“The Norwegian policy is to work for an agreement to stop global warming” says Andreas Tveteraas, Deputy Director for NME.
Clockwise: Hatef Mokhtar and Andreas Tveteraas. © 2013 The Oslo Times.
The Chief-in-Editor, Hatef Mokhtar, The International Desk, Paola Aparicio Cavero and Emil Thompson from The Oslo Times had a very interesting interview at the Oslo REDD Exchange 2013 conference on a wide range of subjects with Andreas Tveteraas, Deputy Director for Norwegian Ministry of The Environment. The whole interview is well worth the read if you are interested in what actions are taken toward global climate change issues that affects the whole world on so many levels.
Q1: ‘REDD’ from its very core has been a major breakthrough event for providing the truly justified platform for the concerns of related to environment across the globe. With such a diverse conglomeration of various mindsets and activism; how does ‘REDD’ as an organization holds to manage its finances all around in such an efficient manner?
A1: So the government announces that it would use up to 500 million dollars per year on this. But of course this is something Norway has to do throughout working with the countries where these forests are. So we set up a program that will work with Brazil, Indonesia, and the Congo base countries in Africa. In coloration with the United Nations, World Bank and other donor countries; we have been working for 5 and half years. Norway is one of the biggest contributes to this work globally. We are producing results in many of the countries we cooperate. And we are reforming the way they manage their forests, the way they manage their lands, where they balance agricultural explanations versus forest cancellation for example. But we do need to make sure that the experiences that the countries developed throughout what they do, is being exchanged between countries, so the same mistakes are not repeated and that good ways to do things could be copied by others. One of the purposes of this is to stimulate that exchange of experience that’s why it is called the Oslo REDD Exchange. Countries come here to present what they have done, to speak about what they have learned in the process and what did not work for others, so they can learn from each other. We have spent very significant sums in supporting civil society participation in this process. It is most important that researchers are following and participating in the process. We have invited to this seminar in particularly civil society organizations that has received this support. So they can demonstrate what they have done, but also challenge us, and challenge the country governments where they work towards these things, or to do more of the things that are good for the environment.
Q2: From, now over a decade there has been a tussle after the Kyoto Protocol conference on environment between the two major global environment polluters, the US & China. How far REDD has witnessed the participation from these countries?
A2: This is a Norwegian seminar, but we have representatives from the US administration here.
TOT: And on what level?
Mr. Tveteraas: From the state and non-governmental organizations.
A2: So; the US is defiantly one of the key actors alongside Norway is supporting developing countries trying to combat the de-forestation.
Q3: Recently; the world is witnessing the tremendous rise in pollution levels in the third-world-countries especially in the newly industrialized countries like; India, are they participating in this seminar or have shown interest to pledge their support?
A3: I do not think India is here, but we have representatives from around 60 countries.
Q4: Civil societies have always been one of the front runners for the making and spreading awareness about the social causes concerning to the human society at large. Do REDD has any framework to focus more on civil societies and related forums?
A4: We have an annual budget of 3 billion Norwegian Kroner (around 500 million USD), most of that goes to processes run by the United Nations, The Work Bank and corporation with national governments. A lot goes to funds in Brazil for example. 1/10 (300 million NOK/50 USD) of that volume is spent to support civil societies exclusively throughout special grunt system.
Q5: Across the world we see that there are challenges posed by various tyrant dictatorial regimes for the civil societies and the kind of independent voices they encountered within their strong hold with whom which they do not agree. What are the main challenges that REDD and its member organizations are facing against these regimes?
A5: The key challenge for us and for our objective is to get an international climate agreement in place, where the world, The United Nations agrees that we should put in place measures so that we do not have a global climate warming that comes out of control. The Norwegian policy is to work for an agreement that stops global warming before it reaches to these degrees. That takes a lot of diplomacy, a lot of funding and these are very difficult change in economic and development choices that the country has to make. Getting consensus around this, that is the big challenge. The fact that some countries are not respecting human rights is one part of the challenge. The challenge is also much bigger, the fact that its difficult to make countries commit to put money on the table to support climate change. Efforts in developing countries are another challenge. It’s a huge pack of challenges, but I want to be very clear that from Norway side, we have a very clear prerequisite on our partners that they have to do the activities; as they receive Norwegian support in the way which is transparent, that respects the right of their inhabitants and which is open for participation by the civil society for all affected stakeholders.
