14 Frequently asked questions about REDD+
1. What is REDD?
REDD – Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – is a mechanism that is under negotiation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective of REDD is to support activities that enable reductions in CO2 emissions that are caused by deforestation and forest degradation.
REDD+ also aims to strengthen and expand the role of forests as carbon pools. This can be achieved by supporting the conservation of forests, the sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ can be a relatively cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy that with the right attention to the social and environmental functions of forest countries will be able to create additional benefits for communities, people and biodiversity conservation.
2. What is the difference between RED, REDD and REDD+?
The exact details of REDD+ policy are currently being negotiated under the UNFCCC. The uses of different acronyms reflect differences in scope of type of activities proposed.
RED stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
REDD+ includes 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.
3. What is the difference between current forest projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the planned REDD+ mechanism?
After the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the UNFCCC agreed on a limited role of forests as carbon sinks for the first commitment period. Only forests in developing countries were included in the CDM.
The 2001 Marrekesh Accords stipulated that in the context of forest-related mitigation only afforestation and reforestation projects fall under the CDM. REDD differs in that it focuses on possibilities to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as well as the capacity of forests to conserve carbon. REDD+ therefore also includes conservation, the sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
For a full explanation of the scope of REDD+, see our brochure Scope and Options for the role of forests in climate change mitigation strategies.
4. What is a pro-poor REDD+ approach?
An estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests and many are among the poorest on earth. The pro-poor approach puts the focus of REDD+ on the interests of the most vulnerable groups. Key elements include the development of sustainable livelihoods for forest communities, good governance and transparency.
The clarification of rights over carbon tenure and the use of forests are important for the development of equitable benefit-sharing mechanisms. IUCN also stresses the need for attention to gender dynamics in forest management, the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples and forest communities and the recognition of their rights. Multi-stakeholder participation is key to the development of pro-poor options for REDD+. From participatory analysis of the drivers of deforestation to the building of legal frameworks for REDD+ implementation, the engagement of broad stakeholder groups contributes to effective and equitable REDD+ interventions.
5. What is the phased approach?
The 2009 Meridian Report suggested a three-phased approach for the implementation of REDD+. The phased approach allows countries to prepare for REDD+ implementation through capacity building. It accounts for the diverse circumstances of different REDD+ countries and makes it possible for REDD+ to make use of both fund-based and market-based financial recourses. There is no blueprint for the way in which countries will move from phase to phase. On the contrary, the phased approach allows countries to adapt strategies to their national circumstances and opportunities and develop portfolios for funding.
The phased approach foresees a preparatory or ‘readiness’ phase with a focus on capacity building and stakeholder engagement as part of a process based on learning. During this first phase, a country will build a national strategy that tackles drivers of deforestation that are specific to the situation of the country.
During the second phase, national policy frameworks for the implementation of REDD+ will be built and linked to other sectors such as agriculture, energy and development. The third phase is for the full implementation of REDD+ activities with payments that are based on performance. The linking of REDD+ to compliance markets at this stage depends on the question of whether the UNFCCC process can reach a legally-binding post-2012 climate agreement with binding emissions reductions of Annex 1 countries.
For a full description of the phased approach, see our brochure on the scope of REDD+.
6. What is the readiness phase?
The readiness phase is the first stage of the phased approach and takes place ahead of actual implementation of REDD+ policies. During the readiness phase countries focus on building capacity and preparations for governance reforms that will be essential for later REDD+ implementation. A national REDD+ strategy has to be built, based on a detailed analysis of country-specific drivers of deforestation. The inclusive and meaningful consultation and participation of stakeholders is essential during the readiness phase as well as in later phases of REDD+ implementation.
7. Why are multi-stakeholder participation and consultation important for REDD+?
From the earliest stages of REDD+ implementation, the equal engagement of broad stakeholder groups is important in order to develop REDD+ strategies that respond to local needs and concerns while effectively targeting the drivers of deforestation. REDD+ deals with land use changes and can have an impact on a wide variety of groups, both negatively and positively. In particular, the involvement of the most vulnerable groups, such as women, indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities is important to create REDD+ interventions that take the interests and needs of these groups into account.
Effective participation can prevent conflicts and generate support for REDD+ implementation in those areas where local groups could block implementation. Adequate participation helps stakeholders to have ownership over the process and contributes to the effective implementation of REDD+. Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable because they could potentially face risks of displacement, more 'top down' governance and changes in zoning and legislation of forest land without their prior consultation.
For more information read the report on REDD+ and indigenous peoples.
8. Who will finance REDD+?
As long as REDD+ is not part of a binding post-2012 climate deal, it will be financed mainly through funds and the voluntary carbon market. For the readiness phase, funds are already being made available to countries through bilateral and multilateral arrangements such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank and the UN-REDD Programme. Some countries have as yet not received funding for the readiness phase. It is expected that for the second phase of 'policies and measures', multilaterals will still be one of the main sources of funding, for example through the Forest Investment Program (FIP) of the World Bank and through bilateral arrangements.
