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Envisioning REDD+ in a post‐Paris era: between evolving expectations and current practice

Advanced Review
Envisioning REDD+ in a
post-Paris era: between evolving
expectations and current practice
Esther Turnhout,
*Aarti Gupta,
Janice Weatherley-Singh,
Marjanneke J. Vijge,
Jessica de Koning,
Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers,
Martin Herold
and Markus Lederer
Edited by Louis Lebel, Domain Editor, and Mike Hulme, Editor-in-Chief
From its advent in 2005 within global climate change negotiations, reducing car-
bon emissions from deforestation and other forest-related activities (so-called
REDD+) has been experimented with in developing country contexts for over a
decade now, with a wide array of expectations coming to be associated with
it. Three consecutive conceptualizations are identiable: carbon-centered, where
REDD+ is primarily a climate mitigation strategy; co-benets-centered, where
REDD+ becomes a triple win solution for climate, biodiversity and communities;
and landscape-centered, where REDD+ activities are embedded in integrated
sustainable land-use approaches. In assessing such evolving expectations against
existing REDD+ experiences, a mixed picture emerges. Some expectations, spe-
cically relating to forest carbon nancing, are not being adequately met, while
others, notably the delivery of co-benets, hold out more promise. Yet this also
highlights a potential paradox facing REDD+. While there is growing recognition
that co-benet generation is key, and that piece-meal, forest-carbon focused
REDD+ interventions are unlikely to address the complex causes of tropical for-
est loss, forest carbon is still being foregrounded in measuring and reporting on
REDD+ performance, and in generating results-based payments (even as these
aspects remain challenging). This implies, however, that the future of REDD+
may lie not in one conceptualization coming to dominate, but rather in co-
existence of heterogeneous practices. REDD+ may end up as a patchwork of pro-
jects and practices with different foci and nancing mechanisms. Although this
cannot prevent trade-offs, such a heterodox REDD+ may provide building blocks
for the polycentric governance of the worlds remaining tropical forests. © 2016
The Authors. WIREs Climate Change published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
How to cite this article:
WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e425. doi: 10.1002/wcc.425
*Correspondence to:
Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Wageningen Uni-
versity, Wageningen, Netherlands
Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University, Wagenin-
gen, Netherlands
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Brussels, Belgium
Laboratory of Geo Information and Remote Sensing, Wageningen
University, Wageningen, Netherlands
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason
University, Fairfax, VA, USA
Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität
Münster, Munster, Germany
Conict of interest: The authors have declared no conicts of inter-
est for this article.
© 2016 The Authors.
WIREs Climate Change
published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in
any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modications or adaptations are made.
In the collective global challenge posed by climate
change, the idea of reducing or avoiding carbon
emissions through forest conservation and sustaina-
ble use has attracted considerable attention. The
global mechanism REDD+ has been, arguably, the
most prominent site of multilateral political negotia-
tions and activities on the ground with regard to
mitigating forest-related carbon emissions. REDD+
stands for reducing emissions from deforestation
and forest degradation in developing countries; and
the role of conservation, sustainable management of
forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in
developing countries.
It has been negotiated under
the United Nations Framework Convention on Cli-
mate Change (UNFCCC) since 2005, as a mechanism
to compensate developing countries for their efforts
to reduce forest-related emissions.
Over the years,
multiple REDD+ activities have been initiated, with
bilateral and multilateral support from the World
Bank and the United Nations (UN) REDD program.
This has resulted in the development of national
REDD+ strategies and in execution of more than
1000 REDD+ activities on the ground in developing
countries by the end of 2015.
In initial debates on REDD+ (then referred to
as REDReducing Emissions from Deforestation),
reducing carbon emissions through preventing fur-
ther deforestation was portrayed as being relatively
simple and efcient compared to other climate
change mitigation strategies.
In this relatively simple
conceptualization, developing countries would
receive nancial support for reducing emissions from
forest loss, calculated at the national level against an
established baseline or reference level. This attracted
a range of stakeholders, who were optimistic about
the potential of REDD+ to offer a win-win solution
for both climate and forests, and who considered
REDD+ as an unprecedented opportunity to bring
political attention and new nancing for tropical for-
est conservation.
Almost in parallel, another conceptualization
emerged, which emphasized not a double but a
triple-win REDD+. In this vision, the emphasis was
not only on the potential of REDD+ to lower carbon
emissions and conserve forests, but also to improve
livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, thereby
facilitating poverty reduction and sustainable devel-
opment in countries in which REDD+ interventions
were to take place (so called non-carbon or co-bene-
ts). This triple win conceptualization also attracted
different stakeholders within the development com-
munity, who valued the benets that REDD+ could
provide for forest communities,
and for its poten-
tial role in improving forest governance.
Conceptualizations of REDD+ have again
shifted in recent years, this time to include a land-
scape approach to REDD+, which emphasizes the
importance of governing landscapes (including for-
ests, agriculture and other land uses) from an inte-
grated perspective and including relevant
stakeholders and sectors.
In this third conceptu-
alization, REDD+ is envisioned to serve as a catalyst
for more integrated climate smart development
pathways in forested landscapes of tropical countries,
particularly at the sub-national or jurisdictional
This, however, will require REDD+ to go
even further beyond the relatively simple focus on
reducing carbon emissions from deforestation that it
started with, and encompass a wide variety of co-
benets in a wide variety of land uses.
Over the years, the shifting conceptions of
REDD+ have garnered not just support, but also crit-
icism. From the outset REDD+ has been ercely
debated in both scholarly literature and policy
This article thus undertakes a timely
assessment of the current state-of-the-art understand-
ing of whether and how REDD+ has lived up to the
various expectations associated with it. It also
assesses what the gaps between evolving expectations
and experiences might imply for the future evolution
of REDD+ in a post-Paris era.
Such a stocktaking exercise is timely, given the
prominence accorded to REDD+ in Article 5 of the
agreement reached during the 21
Conference of the
Parties (COP 21) of the UNFCCC in Paris in 2015.
It is particularly important in light of the potential
role that forest-based mitigation is likely to play in
meeting the long-term climate change mitigation goal
of remaining well below2.
It is also relevant in
the context of meeting the Sustainable Development
Goals agreed in 2015, in particular Goal 15.2 that
aims to promote sustainable forest management,
restore degraded forests, and halt deforestation by
2020, which was linked to REDD+ at COP 21.
We turn here to assessing the extent to which the
evolving expectations associated with the three con-
ceptualizations of carbon,co-benet,and landscape-
centered REDD+ are being realized. In doing so, we
focus in particular on nancing for REDD+, and the
establishment of national-level measuring, reporting,
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and verication (MRV) systems intended to report
on performance, as two necessary elements in con-
verting REDD+ into reality. We also touch upon
other aspects, as relevant, including REDD+ govern-
ance arrangements and its engagement (or not) with
broader deforestation drivers.
Carbon-Centered REDD+: Assessing
Expectations and Experiences
As we outline above, the rst conceptualization of
REDD+ relates to its promise to provide an efcient
and effective way to reduce or avoid forest-related
carbon emissions and thereby mitigate climate
change, while at the same time conserving forests.
