CCD Starts Finalising Prerequisites to Receive RF From FCPF

Jan 3rd, 2014 | By | Category: Development and Climate Change, International Agencies, News

The Climate Change Division (CCD) has started finalising the pre-requisites to receive $3.8 million Readiness Fund from Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to combat climate change and tropical deforestation. Environmental and climate change experts, however, suggest some specific measures to ensure transparency and fairness in utilisation and disbursement of the funds.

The FCPF is the World Bank administered facility that is set up to compensate developing countries for reduction in carbon-dioxide emission through preserving their forests. As per agreement with the World Bank, an assignment account for the project will be opened after getting approval of the Accountant General of Pakistan, Finance Division and the Federal Government.

The project’s account would be managed by a Project Director and overseen by the World Bank country office in Pakistan. All the funds received from the government and FCPF would be managed through this account. For all administrative and financial matters, the World Bank operational manual would be followed. The manual describes the bank procedures for implementation of projects in Pakistan.

A total of eight new countries were selected for the FCPF fund after Norway pledged $100 million to the fund in second week of December last year. The countries selected for the fund include Pakistan, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Togo. The total allocation of the readiness grant stands at $30.4 million.

Pakistan has forests on 4.4 million hectares while current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year. Both environment and economic considerations, however, suggest that 20-25 percent? of? the? country’s? land? area? should? be? forested. During the last two decades Pakistan has lost 25 percent of its natural forests with an annual rate of forest land use change of almost 2 percent.

Pakistan’s Readiness Preparation Proposal submitted with the World Bank details causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the country. This includes illegal logging mostly for firewood, fodder and timber, population pressures, lack of land use planning combined with intensification of agriculture, extension of housing colonies, settlements and industries, land sliding and erosion, salinity and water-logging, droughts and floods, pests and diseases.

A few other common reasons for fast-degradation of the forests are overgrazing and livestock pressure, migration, construction of roads and other physical infrastructure, mining, forest fires, poverty and lack of livelihood activities, lack of proper harvesting and transportation techniques in mountainous areas.

Inspector General of Forests Syed Mahmood Nasir told Business Recorder that the adoption of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation would give more importance to the REDD plus in the political system, improve the country’s? capacity in? carbon? stock? monitoring? and? calculation? and? enhance? institutional? capacity to understand the REDD plus.

He said that this would also help in reducing deforestation and forest degradation that would ultimately reduce land sliding and erosion, salinity and water-logging, human and livestock migration, droughts and floods, poverty and improve livelihood activities.

The World Bank funding would be utilised to reduce deforestation and increase forest cover. Proper harvesting and transportation techniques in mountainous areas would be introduced.

The REDD plus is about getting dollars for the carbon saved in forests by not cutting trees. The tonnes of carbon emitted from forests and agriculture in Pakistan is massive and for each tonne saved the country can get an amount which may be $4-12 billion per annum if it performs well with the readiness grant.

Tahir Rasheed, General Manager at LEAD, an independent organisation for environment and sustainable development in Islamabad, told Business Recorder that it is of utmost importance to devise a cogent mechanism for transparent use of the funds. Elaborating a possible mechanism, he said vibrant steering committees comprising representatives from non-governmental and government organisations should be constituted at Federal and provincial level to ensure judicious utilisation of the REDD plus grant.

All and sundry should have access to the grant related information; so that budget allocation to the provinces and other relevant departments should be monitored effectively, he said.

Rasheed suggested that a comprehensive capacity building plan of government officials handling the grants should be launched before disbursement of the funds to the provinces and relevant organisations to ensure transparency. “We should all now endeavour to win confidence of the international community by working hard to achieve the desired results,” he added. To secure the funding, Pakistan will now have to submit a revised R-PP to the Facility Management Team and sign the R-PP grant agreement within 14 months of the grant approval.

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