UMB School of Economics and Business
REDD+; Recipe for success, challenging implementation
REDD+ as an idea is a success – but implementing it is fraught with challenges, according to new global study lead by Professor Arild Angelsen at UMB Schol of Economics and Business.
Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices
Implementation of a UN-backed scheme that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting tropical forests is fraught with challenges – but these can be overcome with technical solutions and increased political will, according to the authors of a new publication from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices
, released on the sidelines of the Rio +20 summit, reports on the current state of Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Suggests new solutions
The research-based book offers fresh insights into the challenges faced by REDD+, and suggests new ways of addressing some of them.
- There are a lot of practical challenges, but this book shows there are workable, technical solutions to these, so the main problems are really the political ones, says Arild Angelsen, an environmental economist with CIFOR and professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and the book's main editor.
Seven years since the idea of reducing emissions through avoided deforestation was launched, the publication takes a critical look at REDD+, asking how it has changed, how it is unfolding in specific national policy arenas – and highlighting the choices for making REDD+ more effective, efficient, and equitable.
The book draws on an extensive comparative research project on REDD+, the Global Comparative Study, which is being conducted by CIFOR and partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
- REDD+ as an idea is a success story, says Angelsen.
- It was something genuinely new, and the new key element was that it was based on payments for performance or results. And it was also to be accompanied by big money.
- We compare it to 'sustainable development' – a nice catch phrase and promising to do a lot. Both ideas have been inspirational for policy makers and practitioners, but results so far are not what many hoped for.The devil in the detail
Photo: Reidun Aasheim
But as REDD+ has moved from an idea into the real world, the challenges have mounted.
Those challenges are both practical and political – from how to measure and monitor the carbon emissions avoided by leaving a forest standing, to deciding who should get the money generated by REDD+, to achieving coordination between local, regional, national and international levels of governance.
-REDD+ design and implementation is extremely challenging, says Angelsen.
- The devil is in the detail – when you start to work out the specifics of REDD+ then there is more conflict. Analysing REDD+
argues that to fully realise its potential as a tool to mitigate against climate change, REDD+ requires transformational change in the way we conceive of forests. But, says Angelsen, it can also help to drive this change.
- Until now, in the institutions and the policy framework, the incentives stimulate chopping down trees, rather than protecting trees, he said.
- So we need to change this, to bring the value of live trees, the value of the services provided by standing forests, and let that be reflected in the institutions and the regulatory framework and the governance – and that takes political commitment and coalitions for change.
An emerging problem for REDD+ is how to develop reference levels, in order to provide a benchmark to measure the impact of the scheme in the form of reduced or avoided emissions. New, step-wise approach
To make payments based on results, REDD+ needs a standardised mechanism to measure how much carbon would have been released, had a forest been destroyed or degraded rather than protected. This is a difficult task – facing a lack of data, high uncertainty about predicting deforestation rates in the future, and strong incentives for biased estimates. Analysing REDD+
presents a new, step-wise approach to developing reference levels at the national level, that would allow all countries to build these all-important reference levels, even if they have low levels of institutional capacity and ability to collect data. Encouraging pilot projects
The book also reveals some encouraging news regarding the location of REDD+ pilot projects.
The success of REDD+ in actually reducing carbon emissions depends on interventions happening in areas of high deforestation. Analysing REDD+'s
detailed study of project location in Brazil and Indonesia finds that REDD+ projects are more likely to be established in areas with high deforestation rates and high forest carbon densities – suggesting the projects have the potential to make an impact. Arild Angelsen says there is much uncertainty about REDD+ – but this should not lead to inaction.
He says there exist 'no-regret' actions that should be put in place immediately – these actions represent good public policy even if they do not eventually generate emissions reductions.
Land tenure should be clarified, perverse subsidies removed, and the rule of law strengthened.
Access to forest-related data needs to be improved, institutional capacity strengthened, and forest governance advanced.
However, Angelsen says REDD+'s primary goal should still be the reduction of carbon emissions.
- To me the starting point is climate change is real, he says.
- There is a high risk of harmful climate change, and we should do something about that, and REDD+ is a key part of what we should do.
- You cannot address climate change without including REDD+.”
- It's not simple, but still, REDD+ is easier and cheaper than a lot of other mitigation efforts. So I think there are still things to be excited about when it comes to REDD+.
This article ahs previously been sent out as a press release for the book Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices
Read the interview with Arild Angelsen at ABC Australia
Updated: 13.08.12Printerfriendly version
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