However, incentivizing this depends upon the estab-
lishment of a viable nancial mechanism for REDD+.
The Warsaw Framework, agreed to at the UNFCCC
COP 19 in Warsaw, species that REDD+ nance
will support developing countries in three sequential
phases of REDD+ implementation: (1) readiness,
(2) demonstration activities, and (3) results-based
actions. This implies that, before payments for veri-
ed forest-carbon emissions reductions can ow,
some preparatory ex ante nance is needed for coun-
tries to get ready for REDD+through developing
national REDD+ strategies and establishing institu-
tional arrangements, and building technical capabil-
ities for, among others, setting up MRV systems.
Only then can result-based payments occur.
To date, about 90% of all REDD+ nance, for
such stages, has come from public sources.
has included, for instance, funding from the UN-
REDD programme, the World Banks Forest Carbon
Partnership Facility (FCPF); and national government
programmes, such as from Norway or Germanys
REDD+ Early Movers Programme. In line with the
Warsaw rules, most of this nance has gone to
national governments in developing countries.
this moment, however, the level of nance is insuf-
cient. Currently, pledged nance for REDD+ only
amounts to less than half the estimated supply of car-
bon credits, assuming a standard price of USD
5/tonne of CO
(a price used, for instance, by the
FCPF), and also assuming that all nance goes to
phase 3 to pay for veried reduced emissions and not
to preparatory capacity building.
Besides public
funding for REDD+, available private funding has
been disbursed through voluntary carbon markets. In
the absence of including forest credits in compliance
markets, where entities with legally set emission obli-
gations might use REDD+ offsets as one potentially
efcient and exible way of reaching their targets,
voluntary carbon markets are currently the only
place wherein REDD+ credits are being traded. The
only state-driven market where forest offsets might
be used in the near future is Californias cap-and-
trade market that plans to include REDD+ offsets
from 2018 on.
The current nancial situation of REDD+,
including public funding and the voluntary carbon
market, is a clear indication that the ambitions
related to REDD+ in providing payments for
avoiding or reducing emissions from forests may
not be realized. This is mirrored in the interna-
tional negotiations where no decision regarding the
nance of REDD+ has been made but instead the
compromise formula is being used that funds
should come from a variety of sources, public and
private, bilateral and multilateral, including alterna-
tive sources.
Consequently, as many studies have
pointed out, REDD+ will not be able to easily incen-
tivise change away from deforestation and forest deg-
radation because the opportunity costs are so high
that REDD+ is unable to compete with other, less
sustainable, land uses.
This implies that while
countries are getting ready for REDD+ and are pre-
paring to supply carbon credits, it is unclear what
exactly they are getting ready for, in terms of the
nancial mechanisms to be put in place, the condi-
tions attached to it, and whether there will be suf-
cient nance available.
According to Vijge et al.,
this has created a wait-and-see attitude among devel-
oping countries.
This also has implications for the widely held
view (and criticism) that REDD+ embodies a market-
based and neoliberal approach to environmental
governance, whereby forest carbon emissions are to
be valued and made into a tradable commodity.
The process of commodication implies commen-
suration across diverse types of carbon emissions,
regardless of the location, or social conditions of
their generation, so that they can be traded and
According to many, this is risky
because it could result in forests only being valued
for their carbon content, a process termed carboni-
or carbonization,
thereby neglecting
local realities and the needs of forest-dependent com-
These criticisms resonate with
broader debates and critiques of a Payments for Eco-
system Services(PES) approach to environmental
governance. REDD+ is often seen as one of the most
prominent current examples of PES approaches, since
it aims to pay developing countries for providing the
environmental service of mitigating forest-related cli-
mate emissions.
Further criticism has emerged
about the potential of REDD+ to become an offset
mechanism for developed countries to compensate
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their own poor greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation
However, in the absence of a global compliance
market for forest carbon, and with the current low
demand for and price of carbon, the claim that
REDD+ is contributing to a large-scale commodica-
tion of the forest remains empirically unfounded. In
fact, the forest is already very much commoditized
and has been brought under global extractivist mar-
kets, unrelated to REDD+.
Moreover, it has also
been argued that avoided emissions have not (yet)
been fully turned into a commensurable commodity
in REDD+: avoided emissions from forests are not all
treated the same, and the location and conditions of
production do matter.
Particularly at the project
level, as we discuss in more detail later, results-based
nance and carbon transactions do not yet take cen-
ter stage.
In addition to nancing and marketization
aspects, the extent to which REDD+ will meet the
objectives of climate change mitigation depends also
on the development of carbon accounting methodol-
ogies, and the establishment of MRV systems. Car-
bon accounting has thus been centre stage in policy
and scholarly debates, on-the-ground interventions,
and REDD+ readiness activities.
Data and meth-
ods need to be robust for countries to report REDD+
performance since REDD+ result based payments
will only be granted on the basis of the adequate
measurement, reporting and verication of avoided
carbon emissions. As such, experts have suggested
that accounting and MRV systems need to stay
focused on carbon-related estimation only.
MRV relating to assessments of forest carbon
stocks and changes is, however, a complicated mat-
ter. As much scholarly analysis has documented,
monitoring and accounting technologies, approaches,
and technical and institutional capacities are une-
venly distributed across scales, domains and REDD+
The availability of robust and credi-
ble data, particularly in developing countries,
remains a key challenge, given uncertainties and
political considerations associated with calculating
baselines or reference levels against which to assess
REDD+ performance. This is also the case in deter-
mining the scale (national, sub-national, or local) at
which to account for avoided carbon emissions.
Despite such challenges, most technical MRV experts
increasingly believe that reliable systems that assess
stocks and ows of carbon at a national scale are fea-
sible and countriesforest monitoring capacities have
signicantly improved.
A growing body of work in the critical social
sciences has highlighted, however, the political
implications of the debates around carbon account-
ing and MRV systems, including those pertaining to
issues of data availability, reliability and integration.
Such writings note the political salience that account-
ing rules and outcomes acquire when nancial
rewards become linked to them,
even though
they continue to be framed as technical matters to be
negotiated and institutionalized within expert set-
A related strand of work notes that the
requirements for stringent MRV systems may also
lead to unequal access to REDD+ interventions in
developing countries, as some countries have greater
capacity to establish such systems and/or to negotiate
their content.
Combined with the current focus on
carbon and the mostly national scale used to balance
stocks and ows of carbon, this would suggest that
through MRV systems, REDD+ may end up reprodu-
cing existing inequalities between experts and admin-
istrators and local forest dependent actors.
Taking into account the issues discussed in rela-
tion to carbon-centered REDD+, it is evident that the
early win-win enthusiasm for REDD+ was exagger-
ated: it has not proven to be a simple and efcient
way to mitigate climate change or conserve tropical
forests. We turn next to the second conceptualization
of REDD+, where the focus shifts from carbon to
also include co-benets.
