The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) is a unique subnational collaboration between 29 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, and the United States. The GCF seeks to advance jurisdictional programs designed to promote low emissions rural development and reduced emissions from deforestation and land use (REDD+) and link these activities with emerging greenhouse gas (GHG) compliance regimes and other pay-for-performance opportunities. More than 25% of the world’s tropical forests are in GCF states and provinces, including more than 75% of Brazil’s and more than half of Indonesia’s. The GCF includes states and provinces that are leading the way in building comprehensive, jurisdiction-wide approaches to low emissions development and REDD+ as well as the only jurisdiction in the world (California) that is considering provisions that would recognize offsets from REDD+ as part of its GHG compliance system.
The GCF focuses on all aspects of the effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and establish lasting frameworks for low emissions development. It facilitates the exchange of experiences and lessons learned across leading states and provinces; synchronizes efforts across these jurisdictions to develop policies and programs that provide realistic pathways to forest-maintaining rural development; supports processes for multi-stakeholder participation and engagement; and seeks financing for jurisdictional programs from a range of sources, including pay-for-performance public finance, emerging carbon markets, and ongoing efforts to de-carbonize agro-food supply chains.
The overarching rationale of the GCF is that any successful effort to address the complex relationship between forests, land use, and climate change requires multiple efforts at multiple levels of governance, and that state and provincial governments, together with their civil society partners, are among the most important actors in building viable programs for low emissions rural development. The GCF was therefore conceived as an effort to leverage the fact that certain states and provinces around the world are in a position to be early movers in the effort to build robust jurisdictional programs for REDD+ and low emissions development, thereby bolstering overall momentum for the issue and enhancing national and international efforts to demonstrate how this can work in practice.
On November 18, 2008, the U.S. states of California, Illinois, and Wisconsin*, the Brazilian states of Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Pará, and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and Papua signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) at the Governors’ Climate Change Summit in Los Angeles, California. The MOUs provided a foundation for future cooperation on a number of issues related to climate policy, financing, technology exchange, and research. The parties agreed to focus on the MOU forest sector provisions, with an overall objective of promoting technical cooperation and capacity building. Another primary objective was the development of recommendations for policymakers and regulatory authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere that are considering whether and how to incorporate reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and sequestrations from other international forest carbon activities into their emerging GHG compliance systems.
The MOUs expressly call for a Joint Action Plan to guide implementation efforts. Accordingly, a Joint Action Plan was developed that provides a framework and recommendations for implementing the MOU forest sector provisions during 2009-2010. A draft of the Joint Action Plan was presented for formal adoption by the MOU states and provinces at their first follow-up meeting in Belém, Pará on June 18-19, 2009. At the meeting in Belém, the MOU states and provinces made a number of important decisions regarding the MOU implementation effort, which are reflected in the Joint Action Plan.
The forest sector activities proposed in the MOUs and the Joint Action Plan represented the first effort (at any level of governance) to move into what might be called the “proof of concept” stage in the ongoing effort to bring REDD into existing and emerging GHG compliance regimes. As such, the MOU implementation effort carried global significance as a signal to other governmental entities and to the broader climate policy community that incorporating REDD is achievable. It also highlighted the fact that there will be a meaningful process of transnational cooperation among the MOU states and provinces to develop and implement workable frameworks and mechanisms for generating compliance-grade assets from REDD and other forest carbon activities in tropical forest jurisdictions. This process of integrating these assets will benefit existing and emerging compliance regimes in the United States and elsewhere.
The Joint Action Plan identified three primary objectives for 2009-2010. The first objective was to establish the Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force (GCF) as the primary body responsible for developing recommendations for implementing the MOU forest sector provisions. As approved at the meeting in Belém, the GCF is composed of representatives from each of the MOU states/provinces, (now known as founding members of the GCF) with an annual rotating chairmanship, and is responsible for making executive decisions regarding implementation of the MOU forest sector provisions. The second objective was to establish a process for nongovernmental organization (NGO) and other stakeholder participation in the MOU implementation efforts, which also was accomplished in Belém. This process included joint meetings between the GCF and NGOs/stakeholders and NGO participation in the three working groups established in Belém to focus on key substantive areas of the MOU forest sector provisions. The third objective was to develop recommendations for implementing the MOU forest sector provisions, focusing on these same three areas:
* As of 2011, Wisconsin is no longer a GCF member. View current member list here.
The MOU’s were signed on November 18, 2008 at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit by the governor of the state or province listed below and the United States Governors of California, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
The GCF Secretariat is based at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado, where GCF Senior Advisor and Project Lead William Boyd is an Associate Professor of Law. Other Secretariat staff includes Project Manager, Julie Simmonds; Senior Project Associate, Carly Hernandez; Senior Research Fellow, Amelia Chizwala Peterson; and Project Coordinator, Caroline Kert. The Secretariat has the authority to coordinate GCF work and ensure the continuity of the GCF’s efforts. Secretariat responsibilities include; fundraising, grant administration, project management, coordinating and facilitating GCF events including the Annual Meeting, implementing decisions and strategic planning approved by the GCF, retaining consultants to implement activities when necessary, interfacing with stakeholders on behalf of the GCF, and generally keeping the GCF members informed of issues in broader policy debates that could impact the GCF process.
