A research shows that countries least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change were generally the highest GHG (Green House Gas) emitters, and conversely those most vulnerable to climate change were the least responsible for its genesis. This holds true for Nepal. Despite having least (less than 0.027%) contribution to the global GHG emission, Nepal ranks fourth in the “extreme risk” category of the Climate Change Vulnerability Index.
Categorized under least developed countries, the readiness to the climate change induced crisis of Nepal is fairly questionable; majorly owing to weak financial, economic and infrastructural condition. Regardless, the country has been positive in offering solidarity to the climate change protocols led out by the global community since the beginning, be it by signing the Kyoto protocol or the Paris Agreement. It has been adamant in making the most of its abundant resources (water and forest) to channel the funds raised for the climate change mitigation and adaptation. Considering the fact that Nepal boasts about 39% forest cover of its total land area, the REDD+ strategy is considered a potential mitigation strategy against climate change.
REDD+ stands for countries' efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Participation in the international REDD+ mechanism has a potential for Nepal, to generate carbon revenues as well as non-carbon benefits for the country and its people. After Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF) approved Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) prepared by Nepal in October 2010, it has been implementing a series of activities as stipulated in the RPP to prepare itself for a REDD+ mechanism to harness potential benefits of REDD+ implementation in future.
In this regard, Community Forestry (CF) is one of the major guiding forces to Nepal’s REDD+ commitments. Community Forestry is a result of government’s effort to decentralize and develop a participatory strategy to conserve forest sector of Nepal. At present about 18,960 community forest groups govern about 27% of total forest area of the country and about 28% of revenues generated from the selling of forest based products by community forest are expended on forest protection and management.
A case study conducted among various CF areas of Nepal shows that the goals of CF and REDD+ are compatible and could contribute in the carbon sequestration if suitable strategies on the institutional level are identified. Shared co-benefits of community-based forest groups under REDD+ for Nepal are the benefits it could focus on harnessing.
Community-based forest management can be a viable strategy for reducing permanent emissions from deforestation. The scope of carbon payment in the community forest to reduce carbon emission and increase carbon stocks in forests is undoubtedly the ultimate carbon benefit. Besides, non-carbon benefits such as livelihood enhancement, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem resilience, improved governance and support to the multinational environment agreements are the paramount benefits for Nepal. The livelihood enhancement through capacity building and income generation is the major non-carbon benefit to the country where more than 25.2% of people are below poverty line. By supporting environment-based adaptation measures, resilience against climate change impacts can be developed.
The global carbon emission from forest degradation and deforestation is found to be about 17%. Hence, the efforts made by Nepal to channel the global climate finance in the forest sector to adapt and mitigate climate change are not futile. This will benefit the country in building resilience and also adapting the harsh effects of climate change, not to mention the contribution in complying with the global aim of reducing emission. Still, in its readiness phase, Nepal needs to bring its best foot forward in utilizing the provided finance to create an environment which would ensure equitable benefits and long term sustainability.