Q6: Since the human rights forms its foundation and ethos of operation, what are the areas where REDD has gained a commendable threshold since; 2007 until now? Please elaborate…
A6: We think that the contributions from Norway has been the key in assuring that the progress in getting an international agreement to tackle the destruction of forests in developing countries, assisting the developing countries in maintaining their forests. The forests in developing countries are the basis for livelihoods of many hundred millions of people. And we think we have positively affected the deforestation trend. We think we are contributing to establishing a climate regime that will, I hope change the way that currently makes the forest more worth dead than alive. If we succeed in that, if the developing countries get an economic stimulus to conserve and well managed forests, then we will get many benefits including securing the livelihoods of the community that are dependent on forest resources, which includes many of the world’s most marginalized people, that is the benefit by itself. We also think that our insistence on participatory processes which has become a requirement on the climate change convention is actually contributing to open debate, a more open society in many countries that goes much further than just our climate and forest works because it starts a debate in society on development choices.
Q7: When you says “developed countries” did you mean the US or other countries in the league? As from more than two decades the US has remained by an large the biggest polluter and the largest violator of the international environmental norms. So, what kind of role does the US have been playing ‘REDD’ and of what significance?
A7: The US is here as a normal participant as many other countries are. The conference is organized by Norway, this is our conference. I can’t speak on behalf of US, but Norway has climate policy which means that we have to do a lot nationally to reduce our own emission as an industrialized country. We are not running away from that responsibility. But we also think that we have to do a lot to help reduce emissions in other countries, particularly the development countries that need to develop economically. And traditionally economic development is closely linked to increase emissions of carbon because they use more oil, it can destroy more forests, and it can turn more natural ecosystems to plantations, etc. We want to do what we can to help countries develop in a climate friendly way, for example; creating jobs and prosperity based on the sustainable management of natural resources rather than the destruction of them. And that we do in one way by trying to change the economic forests, making them seem a lot alive as rich ecosystem that supply clean air, pure water and store carbon. This conference is one contribution to that
Q8: What message would you like to give to our global readership and convey through ‘The Oslo Times’ news network to the world?
A8: The specific message would be, I think that, we have worked, the world has worked for about five years to try and reduce emissions from forests, many countries have developed, a lot remains to be done, but we are moving in the right direction and we are learning, we are changing experiences here, that’s why we’re here. Norway is trying to be a catalyst of improved forest conservation.
Q9: Norwegians are friendliest and environmentally concerned people where REDD has been managed and operating successfully;
i. What level of support does REDD enjoys while using the exorbitant funding for the cause of climate change?
ii. Kindly shed some light on the opinion of Norwegian government on organization’s finances as well?
A9 (i): Well, we do have almost uniform support in the Norwegian parliament for doing this.
A9 (ii): For many years in a row we have a very open debate about our public spending. So this has been part of our climate policy agreement in parliament back in 2008. Where all the Norwegian parties accept one (The Progressive party), agreed to a complete budgets of climate policies and measures and this climate and forest works are one of the key elements.
Q10: Being a principal conference on environment who are those countries which are receiving the major share of grants from REDD for example Peru, Brazil, Indonesia & how this money is being utilized?
A10: We have a table for that but Brazil previously has been the main recipient because Brazil previously has the best results so far. Brazil has reduced deforestation in its part of the Amazon forests by 77% (in 2004), which is a huge reduction of emissions. It is usually important for the people that live in and out of the Amazon forest. And we want to show the world that when a country delivers results like Brazil does, Norway is going to pay for that and reward that.
Q12: Is there any country that does not agree with the proposal of the organization or the any region where REDD has faced severe opposition to its idea?
A12: No, there has not been any country that said “No, we don’t want to do this”. But we do have a very lively discussions on how, how to do it, how to be rewarded, how it is measured. But these are technical discussions that they placed within the climate change negotiations. So we still have many discussions to solve before we have fully placed international agreement in place. But we have made agreements with a handful of countries where we have agreed on all the practical terms on a bilateral basis. So we have worked with Brazil, we worked with Indonesia; we worked with Dayana, with Ethiopia, Tanzania. We are trying to establish work more in the Congo based countries. So we are trying to establish an international framework, partly by doing very specific activities in specific countries to generate experiences on how to do it, to show the world it can be done, look at these countries, they are doing it. Use them as models and duplicate it in your own country.
Q13: At last; please elaborate on the agenda that Norway has been doing this for the sake of human rights?
A13: For the sake for the future of everyone, we have forces on rights but we are also doing it because we think this has to be done if the world is going to avoid dangerous climate change.