Co-Benet-Centered REDD+: Assessing
Expectations and Experiences
As we pointed out above, from early on, REDD+
was expected to not only help to mitigate climate
change and conserve forests but also to deliver envi-
ronmental and social benets, such as contributing to
livelihoods, sustainable development, enhanced gov-
ernance, and biodiversity conservation. These are
referred to collectively as co-benets or REDD+ safe-
There is an important but subtle dif-
ference between these two notions: while the idea of
safeguards (anchored in the UNFCCC guidance on
REDD+) focuses on the prevention of harm, a push
for co-benets from REDD+ requires it to do more
good, thus creating a positive externality.
Although there are currently no specicREDD+
payments linked to co-benets at the international
level, countries are strongly encouraged to actively
pursue such benets in their national-level REDD+
implementation according to their specic needs,
interests and national circumstances.
This call is
also reected in several policy documents at the
national level, suggesting widespread support for the
importance of co-benets, including through invol-
ving local communities in the design and monitoring
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of REDD+.
However, the rather centralized design
of REDD+ as specied in the UNFCCC Warsaw
Framework may prevent such benets from being
realized in practice.
Some argue that the nancial
resources that will ow to developing countries may
incentivize national governance to recentralize forest
governance, thereby undermining any potential posi-
tive effects of earlier decentralization efforts. Others
stress that decentralization of forest management is
not necessarily favorable to local communities and
only works better under very specic circum-
Some go further in supporting current
recentralization efforts and calling for a stronger
national involvement in REDD+ governance, given
that formerly decentralized governance arrangements
are seen, in such a view, as problematic in generating
What is evident is that it will be up to
national governments to decide to what extent and
how local actors receive results-based payments from
REDD+. As such, concerns persist that REDD+ funds
will remain at national (rather than subnational or
local) levels.
Extensive REDD+ literature has also demon-
strated that the delivery of co-benets requires appro-
priate governance arrangements, including
institutional and contract design.
Doing this
effectively and equitably, however, remains a chal-
lenge, particularly for poorer countries where govern-
ance is weak, corruption often prevalent and
enforcement feeble.
REDD+ can therefore
also be seen as a large-scale governance experiment
or an attempt at state building in those areas where
the state has historically been weak.
while stakeholder participation is mentioned in most
project documents and minimum requirements of
free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in imple-
menting REDD+ projects are mostly adhered to, the
participation of local communities in the decision-
making and design of REDD+ projects varies signi-
cantly across projects.
Furthermore, when ques-
tions of access and inclusion stem from contested
land tenure-related national policies, REDD+ inter-
ventions cannot resolve these.
Initial assessments
do demonstrate, however, that socioeconomic bene-
ts are limited when REDD+ implementation disre-
gards the skills, interests and potential of local actors
through top-down, predened development
Notwithstanding these problems and challenges
facing the implementation of REDD+ with broader
benets, there are clear signs that co-benets are
being taken seriously in the implementation of
REDD+. This means that to date, there is little evi-
dence of extensive carbonization occurring in
practice. In contrast, some research has shown that
the potential to generate biodiversity and community
benets are among the most important reasons for
the selection of specic areas for REDD+ demonstra-
tion activities.
Furthermore, though actual poverty
reduction impacts of REDD+ projects remain
most REDD+ projects focus more strongly
on socioeconomic and environmental co-benets
than on carbon benets.
This is also evident from the fact that only
around 20% of the REDD+ projects are currently
engaged in actual carbon transactions and of these,
only a few rely solely on nances from such transac-
Moreover, 81% of all REDD+ projects that
involve carbon transactions are also certied by a
standard for co-benets such as the Climate, Com-
munity Biodiversity standard (CCB), the Forest Stew-
ardship Council (FSC) or Rainforest Alliance.
part, this can be explained by the fact that many
REDD+ projects already existed as nature conserva-
tion or integrated conservation and development pro-
jects prior to the introduction of REDD+.
According to some, however, this state of affairs
raises questions about the additionality of REDD+,
and hence the effectiveness of REDD+ as a climate
mitigation strategy.
Thus, to date, we see implementation of REDD+
based on different sources of nancing, which target
the delivery of a wide variety of social, economic,
and biodiversity benets without an exclusive focus
on carbon. In light of the future nancial prospects
for REDD+ vis-à-vis carbon benets noted above,
this diversity of funding may prove a useful strategy
for securing the necessary nancing for diverse
REDD+ interventions, while at the same time ensur-
ing the delivery of co-benets.
Such a strategy
would also t well with recent developments within
REDD+ negotiations in an international context,
where it is increasingly linked to sustainable develop-
ment imperatives. In the Paris Agreement, for exam-
ple, the link between REDD+ and the sustainable
development goals is noted,
and current donor
preferences also reect a strong emphasis on securing
social and sustainable development benets from
In considering the prospects that REDD+ will
generate co-benets, a related issue has been whether
such benets are also to be monitored, reported on,
and veried, at what level, and to what end. To date,
the mainstream understanding (also within the
UNFCCCC) has been that co-benets are important
for REDD+, but are not to be included in MRV sys-
tems. Although they may be included as safeguards
or conditions for payment, they will not be used to
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determine the payment itself. Indeed, this seems to be
the dominant trend in practice as well, given that
there are very few initiatives designed explicitly to
monitor co-benets.
Furthermore, most developing countries, even
those with relatively advanced forest monitoring sys-
tems, lack the capacity to implement co-benet and
community-based monitoring.
Capacities for
social monitoring that covers, among others, rights,
participation and other social benets, and environ-
mental monitoring that includes biodiversity, soil,
water and other ecosystem services are sometimes in
place, but they have usually been developed by differ-
ent expert communities who remain largely discon-
nected from each other.
There are some
suggestions to aim for such interdisciplinary integra-
tion, at least for environmental aspects. Scholars have
noted, for example, that many of the same remotely
sensed and eld-based datasets that are being lever-
aged to measure changes in forest carbon emissions
can also be used to assess changes in biodiversity,
hydrology and water resources, and soil resources.
However, this may not be possible for social para-
meters. Thus, while it may be possible to take advan-
tage of multiple data streams, including eld
measurements from community-based monitoring,
and remote sensing data analysis,
and use them for
inter-calibration and validation,
there remains a
problematic disconnect between the widely available
large-area data on forest change derived from remote
and the ne-scale data needed to monitor pro-
cesses and changes in social conditions.
While some
observers assess that progress in this realm has been
another observed tendency is for governments
and other actors to shy away from taking on monitor-
ing tasks in situations where key datasets are missing
and basic capacities need to be established, unless there
are clear (nancial) incentives to do so. Finally, the issue
of sovereign decision-making comes up again, as gov-
ernments in tropical forest countries rightly claim that
co-benets are also not systematically measured or
linked to any nancial transfers in countries of the
global North. This suggests that debates relating to
accounting for REDD+ (both for carbon, but also for
co-benets that go beyond carbon) are likely to con-
tinue in the foreseeable future.
In sum, therefore, existing experience highlights
that, while on the project-level, REDD+ is character-
ized by a strong focus on co-benets, developments
relating to nance and MRV systems continue to be
primarily concerned with carbon. Results-based pay-
ments are to be granted relative to avoided carbon
emissions documented through sufcient and credible
evidence generated by accounting and MRV. If co-
benets remain excluded from the accounting and
nancing architectures of REDD+ and are not seen
as results to be awarded with payments, REDD+
may yet result, in certain instances, in a carboniza-
tion of forest governance.
