Safeguards in REDD+

REDD+ Beyond Carbon: Supporting Decisions on Safeguards and Multiple Benefits

Introduction

It is increasingly recognized that REDD+ can contribute to a range of policy goals in addition to climate change mitigation. It can promote biodiversity conservation and secure the provision of ecosystem services including water regulation, timber production, erosion control and the supply of non-timber forest products1. Social benefits, such as improved livelihoods (including from car- bon payments), clarification of land tenure, and stronger governance, may also arise from implementing REDD+. It is also widely acknowledged that REDD+ carries certain social and environmental risks. Many of these risks are addressed by the UNFCCC’s Cancun Safeguards and the related measures adopted by multilateral and other REDD+ initiatives2. Some of these safeguards also call for action to enhance the benefits from REDD+.

What has been less widely accepted is that avoiding significant risks and securing additional benefits may be the key to the over- all success of REDD+. By securing benefits beyond carbon, REDD+ has the potential to: draw on broader constituencies of social and political support; demonstrate it is realising a broader range of values; and even generate additional income. Given that REDD+ is proving to be more challenging to implement than some had originally hoped, these additional benefits may encourage countries to implement this voluntary mechanism. A carbon-only approach to REDD+ misses an opportunity to win broader support amongst stakeholders. It is more likely that the necessary high-level political support for implementing REDD+ can be maintained if REDD+ is clearly linked to wider environmental and societal benefits, and to broader sustainable development goals.

Nevertheless, some concerns have been raised about this broader perspective on REDD+. It is sometimes suggested that, having started as a relatively simple mechanism focused solely on mitigating climate change, REDD+ has become over-burdened with additional requirements and goals and that this is undermining its viability3.

This objection deserves a response. It is not enough to make large rhetorical claims about the benefits that will flow from REDD+. For governments and other stakeholders to adopt a broader approach to REDD+, there is a need for strong evidence that additional benefits will indeed be achieved, and will contribute to national and local priorities.

To provide this evidence on possible benefits and risks, it is necessary to consider not only whether REDD+ is implemented, but how and where it is implemented. REDD+, with its five different activities, has become a complex policy instrument, which can be implemented in a variety of ways. Evidence is needed on the identity and magnitude of the risks and benefits of different REDD+ activities and on the likely costs of achieving benefits and avoiding risks.

After discussing REDD+ safeguards this paper outlines a series of analytical approaches that can help provide an evidence base to in- form REDD+ decisions. It focuses on addressing environmental risks and benefits, and provides examples of where countries are already using these approaches.

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Source: UN-REDD Programme