On 11 March 2010 French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, opened an international conference on deforestation in Paris. The main focus of the International Conference on the Major Forest Basins was funding for REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, plus conservation, sustainable management of forests, and stock enhancement) activities during 2010-2012.

France and Norway are leading this effort to foster new climate partnership in 2010.

“Forests are in danger,” France’s Ecology Minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said at a press conference. France intends to play a major role in saving the world’s forests, Borloo said, thanks to its “expertise in science and forestry.”

“The idea is to establish a partnership of everyone who wants to be included [in safeguarding forests], stated Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim. According to Solheim, the initiative will be transparent and “it will be open to everyone, even if you don’t contribute one single dollar, even if you don’t have a single tree.”

The conference brought together representatives from 54 countries, representing the main forest basins in the world as well as potential donor countries. The major focus was on the collective pledge for nearly US$3.5 billion in initial funding for REDD+ over the period 2010-2012 by Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the UK and the US (made in Copenhagen in December 2009).

Not many details on this first conference are available, but there is expectation the throughout a series of conference mechanisms will be established to go through the United Nations, the World Bank, and bilateral channels. Norway has existing bilateral agreements, which may serve as a model in the process. For example, Norway plans to include up to $1 billion for Brazil from 2008-2015, up to $280 million for Guyana from 2010-2015 and about $83 million for Tanzania. But, each of these contributions schemes also come with strings attached, depending on performance.

During the Conference, participants engaged in three sessions on: pledges of initial funding and action for forests; coordination of initial funding and action for forests; and organization of long-term international action concerning REDD+. A second conference will be organized in Oslo, Norway, in May 2010

Many developing countries with forests to protect seem pleased with the arrangement of having France and Norway in a leadership role. Norway has a strong donor performance for forest issues, while France, and President Sarkozy in particular, has been an advocate for partnerships and open dialogue in REDD+ negotiations, before and after Copenhagen (e.g. France-Brazil initiative in November 2009).

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