This suggests that in practice, rather than gener-
ating triple wins, REDD+ interventions are likely to be
characterized by trade-offs between forest conserva-
tion, climate change mitigation, and local development
and livelihood benets.
For example, research has
shown that the forests to be conserved when aiming
for maximum carbon emission reduction impact will
not always be the most urgent areas for biodiversity
Fears are also being raised that the
establishment of REDD+ related conservation areas
will lead to the expulsion of local forest dependant
people as was recently observed in Lao PDR.
As we have discussed in this section, the imple-
mentation of co-benet-centered REDD+ reveals a
mixed picture, with evidence of REDD+ taking co-
bets into account at the project level, but at the
same time, a persistence of trade-offs and a continued
foregrounding of carbon in REDD+ nance and
MRV systems. We turn next to the expectations and
current experiences with the newest conceptualiza-
tion: landscape-centered REDD+.
Landscape-Centered REDD+: Assessing
Expectations and Experiences
As we noted in the introduction, the third, most
recent, conceptualization of REDD+ widens its scope
of activities and/or the context within which it is to
be conceived and implemented considerably. In this
third, landscape-centered conceptualization of REDD+,
the linkages between forests and other forms of
land use, particularly agriculture, come to the fore,
with concurrent extensive focus on engaging relevant
stakeholders beyond traditional forest-related multi-
level decision-making arrangements.
implies that REDD+ decision-making has to go
beyond forest-related ministries and departments
and become integrated with other policy areas that
affect stocks and ows of forest carbon, including
drivers of deforestation.
The most important direct driver of tropical
deforestation is commercial agriculture, in particular
large-scale industrial agriculture.
logging, selective logging activities, illegal logging,
fuel wood collection, and charcoal production are
other known drivers. So far, however, REDD+ has
not been able to effectively address the political econ-
omy underlying these drivers, among others because
decision-makers prioritize short-term economic
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priorities and entrenched powerful interests.
The problem of conicting government agendas
undermining REDD+ policies is well documented,
especially in relation to land tenure,
and eco-
nomic activities such as infrastructure development
and mining.
Even in Indonesia, a forerunner of
REDD+ with strong political support,
there is
opposition to zero-deforestation pledges by palm oil
companies because of the potential socio-economic
impacts. The consequence is that, even if forest poli-
cies are effective in enhancing carbon stocks, they are
likely to ultimately fail because the drivers of defor-
estation remain unaddressed.
Those advocating for a landscape approach to
REDD+ note that for it to be able to address drivers,
REDD+ needs to be situated within the broader con-
text of multi-level climate, forest, and biodiversity
policies, and the broader dynamics of land use in
forested landscapes in tropical countries.
cally, such a conceptualization envisions REDD+
becoming integrated into wider decision-making
about land use, beyond that pertaining directly to
forests. Our current state of understanding with
regard to such an approach in practice includes, pre-
dominantly, initiatives for cross-sectoral integration in
national contexts such as Indonesia and Brazil. In both
these contexts, the expansion of industrial agriculture
is a signicant driver of deforestation, and land-use
decision-making is heavily inuenced by large and
powerful agribusiness companies.
REDD+ imple-
mentation in these contexts has thus also been charac-
terized by efforts to incentivize agricultural private
sector stakeholders to reduce their land-use emissions
and impacts on deforestation, including through
involvement in developing Nationally Appropriate
Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) under the auspices of
Such initiatives have taken the form
of zero deforestation commitments, agricultural com-
modity roundtables, or deforestation-free supply
chains, which are intended to be implemented in a
landscape across commodity production areas.
Less well documented to date are examples of
landscape approaches to REDD+ being tried in con-
texts where agribusiness companies do not play a
substantial role, and where deforestation is driven by
small-scale or subsistence agriculture. While in some
such cases, local REDD+ projects may be scaled-up
and may inuence decision-making across agricul-
tural and multifunctional landscapes, most REDD+
projects are insufciently connected with national or
jurisdictional approaches to stimulate such broader
Other key stakeholders that inuence land-use
decision-making are the regional authorities or
provincial governments, who inuence decision-
making within their jurisdictional areas. Again, Brazil
and Indonesia are often cited as examples where
regional authorities have taken a leading role in
exploring landscape approaches,
because regions from both countries were involved
early on in the Governors Climate and Forest (GCF)
taskforce. These early jurisdictional approaches are
now catalyzing new initiatives such as Low Emission
Rural Development (LEDR), which recommends
combining efforts led by regional governments to
decrease land-based emissions across a particular
jurisdictional area, with efforts by the agricultural
private sector to decrease emissions. Another, similar,
conceptualization is the green economyapproach,
through the creation of productive, protable, and
sustainable landscapes that sequester and store more
carbon and will enable enhanced delivery of environ-
mental services.
For REDD+ this would imply the
development of business models that are in line with
sustainable forest management practice, thereby
shifting the focus of REDD+ from a conservation to
a sustainable livelihood strategy.
Despite these initiatives, practice to date sug-
gests that REDD+ has so far not effectively
adopted a landscape approach. In general, plans to
link REDD+ to other policy sectors such as agricul-
ture, for example, remain vague
and the discon-
nect in policy, research and practice between the
forest and agriculture sector remains one of key
areas overlooked in REDD+.
This means
that the hoped-for transformational change
towards landscape approaches to REDD+, as a
trigger for more climate-smart development path-
ways, will remain difcult, at least in the short to
medium term.
The enormity of the challenge should not be
underestimated. Landscape-level REDD+ may also
require integrated accounting and MRV systems that
go beyond existing demands of forest carbon (and
non-carbon) monitoring, to also assessing the
dynamics of carbon stocks and ows in a landscape.
However, the typical complexities of land-based sys-
tems, including different human impacts, past land
uses, and unforeseen events such as res and extreme
weather events make assessment of their mitigation
potential complicated, adding considerable complex-
ity to accounting and MRV systems. Moreover, crop-
land, grassland and forestland are currently being
treated separately in the IPCC land use accounting
guidelines, which will make integration of such dif-
ferent land uses difcult.
Also the issue of co-
benets will be further complicated in a landscape
approach, as the variety of stakeholders, land uses,
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WIREs Climate Change
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and non-co-benets derived from land will be more
In relation to nance, adopting a landscape
approach could further catalyse the already discerni-
ble trend to combine different sources of funding in
REDD+. For example, REDD+ could be aligned with
existing private ows and development nance.
One approach has been to promote new value chains
of non-timber forest products that can enhance local
incomes while conserving forests.
value chains too, particularly of tropical commodities
(e.g., cocoa and coffee) may be integrated in REDD
If REDD+ will be able to establish relation-
ships with other markets and nancial instruments,
its impacts can be signicant.
However, it is impor-
tant to recognize that the complexity of REDD+ will
nonetheless increase. Specically, the distribution of
benets and nancial rewards is likely to become
increasingly demanding, complicated and difcult to
justify. Although scholars and policy practitioners
continue to debate policy integration in REDD
the fact that the Paris Agreement does not
mention agriculture shows that an integrated, land-
scape approach to REDD+ is likely to remain politi-
cally contested and is still a long way to go.
