REDD+ clarity needed at Doha climate talks

By Jessica Boyle

REDD+ is a highly technical and rapidly evolving subject with significant promise to produce multiple mitigation and sustainable development benefits.

But there are uncertainties as to how REDD+ will evolve under the international climate regime.

A number of critical determinants of success have been identified by developing country experts and stakeholders,[2] which require further consideration both within and outside of the climate change negotiations.

Financing remains a key issue for REDD+. Funding from multilateral and bilateral institutions needs to be transparent, equitable and accessible.

Private sector involvement across the REDD+ supply chain is equally critical. Both should facilitate the engagement of national experts and strengthening of existing in-country capacity.

REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development

Private sector engagement and finance is central to REDD+ success.

Private sector involvement can help bridge the financing gap between public sector financing and developing country needs, as well as make vital contributions to REDD+ initiatives by providing technical expertise. Increased private sector involvement hinges on policy clarity and certainty.

Public Sector Commitments

To date, many developing countries have committed substantial time and resources to REDD+ planning.

Several developed countries have contributed substantially to supporting these readiness activities, but further clarity around long-term commitments is required to ensure that REDD+ can progress through the planning and piloting phases to full national implementation.    

Safeguard Information Systems

REDD+ safeguards aim to ensure that REDD+ actions do not cause negative social or environmental impacts and cover a range of issues, including respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, transparent national forest governance structures, effective participation of stakeholders, and the conservation of natural forests and biodiversity.

Systems for providing information on how safeguards are addressed and respected do not necessarily require new mechanisms, methodologies or indicator.

There are opportunities to build upon existing architecture, including methods and processes to report on obligations and provide information under international agreements, national legislation, bilateral and multilateral agreements and REDD+ pilot-level initiatives.


Countries need support and assistance to determine available domestic skills, capacities, information and data, which will be the building blocks for developing effective MRV systems.

Capacity building (e.g., forest assessments, monitoring forest cover change, information management systems) and technology transfer (e.g., geographic information systems, remote sensing) are critical in this respect.


Identifying and analyzing lessons learned, contributing to innovative thinking and continuously seeking to improve processes will be critical to REDD+’s success moving forward.

Workshops under the UNFCCC are one way to share country experiences, but broader opportunities for sharing experiences informally at the country level are also critical.

A systematic assessment of the applicability and usefulness of REDD+ tools and methods is needed across the REDD+ value chain. In this respect, there is a need and desire for continued dialogue to address the various concerns and needs of governments, the private sector and civil society.

At COP 18, Parties are likely to continue discussions in three key areas:

(1) Financing options for REDD+, (2) Reference levels on which to base Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems, and (3) Further elaboration on systems for providing information on how safeguards are addressed and respected.

But at this stage, progress on REDD+ is very closely tied to the broader negotiations—particularly where financing is concerned. Until significant clarity around a post-2020 framework is achieved, it will be difficult for negotiators to forge much further ahead on REDD+ at COP 18 or beyond.

The pace of REDD+ negotiations in recent years has been encouraging; but many of the remaining decisions are dependent on REDD’s role in a post-2020 agreement, and require scaled-up financing from both public and private sources.

Nonetheless, there is a great deal of support for REDD+ as a critical part of addressing the mitigation and adaptation challenges posed by climate change.

Policy planning, piloting and implementation activities are already taking place to varying degrees in upwards of 50 developing countries, and numerous developed countries remain committed to supporting these activities.

Progress on any of the key issues highlighted above would be a significant step forward to ensuring its full inclusion in a future international climate change agreement.

Jessica Boyle is a Project Manager with IISD’s Climate Change and Energy team. She has particular expertise in the politics and processes under the UNFCCC, most notably on REDD+. Jessica was the Project Manger of Building REDD+ Policy Capacity for Developing Country Negotiators and Land Managers, a three year Initiative undertaken by IISD in partnership with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB-ICRAF).

[1] 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.

[2] The key issues outlined were all areas identified by developing country policymakers, experts and stakeholders  over the course of a three year capacity building initiative; including eight regional workshops in Asia and Africa, expert meetings and in-country case studies.

Read more on: COP18 | Nature | | | |