Cancun Agreements


A set of decisions reached at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in 2010 in Cancun, Mexico, to address the long-term challenge of climate change. The agreements represent key steps going forward in capturing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures.

REDD+ relevance

Following the disappointing outcome of COP 15 in Copenhagen, the Cancun Agreements were heralded as the COP where parties finally agreed to slow, halt, and reverse forest loss and the related emissions in developing countries. Forest protection was included as one of the main objectives of the agreement due to their function as major repository of carbon. 

The text relevant to REDD is contained in the Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). The text includes decisions on the scope of REDD, which includes all the elements originally defined in Bali:

• Reducing emissions from deforestation;

• Reducing emissions from forest degradation;

• Conservation of forest carbon stocks;

• Sustainable management of forest;   

• Enhancement of forest carbon stocks;

Annex I of the decision provided guidelines on how REDD safeguards should be implemented but did not change significantly from the draft text put forward in Copenhagen. The safeguards referred to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as to social and environmental safeguards, but it was unclear how these provisions would be effectively operationalized.  Paragraph 69 of the text stated that the safeguards should be “promoted and supported”, language which was determined to be too weak by some observers.

The REDD+ decision also requested developing countries to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, but failed to address the role that developed countries play in driving tropical deforestation. Developing countries were encouraged to develop a national strategy or plan, a national reference level and a forest monitoring system. The decision also referred to REDD being implemented in a phased approach.


GLOBAL CANOPY PROGRAMME. 2011. Policy brief: the outcome for forests emerging from Cancun. Available here. [Accessed November 2013]

WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE. 2010. The REDD+ Decision in Cancun. Available here. [Accessed November 2013]