Our review of the expectations and experiences asso-
ciated with diverse and evolving conceptualizations
of REDD+ provide a portrait of the challenges and
opportunities facing REDD+ implementation in a
post-Paris era. We have shown that the current level
of nancing is insufcient, and that currently no
compliance market for forest carbon credits exists.
As such, we can conclude that the expectations that
carbon-centered REDD+ would be a simple and ef-
cient mechanism for climate mitigation are not cur-
rently being met. At the same time, there is a
growing recognition that REDD+ needs to generate
co-benets. Even as their delivery is challenging and
there are signs of trade-offs between climate, biodi-
versity and social benets, our review shows that
REDD+ projects do take co-benets into account and
there is little evidence that carbon concerns are sys-
tematically dominating at the expense of commu-
nities and their livelihoods. Thus, while there is
arguably still much to be desired in this area, experi-
ences so far allow for cautious optimism that the
expectations of co-benets-centered REDD+ can be
furthered. This also suggests that the fears that
REDD+ would contribute to large-scale commodi-
cation and carbonization of the forest at the expense
of communities and co-benets have not
However, before such a conclusion can be justi-
ed, we need to reconsider the relation between these
two conceptualizations of REDD+ and their imple-
mentation. Carbon-centered REDD+ implementation
has not yet materialized at scale, partially because of
a lack of stringent and well-functioning compliance
markets for carbon trading in recent years, and a via-
ble price for carbon. These nancial constraints have
created a situation in which the trading of carbon
credits is limited and takes place only in the volun-
tary market. However, in a post-Paris context, this
could be set to change as article 6 of the Paris Agree-
ment envisions a new sustainable development
mechanism.Whether this will include REDD+ as a
market-based offset mechanism is an open issue and
remains very contested in the context of the
Nonetheless, such a mechanism is likely to
again foreground carbon. REDD+ continues to have
a strong focus on carbon as the basis for results-
based payments, based on systems that can measure,
report and verify outcomes, and there is currently no
indication that the delivery of co-benets may
become included in MRV systems or in payments.
Consequently, if and when results-based payments
occur at scale, a potential carbonization of forest
governance remains a possibility. This implies an
emerging paradox for REDD+, where the failure to
meet carbon-related nancial expectations has cre-
ated optimism about (at least) the delivery of co-ben-
ets, yet where attempts to meet such nancial
expectations, for example, by establishing a global
REDD+ nancial mechanism, may risk existing
achievements with respect to co-benets.
The third, newest conceptualization of
landscape-centered REDD+ also needs to be consid-
ered in this light, since it requires REDD+ to take
into account an even wider variety of carbon and
non-carbon benets, land-uses and actors. There is
recognition of the importance of going beyond car-
bon and beyond forests even in the (more technical)
REDD+ literature that addresses carbon accounting
and MRV challenges. However, such acknowledg-
ment is routinely tempered by arguments that high-
light existing nancial and data hurdles to making
even a carbon-centered REDD+ work.
While a
REDD+ that goes well beyond generating carbon
benets is likely to be seen as more legitimate by a
broader group of actors, the potential for such a con-
ceptualization of REDD+ to be operational and
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effective remains rather limited, given the current
focus on carbon in nance and monitoring.
such, a carbon-centered REDD+ may increase the
likelihood of effectively resolving data and nancial
issues, but not without risking delivery of co-benets.
In light of this, with regard to the potential for
REDD+ to become a catalyst for sustainable land-
scapes and more climate-smart development,our
review highlights that such conceptualizations can
only further exacerbate the REDD+ paradox.
This suggests that, rather than asking whether
and how REDD+ can overcome implementation chal-
lenges associated with ever-broader conceptualizations,
the more pertinent question becomes whether broader
conceptualizations are desirable in the rst place, and
at what cost. Addressing this requires viewing the dif-
ferent concerns associated with REDD+ as more than
just implementation challenges, but rather as a politi-
cally contested question of what REDD+ should be.
In considering what REDD+ should be, and its
future evolution, our assessment suggests that a prag-
matic and heterogeneous approach to conceptualiz-
ing and implementing REDD+ is likely to prevail.
REDD+ interventions will (continue to) use forest
carbon accounting data as the basis for nancial
rewards, while proactively incorporating co-benets
as safeguards and as conditions for payments. Such a
pragmatic approach does not place carbon and non-
carbon benets on equal footing from a global
REDD+ policy, MRV or nancing perspective and it
maintains distinctions between forests and the wider
landscapes in which they are situated.
In view of the diversity of REDD+ expectations
and experiences discussed in our review, the idea of
REDD+ serving as one coherent, integrated, top-down
global nancial mechanism with one (set of ) objectives,
is unlikely to come to pass. Instead, REDD+ may well
remain a patchwork of different initiatives driven by
distinct conceptualizations and associated objectives,
with a focus on carbon, co-benets or landscapes, as
relevant (aligned with the merits of a more polycentric
approach to governance).
This implies, nonetheless,
that the paradoxes, dilemmas and trade-offs across
diverse conceptualizations of REDD+ will remain.
However, as long as there remains scope for context-
specic variation and adaptation, including prioritiza-
tion of co-benets, such a pragmatic, polycentric
approach may still enable REDD+ to make a distinctive
and important contribution to keeping forests and their
multi-functionality on the international agenda.
Aarti Gupta and Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers have been supported by the Interdisciplinary Research and Edu-
cation Fund of Wageningen University (INREF). Jessica de Koning has been supported by the Production Ecol-
ogy & Resource Conservation (PERC) graduate school and the strategic funds of the department of
Environmental Sciences of Wageningen University. Martin Herold has been supported by the Norwegian
Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the German International Climate Initiative (IKI)
through CIFORs Global Comparative Study on REDD+, and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees
and Agroforestry (CRP-FTA) with nancial support from the CGIAR Fund.
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... Another highly visible such initiative is REDD+ (REDD+ stands for: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which financially compensates developing countries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with deforestation and forest degradation [13]. REDD+ has been understood and implemented in a variety of ways by a range of state and non-state actors [14,15]. These include project-level initiatives, aiming to deliver co-benefits for biodiversity and communities in specific local contexts [16]; performance-based carbon payments [17,18]; and, more recently, sustainable landscape approaches that often involve the private sector [19,20]. ...
... In addition to its focus on local as opposed to national or international drivers, REDD+ has also been criticised because of negative socio-economic impacts, such as fuelling inequality through restrictions on access to forests and the commodification of carbon [24,25]. In general, commentators see REDD+ as having failed to live up to the initial high expectations following its introduction in international climate change policy discussions in 2005, especially in terms of finance flowing to developing countries to combat tropical deforestation [15]. Notwithstanding such criticisms, recent research points to a reconceptualization of REDD+ in which it is viewed as a conservation and development measure, with more realistic expectations with regard to its performance, rather than being seen as "the" answer to tropical deforestation [26][27][28]. ...
