REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was conceived as a global mechanism for compensating tropical forest nations that achieved significant reductions in carbon emissions to the atmosphere while improving the lives of the people that depend on these forests. Some tropical nations have achieved remarkable results; deforestation has declined 70% in the Brazilian Amazon, while the area of formal indigenous territories has increased. Some developed nations—such as Norway—have also done their part, making generous commitments of finance for REDD+ programs.
This important progress towards climate change mitigation and tropical forest conservation is now at risk, however.
REDD+ is increasingly viewed in tropical forest nations as a complicated funding mechanism for forest conservation that has failed to deliver the scale of finance that was expected. To secure and build upon these early successes, REDD+ must be rapidly reframed. Attention must be redirected to the substantial local and regional benefits of a “low-emission” rural development (LED-R) model and the potential for achieving LED-R through the alignment and reform of domestic policies and finance, institutional innovation, and a growing role for private sector innovation and investment.
REDD+ has inspired dozens of countries to turn their attention to deforestation and forest degradation.
An agreement between California Governor Schwarzenegger and the governors of many tropical states now has 22 members.
Though REDD+ has not mobilized the scale of finance originally imagined, there are total commitments of more than $7 billion.
To garner deep, durable political support, low-emission rural development (LED-R) must be defined broadly to address both local and global concerns. It should include the steep reductions in deforestation and forest degradation that are the focus of REDD+. But it also should improve rural livelihoods, create jobs, improve health care and other services, increase market access and investment, while protecting forests, fisheries, watersheds and rivers.
Earth Innovation Institute is working at local to global scales to achieve these goals. We are supporting governments in tropical and temperate states and provinces to develop governance structures, land-use plans, benefit-sharing mechanisms, and monitoring systems through research and analysis, trainings and workshops, and strategic exchange visits. We also support the inclusion of indigenous peoples in rural development planning. We work with agriculture and livestock producers and buyers as well as finance institutions to achieve consensus on social and environmental standards and to develop new incentive mechanisms to achieve the transition to low-emission rural development.