Honduras charts course for climate commitments

Misty forest in Honduras. Photo credit: Shaun Astbury on Flickr
Barbara Fraser
21 June 2018

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Honduras has developed a three-year road map for achieving its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, known as its nationally determined commitments or NDCs.

At the 2015 U.N. climate summit in Paris, the Central American nation pledged to reduce its emissions by 15 percent from a business-as-usual level by 2030 and to reforest 1 million hectares of deforested or degraded land.

The road map, which identifies specific steps in five priority areas, was developed through multi-sector consultations, with assistance from the NDC Partnership, a coalition of countries and institutions that helps build knowledge and technical capacity for climate change and sustainable development goals.

Honduras already had a climate change strategy, but many of the commitments the country made in 2015 were based on data from a relatively short time period, according to Cayetano Casado, the NDC Partnership’s regional specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Now they have a much wider set of information that has enabled them to make better projections for the future, so they want to review their targets,” he said.

Advisers from the partnership met with officials from the Natural Resources and Environment Secretariat, the President’s Office on Climate Change and key agencies and institutions in the sectors targeted for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, including agriculture, waste management, energy and the cement industry.

They reviewed the 2015 commitments and set priorities, then held workshops on mitigation and adaptation with representatives of the private sector, civil society and universities. The resulting road map contains 21 activities to be carried out over the next three years.

The first item is a comprehensive review of Honduras’ NDCs, including its commitment to restore 1 million hectares of deforested land. That target will probably expand to include agroforestry and restoration of degraded lands, Casado said

Other priorities include identifying measures for reducing emissions and increasing resilience to climate change in different parts of the country, with cost analyses and pre-feasibility studies. By the end of the second year, the country should be ready to present an investment plan for mitigation and adaptation to international financing agencies.

A monitoring and verification system will be established to gather data and track progress. The information will be used within the country and for reporting to international bodies.

The road map also aims to strengthen government institutions responsible for addressing climate change, and to provide information and raise awareness within the country. The document will be evaluated annually and updated as needed.

“I think it’s very feasible, because it focuses on the enabling environment for NDC implementation,” Casado said of the road map.

Eighteen Latin American and Caribbean countries currently participate in the NDC Partnership, which provides different types of support depending on their needs, Casado said.

For many countries, the greatest challenge is bringing their NDCs down to earth, identifying priorities and making concrete plans for implementation. That is especially true in countries where consultants drew up the NDCs and government officials are less familiar with the commitments, Casado said.

Priorities for emission reduction vary depending on the country. In Amazonian countries, land-use change and deforestation are the greatest source of emissions, while Caribbean countries face the challenge of reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

“The challenges are diverse,” Casado said. Nevertheless, there are common concerns. I think all of the countries in Latin America have it very clear that adaptation is a priority.”

Steps for addressing adaptation are not as clear, however, because the impacts of climate change vary from place to place, and local information often is lacking. Financing also remains a challenge.

For the commitments made in Paris to be effective: “The most urgent step is that countries internalize climate change” and ensure support for their goals, Casado said.

“If you want to advance on national implementation,” he said, “you need to have all the sectors on board.”