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The need to tackle international drivers of deforestation has long been acknowledged; but remains little addressed via policy measures. In the European Union (EU), a new policy debate is emerging around the concept of “embodied deforestation”, which targets EU Agricultural commodity imports as drivers of deforestation. The notion views deforestation as an externality generated by EU imports associated with tropical deforestation. Our article examines whether this concept represents a shift in tackling international-level drivers of tropical deforestation within EU policy. We also examine, from a networked governance perspective, whether this new debate fuels further fragmentation or rather a move towards a more integrated approach to combating tropical forest loss within EU policy, and what the implications are for other initiatives, such as the climate change related “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” (REDD+). Our analysis draws on an extensive analysis of EU policy documents and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and EU decision-makers. We find that, despite growing debate around the concept of embodied deforestation, policy measures necessary to reduce the impact of EU consumption of agricultural commodities associated with tropical deforestation have not yet been developed. We conclude that “embodied deforestation” remains more an idea than reality within EU policy to date, with the burden of responsibility for addressing international deforestation drivers still largely remaining on developing countries. There is still potential, however, for this debate to lead to a more integrated approach to tackling tropical deforestation within EU policy, if it comes to be seen, together with REDD+, as one of a number of linked approaches to EU efforts to combat deforestation.
... Returning to our first research question, i.e., to what extent theoretical a priori models of forest-based mitigation were de facto implemented, we could thus already observe an incipient transformation: the originally simple concept of compensated reductions became a complex REDD+ model, with multiple implementation levels, sources of forest-based emissions, sideobjectives and safeguards. Nevertheless, financing flows fell severely short of expectations: the scale of forest carbon markets remained minor (e.g., still lacking acceptance on the large European carbon market) (Norman and Nakhooda, 2014), with REDD+ finance relying much more on overseas development assistance (ODA) type of unconditional transfers (Angelsen and McNeill, 2012), including because REDD+ credits were being only incipiently accepted in the UNFCCC negotiations (Turnhout et al., 2017). Multi-level REDD+ models rolled out more multifacetedly than expected, including because subnational jurisdictions gained importance (e.g., Fishbein and Lee, 2015). ...
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Local projects for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) were frequently designed as pilot actions to inform future upscaled initiatives. Drawing lessons from these project experiences may thus help improve the design of jurisdictional programs, which is the focus of REDD+ implementation in the Paris Agreement. Here we first scrutinize how REDD+ was historically conceptualized, the most prominent model being that of a multitier payments for environmental services (PES) scheme of “passing on” carbon mitigation responsibilities and credits across scales, from international buyers to forestland owners. Then we analyze two REDD+ project databases, ID-RECCO and GCS-REDD, using principal component and regression analysis. Among 226 conservation-oriented REDD+ projects, only 88 had planned conditional incentives to landowners—the key feature of PES. Intentions to apply PES rose after 2007, and correlate strongly with efforts to seek certification, including as a benefit-sharing strategy, and with carbon sales. Zooming closer into a portfolio of 23 local REDD+ projects that were actually implemented on the ground, we found project implementers reported conditional incentives as potentially being both the most promising and effective intervention. Likewise, treated households identified conditional incentives as comparatively effective in changing their land-use plans, while also providing above-average welfare returns. Still, these conditional incentives remained underutilized in implementation, with only one-third of the treatment intensity compared to non-conditional incentives. Project implementers cited insecure land tenure and uncertain REDD+ financial flows as key impediments to using conditional incentives. The original vision of a multitier PES model for REDD+ thus ran into both supply and demand side problems, jointly explaining the discrepancy between REDD+ theory and practice. Since jurisdictional approaches to REDD+ so far also receive only hesitant and slow climate financing flows, coming mostly in non-conditional form, and operate under forest-frontier governance with similar tenure restrictions, jurisdictions would seem well-advised to plan for conditional landowner incentives only in scenarios where the preconditions for PES are met. Implementers of jurisidictional approaches may also want to avoid conceptualizing their new model too narrowly and prescriptively, as was arguably the case with the conceptualization of REDD+ as a multitier PES scheme.
... Accordingly, they engage with and reshape pre-existing resource management and governance to achieve sustainability and resilience (Freeman et al., 2015). While doing so, landscape approaches attempt to integrate diverse disciplines, forms of knowledge, and needs of global to local stakeholders, including In- digenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) (Sayer et al., 2013;Turnhout et al., 2017). ...
p>Landscape approaches are prominent in current policy debates about how to achieve ecological, economic and social sustainability. These approaches assess local social-ecological contexts to plan adaptive management and often include indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC). An important aim of landscape approaches is to integrate different scientific disciplines, indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) and Western science, and global and local needs. In practice, such integration tends to favor globalized knowledge models and global needs over local ones. This article introduces a Territorial Social-Ecological Networks (TSEN) Framework for an integrated assessment of landscape settings and dynamics to overcome such tendencies. We argue that both scientific knowledge and ILK are entwined with practice and informed by worldviews. Moreover, these assemblages of knowledges-practice-worldviews are produced by social and ecological interrelations (or networks) that shape human appropriation of territory. We use an approach of methodological bricolage to apply the TSEN Framework to the case of the Brazilian Malhada Grande Maroon Territory. The results highlight how social-ecological networks of different space-time scales co-produce landscapes. Trade-offs and synergies between global and local needs are also discussed and used to identify priority needs that can be addressed by a landscape approach in the area. The analysis suggests that the TSEN Framework may be used by both scientists and practitioners to perform environmental assessments that are inclusive of social and ecological disciplines, of local and Western scientific knowledge, and of global and local needs in a landscape.</p
... A global agreement to combat climate change and to adapt to its effects was reached in Paris at the 21 st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Cli- mate Change (UNFCCC). The Paris Agreement creates a binding and progressive framework that obliges all countries to formulate climate mitigation strategies and goals to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees C (UNFCCC, 2016;Turnhout et al., 2017). Countries' stra- tegies and actions are formulated in the nationally determined con- tributions (NDCs) and anthropogenic emissions and removals from the AFOLU sector should be communicated with the national GHG in- ventory reports. ...
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The agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sectors contribute substantially to the net global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To reduce these emissions under the Paris Agreement, effective mitigation actions are needed that require engagement of multiple stakeholders. Emission reduction also requires that accurate, consistent and comparable datasets are available for transparent reference and progress monitoring. Availability of free and open datasets and portals (referred to as independent data) increases, offering opportunities for improving and reconciling estimates of GHG emissions and mitigation options. Through an online survey, we investigated stakeholders’ data needs for estimating forest area and change, forest biomass and emission factors, and AFOLU GHG emissions. The survey was completed by 359 respondents from governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, research institutes and universities, and public and private companies. These can be grouped into data users and data providers. Our results show that current open and freely available datasets and portals are only able to fulfil stakeholder needs to a certain degree. Users require a) detailed documentation regarding the scope and usability of the data, b) comparability between alternative data sources, c) uncertainty estimates for evaluating mitigation options, d) more region-specific and detailed data with higher accuracy for sub-national application, e) regular updates and continuity for establishing consistent time series. These requirements are found to be key elements for increasing overall transparency of data sources, definitions, methodologies and assumptions, which is required under the Paris Agreement. Raising awareness and improving data availability through centralized platforms are important for increasing engagement of data users. In countries with low capacities, independent data can support countries’ mitigation planning and implementation, and related GHG reporting. However, there is a strong need for further guidance and capacity development (i.e.‘ readiness support’) on how to make proper use of independent datasets. Continued investments will be needed to sustain programmes and keep improving datasets to serve the objectives of the many stakeholders involved in climate change mitigation and should focus on increased accessibility and transparency of data to encourage stakeholder involvement.