The REDD+ Partnership has brought together 75 donor nations and developing countries with forests, providing a parallel process until the UNFCCC process culminates in a binding agreement. The Partnership was formalized in May 2010 and has pledged over US$4 billion for early action on REDD+ as part the 'fast-start financing' proposed in the Copenhagen Accord. An increasing role for markets, envisaged for the third phase, depends on whether the UNFCCC will reach a legally-binding agreement for the post-2012 period with binding emission reduction targets for industrialized nations.
The phased approach allows countries to build portfolios for both funds as well as market-based sources. The idea is that eventually, in the third phase, performance-based REDD+ payments could be linked to compliance markets. In order to receive REDD+ payments, countries would have to demonstrate that they are reducing emissions from deforestation or enhancing or conserving the role of forests as carbon pools.
9. Who will implement REDD+?
REDD+ policies will encourage forest users such as indigenous peoples, forest communities and forest land owners as well as organizations, government agencies, project developers and investors, to strengthen activities that conserve forests, sustainably manage forests and enhance forest carbon stocks, and to stop or reduce activities that lead to deforestation and the degradation of forests. Government agencies will have to develop policy frameworks that provide incentives for REDD+ action and investment.
Activities by any individuals, groups, organizations or businesses that lead to deforestation or forest degradation will have to be discouraged, restricted or regulated. In particular, communities that live in and depend on forests will implement REDD+ activities on the ground.
10. How will individuals and communities share in the benefits of REDD+?
REDD+ should create incentives or compensation for individuals, forest communities, and organizations to reduce activities that contribute to deforestation or forest degradation and to expand activities that contribute to conservation, the sustainable management and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. This requires that payments or benefits should be in excess of the costs of REDD+ action or lost 'opportunity costs' of land use changes that are prevented. The prevention of illegal activities should not be rewarded.
Apart from direct compensation, REDD+ could also make funds available for more general benefit distribution among communities that can help build wider legitimacy and support for REDD+. Such benefit sharing mechanisms should be equitable and fair and should in particular target the strengthening of sustainable livelihoods of vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Because REDD+ project preparation, consultation, implementation and monitoring will be costly, it is important that expectations among stakeholder groups as to the possible level of REDD+ payments are realistic. Expectations of local communities can otherwise be too optimistic.
11. What are social and environmental safeguards?
REDD+ has the potential to deliver benefits for indigenous peoples and forest communities as well as critical ecosystem functions such as biodiversity. There are however also risks that REDD+ implementation could do harm to communities and the ecological functions of forests. Safeguards are devised to prevent negative social and environmental impacts.
Safeguards also seek to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, forest communities, women and other relevant stakeholders, and guarantee their timely access to appropriate and accurate information. Equitable benefit-sharing, the development of land and tenure rights and good governance are other important issues that can be stimulated through safeguards. The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Project Design Standards (CCB Standards) are an example of safeguards developed by civil society that are applied to evaluate land-based carbon mitigation projects in the early stages of development.
12. Where is REDD+ being implemented?
REDD+ is still being negotiated by the UNFCCC. REDD+ activities have been implemented for years, but earlier such projects and activities were not being accounted against CO₂ offsetting. What is new is that such activities are to be accounted for as emission reductions. REDD+ can be implemented in developing countries with forests. In the context of the UNFCCC, industrialized countries are called “Annex I countries” while developing countries are called “non-Annex I countries.”
Most developing countries with forests are currently engaged in readiness or other preparatory procedures, and many pilot projects are being implemented across the tropical region. Most countries are supported in these readiness activities through multilateral and bilateral funding while individual pilot projects are sometimes linked to the voluntary carbon market. Several projects are at a fairly advanced stage of implementation with defined baseline scenarios, preliminary quantifications of emission reductions and access to buyers of carbon credits. In many cases REDD+ pilots inform national readiness processes in the countries where the projects take place.
13. What is MRV?
MRV stands for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification. REDD+ performance will have to be measured and verified in each country in terms of reduced CO2 emissions and/or the conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. MRV requires countries to build reference levels against which emissions reductions can be measured.
Monitoring establishes the contributions achieved against CO₂ reduction deliverables. Verification takes place separately and checks that the monitoring, whether at national or sub-national level, is sound and properly reported. Performance on social and environmental issues can be monitored as part of MRV or in a separate instrument.
14. What are leakage, permanence, additionality and reference levels?
These terms provide a conceptual framework that helps to clarify some of the methodological challenges of quantifying and verifying reductions of emissions from forests. In the context of the UNFCCC process, the meaning of these terms and their role in a future climate deal are subject to discussion and future decisions. They are for example linked to questions such as whether REDD+ will be implemented as part of national frameworks or with options for sub-national arrangements.
‘Leakage’ establishes if pressure on forests might move to other areas if they are stopped in one place. ‘Permanence’ refers to whether carbon gains achieved through REDD+ activities are lasting over time. Additionality refers to the need for countries to show that achieved rates in reductions of deforestation and degradation or conservation, sustainable management or enhancement of forest carbon stocks would have not occurred in the absence of REDD+ activities.
National reference levels are important to show overall forest related emission reductions of a country, taking into account internal leakage and establishing whether achievements are additional as compared to national reference levels. A key question is whether such reference levels should take into account projected rates of deforestation in the future or historic deforestation rates.