Around the world for meetings with foresters in October 2014

Shortly after a week’s vacation on Sardinia in October 2014, I was off on another trip, but this time it was somewhat out of the ordinary. As part of my work as a REDD+ adviser with the United Nations, I was responsible for designing the five-year strategy for the programme to 2020. Since there are many countries involved in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation and since there are teams of UN advisers working from Panama City, Bangkok and Nairobi, it was agreed that we would convene two day gatherings in each of these three cities, bringing representatives from the ”REDD+ countries” together to explore the way forward.

So it was that I found myself going around the world in 12 days. I travelled with a colleague from Geneva and met with organising teams in the three cities for sessions with national representatives who could provide useful ideas, suggestions and inputs for the 2016-20 global strategy. Afterwards we drafted a synthesis report and prepared a document describing the consolidated plans. In some ways the trip was the culmination of my involvement in “getting REDD+ off the ground” since 2008.[1]

We started in Panama City with the Latin Americans and then flew across the Pacific to Bangkok for the Asian inputs. Although I figured that a 42,000 km journey with three stopovers was within my grasp, by the time I arrived in the Kenyan capital for the African session, I was extremely disorientated and jet lagged. It wasn’t easy to complete the two days at the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) and I was very glad when I flopped into my seat on the night flight to Zürich at the end.

Watching a ship sail into the Panama Canal at sunrise

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View from 10,000 metres above a protected area in Guatemala

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At Tokyo’s Haneda airport, in search of snacks around midnight

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Announcing the session in Bangkok

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Organisers enjoying drinks on a Bangkok street after the workshop

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View of the pools at the über trendy Tribe Hotel, Nairobi

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The itinerary was as follows: Geneva-Zürich-New York City-Panama City-Los Angeles-Tokyo-Bangkok-Nairobi-Zürich-Geneva. I flew across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as la Manche (the English Channel), the Irish Sea, the Caribbean, the South China Sea, the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. As always I obsessively followed progress on the little screen in front of my seat, particularly on the ten hour flight from LAX to Narita, which was my first across the Pacific.

The three meetings were attended by participants from a total of 52 countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Britain, Cambodia, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, Italy, Japan, the Lao PDR, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, the Philippines, the Republic of Congo (RoC), the Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, the USA, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Strangely there were no Kenyan, Panamanian or Thai participants!

[1] The 2016-2020 strategy can be found at: http://www.un-redd.org/work-programme

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