Washington D.C.

Forests and climate change

Forests Rwana


Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an approach to achieving reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions that is currently under negotiation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). REDD-plus includes: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

IUCN’s value proposition is fully applied when working on climate change mitigation, and REDD is not an exception. Gathering and analyzing knowledge, information and experiences on pro-poor approaches for REDD informs and strengthens the work of the Union in support of REDD readiness processes in tropical countries. Further, the promotion and facilitation of a community of practice on REDD allows stakeholders to share their experiences and understand the processes, decisions and challenges that other countries are facing in their individual contexts. Decision makers and stakeholders are using this information in order to find REDD-plus solutions within their specific in-county situations. Finally the Union, with its members and staff of the secretariat, carries out activities that support the defining of REDD national strategies, the revision and up-dating of national policies and instruments, and the influencing of the international and regional negotiations.

Pro-poor approach for REDD 

Synergies between forest governance and REDD; multi-stakeholder processes for preparation of REDD national strategies; the clarification of rights over forests, trees and carbon; a thorough analysis of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; participatory processes for defining REDD priority areas and REDD activities; a clear framework for the preparation of REDD projects and initiatives; a clear understanding of the dependence of people’s livelihoods on forest in rural areas and analysis of the impact of REDD activities; transparent and effective mechanisms for sharing the benefits of REDD; clear indication for the use and verification of safeguards for project and processes. These are just some features of a pro-poor approach for REDD. IUCN, with the support of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), is working in five tropical countries on the preparation of their REDD national strategies. The project aims to strengthen the shaping of these features as core principles and elements of the national REDD actions and strategies of these countries.

Scaling up Voices: Building a community of practice on REDD

Tropical countries that are going through their REDD readiness process face common but also specific challenges and face similar limitations in the way they manage and adapt their resources to their realities and needs. All these countries aim for the preparation of a REDD national framework that will allow the country to participate in an international mechanism for the mitigation of climate change. When existing international processes turned out to be more oriented towards the accountability of recommended processes, it became clear that there was a need for the building and facilitating of an international, neutral platform that could support countries to share their day by day experiences during the readiness phase. IUCN is organizing dialogues on REDD-plus readiness in collaboration with The Forest Dialogue (TFD) and with the financial support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The dialogues produce insights that form the basis of recommendations for national and local processes, as well as the ongoing international negotiations on REDD. Between October 2009 and June 2010 more than 200 people have participated in REDD-plus readiness field dialogues that were organized in Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala and Ecuador.

Promoting the second ‘D’ of REDD

Under the umbrella of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), IUCN, together with the members of the partnership, have collected and presented clear evidence of the scale, nature and location of restoration opportunities in tropical countries. In addition, the contribution that forest restoration can provide for mitigating climate change has been analyzed and presented. 


In late 2009 the GPFLR estimated that there are 1 billion hectares of degraded forest lands and secondary forests worldwide that are potentially suitable for restoration. This may offer a potential for large-scale REDD-plus investments. These areas thereby provide a relatively rapidly available opportunity to store carbon. If done correctly the restoration of forest functionality and productivity would benefit large numbers of rural people and enhance efforts to conserve biodiversity.

Analysis of financial frameworks for REDD and benefit sharing options

Also with the support of NORAD and in partnership with the TFD, IUCN has supported the preparation and facilitation of a stream of dialogues for building financial frameworks for the implementation of REDD-plus. Three international dialogues were organized involving more than 150 forest stakeholders. As a result of these dialogues a set of recommendations was presented to the September 2009 meeting of the Informal Working Group for the Interim Finance of REDD-plus and the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations in Bangkok in October 2009. A TFD publication presenting the suggested framework has been recently launched and IUCN is using it at the national level to support discussions on and clarifications regarding financial mechanisms for REDD.

Once the financial mechanisms for REDD are established it is clear that benefit sharing schemes will shape at the national level. Huge expectations exist around the benefits that REDD will provide to local stakeholders but also to governments. In order to clarify what such distributions will imply, IUCN with the support of the Norwegian think-tank ECON, reviewed benefit-sharing experiences in the forest sector and in extractive industries in several tropical countries, reflecting on key elements for future national benefit sharing mechanisms. Lessons learned include issues such as the identification of intermediary stakeholders that will take a share of benefits before they reach the poor, and the need for strong links between incentives, benefits and actions. Social trust in the mechanism is important for potential beneficiaries to believe in the objective of the “incentive”; beneficiaries will have to be clearly identified for an effective implementation of the mechanism, but also a very narrow implementation of the mechanism (targeted geographically or only at a specific social group) can generate conflicts between stakeholders. Also distribution from the central government to local actors (vertical distribution) needs clear rules, as well as the distribution between and among communities (horizontal distribution).

Promoting the role of indigenous peoples and forest communities on REDD

Despite their climate vulnerability and their dependency on forests for their subsistence and livelihoods, indigenous peoples are often marginalized from decision making processes including on REDD-plus. In recognition of this vulnerability and the potentially crucial contributions that indigenous peoples can make towards a sustainable design and implementation of REDD-plus, IUCN actively promotes their inclusion in REDD-readiness processes and for the recognition of their rights when deciding REDD geographic locations and REDD activities. IUCN provides technical advice and informs international, national and local decision makers on the need for social safeguards. A study on existing participation mechanisms at local levels is under way and a global briefing on indigenous peoples and REDD has been produced.

Highlighting and promoting the role of women along all REDD phases

Women over the world are primary users of natural and productive resources. Yet, women are often deprived of decision-making powers and in most cases only own a fraction of the land. IUCN believes that the recognition of their role in forest resource management should translate into the full engagement of women in REDD-plus. IUCN FLR RwandaThe incorporation of gender considerations into the REDD-plus frameworks brings about increased efficiency and sustainability as it contributes to women’s involvement and commitment as crucial players of local forest management. IUCN actively promotes the need for the recognition of the role of women in national and local processes and at international negotiations. REDD-plus mechanisms should include gender responsive indicators and targets as part of performance based funding. In close coordination with WOCAN and WEDO, IUCN has carried out a series of international training workshops for gender awareness to negotiators under the UNFCCC; several publications for information and awareness-raising on Gender and REDD have also been prioritized in the past 2 years. Currently there is a need to test the direct involvement of women in REDD pilots and to collect more information. Also, the roles that women have and could play in the identification, implementation and monitoring of REDD activities have to be identified.

For more information on gender and REDD contact Lorena Aguilar: [email protected]
For more information on FLR contact Carole Saint-Laurent at: [email protected]


Go to top