28 January 2022, San José: The National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO) and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) received $23,933,037 in non-reimbursable funds, by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), informed this Friday José Vicente Troya, resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The announcement was made during the 40th anniversary of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean chaired by Costa Rica on January 27 and 28.
Troya detailed that these non-refundable funds -transferred by UNDP- correspond to the first disbursement of a total of $54.1 million that were recognized to Costa Rica for payment of results in the face of the climate crisis, related to 14.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide captured in 2014 and 2015 by the country's forests.
He added that after a year of implementation of the REDD+ Results-Based Payments Project, led by the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and UNDP, the disbursement of these resources, which represent 44% of the total funds approved, was achieved.
The Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza, explained that the REDD+ Project Payment for Results 2014-2015, financed by the Green Climate Fund, granted these resources for emissions avoided in 2014 and 2015. "That money is primarily intended to strengthen and improve the PES Program in private lands and indigenous territories," he said.
"It will also support the control and prevention of forest fires in State Natural Heritage carried out by SINAC. This type of initiative reintegrates the investments we made decades ago in a sustained manner, to avoid carbon emissions that have benefited the entire planet," she added.
It is worth noting that through this project, UNDP and MINAE are changing the way they have traditionally collaborated, moving away from upfront financing and increasing accountability by delivering concrete results in the National Program of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and the National Fire Management Program through the Performance-Based Payment Agreement mechanism.
For his part, the UNDP resident representative, José Vicente Troya, indicated that no financial resources were advanced under the Performance-Based Payment Agreement (APBD), "rather it was paid based on the results verified by an independent verification that was carried out through an international audit," he said.
"This process evaluated the progress and performance indicators of the PES programs developed by FONAFIFO and SINAC's National Fire Management Program," he said.
Evaluations. The first-year evaluation validated the results achieved by both programs for the period from February 10, 2021, to August 2021. The verification was done by an independent auditing firm using various methods including field visits. This technical verification measuring the performance of both programs concluded in November of last year.
A total of 11 indicators were evaluated, 7 indicators of the PES Program and 4 of the National Fire Management Program. In this way, it was possible to independently verify the excellent results achieved by these government programs in 2021.
The main results include the verification of 239,190 hectares of forest protection PES and approximately 545,000 trees in the PES Agroforestry Systems (SAF) modality, exceeding the project goals of 200,000 hectares and 150,000 trees, respectively. Data on the participation of women in both PES modalities and the percentage of beneficiaries in areas with a very low social development index were also verified.
For SINAC's National Fire Management Program, the attention of fires that occurred in the 2021 season was verified, which obtained the attention of 98%, surpassing the planned goal. It was also verified that the impact on forests and paramo was less than 50%, and the project achieved an impact of 19%. Finally, it was verified that 100% of the institutional and volunteer forest firefighters had their policies up to date and the investment of US$80,000 in equipment for 90% of the country's land conservation areas.
"We have moved as quickly as possible to support Costa Rica in its recovery and social protection efforts that foster low-emission, resilient and gender-equal growth. As an accredited GCF agency, we will continue to work with our partners and make our extensive global network available to chart a climate-smart future. We support Costa Rica's efforts not only to decarbonize its economy but also its public finances, helping to decouple the financing of the PES program from tax revenues from fossil fuel use," concluded Troya.
Beneficiary population. More than 4,000 families are expected to benefit from this first disbursement, which aims to maintain and improve at least 4,000 environmental service payment contracts in different modalities such as forest protection and agroforestry systems managed by the communities, especially vulnerable populations such as women, youth, small and small forest owners, and communities with very low development indexes. This is without leaving aside the large areas of forest, including those belonging to indigenous territories, which have contributed greatly to the success in reducing emissions from the country's forests.
The resources will also be reinvested in the Fire Management program to face the fire season that officially began in the country on January 15th of this year, these resources will be used to acquire equipment for forest firefighters, support fire response actions and continue training brigades and communities, among others.
Both programs are fundamental to providing important benefits such as a better distribution of wealth, food security, economic autonomy for women, and new employment opportunities.
Jerry Velasquez, Director of GCF’s Mitigation and Adaptation Division, said: “I commend Costa Rica’s government for leading the way in showing it is possible to finance substantial emission reductions through independently verified forest protection. In addition to the results already achieved, this REDD+ results-based payment will be used to improve forest conservation and sustainable management, reforestation, agroforestry and silvopastoral systems. This will be complemented by the country’s longstanding Payments for Environmental Services (PES) Program, which will enhance the participation of public and private stakeholders - including indigenous peoples.
By 2022, the project will strengthen its action on indicators related to human rights, labor rights, social and environmental safeguards, as well as strengthening the participation of women, young people, and indigenous peoples, among other key sectors in the country's conservation and sustainable development.