Parties had to do tonight was walk in the room and say, “Yes. We accept this text.”

But that would be too easy. Instead, we’re hearing reports (this session is closed to observers, so our information is coming from colleagues allowed inside the room because they are on Party delegations) that, even though Parties previously professed to like the text, it is currently being torn apart. This is normal. There is always going to be at least one Party that is unhappy with some part of the draft text and asks that it be reopened for discussion. And, since this is a Party-driven process, the Chairs must comply, thus opening the floodgates to a host of proposed revisions and additions. As one colleague wrote a couple of hours ago in reference to the current state of the text, “[b]rackets galore.”


Parties settling in for a long (and likely sleepless) night of REDD+ negotiations.

Now, although this is wholly expected, it is also incredibly frustrating. Parties and civil society have spent years thinking about and planning what goes into this decision, and its fate is going to come down to one night of intense squabbling and horse trading. But, of course, this is all part of the process and strategy of negotiations. Put on the pressure to see if you can get your opposition to make a deal. We, as civil society, have to trust that there are Parties in the room that have the same values and positions as we do, and that they will fight for a decision that achieves the best possible outcome based on those values and positions. And, in this case, we do. So, although it seems right now like everything is going to hell in a hand basket, I continue to hope that I will wake up tomorrow morning to a decision that supports a robust, effective, and efficient REDD+ mechanism.