REDD+ and related initiatives
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is a global initiative to pay countries to protect their forests in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. REDD+ has been discussed in climate negotiations since 2005 and includes both market and non-market initiatives. Since its inception the focus of REDD+ has broadened considerably to include a wide range of interventions and approaches including conservation and the sustainable management of forests, as well as the enhancement of forest carbon stocks (tree plantations, afforestation etc).
The initial phase of REDD+ involves preparing countries for its implementation through ‘readiness’ mechanisms – ensuring, for example, that the drivers of deforestation are being tackled and that procedures and safeguards are in place for the equitable sharing of benefits arising from REDD+. Most countries are in this phase at the moment, though many have pushed ahead to adopt national REDD+ strategies without carrying out rigorous participatory assessments of deforestation drivers. Readiness actions have also tended to focus on measuring carbon and forest cover changes, without adequate attention to governance and rights issues.
A number of crucial issues have arisen for forest-dependent communities, who are increasingly questioning REDD+ programmes and choosing to pull out of engagement with national initiatives. Indigenous peoples and local communities are often not recognised as owners of forests by the State in national laws, therefore there is concern that they will not see equitable benefits from REDD+ projects and that forest and climate schemes risk driving a global green land grab. Since REDD+ projects impact on communities living in and around forests it is essential that safeguards are in place to secure their customary rights to land, and to ensure local communities’ free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is sought during the planning process together with their full participation from the outset.