... Greater emphasis is now being given to REDD + in UNFCCC discussions, particularly in Article 5 of the Paris Agreement negotiated during the 21st Conference of the Parties in 2015, which highlights the importance of conserving and enhancing forests. Although the UNFCCC does not refer specifically to landscape approaches to REDD + (Turnhout et al., 2017), there is a general understanding within the REDD + community that a landscape approach considers the carbon storage potential of the wider landscape, rather than just the forest, given that most deforestation drivers originate outside of the forest sector (Vanderhaegen et al., 2015). The development of landscape approaches is therefore often cited as a way of addressing drivers beyond the forest sector (Bernard et al., 2013;Pirard and Belna, 2012). ...
This article explores diverse emerging conceptualisations of “landscape” approaches to ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ and related activities (REDD +) that are discernible in a growing body of academic literature and policy practice. Landscape approaches to REDD + are assumed to be better able to tackle direct and indirect drivers of deforestation, particularly those that lie outside the forest sector. In assessing this promise, our paper has a two-fold objective: first, to develop a typology of landscape approaches to REDD + discernible in the literature; and second, to assess which approach might be ascendant in the particular context of Madagascar, and whether it has the potential to address direct and indirect drivers of deforestation and forest degradation here. Our analysis of the burgeoning REDD + landscape literature yields a typology of landscape approaches, which we characterise here as economic, political and ecological. In assessing which of these approaches is discernible in Madagascar, we find that an ecological conceptualisation has emerged. While such an approach shows some promise in addressing drivers, in comparison to previous integrated conservation and development approaches (ICDP) that pre-date REDD +, it is nonetheless still limited in its ability to do so. Hurdles include lack of inter-sectoral coordination and national-level political support for combating deforestation, as well as lack of community engagement in multilevel political processes. We conclude by highlighting the promise and limitations of pursuing a landscape approach to REDD + in Madagascar, and the relevance of our analysis for other REDD + countries wherein an ecological landscape approach might be considered.
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Many forest-related problems are considered relevant today. One might think of deforestation, illegal logging and biodiversity loss. Yet, many governance initiatives have been initiated to work on their solutions. This Element takes stock of these issues and initiatives by analysing different forest governance modes, shifts and norms, and by studying five cases (forest sector governance, forest legality, forest certification, forest conservation, participatory forest management). Special focus is on performance: are the many forest governance initiatives able to change established practices of forest decline (Chloris worldview) or are they doomed to fail (Hydra worldview)? The answer will be both, depending on geographies and local conditions. The analyses are guided by discursive institutionalism and philosophical pragmatism. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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At this time of rapid global environmental change and demands for sweeping societal transformation, we call for greater scrutiny of the persistence of particular policies and ideas. In this Special Section we focus on REDD+, which for long has enjoyed remarkable global support in spite of poor outcomes and widespread criticisms. The central policy proposition of REDD+, that is, forest-based emissions reduction through market-based instruments and non-market means, are now carried forth under the new banner of Natural Climate Solutions. We examine REDD+ to understand how and why some environmental policies and ideas persist despite dubious impacts. We conceptualize policy persistence by drawing on three strands of political ecology literature - critical policy studies, assemblage studies, and political economy - that illuminate the dynamics of policy persistence in different yet complementary ways. We argue that the persistence of policies and policy ideas rests in a tentative balance of the counteracting processes of stabilization and contestation, which precipitate both intended and unintended outcomes. We show how the stabilization of REDD+ itself lends stability to broader ideas of forest-based climate change mitigation. We suggest that policy persistence is an area of political ecological research, which now calls for renewed engagement. Keywords: Policy persistence, REDD+, climate change mitigation, Natural Climate Solutions, political ecology
The Anthropocene poses profound challenges to the conservation of the Amazon rainforest, a global carbon reservoir. The forest’s unsustainable model of development, based on severe land use changes, and the effects of anthropogenic climate change may result in irreversible damage. In addition, crossing tipping points for the survival of the Amazon rainforest may trigger catastrophic climate change (CCC), which reflects the urgent need for a new development paradigm for the region. However, the prospects of the dieback of the Amazon as well as of a CCC scenario are generally overlooked in the academic and political debates. This chapter aims to fill this gap by exploring the link between irreversible environmental changes in the forest and potential CCC and by analyzing the challenge of sustainable development in the Brazilian Amazon, demonstrating how close a climate catastrophe might be; it then presents a novel development paradigm for the region. The revolutionary technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are proposed as central to this necessary paradigm shift. Because the Amazon rainforest is a global natural asset for avoiding CCC, Brazil is also advised to follow a diplomatic plan that upholds fundamental ecological principles for creating a safe space for humanity, thus attracting international investments to manage and preserve the forest.
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This article examines the impact of the Paris Agreement on the human rights of communities who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic warming because of their geographical location, their spiritual and cultural connections with land and the wider environment, and their histories of colonialism, dispossession and other forms of exploitation. It focuses on two groups: forest dwellers, and inhabitants of small island developing states who are in danger of inundation as a result of rising sea levels. The Paris Agreement on climate change includes stand-alone articles on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and loss and damage. The main argument in this article is that the inclusion of human rights in the Preamble to the Paris Agreement is a step forward, but is incommensurate with the scale and urgency of climate change.
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The adoption of the Paris Agreement is a milestone in international climate politics and brings years of near deadlock negotiations to a conclusion. The Agreement creates a global process of engagement, follow-up, regular stock-take exercises and cooperative action. On the one hand, it represents a step forward, overcoming the many divisions that had marked the Kyoto area: between developed and developing countries, between industrialized nations inside the Protocol and those outside, and between those supportive of market mechanisms and those that vehemently opposed them. On the other hand, individual country contributions fall short of the overall climate goal, and the risk is that the Paris Agreement remains a shell without sufficient action and support. It thus remains to be seen whether the Paris Agreement is the right framework through which to address the collective action problem of climate change.
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This thesis analyzes the consequences of REDD+ for multilevel forest governance. It contains an analysis of global REDD+ debates, two in-depth case studies on REDD+ in India, and a comparative analysis of seven REDD+ countries. The thesis focuses on 1) the complexity of the forest governance domain; 2) the sites of authority; 3) the production and use of knowledge; and 4) the use of policy instruments. It argues that REDD+ manifests itself differently at different levels of governance, with varying consequences for multilevel forest governance. Global policy debates around REDD+ mainly focus on results-based compensation for carbon emission reductions, to be measured by experts with the use of national monitoring systems. Many national REDD+ policy documents plan to make national government agencies responsible for REDD+, which might promote a centralization of authority. At national and project level, REDD+ is often framed as a policy mechanism to generate not only carbon but also non-carbon benefits, to be measured by experts as well as local communities. However, countries currently lack the capacity to monitor such non-carbon benefits and to engage in community-based monitoring.
