Article 2 of the Kyoto Protocol calls on Annex I Parties to promote sustainable
development in the course of reducing GHG emissions, including the implementation
of policies and measures undertaken in LULUCF. Article 12 explicitly identifies
the achievement of sustainable development, along with the reduction of GHGs,
as a central purpose and requirement of project activities undertaken in non-Annex
I countries through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
To implement the Protocol, the Parties will likely face a series of decisions
and tradeoffs on a broad range of environmental and socioeconomic impacts on
biodiversity; the quantity and quality of forest, grazing land, soil, and water
resources; the ability to provide food, fiber, fuel, and shelter; and employment,
poverty, and equity.
Although generalizing the impacts of LULUCF activities and projects on sustainable
development across activities, locations, and time is difficult, the Parties
may wish to consider a variety of broad environmental and socioeconomic synergies
- Converting non-forest land to forest will typically increase the diversity
of flora and fauna, except in situations where biologically diverse non-forest
ecosystems, such as native grasslands, are replaced by forests consisting
of single or a few species. These negative impacts can be mitigated, however,
by measures that lengthen rotations, maintain understory vegetation, use native
tree species, and minimize chemical inputs. Avoiding deforestation can provide
potentially large co-benefits, including protection of biodiversity, water,
and soil resources and maintenance of non-timber forest products and services.
- Converting land from agricultural use to forest or avoiding the conversion
of forests to agriculture on the margin enhances the socioeconomic role of
the forest sector and diminishes the role of the agricultural sector. Where
agricultural land is scarce (i.e., through high population growth and/or expanding
cultivation), the economic and social impacts could be large unless forest
expansion/conservation is coupled with agricultural intensification and related
- Changing the management of forests to store more carbon (or release less
carbon) will alter the size and structure of forests. More intensive forms
of management that increase tree biomass may make more timber available for
eventual harvest, but such management may also impart some negative consequences
on other ecosystem components. Alternatively, if current commercial management
practices are modified to leave more biomass in the forest for longer periods
of time (e.g., extended rotation lengths, reduced-impact logging), other ecosystem
functions may benefit while timber production is curtailed.
- Managing agricultural soils to sequester more carbon is likely to reduce
soil erosion and increase soil fertility. Thus, the opportunity costs of these
activities may be relatively low if they enhance rather than diminish food
security for affected populations.
In implementing Articles 2 and 12 of the Kyoto Protocol, the Parties may decide
whether to establish international or national criteria to ensure that LULUCF
activities and projects are consistent with sustainable development objectives.
With regard to activities within countries or projects between countries, if
criteria vary significantly across countries or regions, there may be incentives
to locate activities and projects in areas with less stringent environmental
or socioeconomic criteria.
A system of criteria and indicators could be used to assess and compare sustainable
development impacts across LULUCF alternatives. No agreed-upon set of indicators
currently exists, however. Parties could draw from a variety of systems under
development for closely related purposes, such as criteria and indicators for
sustainable forest management or the United Nations Commission on Sustainable
Development, to develop an assessment tool for LULUCF measures under the Protocol.
Several sustainable development objectives are the focus of other multilateral
environmental agreements, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity,
the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Parties may need to decide whether and how to ensure that LULUCF definitions,
activities, and projects are implemented in a manner that is consistent with
the goals and objectives of these Conventions and other relevant international
There are a variety of ways to assess the sustainable development impacts of
LULUCF projects, depending on who has responsibility for performing the assessment,
what standards are used, and how the standards are developed. Assessment standards
can be based on local, regional, sectoral, national, or international criteria.
More formal approaches to sustainable development assessment that could be
applied at the project level include environmental and socioeconomic impact
assessments, ISO 14000, and forest certification. These methods have been applied
across a wide range of activities and countries, and they could be modified
so that they are applicable to LULUCF projects. Their use could raise project
costs and slow implementation, however.
Key logistical factors affecting the sustainable development contributions
of LULUCF activities and projects include institutional and technical capacity
to develop and implement guidelines and procedures; the extent and effectiveness
of local community participation in development and implementation; and technology
transfer and adaptation.