logo
  • REDD+ 101

REDD+ 101

Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change. REDD+ is an initiative that aims to slow the loss of forests. But how will it work in practice and what are the challenges?

What is the history of REDD+?

The idea of REDD was first brought to the table during the Kyoto protocol negotiations in 1997 which first recognised the important role that forests could play in reducing carbon emissions from deforestation. However formal recognition of REDD was not achieved until 2007 at the UNFCCC 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) under the Bali Action Plan. The plan cemented the international community's commitment to reducing deforestation through REDD activities, however decisions over the definitions of REDD and how it would work in practice, were yet to be decided.

As discussions gained momentum, COP14 held in Poznan in 2008, saw the expansion of REDD into REDD+ which was to include the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. It was agreed that funds from REDD+ could support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.

Successive conferences in Copenhagen (COP 15) in 2009 and Cancun (COP 16) in 2010 saw an international agreement on the REDD+ framework as well commitments from several developing countries to reduce overall emissions. However, further progress on the details of REDD+ such as monitoring and enforcement, transparency, financing mechanisms and the inclusion of indigenous people in the REDD+ process, has been slow. 

 Where are we now?

A significant boost to climate funds after Copenhagen has accelerated REDD+ activities.  An Interim REDD Partnership - led by Norway and France - was launched to channel some of the $4.5 billion pledged by the international community into fast tracking REDD+ projects. Countries such as Indonesia have been offered millions of dollars to compensate for avoided deforestation and REDD+ pilot projects in countries such as Tanzania, Congo and Bolivia have already been launched.

Between 2011 and 2015, with support from the World Bank and UN-REDD programme, 40 developing countries are expected to prepare REDD+ strategies. The Cancun agreements provided important guidance for all actors - countries, NGOs, multilateral institutions - to help in the preparation. Organisations such as CIFOR are conducting much needed research into how best to carry out REDD+ policies and the impacts on the ground.

With 2011 being the International Year of the Forests, it is hoped that COP 17 in Durban will lead to more concrete agreements on some of the more technical aspects of REDD+.  Progress will be vital to ensure continued support for REDD+ activities and to keep forests firmly on the international agenda.

What are the challenges?

The idea behind REDD+ may be simple, but in practice it conceals a host of challenges. For example how do we accurately measure the carbon stored in forests in order to place a value on it? Should national governments, local forest communities or logging companies benefit from REDD+ payments and how can we ensure transparency and accountability in these transactions?
All of these major challenges can be overcome with technical solutions; however these solutions needed to be supported by sound governance and effective policy making, which may be more challenging than the technical solutions themselves.

REDD+ dynamics in Indonesia