The United Nations recently held climate change talks in Warsaw, Poland which resulted in a $280 Million forests initiative being launched by the UK, the US and Norway. The plan, known as the Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes, is to be managed by the BioCarbon Fund, a public-private sector program housed within the Carbon Finance Unit of the World Bank, and is primarily aimed at providing further funding to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities(REDD+) program.

The REDD+ program is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests and is designed to help developing countries reduce emissions from deforestation and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development through financial incentives provided by developed countries. Further, the initiative is designed to work with the private sector to promote the sustainable use of forest products and has received support from industry participants such as Unilever, Mondelez and Bunge.

The REDD+ program has been in development since 2007 when the Bali Action Plan was announced following the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Bali; however, major funding was required to implement the program on a large scale.  Last week’s initiative will allow some countries to step up or engage in pilot programs and be provided compensation for their emissions reductions while, perhaps more importantly, demonstrating political will from developed countries to adopt these climate change programs. Although significant funding is still required to implement the program globally, discussions are currently ongoing with regard to long-term financing options.

Canada has been active in its support of the REDD+ program in recent years, contributing $71.5 Million to various REDD+ related initiatives as part of its fast-start finance package since 2010. Nevertheless, Canada has not yet announced that it will participate in this new initiative and given the importance of the forestry industry in Canada, it will be interesting to see Canada’s involvement in the program moving forward.