Coordinators are an integral part of the GCF team and are instrumental in maintaining outreach and input from GCF member states and provinces to ensure robust participation in GCF activities. The GCF has Coordinators for members in Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, who are located in the region they represent. The Secretariat informally serves in the Coordinator role for members in Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States. The Coordinators assist in efforts to develop deeper collaborations with government administrations and local stakeholders and to facilitate communication between members and the national government in their effort to build common approaches to REDD+. The Coordinator budget includes funds for regional member workshops and trainings, to attend relevant conferences and workshops, to visit members, and for supplementary activities that advance REDD+ initiatives, as identified and prioritized by the members.
Five years ago, governors from provinces and states around the world took a bold and innovative step into the world of climate governance, establishing the GCF, a subnational, cross-jurisdictional effort to protect tropical forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and promote realistic pathways to forest-maintaining rural development. Today, the GCF has emerged as a key focal point for global efforts to bring REDD+ into ongoing subnational, national, and international climate policy.
At the inception of the GCF, international talks on climate change proceeded slowly in a highly politicized and polarized environment, impeding REDD+ progress. The formation of the GCF challenged the notion that reduction of tropical deforestation could only be managed from the national level of governance, where negotiations have focused. Today, the GCF states and provinces operate in a global network of technical, legal and design support. By developing this “connective tissue” for both horizontal jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction exchange, and vertical alignment between subnational jurisdictions and national climate and forests agendas in GCF member governments, the GCF has successfully ended the isolation of fledgling REDD+ programs. The GCF is:
In the absence of international consensus on climate change and the resulting fragmentation of policies, legal frameworks, standards and goals, the GCF occupies a crucial space and embodies what REDD+ can achieve for our planet even in the absence of a new Kyoto-type international climate regime.
GCF member states and provinces are early movers representing an important component of the broader effort to demonstrate how REDD+ can work in practice. The effectiveness of state and provincial-level efforts is apparent in the adoption of innovative REDD+ programs and activities across GCF jurisdictions and in the ongoing GCF elaboration of REDD+ architectures with stakeholders and partners from all over the world. The GCF has quickly become a beacon in the development of subnational REDD+, demonstrating how this bottom-up model reduces emissions from deforestation and land degradation at the level at which they occur—the state, provincial, and local level.
Stakeholder involvement is an integral part of the GCF success and it is the intention of GCF to be inclusive and transparent in all activities. To capture this commitment and in an attempt to augment participation in the GCF process, a policy for stakeholder involvement, the Guidance Document on Stakeholder Involvement, was created with the help of a working group which consisted of NGO’s. The Guidance Document on Stakeholder Involvement was adopted in 2010 at the GCF Annual Meeting in Santarém, Pará.
The GCF members are those states and provinces that were (1) part of the founding member group (signatories of the 2008 Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and the State of Acre); or (2) nominated by a founding GCF member and approved for formal membership by consensus by the current GCF members (JAP at 8-9). Members are expected to:
The GCF works to identify and attract opportunities for financing of REDD+ and low emissions rural development activities in the GCF member states and provinces, including pay-for-performance, public financing and carbon markets, among others. One primary result was the creation of the Govenors’ Climate and Forests Fund (GCF Fund).
The GCF Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by the GCF Task Force in 2012. The GCF Fund will operate as a nimble and transparent climate finance facility that supports common needs in the GCF’s tropical forest states and provinces and “proof-of-concept” efforts designed to build and demonstrate realistic pathways to forest-maintaining, low emissions rural development. The Fund seeks to enhance training, capacity building, and cross-fertilization among GCF states and provinces, in the context of broader alignment with national REDD+, climate, and rural development programs. The GCF Fund received an initial seed grant of $1.5 million from the U.S. State Department and is in the process of raising additional support. Please check here for more information.
The GCF launched the Knowledge Database in June of 2012 as a web-based source of information provided by GCF members from tropical forest countries on current status and trends regarding REDD+ and low emission sustainable development and deforestation activities; forest carbon accounting efforts and methodologies; REDD+ implementation activities; and REDD+ related financial flows. The Knowledge Database is the primary vehicle through which the GCF is tracking and evaluating members’ activities and capacities and identifying immediate collective needs common to all GCF members. The Database seeks to be the most comprehensive, transparent, publicly available, and current source of REDD+ information at the subnational level.
The Knowledge Database is available at www.gcftaskforce-database.org.
The GCF Support Network builds upon ongoing work to assess needs and identify gaps in GCF states and provinces, identify and enhance sources of local and regional support for training and capacity building, and facilitate effective and rapid responses by network partners in assisting states and provinces in the design and implementation of subnational REDD+ and low emissions rural development programs. The GCF expects to launch the first iteration of the Support Network by the end of 2013.
