Safeguarding Forests & Rights Related to REDD+

REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. The “+” expands REDD to include conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ is one of the proposed international solutions to tackle climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The basic concept recognizes that forests play an important role in protecting the climate and creates a financial incentive for developing countries to protect forests and reduce emissions.

If human rights, as well as biodiversity, are respected and promoted, then REDD+ has the potential to deliver a wide range of benefits to the climate, to biodiversity, and to communities that depend on forests.  However, it can also cause negative – and irreversible – impacts to the earth’s forests and the peoples whose livelihoods depend upon them if activities are implemented without respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and other local communities and complying with obligations that a country may have.

At the international level, countries have agreed to social and environmental “safeguards” that are intended to prevent such harms as well as to promote benefits when implementing REDD+.  Addressing safeguards and the other operational elements of REDD+ could require changes to laws, policies, regulations, and institutions in countries receiving funding for REDD+. Therefore, it is essential that governments respect the rights of those impacted by REDD+ activities.  Our ForestDefender legal webtool highlights these existing rights and obligations that are relevant in a forest governance context. We also have a manual for indigenous and community leaders to help our partners understand their rights in relation to REDD+.

Beyond the UNFCCC, there are other initiatives that are developing, supporting, and funding REDD+, such as the World Bank-hosted Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Forest Investment Program (FIP). Initiatives like these must be consistent with UNFCCC safeguards.

CIEL works to ensure that all REDD+ initiatives apply safeguards in a robust and consistent manner, and that they include redress mechanisms for communities and individuals if rights are violated.

Last updated June 2015