REDD+ in Theory and Practice: How Lessons From Local Projects Can Inform Jurisdictional Approaches

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Local projects for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) were frequently designed as pilot actions to inform future upscaled initiatives. Drawing lessons from these project experiences may thus help improve the design of jurisdictional programs, which is the focus of REDD+ implementation in the Paris Agreement. Here the authors scrutinise how REDD+ was historically conceptualised, the most prominent model being that of a multitier payments for environmental services (PES) scheme of “passing on” carbon mitigation responsibilities and credits across scales, from international buyers to forestland owners.

Then the researchers analyse two REDD+ project databases, ID-RECCO and GCS-REDD, using principal component and regression analysis. Among 226 conservation-oriented REDD+ projects, only 88 had planned conditional incentives to landowners—the key feature of PES. Intentions to apply PES rose after 2007, and correlate strongly with efforts to seek certification, including as a benefit-sharing strategy, and with carbon sales. Zooming closer into a portfolio of 23 local REDD+ projects that were actually implemented on the ground, authors found project implementers reported conditional incentives as potentially being both the most promising and effective intervention. Likewise, treated households identified conditional incentives as comparatively effective in changing their land-use plans, while also providing above-average welfare returns. Still, these conditional incentives remained underutilised in implementation, with only one-third of the treatment intensity compared to non-conditional incentives.

Project implementers cited insecure land tenure and uncertain REDD+ financial flows as key impediments to using conditional incentives. 


Full reference:

Wunder, S., Duchelle, A. E., Sassi Cd, S. E., Simonet, G., & Sunderlin, W. D. 2020. REDD+ in Theory and Practice: How Lessons From Local Projects Can Inform Jurisdictional Approaches. Front. For. Glob. Change3(11).