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Increasingly, one hears furtive whispers in the halls of conservation: "REDD+ is dead; it's time to cut our losses and move on." In a recent Conservation Biology editorial, Redford, Padoch and Sunderland (2013) identify REDD+ (Reduced Emissions through avoided Deforestation and forest Degradation) as one of the latest in a long line of conservation "fads," defined as "approaches that are embraced enthusiastically and then abandoned" (2013: 437). They caution: "we must take such fads more seriously, to work collectively to develop learning organizations. . .and study where new ideas come from. why they are adopted, why they are dropped, and what residual learning remains" (2013: 438). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Land use change in South America, mainly deforestation, is a large source of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Identifying and addressing the causes or drivers of anthropogenic forest change is considered crucial for global climate change mitigation. Few countries however, monitor deforestation drivers in a systematic manner. National-level quantitative spatially explicit information on drivers is often lacking. This study quantifies proximate drivers of deforestation and related carbon losses in South America based on remote sensing time series in a systematic, spatially explicit manner. Deforestation areas were derived from the 2010 global remote sensing survey of the Food and Agricultural Organisation Forest Resource Assessment. To assess proximate drivers, land use following deforestation was assigned by visual interpretation of high-resolution satellite imagery. To estimate gross carbon losses from deforestation, default Tier 1 biomass levels per country and ecozone were used. Pasture was the dominant driver of forest area (71.2%) and related carbon loss (71.6%) in South America, followed by commercial cropland (14% and 12.1% respectively). Hotspots of deforestation due to pasture occurred in Northern Argentina, Western Paraguay, and along the arc of deforestation in Brazil where they gradually moved into higher biomass forests causing additional carbon losses. Deforestation driven by commercial cropland increased in time, with hotspots occurring in Brazil (Mato Grosso State), Northern Argentina, Eastern Paraguay and Central Bolivia. Infrastructure, such as urban expansion and roads, contributed little as proximate drivers of forest area loss (1.7%). Our findings contribute to the understanding of drivers of deforestation and related carbon losses in South America, and are comparable at the national, regional and continental level. In addition, they support the development of national REDD+ interventions and forest monitoring systems, and provide valuable input for statistical analysis and modelling of underlying drivers of deforestation.
This paper investigates how three aspects of governance systems, namely the policy context, the influence of key agents and their discursive practices, are affecting national-level processes of policy design aimed at REDD. +, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. We conducted analysis in six REDD. + countries (Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam). The paper combines three methods: policy analysis, media-based discourse analysis and policy network analysis. The paper shows that policies both within and outside the forestry sector that support deforestation and forest degradation create path dependencies and entrenched interests that hamper policy change. In addition, most dominant policy coalitions do not challenge business-as-usual trajectories, reinforcing existing policy and political structures. No minority policy coalitions are directly tackling the root causes of deforestation and forest degradation, that is, the politico-economic conditions driving them. Instead they focus on environmental justice issues, such as calls for increased participation of indigenous people in decision-making. Only in two of the six countries are these transformational change coalitions vocal enough to be heard, yet to exercise their agency effectively and to support more substantial reforms, these coalitions would need the participation of more influential policy actors, particularly state agencies that have the authority to make binding decisions about policy. Furthermore, discourses supporting transformational change would need to be reflected in institutional practices and policy decisions.
This article analyzes how and with what possible consequences REDD+ is framed in the national policy arena in Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Tanzania, and Vietnam. It analyzes the most prominent views and storylines around key REDD+ design features among policy actors and in policy documents. We focus on storylines related to four questions, namely: (1) What should REDD+ achieve: carbon or also non-carbon objectives? (2) Who should monitor REDD+ outcomes: only technical experts or also local communities? (3) At what level should REDD+ be governed: at national or sub-national level? and (4) How should REDD+ be financed: through market- or fund-based sources? The vast majority of policy actors and policy documents frame REDD+ as a mechanism that should also realize non-carbon benefits, yet non-carbon monitoring receives very little attention. In all but one country, policy documents contain plans to involve local communities in the design and/or execution of measuring, reporting and verifying REDD+ outcomes. With regard to the level at which REDD+ should be governed, while most policy documents contain elements of a nested approach to accounting, almost all countries envision a long-term transition to national accounting and benefit distribution. We found strikingly little discussion among policy actors and in policy documents of how to finance REDD+ and acquire results-based payments. In the conclusion we reflect on possible consequences of the prominence of REDD+ storylines in the seven countries, and argue that carbonization and centralization of forest governance are possible outcomes given the limited attention to non-carbon monitoring and the envisioned centralized approaches to REDD+.
The UNFCCC requires REDD+ countries wishing to receive results-based payments to measure, report and verify (MRV) REDD+ impacts; and outlines technical guidelines and good governance requirements for MRV. This article examines institutional effectiveness of REDD+ MRV by assessing countries’ progress in implementing these technical guidelines and good governance requirements, from three dimensions. Ownership of technical methods examines whether countries own technical methods for forest area and area change measuring, and for estimating forest carbon stocks; and whether national MRV systems cover all forests, land uses and carbon pools. Administrative capacity examines development of administrative competence to implement MRV. Good governance examines whether countries espouses norms of good governance in their MRV systems. We apply these dimensions to assess and compare progress in 13 REDD+ countries, based on a review of national and international documents. Findings show that REDD+ countries have high to very high ownership of technical methods. However, majority ranks only low to moderate on administrative capacity and good governance. This means that although countries have started developing technical methods for MRV, they are yet to develop the competence necessary to administer MRV and to inculcate good governance in MRV. The article explain the scores and suggest ways of improving implementation of REDD+ MRV.
The REDD program (“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”) was launched in 2007. Two years later it was modified into REDD +. Since then, numerous sub-national initiatives have implemented REDD + or REDD +-like mechanisms. Now, shortly before the COP (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties) in Paris 2015 it is timely and necessary to analyze insights and to draw upon lessons learned. This study reviews multi-national REDD+ studies by applying qualitative content analysis using the UNFCCC Warsaw Framework for categorization. Experiences with the implementation of core REDD+ topics like institutional responsibility and results-based financing are mostly not encouraging. Monitoring systems require further development, and guidance for jurisdictional approaches is lacking. Experiences with reference levels, permanence and leakage have hardly been reported. More general topics like stakeholder participation, tenure clarification and biodiversity co-benefits are in turn more advanced. But these are not necessarily effects of REDD+ components in the projects. The projects obviously offer a platform to advance classical development issues. We conclude that financial signals from the upcoming COP in Paris are essential to encourage further development and implementation. This supports conclusions in accordance with the UNFCCC session in Bonn 2015 stating that methodologies are now complete and implementation must begin. Additional conclusions are drawn for specific topics of the Warsaw Framework. Authors claim that REDD+ should stimulate and support transformational change.