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Research Report

The challenge of establishing REDD+ on the ground: Insights from 23 subnational initiatives in six countries

William D. Sunderlin
Andini Desita Ekaputri
Erin O. Sills
Amy E. Duchelle
Demetrius Kweka
Rachael Diprose
Nike Doggart
Steve Ball
Rebeca Lima
Adrian Enright
Jorge Torres
Herlina Hartanto
Angélica Toniolo
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 56
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    In 2007 there were high hopes that REDD+¹ would be an effective, efficient and rapid way to mitigate climate change (Gullison et al. 2007; Eliasch 2008). These hopes are perhaps best captured by the oft-repeated quote from the Norwegian Prime Minister at the time that “everybody knows how not to cut down trees.” In fact, early concerns about REDD+ included the possibility that it would be “too easy” and flood the market for carbon offsets, thus reducing incentives to develop and adopt cleaner energy sources (Olander et al. 2009).

    There were also high hopes that REDD+ would slow tropical deforestation...

  2. (pp. 3-8)

    Since 2010, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been conducting a Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (GCS). This report is the product of GCS’s Module 2,⁴ focused on subnational initiatives.⁵ Our justification for a focus on subnational initiatives is that they are among the main institutional incubators for the REDD+ experiment, they are the ‘real life’ locations where outcomes related to human wellbeing and forest cover are expected, and they are therefore an indispensable empirical reference point for the success or failure of policy and technical innovations made at all jurisdictional levels. Subnational initiatives offer invaluable learning opportunities,...

  3. (pp. 9-16)

    Nine of the 23 proponent organizations began working at their respective sites in 2006 or before, which is to say, before REDD+ was formally announced (COP 13, Bali, 2007). An additional 14 proponent organizations began working at their sites in 2007 or later (see Figure 2).

    At 20 of the 23 sites, there were forest protection activities (whether done by the proponent organization or by others) implemented before the subnational REDD+ initiative was established. At five of the sites, forest protection activities date back to the 1980s or 1990s, and at 15 of the 23 sites forest protection activities began...

  4. (pp. 17-22)

    In this section we seek to increase our understanding of challenges and possible solutions reported earlier by viewing them in a wider, analytical context. We will examine the following issues: (1) ICDP and REDD+ hybrid in subnational initiatives; (2) conditional incentives as lower priority in a basket of REDD+ interventions; (3) tenure as a fundamental challenge; (4) the disadvantageous economics of REDD+; and (5) possible steps towards solving these challenges.

    Our results show that the subnational initiatives in our sample almost all combine restrictions on forest access and conversion with non-conditional livelihood enhancements – a hallmark of ICDPs. Inasmuch as...

  5. (pp. 23-24)

    Proponents of REDD+ subnational initiatives are facing huge challenges that threaten to undermine the potential of REDD+ to deliver the large contributions to GHG reductions that have been hoped for. The largest of these challenges concern the insecurity of tenure arrangements at all scales (national, subnational, within site boundaries) and the currently unfavorable economics of REDD+, which favor business-as-usual interests.

    Site-level conditional incentives aimed at changing the behavior of agents of deforestation were originally expected to be a hallmark of REDD+ in subnational initiatives, but our data show most proponents believe other interventions will be the primary means through which...