REDD+ puts forest protection on the global agenda. But high expectations have not yet been met
The international REDD+ framework is designed to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing and emerging countries, thereby reducing CO2 emissions in a timely manner and contributing to climate change mitigation. A new study by the German Institute for Development Cooperation (DEval) shows that REDD+ has contributed both to raising political attention and to considerable capacity building for forest conservation in partner countries. However, REDD+ has not yet been able to meet its high expectations nor lead to significant emission reductions. The need for readiness efforts for REDD+ and powerful political and economic drivers of deforestation have been broadly underestimated.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing and emerging countries. The conservation of forests therefore plays a central role in combating climate change. REDD+, an instrument of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is designed to financially compensate countries with incentive payments for verifiable emission
reductions in the forest sector.
The DEval study examined Germany’s contribution to REDD+. The German REDD+ measures support the partner countries with technical and financial cooperation, mainly in the REDD+ readiness phase. This includes the development of national REDD+ strategies and action plans, technical and administrative capacities and robust measurement, reporting and verification systems for emission reductions. The study shows that the participating developing and emerging countries need more preparation than planned in order to establish the political, legal and technical framework for REDD+. In addition, drivers of deforestation such as parts of the agricultural industry stand in the way of the instrument’s objectives. They are often integrated into global value chains, which complicates combating their negative impacts in partner countries. Thus, REDD+ has not yet succeeded in addressing the complex drivers of deforestation to any great extent. Since carbon prices remain too low and instruments such as incentive payments are not yet sufficiently effective, deforestation in developing and emerging countries is still mostly more profitable than forest conservation.
DEval Director Prof Dr Jörg Faust: „REDD+ has contributed to establishing and strengthening institutions for forest protection in many countries and that the topic is prominent on the international agenda. This is a major, but also necessary, achievement. However, in many cases, the results-based payments of REDD+ are not a sufficiently strong incentive to create an effective counterweight against the local and international drivers of deforestation“.
The long readiness processes of REDD+ and the system of results-based payments mean that developing and emerging countries have to invest in readiness efforts over numerous years before being compensated for forest conservation. The DEval study therefore proposes that REDD+ should not only make payments when the emission reductions have been achieved, but already when political milestones in the important and necessary readiness phase have been reached. This should provide partner countries with incentives and financial security for the often very comprehensive groundwork. The study also advises that the causes of deforestation should be given greater consideration in REDD+ strategies. On the way to more sustainable land use practices, the initiatives on deforestation-free supply chains supported by Germany, among others, should be better coordinated between the sectors involved.
About the study:
The synthesis study is the first inter-ministerial study of DEval that encompasses measures commissioned by three different Federal Ministries: the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Nukleare Sicherheit, BMU), and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL). The study was prepared by Perspectives Climate Research gGmbH and brings together the available evidence on REDD+ measures supported by Germany between 2008 and 2018. For the study, primary and secondary REDD+ documents and literature were analysed and triangulated with qualitative interviews. The report „Germany’s Contribution to the Forest and Climate Protection Programme REDD+“ is available on the DEval website.
Dr. Sven Harten
Head of Competence Centre for Evaluation Methodology / Deputy Director
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Reinecke, S., A.-K. Weber, A. Michaelowa, S. Schnepf and J. Christensen (2020): Germany’s Contribution to the Forest and Climate Protection Programme REDD+, German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), Bonn.