The GCF Training Program, made possible by funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and implemented in partnership with IDESAM, Kemitraan, IPAM, Pronatura Sur, and other key civil society actors in REDD+ and low-emissions rural development, will train government and non-government actors and decision-makers in Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Peru (the GCF’s tropical states and provinces) on capacity-building, policy development, technology, and implementation. Under this initiative, GCF regional centers will host a series of week-long intensive trainings over the next three years, focused on the key design and implementation challenges for subnational REDD+ and low-emission rural development, including:
At its core, the GCF Training Program empowers subnational civil servants and their civil society partners to build robust subnational REDD+ programs and embed these efforts into larger ongoing processes of low emissions rural development and market transformation. It fills the knowledge gaps impeding or undermining the efforts to establish REDD+ programs at the subnational level, where most of the activity around REDD+ and low-emission rural development is taking place.
The GCF is working to develop a common platform of key elements and design options for building comprehensive, jurisdictional programs for reducing emissions from deforestation and land use with an increased focus on social and environmental safeguards. Third party standard organizations and other stakeholders have been engaged to discuss components of this platform. The GCF has been involved with compliance markets such as California’s to design provisions in GHG compliance systems that will recognize emission reductions from jurisdictional programs. There is also effort underway to link these jurisdictional programs with other non-market opportunities and broader processes of low-emissions rural development.
The GCF’s communication and outreach strategy aims to increase visibility and sustainability of the GCF; enhance stakeholder involvement in GCF processes; and facilitate improved interactions with other relevant REDD+ activities, including maintaining alignment with national and international REDD+ negotiations and activities and considering the future structure (financial and institutional) of the GCF.
Some of the GCF’s communications and outreach efforts have included making improvements and continual updates to its website, producing an Activities Report, issuing the GCF Newsletter, developing state and province brochures and media kits, improving the GCF Knowledge Database, and working to expand the stakeholder base through outreach at international conferences such as Rio+20. It’s the GCF’s goal to provide all communications in the GCF’s four languages (English, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Spanish).
Funding for the GCF has been generously provided by:
The Foundation is devoted to the inspirational vision articulated by our founders: “creating positive outcomes for future generations.” This vision guides our mission: “to achieve significant, lasting and measurable results in environmental conservation, science, patient care, and the San Francisco Bay Area.” A set of core values—impact, integrity, disciplined approach, and collaboration—directs our work.
The Climate and Land Use Alliance is a collaborative initiative of the ClimateWorks Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
The mission of the Alliance is to catalyze the potential of forested and agricultural landscapes to mitigate climate change, benefit people and protect the environment.
Norad’s vision is to generate results in the fight against poverty and is committed to ensuring the quality of development assistance.
IDESAM is the seat of the Coordinator position for GCF Brazilian States. IDESAM works to promote the valuation and sustainable use of natural resources in the Amazon and to find alternative solutions to environmental conservation, social development and climate change mitigation.
Kemitraan is the seat of the Coordinator position for GCF Indonesian Provinces. Kemitraan’s vision is to establish fair, democratic and sustainable governance for the welfare of Indonesian citizen.
Pronatura Sur is the seat of the Coordinator position for GCF Mexican States. Pronatura Sur’s strategy is to develop models that promote conservation and management alternative uses of natural resources that benefit communities. As we work to promote the participation of society and labor communities, organizations and owners.
Google Earth Outreach gives nonprofits and public benefit organizations the knowledge and resources they need to visualize their cause and tell their story in Google Earth & Maps to hundreds of millions of people.
Earth Innovation Institute seeks to align governments, industry, communities and civil society around a shared agenda for shifting rural development from the prevalent boom-and-bust trajectory. EII provides strategic and technical support to the GCF in various ways, including through technical and scientific input to GCF trainings, publications and tools. EII also increases support for and the visibility of the GCF—including by increasing private sector, indigenous peoples’ and civil society engagement with the GCF through strategic outreach and meetings, and by coordinating strategic capacity-building opportunities for GCF members and stakeholders.
Woods Hole Research Center has the mission to advance scientific discovery and seek science-based solutions for the world’s environmental and economic challenges through research and education on forests, soils, air, and water.
Carnegie Institution for Science established by Andrew Carnegie is a unique organization dedicated to scientific discovery “to encourage, in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research, and discovery and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind...” The philosophy was and is to devote the institution’s resources to “exceptional” individuals so that they can explore the most intriguing scientific questions in an atmosphere of complete freedom. Carnegie and his trustees realized that flexibility and freedom were essential to the institution’s success and that tradition is the foundation of the institution today as it supports research in the Earth, space, and life sciences.
Climate Focus believes that cooperation between developing and industrialized nations is a precondition to mitigating climate change, while governments, companies and civil society assume their responsibilities and take action. Emission reductions need to be financed, implemented and administered. We believe emissions trading and other market-based mechanisms are key to promote investments by the private sector. Solid and equitable policies that are implemented efficiently are needed as basis to promote low-carbon development and sustainable climate policies.